12 unit condo "too much" for Crescentwood, Winnipeg?

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The Analyst The Analyst's picture
12 unit condo "too much" for Crescentwood, Winnipeg?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/crescentwood-condos-epc-1.3885375

I'm generally not a fan of developer lobbying (especially if it's in favour of lower fees or outer suburban development) but this EPC/City Centre Committee decision seems bad. Denser development in central neighbourhoods seems exactly what Winnipeg needs.

Regions: 
lagatta4

I'm no fan of developers, but the discourse of the opponents cited is nimby and anti-environmental. That is a low-rise, and more are needed to ensure efficiency of public transport, and walkability.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

And its to go on an empty lot. It's ridiculous it was scuttled. There's a large apartment block just two blocks away and lots of old houses divided into suites all around it, not to mention new build condos on single lots. It wouldn't be out of step in that location.

milo204

i love the part where he's like "build it in osborne"...hhaha yeah, osborne needs another condo...this is typical nimby'ism...it's 12 units, not a tall building comparatively and it's not like the neighbourhood is even close to density issues...

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Like Osborne village is sooooo distant. What a joke.

Aristotleded24

I disagree with the general sentiment of this thread. Take a look at the building design. It is very visually unappealing for one. In the second place, there is already a great deal of density in Osborne Village as it is. It is the only part of the city where "For Lease" signs don't hang in empty windows for long periods of time. Thirdly, these buildings tend to be very high-priced condos, which tend to raise the cost of housing in the surrouding neighbourhoods and exacerbate the issue of affordable housing in the city, as developers try to cash in and get rich on "density" or whatever the current trends are in urban development. And these condos are still not stopping the sprawling outward around the edges of the city.

If we want to actually address issues of urban density, let's actually back mayor Bowman's development fee, put a halt to sprawling suburbs, and begin a public consultation process to rebuild low-density areas like St. James, South Winnipeg, or the Maples. High-priced, visually unappealing buildings that don't fit in well with their surroundings in areas like Osborne and Wolseley can wait.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Crescentwood isn't as dense as Osborne Village by any means, even if subdivided housing isn't uncommon. The building design isn't any worse than the commercial 6 story building it would back onto, either. This part of the city lends itself more naturally to densification than the neighbourhoodx you mention. Increase those areas population and you'll increase the traffic more than bikable areas with adequate public transit. Although I agree it has to happen eventually, it's better to grow density from the centre outward. 

Meanwhile, there are two empty lots growing weeds. I'd be happy to see them used. 

Aristotleded24

Timebandit wrote:
Meanwhile, there are two empty lots growing weeds. I'd be happy to see them used.

Maybe we should just leave them and let them turn into a nature preserve. We have serious issues with lack of greenspaces in the central city, and maybe more urban greenspaces will preserve biodiversity and bee and butterfly populations and maybe also help feed the city's hungry.

lagatta4

An antidote to overpriced development can be requiring a certain number of geared-to-income social housing units in all new developments. And the vacant lots should be used either for social housing or for a park - I'm unfamiliar with Winnipeg so I don't know whether that is a good place to put a park. There is a rewilded area just south of me in Mile-End, but a vacant lot can easily become a place that attracts antisocial activity and trash dumping, not butterflies. I'll leave specific comments to current and former Winnipeggers. In general low density prevents development of public transport and walkable/cyclable neighbourhoods in North American cities, except for parts of the oldest ones. Very high density can cause other problems. 

Pogo Pogo's picture

Vacant lots are not usually suited for park space.  I do believe in a use it or lose it tax both for empty lots and unoccupied suites.  What a number of guerilla gardners in vancouver have done is take over empty lots for vegetables.

lagatta4

Absolutely. There are a few exceptions such as "pocket parks", often with some play equipment for small children, in cases where the closest normal park is across a busy street, but in general they are not good park locations. In this area infill, especially social housing - which includes housing co-ops - would probably be the best option, and indeed landowners should pay a punitive surtax on empty lots. 

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

The location of these lots is not good for a park. It's just off Corydon Ave, which is a fairly busy commercial street, and is on Harrow St, which is a fairly busy thoroughfare, and would be Roadkill Corner as a "nature preserve". IOW, quite a bit of traffic, behind a commercial building. There are lots of green spaces in the neighbourhood, too - I know them all because I live only a few blocks away and walk my dog daily. There are at least two parks within a five minute walk of that location.

I also fail to see how a few more condos are going to jack up prices on nearby houses. If anything, older people who are ready to downsize but don't want to leave the neighbourhood are more likely to free up single family dwellings nearby and relieve some of the pressure on a fairly tight, in-demand market. And there are lots of more affordable rental apartments and single family homes nearby as well. It's an extremely mixed neighbourhood of large, medium and smaller homes, apartment buildings and condos. In fact, the location and the building hit all of the benchmarks for infill housing put out by the city.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Oh, by the by, city council has overturned the decision and the building has been approved:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/crescentwood-condos-council-1.389...

