Second proposed design, first impressions

The developers of the property between Beaverbrook and Lanark Streets at Grosvenor presented a second design at another open house on Saturday, December 14th. It represented significant changes from the first design, while retaining the focus on single-family dwellings.
The most significant changes apparent in the second design include:
  • elimination of public bay and green space on Lanark Street
  • enlarging green space in south west corner between back lane and Beaverbrook
  • introducing a short avenue connecting Lanark and Beaverbrook mid-way through the property, crossing a back lane
  • seven houses facing Grosvenor Avenue
  • twenty-seven 120 foot deep lots vs thirty 100-foot lots
  • loss of public wooded area in north east corner
Design overviews will be posted on the developers website and some photos will be posted here as well.
Below are some initial impressions by the SJF.CA site’s editor, Brian Hydesmith:
The changes you made to the design address a few concerns, but in the balance of things I think the previous design is a stronger initial concept.
What I liked was the south west corner park use, but you will need to assure people that the city will in fact develop and maintain this space as a high value park rather than the relatively mow-and-maintain approach of the Lanark bays. Are there underground issues that necessitate the placement of the park here?
I think having a short avenue as set out in your second design may be challenged by the urban planning folks at the city. It is an unusual approach that does not mesh with the bays pattern established on Lanark. It also challenges the avenue pattern, introducing the only residential addresses on Grosvenor in western River Heights, not to mention that they would all be facing a singular monolith of a church. These residents and the church would find challenges with consistent traffic and parking pressure by both parties.
The departure from the bay concept as presented in the first approach would introduce several ‘unique’ characters/challenges and in the process, make the space feel more crowded overall.
The concept established along Lanark Street from the beginning is a pattern worth honouring, even if it means replicating ‘premium’ corner lots, although I really liked the innovative circles to increase frontage to the smaller pie-shaped lots.
I am very pleased that you took into considerations some of the comments by residents, and came up with some options. I would be very happy to hear from an independent urban planner on what aspects of both designs would be the stronger solutions in the long term. The city will consider these issues, as well as what represents more work and responsibility for them. They will also take into consideration their long-term goals and infrastructure challenges.
One idea that I have not seem conceptualized is an approach where you drill a single T-or-L-shaped back lane into the centre and have a pedestrian-only approach to the fronts of fewer, deeper, lots, with the common space shared in a park-like periphery. It would be a hybrid taking a nod from Norwood Flats and Wildwood Park. This would provide more premium values to the lots and be perceived by existing neighbours and your development buyers as being a ‘green-oriented’ development with public peripheral space.
Those are some thoughts to come to mind after your second presentation. I suspect that the city’s planers will provide some parameters within which you will need to operate with your ideas.
It was my impression that people were more or less pleased with the first proposal, that it ‘fit’ the neighbourhood fairly closely. The second concept presents more departures from that ‘fit’, and I will be interested in hearing what other comments you have in the big picture.
Thanks for your message, and I hope these observations help as you consider various impressions from interested parties and local residents.
Brian Hydesmith
The developer is interested in hearing back from area residents and readers are encouraged to post their comments on this site as well. It is good to support a dialog to ensure the development best meets the needs of existing as well as new residents to the neighbourhood.

One thought on “Second proposed design, first impressions

  1. I met with developers Ryan and Tony last week regarding the above comments, and they addressed each of them with their observations and comments. It was good to hear their perspective.
    It is their opinion that today’s home buyer/builder is not going to be satisfied with constructing a house with a size similar to the current housing stock in our neighbourhood. In the immediate surrounding area, homes are typically about 800 to 1500 square feet, with most being closer to the small end of that scale.
    They expect the new homes to be upward of 1500 sq ft, regardless of how the builders achieve that goal. If the lot sizes match the surrounding 40 x 100 foot properties, this, says Ryan, will result in either a larger buildout of the space and/or a taller home.
    They also sense a demand for (single-storey) bungalows from new home builders in this neighbourhood. I think that existing bungalows in this area are usually under 1000 sq ft, so this would result in the new homes being significantly larger than this.
    The developers feel that by increasing the depth of the new properties to 120 foot, and perhaps even some wider than 40 feet, they will reduce the height of many of the resulting homes, and better match the bungalow (single-storey) demand.
    With these pressures in mind, and other comments and observations, the proportions of the site divide up more favourably to their goals using the second proposed design. The largest difference for neighbours people will be addition of a short avenue and moving the green space to the south west corner rather than in a more pattern-matching Lanark bay configuration.
    We look forward to your comments here.

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