At one time it was expected to become the largest urban renewal project in Burlington’s history. Now, it’s shelved. It’s official.
QuadReal Property Group had proposed the complete redevelopment of Georgian Court Estates in Aldershot. The 8.4 hectare site currently consists of 280 rental townhomes and masonettes between King and Francis Roads, south of Plains.
The developer wanted to gradually remove the 280 homes and replace them with 1,450 new residential units including 11 tall buildings, some as high as 20 storeys. The massive project would have taken over a decade to complete. Now, it’s off the table.
“We can’t make the economics work” reported QuadReal’s Senior Vice President for Development, John Marotto.
News that the project will not proceed comes as a relief for existing residents, some of whom have lived at Georgian Court for decades. They strongly opposed the redevelopment for fear they would lose their homes.
Marotto acknowledged that the City’s request that existing residents’ homes be replaced with new homes, similar to what they have now in both size and rent, played a part in the decision not to proceed.
“You can’t take down three storey, 1,500 square foot townhomes that were built forty or fifty years ago, at low market rents, and put up brand new three storey townhomes, the same size, and maintain the same rents. It just doesn’t make any economic sense. The only way to do it is to replace those homes with 700 square foot apartments in a tower. That’s the only way you can make sense of replacement units”, commented Marotto.
QuadReal went public in late 2017 with its formal application. Eighty people subsequently attended a neighbourhood meeting. The developer’s representatives told the group that the existing residential units had aged over time and needed replacement. They argued that their new development would provide a wide range of housing opportunities for people in all stages of life and that the development would be more pedestrian and environmentally friendly. They even offered incentives for existing residents to move out. The public, however was not buying it. Residents clearly indicated that they liked the site as it is, particularly the open spaces, and rejected the proposed redevelopment.
In the spring of 2019 the City held a statutory public meeting to review the proposal. There were many delegations speaking in opposition to the redevelopment.
Since then, QuadReal quietly back away from the project without formally advising the public or the City. Burlington Planner Thomas Douglas reports that “there has been no activity on the file for a couple of years now”, despite the fact that the application still shows on the City’s web site.
“We have not heard from them since well before the pandemic. We did a walking tour with the ownership group back in 2019…….no further communication on the development proposal”, according to local City Councillor Kelvin Galbraith.
The Chair of the Warwick Surrey Community Association, which surrounds and includes Georgian Court, was not surprised that the project is shelved, She said the neighbourhood was never official advised.
“We kinda figured it wasn’t going to happen. Nobody said anything and the signs are still up all over the property.” said Janine Hersey.
By Rick Craven