Aristotleded24

Timebandit wrote:
I also fail to see how a few more condos are going to jack up prices on nearby houses.

Those new condos are in some cases going for around $200 000. How many people do you know who can afford that? I sure as hell can't.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Given that condominiums are typically (and understandably) cheaper than freehold homes, including detached and semi-detached, shouldn't condos typically drive the price of local homes DOWN, to compete with a cheaper non-rental option?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

A24, condos in the area go from anywhere from just under $100k to over $400k, depending on the street. It's one of the more expensive neighbourhoods in the city - but this city is a lot less expensive than most. I do know people who can afford the properties, and I recognize that not everyone can. 

Magoo, I think bringing property values down has something to do with the objections. Single family homes in the area are in high demand - big old character homes - and tend to go for a relatively high price, although not quite as high as the ones just to the west, but higher than Osborne Village, just to the east. The worry is that increased density a la Osborne Village will reduce property values. That, and there are people who just don't want change. It's mostly big single family homes on leafy streets - some of which are are divided into suites, but you can't really tell unless you look closely. 

Personally, I think a little more density is good for the neighbouhood and it's just time Winnipeg grew up a little.  

Pogo Pogo's picture

New houses almost by definition will cost more.  It is king of shitty that way.  Cities need to be more creative in their building codes.  Design guidelines over time have demanded too much fancy crap (gables and stuff that make them attractive to passers by).  Of course the developers don't complain as long as they can pass on the cost to the buyer. There needs to be more pressure on planning departments to consider affordability in the design process.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I think buildings should be aesthetically pleasing, myself. It makes a huge psychological difference to the experience of living somewhere. 

I should also point out that division of existing buildings is pretty common throughout the neighbouhood. Less cost, more density, looks nice. But there are times when that's not a possibility. 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
New houses almost by definition will cost more.

Like a new car will cost more than a used car.  But if all you (a buyer) wants is four wheels to get from A to B then a nearby used car lot cannot help but bring prices down at a new car lot.  Or, if not, it surely won't drive those prices UP.

Quote:
Cities need to be more creative in their building codes.  Design guidelines over time have demanded too much fancy crap (gables and stuff that make them attractive to passers by).

Do municipal building codes demand gables?

As I understand it, gables are nothing more than the triangular bit of exterior wall at the top that's pretty much obligatory if you have a pitched roof.  I didn't know their existence was the City's fault, nor that they unduly added to the cost of a home.

Quote:
There needs to be more pressure on planning departments to consider affordability in the design process.

What planning departments??  Municipalities don't design homes, architects do.

Pogo Pogo's picture

It was a while ago but I was in a meeting with the city planner and he explained that developers are asked to provide multiple breaks in the roof line (he had a fancy planner word for it) not just one peak with a straight roof runnng down each side.  Gables are just one example.  Aesthetic requirements do make the community more pleasing to the eye which is a good thing, but it comes at a cost.

Some of the designs issues come from developers.  Cool stuff but that is why it costs so much more to build than it used to cost.  It becomes a slipper slope where standardizing cost effective items like  double pane windows grow to include items like heated flooring as we blur the line between want and need.

There are groups (for example Architecture for Humanity) that are looking to include affordability as key component of the design component.  They just don't have as many developer friends, margins are not as good.

lagatta4

Well, I'll certainly look that up, having been a housing activist for decades - but also, like progressive people here, committed to defending our architectural and historical heritage - against the plastic crap that started taking over and destroying beautiful old buildings (grand or modest) in the postwar period. One important idea is "le patrimoine modeste" - the integrity of the architecture of our working-class neighbourhoods. 

Using the cheapest materials and the ugliest building design for social or working-class housing is a recipe for slums. But there are a lot of techniques that can respect the architectural integrity of neighbourhoods while making it possible to build more housing or re-use existing buildings. 

Pogo Pogo's picture

Bread and Roses.

lagatta4

I've had the pleasure of visiting historic social housing in France (Paris and Lyon), Italy (Florence and Rome), Amsterdam in the Netherlands. And reading about the heroic projects in Vienna. One of the most dramatic scenes in the film Julia is the battle between workers defending their Hof (I think it was Karl-Mark Hof, the largest one) and the Austrofascists (precursors to the Nazis after the Anschuss). There was some remarkable architecture (often the intellectual labour was donated) and the housing was intended not only to provide proper living conditions and decent hygiene but also to change lives.