Northern Light

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Irving Grossman designed these, along with basically the whole neighbourhood, which is one of the most intact Modernist masterplanned projects in the country. But of course, nobody cares.

No one is surely an overstatement; though it's surely fair to say that most people don't have the requisite knowledge of architecture/planning to have even a passing familiarity with Mr. Grossman.

As apart from that though; what people care about, as residents, is whether the neighbourhood affords them a good quality of life, access to employment, transportation, retail and so on........

In many respects, this area did address those needs from its inception; albeit, with a relatively poor public realm for pedestrians, and cyclists, and less than ideal transit access and integration to surrounding areas.

But it did afford a supermarket, some ancillary retail, a modest community centre and library etc.

The only absolute muff by the standards of the day was parkland; almost none was provided outside the hydro corridor, in terms of playgrounds/sports fields; and the natural areas in the Don, apart from being molested by the DVP were left relatively cut-off and inaccessible.

But the standards of the day were also wrong.

This may inspire some who are interested in architecture...........but most would see an austere, cool (as in not warm) building set well back from the street, tower-in-the-park style, leaving Don Mills Road with a relatively narrow sidewalk, hemmed in by a veritable highway on one side and a fence on the other:

1640034441658.png


The community's layout could also, charitably, be described as circumlocutions for its ability to be interpretable only a designer.

All that said.........I'm not really sure what that has to do w/this proposal, or its merits or lack thereof.
 

innsertnamehere

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this area does not lack for green space in the slightest. Not sure where that assertion comes from.. Perhaps there aren't a ton of large public parks in the centre of the neighbourhood, but basically every apartment building has large private green spaces available for residents, then there is the massive E.T. Seton Park directly to the east.. If anything, this neighbourhood's failing is that it has *too much* green space.
 

Northern Light

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this area does not lack for green space in the slightest. Not sure where that assertion comes from.. Perhaps there aren't a ton of large public parks in the centre of the neighbourhood, but basically every apartment building has large private green spaces available for residents, then there is the massive E.T. Seton Park directly to the east.. If anything, this neighbourhood's failing is that it has *too much* green space.

E.T. Seton is almost completely inaccessible to area residents as I noted.

There is no access from Overlea Blvd at all.

There is one access off Thorncliffe 1-2km from some Flemingon residents, an access which is closed in winter and notoriously unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists.

The only remotely decent access comes off the Science Centre's access road off Don Mills.

Can you tell there's park access at the bottom?


1640035784849.png


That hill is 300M long by the way; largely un-shaded in summer and ice-covered in winter.

When the neighbourhood was built, there also wasn't even a sidewalk.

*****

This area:

1640036152840.png


Has next to no functional parkland.

Note the DVP and a private golf course block any access to the greenspace to the east and south.

Have a look at it this way:

1640036279306.png



The only purpose-built, official park is the small green square, Ferrand Drive Park at the north end of community. Its almost brand new.

The seemingly large space in the middle is a hydro corridor. That means no mature trees allowed. North York did manage to get around to licensing it for soccer pitches, many years after the community was built.
But it's far from ideal.
 
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A Torontonian Now

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They are beautiful, but the best Grossman will always be Princess Towers: https://www.google.com/maps/@44.233...4!1skWDIPCHgqU1uuVIdPCt-0Q!2e0!7i16384!8i8192
Not sure if you are serious, but when I started at Queen's for law school in 2008 I had a friend who lived here and the units were in absolutely atrocious shape. Locals and students alike derided the building as the ugliest in Kingston, but I had a soft spot for it - you can't deny that it is interesting, and the base hosted some decent (student-oriented) retail.
 

innsertnamehere

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Not sure if you are serious, but when I started at Queen's for law school in 2008 I had a friend who lived here and the units were in absolutely atrocious shape. Locals and students alike derided the building as the ugliest in Kingston, but I had a soft spot for it - you can't deny that it is interesting, and the base hosted some decent (student-oriented) retail.
That building is arguably the ugliest in the province. It’s a unique building but definitely ugly as hell.
 

toronto647

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Given the proximity to new transit I think the overall approach is valid for this site. I am skeptical of these kinds of arguments in favour of rental replacement because most of these shortcomings can be addressed through thoughtful adaptive re-use (i.e. tower renewal) rather than wholesale demolition and replacement. It is also paternalistic to assume that existing tenants will prefer the new housing -- other than simply being new, these replacement units tend to be a relative downgrade in terms of size, layout, access to light, etc. Not a jibe at your comment at all, there is a careful balancing of competing priorities required in these situations.

