613 Herald Street

Posted on March 19th, 2015 · Posted in Land Use, Letters

19 March 2015

Re: 613 Herald Street

Dear Ms Wain,

The Land Use Committee has reviewed the latest Drawings for the proposed condominium development proposed by Magellan Properties at 613 Herald Street and has the following comments. The project was also discussed at a DRA Board Meeting.
• The original design by D’Ambrosio Architecture was abandoned more than a year ago due to cost considerations. On 1 August 2014 we commented on the then current version and registered our disappointment that it did not retain the form and character of the façade from the D’Ambrosio design, and the current version has not materially improved.
• In fact, the March 2015 proposal is significantly worse than the August 2014 version as the cladding material has been downgraded from panelized float finish acrylic stucco to painted concrete block on the building sides and Fibre Cement Board on the front and rear facades. These material substitutions make up most of the exposed surface area of the building with large areas of exposed concrete block facing neighbouring residential units to the west and a large area clearly visible from the street to the east. The LUC’s position on the use of such materials in “Old Town” is well known. They are simply not acceptable.
• The request to move the building facade forward to line up with 601 Herald to avoid an unsightly strip of exposed concrete on 601 Herald appears changed on the cover sheet rendering (for us to see) but not on the plan which is, of course, how it will be built.
• Two additional units have been added to the top floor facing Herald. This seems to  orphan the already rather sparse looking pilaster lintel brick feature applied to the façade.
• The future owners of top floor units would likely appreciate a covered deck. This would also mitigate a host of future maintenance and potential building envelope issues.
• The “green wall” adjacent to 601 Herald promised in the D’Ambrosio design has not been included in the Hillel version but if utilized might compensate for the exposed concrete block.
• Members are still concerned that the parking entry is unnecessarily wide to accommodate the parking access drive for just 12 vehicle spaces. It is understood that
for up to 10 car spaces the access lane can be reduced to approximately 3.0 m. Vehicle movements in downtown residential buildings that do not accommodate commercial parking are extremely limited. Members with experience in traffic engineering comment that it is quite defensible for this particular category of parking (residential) on a case by case basis to have an access drive as narrow as 3.0 m if movements are below 30 (in and out) per peak hour and the length of drive is under 30m. In this case there would likely be perhaps 6 movements in peak hours so there is no rationale for the proposed entry width which degrades the building ambiance at street level.
• Our concerns about security in regard to the placement of the vehicle gates and residential entrance appear to have been addressed.

The DRA cannot support this proposal unless the cladding materials are upgraded at least to the level of August 2014. It would help to mitigate the concrete block surfaces with an appropriate green wall. While we generally support increasing residential units in the Chinatown district, as it stands, this project is not appropriate for this important heritage area. We hope that this proposal is turned down.

Sincerely,

Robert Florida
Land Use Committee
Downtown Residents Association

PDF version of letter