It’s been more than five years since a showy condo sales centre poked its head up at the dreary intersection of Bloor and Dundas West, heralding the arrival of a 29-storey-tall, 293-unit tower—Giraffe Condominiums—in its spot. Today, there’s no Giraffe condo, and the sales centre is deserted. A sign in the window still advertises “FABULOUS SUITES STARTING FROM $199,900,” but the building’s only tenants are the pigeons roosting outside the second-floor windows. Inside the locked front doors, a scale model of the highrise rests against a wall, covered with a plastic sheet.
Around the time the sales centre for Giraffe appeared in late summer 2008, the project’s marketing materials declared: “Giraffes are unique, harmonious, and highly attuned animals. With their heads high in the air and their feet planted firmly on the ground, they serve as links between the higher and lower realms.” Neighbours weren’t so keen on the “high in the air” thing, and in November 2009, city council rejected the proposal. (By then, it was two storeys shorter, but that didn’t help much.) The developers, TAS, appealed the decision at the Ontario Municipal Board, the tribunal that has the final say on especially contentious development proposals. In March 2010, the OMB turned down the appeal, ruling that the high-rise “was simply too large for the site and inappropriate for the area.” The sales centre closed. In May 2011, TAS pitched another building, this one just 15 storeys tall, and re-opened the storefront. City council said “no” once again in April 2012, and the sales centre’s been closed ever since.
So now what?
“As of right now, we’ve put [the property] into what we’d call inventory—it’s a land holding for us,” says Mazyar Mortazavi, the president and CEO of TAS, who estimates that the project was 50 to 60 per cent sold when the OMB killed it. “We don’t have anything in place right now.” As for how much longer it’ll stay dormant, Mortazavi says that they’ll “make some sort of move on the property sometime in the next two to three years.” Should his company sell the L-shaped plot of land, they’ll likely collect more than the $6 million they paid for it back in 2007.
And until then?
Nothing, probably. “You’re allowed to buy property and not do stuff with it,” explains Gord Perks, the area’s councillor. “It makes me sad every time I walk by,” he says, “but this is the thing: I can’t compel them to build.” The past two summers, TAS has hosted the immensely popular monthly Junction Flea market on a fenced-in, empty lot the developer owns on Dundas West, near Keele, where another one of its developments, DUKE Condos, is coming sometime in the near future. Mortazavi says he’d welcome something like that at the Giraffe site. “I’d love if there was a community initiative that came forward and said, ‘Hey, we want to make use of the space, we want to turn it into something,’” he says. “We’d be totally open to it. We just haven’t had any of that kind of interest.”
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