Res­i­dents dis­turbed by Gupta plans af­ter fail­ure

Re­cent condo can­cel­la­tions rile Thorn­hill com­mu­nity

Richmond Hill Post - - News - –– Ge­orge Redak

In Septem­ber, over a thou­sand home­buy­ers who had pur­chased units in the Icona con­dos, a planned de­vel­op­ment sit­u­ated at High­way 7 and High­way 400, were sent letters no­ti­fy­ing them that the de­vel­op­ment would be can­celled and their pur­chase agree­ments ter­mi­nated.

Soon af­ter­wards, it was dis­cov­ered that the Gupta Group filed a dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tion on Aug. 24 of this year. This ap­pli­ca­tion is propos­ing to build a 65-storey and two 52-storey build­ings at the cor­ner of Yonge Street and Stee­les Av­enue, near Cen­ter­point Mall –– sim­i­lar to the two tow­ers pro­posed with the Icona con­dos.

“I was very dis­turbed to read that the City of Vaughan might con­sider an­other build­ing ap­pli­ca­tion by the de­vel­oper the Gupta Group for a gi­gan­tic condo/ho­tel com­plex at Yonge and Stee­les across from Cen­ter­point Mall,” said Ri­cardo Mashregi, chair of the Grand­view Area Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion, in a state­ment to Post City.

“Hun­dreds of fam­i­lies had bought units in Icona, and the Gupta Group sat on their money for 18 months be­fore an­nounc­ing the can­cel­la­tion of the project,” he said.

In his state­ment, Mashregi called on mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to refuse the project or pe­nal­ize devel­op­ers for can­celling projects af­ter re­ceiv­ing money from condo buy­ers.

“This seems to be part of a re­cent pat­tern of devel­op­ers tak­ing ad­van­tage of or­di­nary peo­ple who in­vest their hard­earned sav­ings only to have their hopes dashed when the un­car­ing builders call it quits,” said Mashregi. “Enough is enough.”

In April of this year, Lib­erty De­vel­op­ment can­celled the Cos­mos con­dos, a 1,100-unit project near the new Vaughan Metropoli­tan Cen­tre, cit­ing rea­sons of fi­nanc­ing for the can­cel­la­tion. Four months later, Lib­erty sub­mit­ted plans for a large-scale re­de­vel­op­ment of the Prom­e­nade mall, which would en­com­pass three res­i­den­tial tow­ers as well as a ho­tel and of­fice build­ing.

“We do rec­og­nize, of course, that this is not unique at all,” said Alan Shef­man, Thorn­hill Ward 5 coun­cil­lor, whose ward in­cludes both the Prom­e­nade mall and the new de­vel­op­ment pro­posed by the Gupta Group. “It is fairly re­gret­table. I feel very sorry for the peo­ple that are in­volved, but we need stronger leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect pre-pur­chasers.”

Ac­cord­ing to Shef­man, that leg­is­la­tion must come from the prov­ince, as it is the level of gov­ern­ment that has ju­ris­dic­tion over is­sues re­lat­ing to the pur­chase of res­i­dences. With devel­op­ers hav­ing no le­gal obli­ga­tion in de­liv­er­ing a pre­pur­chased prop­erty, peo­ple look­ing to buy prop­er­ties in the pre-de­vel­op­ment stage should know the risks in­volved.

“These are not the only play­ers out there do­ing this,” Shef­man said.

The SpringFarm Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion had met with Steve Gupta, chair of the Gupta Group, shortly af­ter the sale of the land at Yonge and Stee­les in 2016, look­ing to dis­cuss the fu­ture of that prop­erty.

The as­so­ci­a­tion says it has not heard back from the Gupta Group since. With a name yet to be de­cided on, Gupta’s lat­est de­vel­op­ment will in­clude 1,878 con­dos and 12 town­homes.

“It is ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing that they did not con­tact us,” said Pamela Tara­day-Levy, co­pres­i­dent of the SpringFarm Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. “We were look­ing for­ward to work­ing with them, and we thought the door was open, but it doesn't seem to be.”

The ap­pli­ca­tion process for this new pro­posal is in early phases.

“Where we are is that an in­for­mal sub­mis­sion has been pre­sented that staff are re­view­ing for com­plete­ness,” Shef­man said, adding that this process could take be­tween one to four months.

Shef­man ad­mit­ted that he was im­pressed by the ini­tial pro­posal.

“So far, the pre­lim­i­nary de­sign for what I have seen is out­stand­ing,” he said. “It is a tall, cur­va­ceous build­ing. I think it’s an ap­pro­pri­ate build­ing for the en­trance­way to our city.”

The Icona con­dos were planned for High­way 7 and High­way 400

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