Possible development charges expedite condo approval on Gloucester Street

Facing pressure from the developer to approve the Gloucester Street condominium project, city council approved the controversial rezoning proposal for the 70 Gloucester St. condo.

The 229-unit condo is slated to stand more than twice the size of the 12-storeys permitted for residential buildings, standing at 27-storeys.

The decision to bring the motion to council today was fueled by possible development charges faced by the developers, Claridge Homes, if the project was not approved by the July 29 deadline.

Twenty years ago, explained Somerset Councillor Diane Holmes, council decided to remove development charges as an act to encourage residential living downtown.

There was “little interest in moving downtown then,” said Holmes.

Now it’s the opposite, she said, as the city will no longer waive these charges.

Residential developers are “madly rushing” to get in development proposals by the end of July to avoid charges that return in August.

Furthermore, Holmes had previously negotiated a $1 million “community benefit” with Claridge, which would contribute to amenities in the areas affected by the developments, including a daycare. With the possibility of incurring development charges, the community benefit would have been at risk.

The now-approved development comes with concerns from Holmes as well as citizens of Centretown who are of the mind that the development is too high on pieces of land that are too small.

In a speech to council, Holmes expressed concerns over the recent string of condo developments being approved in Centretown.

“We’re seeing 27-storey towers starting to march down the street,” she said.

These condos, she added, lack the inclusion of amenities, such as schools and parks, which are necessary to keep families downtown.

The Gloucester Street project will include the $1 million community benefit package, as negotiated by Holmes and Claridge, but “from the community’s perspective, the development is too high,” said Holmes.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” she said.