Plan for five condo towers and park
Newtonbrook Plaza redevelopment concerns some residents
The Newtonbrook Plaza, located at the intersection of Yonge Street and Cummer Avenue will soon be a thing of the past. At least that is the plan of developer Aoyuan Property Holdings.
The plaza itself is getting old, and although many of the area’s residents are tied to the 60-yearold history of the space, many believe a renovation is desperately needed.
“The whole place is so rundown,” said Pedram Rahbari, president of the Yonge Corridor Condominium Association (YCCA). “If you develop it again and make a modern plaza out of it, maybe we can consider it, but in the current shape, it is an eyesore.”
Aoyuan bought the property in November of 2017 and is in the final stages of approval for five new residential condo towers, 180,000 square feet of office and retail space, a daycare, a community centre and a public park.
The name of the development is the M2M Condos.
“There is no way this is not going to affect us adversely,” said Anne Brooke, of the Silverview Community Association.
“The noise, dirt and congestion of the construction will go on for years, and everything will be that much more crowded when the construction is finished.”
On Sept. 29 and 30, Aoyuan held a block party in the parking lot of the Newtonbrook Plaza to showcase the future 1.5-acre park that will be a permanent fixture once development is complete.
More than 500 residents attended the event. It was also a time for residents to meet representatives from Aoyuan and to enjoy free food and events such as Tai Chi and yoga classes.
“Best-case scenario, they deliver all the things they are promising,” said Rahbari. However, he is not without his own reservations.
“What happens to the roads, what happens to the traffic, public transportation, congestion?,” he said.
Rahbari and Brooke have seen condo development after condo development being approved in their neighbourhood, with infrastructure being an afterthought.
Although most of the Newtonbrook plaza is now closed, the Food Basics that is still open represents a go-to store for many of the area’s residents, who simply walk there.
“In meetings with smaller groups in the community, what is coming across is that they want to have that grocery store back, that retail space, as soon as we can,” said Vince Santino, senior vicepresident of development Eastern Canada for Aoyuan.
“We are certainly looking forward to delivering that.”
But that is not all that the community needs. Aoyuan is promising that this development will be mixed use, meaning residential, retail and office space.
Along with some of the infrastructure shortcomings in the area, residents still have plenty of questions.
“Infrastructure is number one, absolutely. Schools and also electricity and water,” said Rahbari. “But on top of that, it is a matter of balance of uses.”
The Silverview Community Association, located right behind Newtonbrook Plaza, is also seeking a temporary pathway from their neighbourhood onto Yonge Street.
The plaza’s parking lot has provided this pathway, but with construction set to begin in early 2019, without a plan in place to replace this, Silverview residents feel left out.
“One of the sore points with me is that the city and the developer have been negotiating without any community input,” said Brooke.
“There has been no update for the community about their discussions, let alone asking us for our opinion.”
With one more meeting set at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) for February of 2019, Aoyuan is hopeful construction can begin later in 2019. Purchasers and retailers are expected to be brought in by mid2022.
“There is no way this is not going to affect us adversely. The noise, dirt and congestion of the construction will go on for years. ”
Residents doing tai chi during a block party hosted by Aoyuan on the future site of their proposed 1.5-acre park