However, the true travesty here is that instead of providing greater animation and an improved street edge along Don Mills Road, the west building has been set back at a silly angle to preserve a "protected upper level view corridor" as if there is anything significant whatsoever about the butchered Foresters Building, which itself will probably get redeveloped in the not-so-distant future.
You think the Forestors building will get redeveloped? It's such a big building... I guess theres a lot of land there to make 4-5 condos/office tower probably
 

junctionist

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Irving Grossman designed these, along with basically the whole neighbourhood, which is one of the most intact Modernist masterplanned projects in the country. But of course, nobody cares.

Don Mills definitely doesn't get the respect it deserves from an architectural standpoint. There are many interesting Modernist buildings and complexes throughout the neighbourhood.

And if that's a tough sell, here's one that's even tougher: Jane and Finch. It has some gems, though the built form is generally in bad shape and any architectural merit is overshadowed by the neighbourhood's social issues.

For instance, these interesting townhouses appear to be buttressed and with second floor windows that evoke a clerestory. Then, there's the expressive Brutalism of Edgeley in the Village. There are other interesting buildings as well.
 
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AlexBozikovic

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@innsertnamehere is correct. The area has a ton of private open space. But this being Toronto, the city doesn’t value that space, and so rather than being improved, it’s getting developed.

When I say “no one” cares, I really mean city heritage planning. In terms of architectural history, this is one of the most significant places in the entire GTHA.

HPS did a heritage survey of Don Mills a couple of years ago, and came up with a small and random list of sites. The housing to the south of Flemingdon Park, on Leeward Glenway, is now designated. But nothing in the original neighbourhood.

0EFD0790-09DD-4C28-8FCC-04A5FABE4FBE.jpeg
 

Northern Light

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@innsertnamehere is correct. The area has a ton of private open space. But this being Toronto, the city doesn’t value that space, and so rather than being improved, it’s getting developed.

Yes, there is lots of private space.

But:

a) That private space is private, users from one property are not legally permitted to use the open space on the next one.

b) The space is not conducive to any recreation use requiring large areas (sports fields, even a children's waterplay.). It's a series of small to medium fragments, often isolated from the main roads, and interrupted by fences.

It's not that such space has no value. To those for whom it is a literal backyard, or place to BBQ it's great.

But to most it is no such thing.

Even for those in an apartment with a green area around it, often said area is littered with 'no trespassing' and 'private property' signs; is not lit in such a way
to make evening/after dark usage possible and has limited site furnishings; it's also often next to surface parking and outdoor garbage areas.

Let's look, shall we?

1640093926418.png


Note the fences and the large sign with the admonitions not to loiter or trespass.

Let's continue, just up the same street, Gateway Blvd:

1640094015950.png


Look at all the residents enjoying that green space! Trapped behind a fence, and between a road and a parking lot.....

Below is the same building from the side and rear view:

1640094111024.png


Where are all the children playing? The seniors socializing? The families BBQ'ing? The dog walkers?

***

Now we're following the side street above, Grenoble:

1640094204490.png


Once again, the space is fenced off; but note, it's not even being used by residents of this very building. It's dead, orphaned space. It's also too narrow and too close to ground-floor housing to meaningfully program.

*****

I'll stop there, so as not to be unduly repetitive.

But let's move away from the idea that this community has adequate park space, even in the form of private space; because it simply isn't the case.

Further, the layout of the current buildings largely precludes much of the space from being effectively repurposed; as it would require more than just fence removal; but the removal of the ground-floor housing, at-grade parking, parking entrance/exits, garbage areas and more. and would then still be subject, in many cases, to stratification issues, being located over underground parking, which severely limits one's ability to grow large trees in many cases and means incurring a regular cycle of stripping the 'park' bare every 30-40 years to re-do the membrane of the underground parking.


When I say “no one” cares, I really mean city heritage planning. In terms of architectural history, this is one of the most significant places in the entire GTHA.


HPS did a heritage survey of Don Mills a couple of years ago, and came up with a small and random list of sites. The housing to the south of Flemingdon Park, on Leeward Glenway, is now designated. But nothing in the original neighbourhood.

View attachment 370621

Fair, perhaps; I haven't spoken to HPS staff about this site, so I can't say; but I must confess I find most of it rather unremarkable.

