Notes from March 23 2012 Sterling/Tower/Castlepoint Meeting

I took the following notes at the March 23 2012 meeting hosted by Castlepoint Realty Partners, regarding their redevelopment plans for the former Tower Automotive property on Sterling Rd.

Sorry for the sloppy post and taking so long to type it up... Comments, corrections, and other discussions should be posted in the Discussion Forum.

Following some brief introductions and announcements, Fraser Tompson from Rio Tinto Alcan (the previous property owners) provided an update on soil and groundwater remediation efforts:

  • Groundwater "pump and treat" has been taking place since 2003.
  • Pump and treat to be replaced by with a "permeable reactive barrier". In short layman's terms, the permeable reactive barrier filters the groundwater as it flows off of the site.
  • Ongoing excavation of oil impacted material: TCA, a volatile organic compound. (Note: They did not specify exactly what TCA is, but I think it may be Trichloroethane)
  • Also need to clean up gasoline that is currently under the pump building on the south side of the property. Will do this after demolition (likely April 2012)
  • The remainder of this work will take place from May to August this year.
  • All work is overseen by the Ministry of the Environment.
  • Question about impacts of dust during demolition and cleanup, especially due to the nearby daycare and residences. Answer: A dust management plan was submitted with demo permit. Will be watering the site to keep it from getting dusty. Will do a better job than they have in the past.

Pino provided an update about the City application process:

  • Application submitted in Jun 2011
  • 800 residential units, and approx. 600-700,000 square feet for employment uses
  • Public meeting last autumn
  • City has done preliminary report. Goes to Toronto and East York Community Council, and Planning and Growth Management Committee
  • City staff wants municipal comprehensive review before final recommendation, probably in Autumn / October 2012.
  • Developers want a decision on Perth Ave. townhouses and Tower Automotive building ASAP
  • Feedback from the City so far:
    • Good, re: Perth Ave. townhouses
    • Issues with heritage and height
    • OK with block structure
    • Regarding contamination, the City is worried about liability on the internal road
    • Castlepoint are confident that all issues can be addressed

Gianni spoke about the site plan and architecture:

  • Since the last meeting, overall massing has not changed
  • Tower Automotive building to have 25,000 sq ft of commercial
  • 800 residential units (on entire site)
  • Perth Ave. Townhouses: 1700 sq ft, 3 stories. Updated to have fewer but larger units. Parking now attached to units.
  • Tower Automotive building:
    • 2 floors of commercial space
    • Ground floor is commercial + residential lobby, rollup doors
    • Residential units: Lofts within the column grids, increasing the size of windows. 3 additional floors, slightly recessed (Glass, matching height of existing water tower)

Michael McLelland spoke about the site's heritage:

  • Tower building an early example of concrete architecture in Toronto, which started around 1908-1909.
  • Concrete frame with brick infill
  • Only half of the planned building was built: Another section was to be mirrored on the North side
  • Built strong enough to hold 6 more stories on top
  • Question: What will be done on the north side wall? Answer: Open up with windows and doors, mimic the south side.

Scott from the IBI Group spoke about traffic and transportation issues:

  • Will be emphasizing transit (TTC / GO / mobility hub), cycling, etc.
  • Planning an east-west bike/walk corridor, connecting the Railpath to Dora Ave. "Willing to go to the wall" to get this done. Apparently old legislation says that you can't disallow access across railway tracks if it doesn't interfere with train traffic. One person asked if cars will be allowed through to Dora, but they're not even considering it (too many negatives)
  • Thinking about a bike lane on Sterling Rd., as there is probably enough room.
  • Sterling/Dundas intersection will likely be getting traffic light
  • Some comments back from the city: No major problems, a few questions to answer, nothing fundamental.

Alfredo Romano from Castlepoint spoke about the employment strategy, and other issues:

  • No residential units on southern blocks as a buffer from Nestle and other businesses
  • There were only about 200-400 employees on the site when Tower closed. When this development fills out, expecting over 2500 jobs.
  • For residential buyers, there will be warning clauses about industrial uses south of the site, so that people are not "surprised" later.
  • Negotiating with Artscape for 70 artist units. Half may be rental. Could have an educational function

Comments? Post them in the discussion forum.