Moving Closer (2)
Eestlased Kanadas 02 Nov 2017 Allan MeiusiEWR
An information meeting for the Annex and Harbord Village residents’ associations was hosted by the 4 Organizations supporting the Estonian Centre development with the support of Ward 20 City Councillor Joe Cressy. Approximately 50-60 local residents attended the session that ran less than an hour on Monday evening according to those in the audience. Since some residents are on the executive committees of their respective associations, many were already familiar with the concept of the proposed Estonian Centre.

The architecture team headed by Alar Kongats started the main presentation with an overview of the proposed development. With his heritage and landscape colleagues close at hand, Mr. Kongats explained how the project would begin with restoration of the heritage building at 11 Madison. As part of that restoration the porch section on the front of the building will be removed because it was not part of the original construction in the 1890’s. The landscaping will include a “green” roof to enhance the public space. Efforts are also being made to coordinate development, and possibly some architectural elements, with the church bordering Huron Street. Mr. Kongats assured the audience that the 4 Organizations have a history of managing a property like Madison which most likely was a reference to building and operating around the Chester Public School portion of Eesti Maja.

Project Planner Peter Smith of Bousfields conditioned his presentation by saying the Estonian Centre development is still early in the overall process. He highlighted that there has been extensive consultation with Councillor Cressy’s office as well as with representatives of planning and heritage departments. Local residents were assured that the 2 storey Centre would respect requirements such as the 12 meter height restriction to the roof, the 5 meter mechanical allowances on the roof as well as easements. Mr. Smith explained that after the parking lot property is purchased, the proposed Centre still had to get City of Toronto site plan approval, Heritage Preservation Service approval and go through the Committee of Adjustments for zoning relief. Mr. Smith said that over the next couple of months there would be a focus on getting the approval processes going.

When the question and answer portion of the meeting started an Annex resident asked if funding for the project was in place because in a previous meeting with the residence’s association she remarked that project funding hadn’t been solidified. Mr. Kalm’s answer Monday was “Yes.” Kalm explained that funding is now in place and that the 4 Org’s came together with a major portion of the funding being provided through the sale of a community asset; a.k.a. Eesti Maja. The current due diligence process is primarily focused around the agreement with Build Toronto and satisfying the City’s conditions. At one point, Councillor Cressy added that the City was being very attentive in the process and has been actively working with the development group to see local residents would be satisfied. Another resident provided a supporting comment for Estonian design and reinforced the idea that Estonian architecture has been a significant part of the Annex for decades.

For anyone who had a concern that the corner of Madison and Bloor would be a construction nightmare because of the recent deal that will see the development of a 29 storey condo on the corner opposite to Tartu College, Councillor Cressy eased minds by saying that any development with the City requires a construction management agreement. The City will assure residents that construction at 316 Bloor and 9/11 Madison will not trample on each other.

Perhaps the most significant statement came when Mr. Kalm told the audience that the Estonian Centre project is prepared to start with the restoration of 11 Madison in the fall of next year. That was a strong indication that the 4 Org’s are satisfied with their due diligence progress to date. Maybe soon the Toronto-Estonian community will be able to review the due diligence materials and business plan that will detail how project funding will come together and how all the financing will be paid. Annex and Harbord residents were happy with of what they saw knowing that 9/11 Madison will not turn into another high-rise and that they aren’t paying for it.


Allan Meiusi