That's not advocacy for wide-spread demolition w/o cause; simply that any intrinsic value does radiate at first blush from my perspective.
 

ProjectEnd

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Not sure if you are serious, but when I started at Queen's for law school in 2008 I had a friend who lived here and the units were in absolutely atrocious shape. Locals and students alike derided the building as the ugliest in Kingston, but I had a soft spot for it - you can't deny that it is interesting, and the base hosted some decent (student-oriented) retail.
Completely serious. When I was at Queen's, it was just as derided, but it, along with The Landmark and Waldron Tower are the three best high-rises in the City. Head and shoulders above the rest.
That building is arguably the ugliest in the province. It’s a unique building but definitely ugly as hell.
Nope ;).
 

Northern Light

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Preliminary Report on this one to the February 23rd meeting of NYCC.


Report 'issues' section to me suggests this one will face somewhat greater headwinds than typical in getting through Planning in its current form.

See below: (from the report)

1644503843780.png

1644503862439.png


I will add here that I agree with these concerns and think this proposal needs some consequential change.
 

casvas

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Yes, there is lots of private space.

But:

a) That private space is private, users from one property are not legally permitted to use the open space on the next one.

b) The space is not conducive to any recreation use requiring large areas (sports fields, even a children's waterplay.). It's a series of small to medium fragments, often isolated from the main roads, and interrupted by fences.

It's not that such space has no value. To those for whom it is a literal backyard, or place to BBQ it's great.

But to most it is no such thing.

Even for those in an apartment with a green area around it, often said area is littered with 'no trespassing' and 'private property' signs; is not lit in such a way
to make evening/after dark usage possible and has limited site furnishings; it's also often next to surface parking and outdoor garbage areas.

Let's look, shall we?

View attachment 370622

Note the fences and the large sign with the admonitions not to loiter or trespass.

Let's continue, just up the same street, Gateway Blvd:

View attachment 370623

Look at all the residents enjoying that green space! Trapped behind a fence, and between a road and a parking lot.....

Below is the same building from the side and rear view:

View attachment 370624

Where are all the children playing? The seniors socializing? The families BBQ'ing? The dog walkers?

***

Now we're following the side street above, Grenoble:

View attachment 370625

Once again, the space is fenced off; but note, it's not even being used by residents of this very building. It's dead, orphaned space. It's also too narrow and too close to ground-floor housing to meaningfully program.

*****

I'll stop there, so as not to be unduly repetitive.

But let's move away from the idea that this community has adequate park space, even in the form of private space; because it simply isn't the case.

Further, the layout of the current buildings largely precludes much of the space from being effectively repurposed; as it would require more than just fence removal; but the removal of the ground-floor housing, at-grade parking, parking entrance/exits, garbage areas and more. and would then still be subject, in many cases, to stratification issues, being located over underground parking, which severely limits one's ability to grow large trees in many cases and means incurring a regular cycle of stripping the 'park' bare every 30-40 years to re-do the membrane of the underground parking.




Fair, perhaps; I haven't spoken to HPS staff about this site, so I can't say; but I must confess I find most of it rather unremarkable.

That's not advocacy for wide-spread demolition w/o cause; simply that any intrinsic value does radiate at first blush from my perspective.
Resurfacing this conversation almost a year later because I've just come to see it, but I would also challenge this idea that there is no "functional parkland".

The park at Ferrand Dr. is not the only programmed park. There's a children's playground at Grenoble and Vendome, one on Linkwood lane, another two along the path between Grenoble PS and the Dufresne Court tower, as well as the ones at the neighbourhood schools that are always accessible after school hours and in the summer.

Anything east of the DVP is not inaccessible as you've claimed. Spanbridge and the underpass at St. Dennis are both viable options to access parks/green spaces on this side of the DVP.

This area is also afforded with basketball courts off of Grenoble by Vendome, tennis courts by Angela James Arena, a splash pad by Spanbridge, a dog park at Vicora and Spanbridge, and a cricket pitch in the hydro corridor. Sure these are not so much passive public spaces for gathering and whatnot but there are almost always benches/seating near these programmed spaces that provide for passive recreation. Walk through the neighbourhood any summer evening and you'll see these spaces full of people engaging in both passive and active recreation.

It's true that some of the private spaces off of Grenoble and Gateway are not conducive to recreational use, but all of the Leeward/Sunny Glenway buildings from your examples have other sizable open green spaces for gathering that you aren't able to see from street view. They may not be programmed, but as I've listed above there are many nearby options for that type of recreation.

