Brant Street is getting kind of crowded - developers are tripping over each other buying up properties.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 17, 2017



Elizabeth Interiors from Brant

The owners of Elizabeth Interiors, on he left,are reported to have an offer from a developer – and Kelly’s on the right is also closing.

One of those usually reliable sources tells us that the Elizabeth Interiors retail location on Brant Street opposite city hall has an offer for the property that is to close on November 7th.

Our source was not able to say if it is a firm offer or just an option. The firm said to be prepared to put real money on the table is Reserve Properties, a very active residential developer who has been active in the Beach part of Toronto.

421 Brant

421 Brant – opposite city hall is waiting for the Planning department report that will go to city council with a recommendation.

Burlington’s Planning department is in the process of going through an application for both Official Plan amendments and a zoning change to put up a 26 story mixed use high-rise currently known as 421 Brant – just across John Street from Elizabeth’s.

The furniture operation moved out of the space a number of months ago and is now located on Fairview east of Guelph Line.

There probably isn’t a piece of property on Brant Street that doesn’t have a developer looking over what the possibilities are.

Let’s see what happens on the 7th of November.

In the meantime city council is getting ready to receive the first of the Grow Bold Mobility Hub recommendations – the first will be the Downtown Mobility hub – the boundaries of the hub include both properties.

And Kelly’s Cup Cake location is said to be closing – that property is also reported to have been sold.

And, let’s not forget the Elgin Promenade that is being built at the south end of the Cup Cake shop.

Downtown is going to become a construction site.

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13 comments to Brant Street is getting kind of crowded – developers are tripping over each other buying up properties.

  • Lindsay

    We will fight for Kelly’s Bake Shoppe. Sorry…..this is my favourite place on the PLANET!

  • Rich

    There is a problem with MASSIVE 21 story developments and too many of them.
    #1 YOUNG people will not be the purchases as they cannot afford it million dollar condos.
    #2 – there are not enough parking spots. In Celli’s block there slated to have 21 story condo and there are 179 – 2 bedroom units, plus retail and plus office space and only 183 parking spots. There should be 350 to 400 parking spots!
    #3 New St is down to one lane and traffic jams daily
    #4 the ridiculous ‘bike paths’ are just waiting for a legal problem and running over people walking, jogging and strollers and old folks too. TORONTO has designated bike paths and walking paths. We were taught as kids that bikes do not belong on sidewalks and that is a real issue in downtown Burlington. I have seen it first hand many times.
    #5 Overall parking issues. Each condo in Downtown Burlington has NO visitor parking. WHAT?!!
    #6 What kind of retail tenants are you going to attract? The young people do not spend money like the older ones. The young people think that Burlington is boring. So maybe the demographics of Burlington needs to be finalized.
    I see it that young people cannot afford to live in the downtown core and so where does that leave us? No retail. and condo units you cannot sell because I (a 50 year old) will only buy units with 2 parking spots and young people cannot afford them.
    #7 Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is a designation marketing marvel. 1000’s go there weekly. These “A tenant” types of businesses Burlington should be fighting to keep and they bring people to the downtown core. You cannot simply build condos and think that plan will work. You can go ahead and build them but WHO IS BUYING THEM if there is NO RETAIL or VIBRANCY and they are TOO EXPENSIVE for the 30 year olds?

    • Chris Ariens

      #1: It is much more likely that smaller buildings will be $million+ condos vs. taller buildings.

      #2: More space dedicated to parking increases the cost and decreases affordability. Builders have to provide enough parking for their buyers otherwise no one will buy. If parking is underground it is extremely costly – they have to dig down deep underground which means more height needed to break even. If surface, they have to pay for the land and you get big gaps in the street that make downtown less attractive for everyone. 2 or 3 parking spaces per unit doesn’t make economic sense, and if there are that many cars downtown, no one is going to be getting very far in them. Car share and bike share are great alternatives that can reduce the demand for parking and make downtown living more affordable and viable.

      #3: Traffic jams are mainly a result of heavy cross-town traffic and people trying to detour E-W QEW congestion at rush hour. Rush hour congestion will always be with us, no matter how many lanes we have. Expect that at least one lane will be closed somewhere, every year due to construction. It’s unavoidable. Decision time for New St. is a month away. We’ll see what’s to come.

      #4: This is a problem, mainly one of people not exercising consideration for others. Occurs on the roads and on the paths. Separation may help, but we can’t separate everyone all the time. Making the bike a viable option for some residents reduces the # of cars on the road, reduces pollution, improves health, allows us to save huge amounts of infrastructure dollars over the long term and helps to attract young people, entrepreneurs and high-tech businesses. It doesn’t mean everyone has to ride a bike, it means that everyone has the option, and if they choose to, they feel safe and comfortable doing so.

      #5 Same as #2…the more visitor parking you provide, the less affordable a development can be, and the less walkable our downtown will be, so there is a significant trade-off. There is loads of parking for visitors in the city – just not immediately outside the front door of every building, and expect it to be full when events like Sound of Music or Ribfest are on.

