Green P sells 1,000-car Yorkville lot to developer
Locals predict construction and parking pains in shopping district
High-rise development will be directly to the south of new Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences (Image: www.beintoronto.com)
The Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) has capitalized on the value of a prime piece of land in the heart of Yorkville. When the city agency put out a request for bids for the Green P located at 37 Yorkville Ave. and 50 Cumberland St., it secured a deal worth $76 million.
Last month, Toronto City Council approved the sale of the nine-level municipal parking lot to MUC Properties Inc., a subsidiary of Minto. The developer will pay $44 million in cash and construct an 800-space public parking garage below grade, worth approximately $32 million (or $40,000 per space).
In exchange, Minto will get the “air rights” to build above grade. But the deal stipulates that the developer will have to go through the standard planning application process.
Minto is entertaining the idea of a mixed-use development that would include two condo towers. A 400-space private parking garage will be constructed to accommodate residents of the new development.
Neighbouring developments provide some indication as to what might be permitted on the site. To the north is the new Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences, featuring 30- and 46-storey towers. To the south, at 2 Bloor St. W., is a planned development of 36- and 48-storey towers.
John Caliendo, co-president of the ABC Residents’ Association, said the deal looks good from a financial standpoint.
“The negative is we’re going to undoubtedly get a ton of density there to justify the price,” Caliendo said. It’s not so much that his group is saying it doesn’t want another tall building, so much as it has concerns about what it sees as ad hoc planning in the area.
With dense development the norm in this neighbourhood, the attention turns to parking, which is already at a premium in the city.
Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam said she was alarmed when she first heard about the loss of parking at the busy lot, both temporarily during the construction phase and permanently through a reduction in the number of public spaces. Currently, the lot can accommodate up to 1,036 vehicles. But, as she understands it, the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) would have had to undertake repairs of the parking lot — built to its current form in 1973 — regardless of the sale.
Gwyn Thomas, president of the TPA, confirmed that his agency initiated the process when the structure was found to be in need of substantial capital investment. It was declared surplus, and a request for proposals was issued.
“What we’ve done is taken a project that was potentially a $30 million liability to us and turned it into a $44 million asset,” Thomas said.
In a report to city council, the TPA found that the current parking structure does not fill to capacity, even on peak days.
As such, Thomas thinks that the new public parking garage will continue to meet the neighbourhood’s needs. Council has, however, required him to report back on a parking strategy for the construction phase, at the request of Wong-Tam.
Briar de Lange, executive director of the Bloor-Yorkville BIA, said the sale didn’t come as a shock.
“We’ve heard rumblings about it for quite some time, and the value of the real estate in the area continues to escalate, so it’s always quite a draw for developers,” she said.
De Lange echoed Wong-Tam’s concerns about the temporary loss of parking. The Green P contains more than 1,000 of Yorkville’s 7,000 parking spaces. Plus, it’s the most centrally located lot.
Joel Carman, owner of Over the Rainbow, said that the amount of development activity happening all at once in Yorkville is extremely disconcerting.
“There’s constant impact when you have cranes blocking streets and you have dump trucks lined up to excavate,” Carman said. “There’s been a mass disruption of business in the area, and it’s just beginning.”
With the sale slated to close in 2015, it may be a while yet before Minto submits a formal planning application. Minto did not respond to a request for an interview before press time.