As a resident here I can say this neighbourhood lacks a lot, but we're lucky to have a wealth of parks/open space.

I think there's value in doing these sorts of neighborhood analyses, but going solely off of street view and google maps will always be second to first-hand knowledge of how these areas function and how communities use their space. While I know you are very knowledgeable and well-versed on many topics and areas on these forums, I believe you're speaking a bit out of turn here.
 

Northern Light

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Resurfacing this conversation almost a year later because I've just come to see it, but I would also challenge this idea that there is no "functional parkland".

The park at Ferrand Dr. is not the only programmed park. There's a children's playground at Grenoble and Vendome, one on Linkwood lane, another two along the path between Grenoble PS and the Dufresne Court tower, as well as the ones at the neighbourhood schools that are always accessible after school hours and in the summer.

We can certainly differ in opinions, but is important to make sure we're discussing the same things, in the same ways.

School yards are not considered public parkland in any neighbourhood, unless they are a joint park/yard w/city ownership.
One can certainly consider school yards a neighbourhood amenity, often w/features comparable to a park; though generally precluding community use during school hours.
School fields are also typically unlit and usually not available for community permitting for team sports.

But to compare one area to another, we need to compare similar things. I was not including school yards.

Anything east of the DVP is not inaccessible as you've claimed. Spanbridge and the underpass at St. Dennis are both viable options to access parks/green spaces on this side of the DVP.

On this we must disagree. The question is one of distance, and whether parents will allow young children to wander that far etc .

The distance from the nearest residential, located west of DVP to the playground at Linkwood is over 600M. The median distance for most of that community is considerably larger. The walk across the DVP isn't particularly pleasant, even in summer, let alone winter.

Counting that space as an asset to communities to the west would be inconsistent w/the way the City evaluates these things.

This area is also afforded with basketball courts off of Grenoble by Vendome, tennis courts by Angela James Arena, a splash pad by Spanbridge, a dog park at Vicora and Spanbridge, and a cricket pitch in the hydro corridor. Sure these are not so much passive public spaces for gathering and whatnot but there are almost always benches/seating near these programmed spaces that provide for passive recreation. Walk through the neighbourhood any summer evening and you'll see these spaces full of people engaging in both passive and active recreation.

I appreciate that all those amenities are there. Though, the principle, high quality Cricket pitch is on the other side of Don Mills Road. A major, and unpleasant road to cross, it is also not a park. (not operated by the City)

It's true that some of the private spaces off of Grenoble and Gateway are not conducive to recreational use, but all of the Leeward/Sunny Glenway buildings from your examples have other sizable open green spaces for gathering that you aren't able to see from street view. They may not be programmed, but as I've listed above there are many nearby options for that type of recreation.

The issue w/private spaces is that they are private and don't generally serve the broader community, but only the immediate community.

As a resident here I can say this neighbourhood lacks a lot, but we're lucky to have a wealth of parks/open space.

I'm glad you feel that way. But many community activists who are residents of your area disagree.

I think there's value in doing these sorts of neighborhood analyses, but going solely off of street view and google maps will always be second to first-hand knowledge of how these areas function and how communities use their space. While I know you are very knowledgeable and well-versed on many topics and areas on these forums, I believe you're speaking a bit out of turn here.

It's certainly true that I don't live in the community, but I'm by no means unfamiliar with it. I know local community activists; I am currently participating in 3 projects that will affect this community and am an official stakeholder on one.

The streetview/google analysis is mostly to illustrate that certain types of private space that are fenced off are not comparable to publicly accessible parkland; and to help familiarize others with the community is laid out.

I would not claim expertise in this neighbourhood; and again, we're free to have differing takes.

****

I think I'll wrap up my reply by discussing what I mean by 'functional parkland'

I mean, publicly owned and operated parkland, readily accessible to the community, and capable at any one site of supporting a range of programming, in an effective way.

So, for instance, I don't generally support small parks based around playgrounds alone. I wouldn't say 'never'; such parks do have a place. I would, however, say, the City is desparately short of sports fields based on waiting lists in many communities to gain access to them.

Therefore, I start from the premise that a new park is functional if it is large enough to support the facilities requested by the local community. 4 small parks, each with a playground, is not the same as one large park with a bigger, better playground but also a cricket or soccer pitch, a dog run and a tennis court.

I don't think Flemingdon Park lacks for playgrounds, by and large, but it does need additional facilities, most of which require larger sites.
 

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