      #6 is the key. I don’t agree that “young people do not spend money like the older ones”. Spending is typically highest during the prime working and earning years. We do need to maintain a balanced demographic in the city – as existing residents reach retirement age we will need young adults in numbers to ensure our businesses, particularly retailers remain viable. Downtown today is one of the few parts of the city south of the QEW that has above average % of population in their 20’s-30’s. If we want to keep schools open, these people need to see their future here. To do that, housing units need to be affordable and family-sized.

      #7 Kelly’s is awesome. We absolutely need to keep businesses like that, as well as grow new ones. New construction often means high rents initially which makes it a challenge – the business either needs to really skimp on floor space, or grow in scale so that they can serve more customers. Every building on main streets like Brant needs to be mixed use, and that mixed use needs to be flexible enough to accommodate a diverse array of business sizes and formats. We also should encourage adaptive re-use (building a few stories on top of existing, instead of demolishing older buildings). Existing retailers likely find it much more profitable to sell up and move out than they do to keep going amid higher property values and rising rents. We’re going to see turnover regardless of whether the city builds up or not. The businesses moving in will be more dependent on the clients living downtown or tourists instead of being dependent on visitors coming by car from elsewhere in the city, and will cater more to those demographics. The city will have little control over this aspect, but it’s going to be one of the determining factors as to whether the development of our downtown is a success.

  • Roger

    Watch the Mayor and the planner on Cogeco last night – let say Nero fiddled while Rome burned

    The mobility hub discussions are a sham

  • James

    Love it! Finally Burlington is taking steps to become a modern city, not a sleepy old town where nothing happens and nothing changes. Yes it may lose some of that small town character that the 60+ crowd loves so dearly, but times are changing, and the new vibrancy and energy will more than make up for it. Brant Street downtown hasn’t seen any significant changes for a very long time, this is a welcome change that will hopefully spur on more of this type of development. I am excited to see the evolution of downtown in the coming years. This has nothing to do with “greedy” investors or a planning department that doesn’t care what residents want. Most people I speak with under the age of 50 are excited about downtown redevelopment. I know most people reading this on this website won’t agree, but believe it or not this IS the type of development that residents want to see. It’s about supply and demand, and this is the type of development that the Province wants, and the type of development that most people in the GTA want to see. If there was no demand, this wouldn’t be happening. Those vocally opposed are still hanging on to Burlington of old, when we were that small town outside of Toronto. Time for many to face some harsh realities. The GTA is essentially one big city now. The Greenbelt boxed us in and now we’ve all merged into one giant mega-city. This pipe dream that many have about keeping Burlington separate and immune to the growth that’s happening all around us isn’t based in reality. Downtown Toronto along Yonge Street used to be 2 and 3 storey buildings too. Things change with time. It’s inevitable. Nobody promised you that the Burlington would stay the same forever.

    • This issue James is although the developers show pictures of hundreds of people walking around and children playing with balloons around a fountain – see above. In reality placing thousands of small condos in a tight area and not having the whole place go to hell is quite tricky. You need lots a public amenities and private business operating to make it a “nice place.”

      The second you don’t is a bunch crappy 400 sqft apartments in a pile of run down buildings with lots of traffic and few stores.

    • Tom Muir

      James may be right if you take the provinces dictated numbers.

      A big problem, many see, including myself, is that the province has been doing this forcing of growth numbers for too long, almost out of habit, with no sense that the continued acceleration changes the math of how things work, particularly, together as a system.

      I remember the 1970s Design for Development, an early Growth Plan from the province. Development trickled out from the Toronto-centered region to the east and west, in the sprawl suburban form, for many years, with accelerating impacts on the math slowly making themselves evident.

      Fast forward to the 90s, and the successors to the provincial Design plan kept making their increasing demands to grow on surrounding municipalities, which locally took the form of the Halton Urban Structure Plan or HUSP. I remember the public engagement, which I was very much involved in at the time.

      What people thought then didn’t matter. The Growth Plan numbers ruled the day. The tax costs, the ever increasing transportation costs of making congestion worse, and the inflation in land and housing costs were predicted then, and all came to pass. It didn’t matter that we foresaw the obvious.

      This planning structure with ever increasing population numbers imposed by the province and accepted by the Region and then the cities, has been driving things since and the Places to Grow, or The Growth Plan, are the more recent versions.

      The latest, dated 2017, continues the acceleration of the population to new high levels, but still forgets about the math that governs how all this works in the relationships of the parts of the economic and urban structure, and embedded needs that keep it moving and working.

      In the 2017 version, what was the population of all of Halton in the not too distant past of 1976 – about 200,000, is thoughtlessly stated to be added on in a mere 10 year period from 2031 to 2041. Halton is supposed to grow to 1,000,000 people? Think about it a bit.

