Same Place, New Plan

We have been following the planning process for a vacant block of ‘L’ shaped properties on Innisfil Beach Rd. for the past four years (east from Jans Blvd. & Innisfil Beach Rd). An earlier submission, dating to May 2016, proposed a seven-storey mixed-use building, two single tenant restaurants, three blocks of townhouses, and a multi-tenant office and retail building.

In the meantime, the developer acquired the former site of Scotty’s Towing and added it to the development project. It encountered opposition at an open house, held on March 6, 2018, from residents living adjacent to the site who objected to a proposed roadway connecting planned new townhouses to Goshen Road.

SitePlan150-18

Source: Staff Report DSR-150-18

On September 19, Town Council approved a zoning bylaw amendment concerning 1124, 1130, 1136 and 1154 Innisfil Beach Road. These zoning amendments divide the proposal into two phases. The purpose is to separate the townhouse proposal as a possible future phase:

“Consideration of development on lands originally proposed for the townhouses will be removed from the initial phase (this application), to give more time for the ongoing Environmental Impact Assessment and flood hazard assessment. The remaining balance of the proposal would constitute Phase 1 of the development. Phase 1 includes the same number of residential apartment units (147 units), commercial space (4,469 m2), and parking spaces (335) as was originally considered in Staff Report DSR-048-18. The layout of Phase 1 has been amended to accommodate the access options for Phase 2 should the Goshen Road connection not be possible. The Draft Plan of Subdivision application proposed to prepare the site for subsequent part lot control exemption related to the proposed townhouses, has therefore also been withdrawn.”

Planning staff conclude that the proposal “provides a compact, mixed-use development and an appropriate level of intensification on a vacant infill property located within an intensification corridor. The proposal provides for apartment style dwelling units that serve to diversify Alcona’s housing stock and opportunities for employment within Alcona’s key commercial corridor.” (Staff Report DSR-150-18)

“This application proposes the phased development containing the following components”:

BldgA-150-18

Building ‘A’ – Mixed use residential/commercial with underground parking

  • seven storey mixed-use building containing 147 residential apartment units and 549 m2 of commercial space (referred to as Building A);
  • two one-storey single tenant buildings (restaurants) [with drive-through lanes] containing 217m2 and 239 m2 of commercial space (referred to as Building C and D);
BldgB-150-18

Building ‘B’ – retail & commercial spaces

  • and a two-storey multi-tenant commercial building (office and retail) containing 3,464 m2 of commercial space (Building B).

“All elements listed above constitute Phase 1 of the proposed Site Plan Control application, currently under site plan review. Phase 1 is the subject of this Zoning By-law Amendment.”

Council directed Staff to “schedule a community consultation meeting as part of Site Plan Control approval for the lands at 1124, 1130, 1136, and 1154 Innisfil Beach Road, inviting Councillors from Wards 3 and 4”.

Previously published:

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Concept to Concrete

My last posting seems to have been popular enough that I thought I would share some developer’s images of another Alcona project in the works.  The Abandel project on the north side of Innisfil Beach Road extending east from Jans Blvd. has gone through two previous proposals over the last four years. The latest design appears to be moving ahead. Billboards with artist concepts have been posted on-site presumably to attract leasing interest.

The corner site (Innisfil Beach Rd at Jans Blvd.) will provide, I believe, a multi-story mixed-use residential, office and commercial space.:

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Source: Abandel billboard image

Additional buildings with retails space will face Innisfil Beach Rd. :

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Source: Abandel billboard image -retail concept

No construction work has been initiated yet although construction is expected to progress through next year.

Meanwhile, Simcoe County continues to make progress on the widening of Innisfil Beach Rd. (County Rd. 21) to four lanes, extending east from Thornton. The Transportation and Engineering Dept. 2018 project schedule included several intersection improvements and design and engineering preparations. A recent Public Notice of property expropriation along Innisfil Beach Rd. (up to Alcona) also indicates the project is approaching another phase toward implementation.

So Lame, So Late

AbenPlan

Abandel Plan: bank building & offices (A in blue); retail B & C; restaurant D; townhouses (in yellow at rear)

Residents of Alcona have noticed a new billboard display erected at the property owned by Abandel Group Ltd. on the north side of Innisifil Beach Rd., opposite the Shoppers Drug Mart. This was the site of two previous proposals, one for a multi-storey condo at the back of the property with no clear plan for the street frontage, and a later second concept for a couple of strip-plaza type of buildings with one of them fronting on Innisfil Beach Rd. Neither plan met with Council approval.

