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Redevelopment of Howard Johnson’s site inches forward at Council

December 9, 2021   ·   0 Comments

A plan to turn the former Howard Johnson’s hotel building on Yonge Street into a 105-unit retirement home is inching closer towards reality.

Sitting at the Committee meeting last week, Council received a delegation on behalf of the current property owners to remove a holding provision on the development that was contingent on a site plan agreement.

A minor site plan application has been working its way through Town Hall since March of this year. Once complete, the redevelopment of the property will include, 51 parking spots – 25 of which will be below grade – and significant improvements to the building’s Yonge Street façade.

“A Minor Site Plan is required to facilitate conversion of the existing building into a retirement home with a total of 105 units within four existing floors and some minor works to the parking area at the rear of the property,” planning staff noted in a report to lawmakers. “Staff confirm that the Minor Site Plan agreement has been approved with all sign-offs from internal departments and external agencies. A Minor Site Plan Agreement has been executed by the Town and the Owner, along with the accompanying fees and securities.”

One of the last hurdles before Council formally lifts the holding provision at a future Council meeting will be the minor works to the rear parking area which, due to its location against a nearby creek, will require some additional flood mitigation work under the direction of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.

“If you have driven by the site recently, you will see that a lot of interior and cleanup works have been done and it has reached the stage now where exterior windows and interior finishes can take place,” said Nick Pileggi on behalf of the proponents. “The materials are scheduled to come in January. We have been working with staff on a Minor Site Plan amendment and I am here tonight to simply say I am in support of the staff recommendation and we’re asking for Council’s support to move this along quickly so that the whole hold can be removed in January and construction can progress as scheduled.”

While Councillor Wendy Gartner said she had some pending questions on how the work on the rear parking lot will work from a floodplain standpoint, the timeline was warmly received by Council who said they noted the ongoing work on the site as they rode by during the Santa Under the Stars parade on November 27.

“The majority of us were on a float and as soon as we passed HoJo’s we all noted the fact that all the work had been done to this point,” said Councillor Michael Thompson, who chaired last week’s General Committee meeting. “It was a little bit of a celebration as the float went down Yonge Street.”

Added Councillor Sandra Humfryes: “We are really excited about moving forward. Thank you for the work. It is looking a lot better than it has in many years. I am looking forward to the finished product and really improving not only the aesthetics of Aurora but the services Aurora has to offer our seniors.”

From the perspective of Mayor Tom Mrakas, the redevelopment of the site has been “a long time coming.”

“I think the residents are happy this is finally coming to fruition and I think Council is happy, staff is happy, everyone is happy because it has been a long process that something is actually going to happen here. When you look at the renderings of what is being proposed, I think it is going to be a very beautiful addition to what would be considered an extension of our downtown core.”

By Brock Weir
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter



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