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112 Union St East | 4 fl | U/C
112 Union St East
Waterloo homeowners ask developer to buy their ‘orphaned’ properties
Paige Desmond | February 4, 2014 | Waterloo Region Record | Link

Quote:WATERLOO — Two downtown Waterloo homeowners appealed with a developer Monday to buy them out due to fears their homes are being orphaned by a proposed townhouse project at 112 Union St. E.

The appeals were made during an informal council meeting to hear plans for the project. A decision on whether to permit several exceptions to the city's rules won't be made until later.

"In an ideal world I would to like to sell my house to the developer and then that would allow them extra parking," said Lynette Zimmerman.

She added: "The original situation of being orphaned is deplorable."

Zimmerman is one of three property owners with a home facing Moore Street. One of two three-storey townhouses proposed by Lexington Park Real Estate Inc. will back on to her property.

The development property is a unique shape, facing both Union and Moore and the boundaries result in the three homes facing Moore essentially being surrounded by the project.

Ken Epps, who lives in one of those homes, agreed the homeowners want out.

"We are concerned about being isolated," Epps said.

The proposed project would see two townhouse buildings constructed and up to 35 parking spaces provided. Another 17 bike parking spaces would be on site.

A 21-unit building would face Moore and 12 units would face Union, with parking access off that street.

The developer is asking for exceptions to the city's rules for parking, setbacks and for permission to build the "terrace dwellings" which are not currently permitted in city zoning rules.

Acting as agent for the developer Scott Patterson, from Labreche Patterson and Associates, said Lexington Park is building townhouses in an attempt to build something suitable for the neighbourhood.

"The proposed development is a transitional use for terrace dwellings that are slightly taller than low density developments, but are less intense than your typical apartment dwelling which would also be permitted on this site," he said.

Councillors raised several concerns about the proposal including noise from ventilation systems, accessibility, landscaping and the potential impact on neighbours.

Initially Lexington Park planned a six-storey apartment building that would be permitted under city zoning. The plan changed.

Councillors heard one of the trade-offs of building townhouses instead of apartments was that there will not be any accessible units on site.

"The intent of this project, the intent of this form of development on this site was to work within the neighbourhood, to be less impactful," Patterson said.
It makes you wonder at what the situation was earlier. It would seem unlikely, given the odd shape we're hearing about, that these homeowners would not have been approached. St. Sophia shows us that if you're going to consider a sale, the longer you wait, the lower the price would be as workarounds become the cheaper option.
It's almost a sure thing that the developer approached the homeowners at some point in the past concerning selling; their lots are right on the corner.

I also think they're not correct in characterizing their lots as "orphaned." The development is really two different buildings, one on Moore and one on Union. And, anyway, although those lots are not huge, they are not tiny taken together, so someone could conceivably buy them for a small retail development, or something.

The development looks great to me. I wish the townhouses facing Union would be angled parallel to the street, but I think it sounds very good.
I'm not sure they really want the extra parking... especially if the homeowners are asking for more than the going rate for their properties. I'm also not sure how one can call 3 houses on a street orphaned if they are surrounded by other residential units.
I think if the developer were to buy the houses they'd extend the Union facing building before building a parking lot there.
Where the heck are you people seeing pictures of this thing?
You can find the proposal, including site plan and renderings, on the City of Waterloo's web site: http://www.waterloo.ca/en/business/112-U...t-East.asp
I'll get images posted tonight
I wonder when we'll get to the point where we can have permeable drive surfaces in places like this? If you're heading East on Erb, take a right to go South on Moore, and the first driveway on your right has this (I believe). To look at it from above, it looks like a tightly packed series of lines, almost like the lines on a checkerboard. Only the "squares" have growth coming out of them, and drainage can go through it.

Imagine if you could take a large parking lot for a build like this, and "pave" it this way. If the surface was forgiving enough, it would almost be like an extension of the lawn, or if you designed it as such, the public amenity space. Suddenly, the more cars you park, the more you see yourself eating away at the area where your kids can run and play.

At the very least, it would be good for drainage and heat island effects.
Both the Cities of Waterloo and Kitchener have a stormwater credit system. There is a stormwater charge on each utility bill, the value of which depends on the size and type of your property. This charge can be reduced by installing facilities that help manage stormwater run-off (rain barrels, French drains, rain gardens, and permeable pavers).

These measures are incentivized this way, but I'm not sure how it works for a complex like this. Are these going to be rentals? Then the incentive might be worth the developer's while. Maybe less so if they are going to be condos and the buyers won't be willing to pay for the savings.

Permeable surfaces are going to be critical going forward, to manage stormwater and reduce the heat island effect. I'm not sure how much traffic the type you mention can take (when grass or ground cover is growing between, there has to be sufficient turnover in cars so the plants can get air and sun), but there is actual permeable asphalt that has been designed that is quite similar to asphalt in performance, the only difference being that it allows water through.

I can honestly say that this is the first time I have heard the notion that permeable surfaces could be used to design a place that serves as both storage for cars and an amenity, and would thus show people how much space their cars consume. That's novel, at least for me, and I love that idea.
The elevations look nice and fit with the other building shapes. The three orphan properties could accommodate another similarly shaped building in the future.
Yeah, if it were simply the corner lot left behind, they might have a point. It would be undevelopable. Though, there's the larger question of how much right landowners have to not be orphaned by refusing to sell to a larger development.

My parents are development consultants, and when designing the Somerset West Community Health Centre, they had a problem of a corner lot refusing to agree to a sale at a market price, believing they had leverage by obstructing the block. They ultimately had the architects start to design a building that could be built without the corner lot. When it became apparent that that they were moving ahead regardless, the lot owner sold at a more reasonable price, because they would have been orphaned.

You can see how the corner is different, partly due to the evolution of the drawings:

[Image: 3361222274_f30b26921d_z.jpg]

If landowners have a right not to be orphaned, as these people on Moore believe, then that gives incredible leverage in sales negotiations.
No accessible/barrier free housing in this development is pitiful. Our province has mandated "full" accessibility by 2025 yet there is no mandate to make private developments like this have even one accessible living unit.

These developers are not alone in building "stairy" housing. I just wish it would stop.
(02-06-2015, 12:12 PM)kwliving Wrote: No accessible/barrier free housing in this development is pitiful. Our province has mandated "full" accessibility by 2025 yet there is no mandate to make private developments like this have even one accessible living unit.

These developers are not alone in building "stairy" housing. I just wish it would stop.

But does every new building need to be accessible?  As long as there is a decent selection of accessible housing, surely people should also be able to (build and) live in townhouse-style housing like this, if they so prefer.

(That said, it's not what I want personally, but many other people do seem to like this.)

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