Tenants caught up in growing pains on Raglan Avenue
Residents at lowrise given move-out notices as owners plan new 28-storey rental building
Ann Eyerman has lived in her affordable one-bedroom apartment on Raglan Avenue in the Bathurst and St. Clair area for nearly four years.
She pays $1,500 a month for her unit in the aging seven-storey multiplex, and was disappointed to receive a letter last month from owner Hazelview Properties informing tenants, many of them seniors, they’ll have to move out in a couple years to make way for the demolition of the lowrise.
The owners are planning to build a new 28-storey apartment building with 280 units, most of them market rentals. Hazelview will soon submit a zoning bylaw amendment application to the city regarding the property, seeking a change to the zoned height, density, setback and parking.
Eyerman and her fellow tenants are worried they won’t find affordable units like the ones they live in elsewhere in the city.
“I shouldn’t be forced out of my home so developers can make money,” Eyerman says.
As required under the City of Toronto Act, the landowner is required to build replacement units in the new building — the same number of suites, 62, that 40 Raglan Ave. has.
The company says residents will likely have to begin leaving the building in about two years.
Residents who’ve received the moveout notifications will have the right to return to the new highrise and occupy similar-sized units for similar rents, and the replacement units won’t be exempt from rent control.
The owners have also promised tenants an unspecified amount of financial assistance toward relocation costs and rent for units they move into before demolition begins. Construction is slated to run from about 2024 to 2028, the company says.
Eyerman, 74, who has worked in various fields including as an author, says it’s “disconcerting” that she’ll have to move — again.
Before occupying her current building on Raglan Avenue, she lived in a subdivided home in Harbord Village but had to move because the owner sold that building.
She says she has settled comfortably into her neighbourhood.
“I really enjoy it here. When I walk outside my building I see people from every economic status,” Eyerman says.
Raglan Avenue is the next street west of Bathurst and north of St. Clair, a bustling neighbourhood that is served by the St. Clair streetcar right of way and the St. Clair West subway station on the University Line.
Raglan is undergoing major change now. Rows of mostly single-family homes on the street are slowly disappearing to make room for highrises.
Aside from the proposed demolition of the lowrise building at 40 Raglan Ave., developer Camrost Felcorp is planning to build Raglan Phase 1, a 320-unit, nearly 30-storey residential highrise project steps away on the same street. The tower is planned on property where 10 vacant homes, mostly semi-detached houses, now sit.
Further south on Raglan, homebuilder Madison Raglan Limited has put forward a proposal for a 28-storey building with 385 apartment units, and 14 townhouse suites on the ground floor. Six pairs of semi-detached homes, several vacant, currently sit on that property.
Property records show many of those semis were sold in 2019, one for as high as $2.3 million that sits on a 2,430square-foot lot.
Raglan Avenue is close to a subway and major intersection, and therefore located in an area that is legally designated for more growth and intensification, local city councillor Josh Matlow points out.
But tenants such as Angela Marshall, who also lives at 40 Raglan, says a lot of the seniors and vulnerable tenants who live in her building will face a “bad situation” when it comes to finding a new home — despite promises from the landowner that they’ll be looked after during their relocation and can return to similar units in the completed new building.
Marshall pays about $1,300 a month for her one-bedroom, and has lived in the building 10 years, five years in her current unit.
She has looked around for other units to rent and even with help from Hazelview she doesn’t believe she’ll find another affordable, rent-controlled suite like the one she has, anywhere close to where she lives now.
“The majority of us are rent trapped. You can’t find anything with this space, the balconies (we have here), in Toronto. I’ve looked elsewhere and there’s nothing cheap, for the equivalent size,” Marshall says.
Hazelview spokesperson Colleen Krempulec says the firm chose Raglan because its centrally located rental residential buildings are a critical resource for the city of Toronto.
“Because of the location and many benefits that come with this location — pedestrian friendly, transit friendly — it’s ideally suited for us and the city in keeping aligned with the growth plan for the city of Toronto,” Krempulec said in an interview.
“It’s densifying an area that is well suited to take on that buildup of residential housing that (the city) needs,” she says.
Hazelview is the new name of the former Timbercreek Asset Management company, a multibillion-dollar firm that has a real estate asset portfolio, much of it residential rentals, that stretches across Canada.
Hazelview purchased 40 Raglan for $19.2 million last year.
Matlow says aside from the “upheaval” the current 40 Raglan Ave. tenants face, he’s also concerned that developers such as Hazelview and any other landowners investing in the area, including on Raglan, don’t just “focus on their own financial interests,” but rather transform the community into something better.
“Pragmatically there should be places for single family homes, but there also should be places to build more housing.
“But what that change looks like is incredibly important. It can’t just be change for the developer’s sake. For the community at large, what impact does the new building have on the adjacent residents?” the councillor asks.
“Are we able to get more open space, wider sidewalks, park space, affordable child care, community services, infrastructure?” Matlow goes on to say.
He pointed to a plan calling for three tall condo towers, two 30-storey towers and one 35-storey building, to be built on a vacant two-acre parcel at St. Clair and Bathurst, a plot formerly owned by St. Michael’s College.
As part of the project, developer Canderel is creating a new seniors’ centre as well as an affordable childcare facility for about 50 children. A total of 44 per cent of the development will be open space.
Additionally, Camrost Felcorp, the developer behind the Raglan Phase 1 project has promised to create about 5,160 square feet of open public space nearby.
Hazelview says it will build a new 1,800-square-foot public park on a portion of its property.
Meanwhile, Thania Vega, 35, a PhD. student who also lives at 40 Raglan Ave. and says he’s not opposed to more density and believes more rental housing is important, says he and an active group of tenants in the building are watching Hazelview closely to ensure everyone is treated properly when the relocation gets underway.
“We want to ensure they (Hazelview) don’t get away with giving us the bare minimum,” Vega says.