The company is back with another lame concept consisting of multiple buildings surrounded by parking including a drive-through fast food restaurant and a bank with a drive-through ATM. The bank building would also include three additional floors of office space. There would also be two strip-plaza type of retail spaces and some town houses at the rear of the property. The development plan encompasses the Scott’s Towing property to the west as well as the adjacent empty field that was the site of earlier proposals..

AbenSite

The development site is largely a ‘blank slate’ but includes Scott’s Towing site

Remarkably, this design comes forward just as the province has announced that control on sprawl will be tightened to require 60% of new development to be within municipal settlement boundaries instead of 40%. The kind of suburban style auto-oriented development proposed by Abandel is at least 50 years out of date. It may have been acceptable pre-Jane Jacobs in the sixties. And in the last 30 years we’ve had Smart Growth, Greenbelt legislation, the Inspiring Innisfil official plan, the Innisfil Place-Making plan, the Innisfil Beach urbanization project and design guidelines, and the province’s review of the Greenbelt Plan, “Planning for Health, Prosperity and Growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe 2015-2041”.

Is the company and its architects and planners totally clueless about provincial and municipal planning objectives? Do they have any grasp of contemporary urban planning concepts? What part of intensification, urbanization, commercial core, main street, downtown, walkability and place-making don’t they understand? I just think that paving more than 160 parking spaces on this site is a tragic waste of a prime development opportunity. Maybe our zoning regulations are partly to blame.

I would think that any reputable urban planner and architect would leap at the chance to design a fresh, contemporary, 21st century people-friendly, multi-use concept on a ‘blank slate’ like the empty commercial properties here, which are free of any pre-existing built impediments. Who would throw away that opportunity to build something that is outdated before construction even begins? Well, now we know.

The sad part is that if this proposal is approved, the next property to the east, a 2 acre empty field, will almost certainly follow the same fate of being turned into parking with strip-plaza retail. And Rod’s Esso and the Crossroads Plaza is adjacent to that. We face the prospect of the entire eastern stretch from Jans Blvd. to Adullum Ave. consisting of car-oriented strip retail on a series of bleak parking lots for at least another generation.

Applications for rezoning of the Abandel Group property and Scott’s Towing property to facilitate Abandel’s proposed plan will be considered on Wednesday, June 1 at 6:30 pm.

Abandel Group Revises Development Plan

A public meeting was held to discuss the new development proposal from Abandel Group Ltd. for their property on Innisfil Beach Road (#1124, 1130. 1136, approximately opposite Shoppers Drug Mart). The developer is appealing a Town decision to zone the rear of the property as “Future Development. It is seeking a zoning of “Mixed Use 2” to allow for the construction of three commercial buildings. A hearing scheduled at the OMB on August 25, 12014. This more comprehensive proposal replaces their earlier partial plan to construct a multi-story condominium building on the rear portion of the land, which would have been accessed by a driveway to Goshen Road. That concept is no longer valid.

Abandel3

The Town background information describes the zoning issue this way: Continue reading

Negotiations Continue for Abandel Apartment Proposal

A public meeting held to consider the secondary plan for a 7 storey apartment building  at the rear of a property fronting Innisfil Beach Road resulted in concerns about the impact on existing residents on Ashley Court.  Questions were also raised about creating an access road through a protected watershed area extending from Goshen Road to the development site.

Subsequently, Council directed planning staff to negotiate an easement agreement and insist on a 30-metre setback from existing homes in talks prior to an Ontario Municipal Board teleconference.  Local residents, Stan Daurio and Sue Jende, were permitted to participate in the OMB teleconference.

The OMB has reported that legal counsel for the parties … “believe they are very close to a full settlement, with only one issue yet to be resolved”.  Although the Town and developer wanted to schedule a settlement hearing in about 3 months time the OMB was “reluctant to establish another hearing date until the outcome of settlement discussions and/or the type of hearing event required is known”.

previously: Abandel Zoning Appeal at the OMB February 12

Abandel Zoning Appeal at the OMB February 12

Local residents voiced several concerns about the Abandel development proposal (1124-1136 Innisfil Beach Rd, near Jans Blvd.) held last night (Jan 28). From my perspective, it was useful to get an updated version of the development and its current status.  Previously (2011), the company had shown a concept for two commercial strips with car parking fronting Innisfil Beach Road and a multi-storey residential building at the rear. The commercial retail strip is designated as Phase 1 and the residential building as Phase 2.

Abandel Appealing Zoning to OMB

As I understand it, the front of the property is zoned for mixed-use (MU2) but the rear portion is zoned for “future development”. The developer has since appealed to the OMB to rezone the rear portion as MU2 as well. The Town presents its position on this appeal to the OMB on February 5 and an OMB conference takes place on February 12. Continue reading