      For Burlington’s share, which seems to ever increase, the city has decided against more low density sprawl, to make it high density sprawl in selected areas called Mobility Hubs.

      This is what James says he likes. I can’t speak for the generations that he says he speaks for, and maybe that’s what they really want. I don’t know, and I see no data on that, but as I said to start, it might not matter cause the province is driving the bus on this.

      But that said, I repeat that the majority of expressions of public discontent have to do with HEIGHT of this sprawl, and that intrusivness.

      Check out the waterfront hotel site public survey that is on the city website. The higher the heights, the greater the dislike. Only the lowest buildings were acceptable by the survey numbers.

      And especially when the height proposed is way way above what the present OP allows. Of course, there is a new OP in the works, with the Mobility Hubs within that, but that really is a long way from becoming the law.

      But apparently, in this city, there is no need for that due process of getting the new OP vetted and legal, to get in the way of making it what those in control want it to be. This is reflected in comments that the public consultation is a sham.

      Since as Stephen White notes, nothing of final design, and recommendations for public and Council approval has been brought forward, it’s no wonder some people object to the developments proposed being done by amendments to the existing OP and bylaws to far beyond what they allow.

      It’s making the OP what you want it to be through the back door.

      Developers are taking hints from city planning, the Mayor, and council that point to what might be allowed in this new OP, and so are jumping the gun all over the place to get there now. Even in the 95% of places that the city and Mayor say will not be affected by intensification.

      So James, I can’t disagree with you that Burlington is going to change if these growth plans are implemented – BIG TIME. And I’m in that older group you refer to, so maybe I don’t have a clue what the under 50 crowd want.

      All I want is to see that the people who live in Burlington now have their concerns, opinions, and wants visibly apparent in whatever emerges in the new OP draft put before them. I don’t want to see the Gold Rush underway right now all over Burlington, not just Downtown, usurp everything and become what we are going to be.

      But right at the moment I am not seeing a well designed whole system structure out there yet from Planning. I think they want that before we move ahead, but they need room and time.

      Speculative one-off proposals that are in the works now will not get us there.

    • Steve

      “Those vocally opposed are still hanging on to Burlington of old, when we were that small town outside of Toronto.”

      It’s important to remember that many of those “vocally opposed” are not opposed to growth or densification, they simply want it done right. The City of Burlington has failed to put in place the framework and rules to ensure that this growth creates that livable vibrant city that you’re looking forward to.

      There is no tree bylaw or anything else that tries to preserve green space, the commercial space in mixed used buildings is deficient and to small attract even medium sized businesses and parking provided is woefully insufficient in a city that will have car travel as the primary mode of transportation for years if not decades to come.

      On that note Burlington’s current transport plan is sorely lacking with a total refusal to properly fund Burlington transit, which recently had it’s budget reduced, and a complete denial of common sense in their failure to not only expand the road network but instead they have actually reduce the number of lanes in the face of all this increased density. When challenged by these realities they fall back on telling you to walk and bike, in a spread out suburban city with harsh winters. The other option they trumpet is transit, on an almost unusable system they themselves created and refuse to properly expand with the city.

      I would love to see more vibrant downtown and have other areas become focuses for entertainment and relaxation but what I see our elected officials and staff at city hall creating is a city with a lot of high rises but none of the forethought and planning allowing these new residents to work and live well in our city.

      No one that’s reasonable expects Burlington to stay the same forever, we just don’t want a city mired in the self created problems of our elected representatives.

      • Pauline

        “It’s important to remember that many of those “vocally opposed” are not opposed to growth or densification, they simply want it done right.”

        What does this mean?

        • Steve

          As in there are some people that are opposed to any new condo tower or large development. If they had their way there would be no new projects and Burlington would stay the same as it is now.

          Then there are people that oppose the cities current direction because the city doesn’t have a viable, well considered plan in place to accommodate this growth.

          The first group just wants no new development. The second group wants to make sure the framework is in place so the result is a livable vibrant city but since both groups are opposing the direction the city is going in it can be easy to lump them into the same “anti change” camp.

          One is advocating for no change while the other is arguing for change done right.

          An example would be the new tower on the corner of Martha and Lakeshore. There seem to be many people opposed to the tower because it’s a tower. I think that downtown is a great place for more density as it already has many tower blocks and their is local retail. I do however have an issue with putting another tower on Lakeshore when the city has already reduced the road from 4 lanes to 2 lanes with the express goal of slowing travel times, which is a polite term for making traffic worse. Into this they now plan to add even more residents. So you take a road, make it less functional and now plan to put even more people on it everyday with no solutions for the residents that live there. That’s the kind of poor planning I’m vocally opposed too. The city will not even entertain the idea of returning Lakeshore to 4 lanes, apparently that is non negotiable or some sort of unconscionable idea.

          I’m not opposed to the building, I’m opposed to the vision, or lack thereof, that the city has to integrate it into the reality of the area.

    • Pauline

      I for one agree. The GTA is growing by 100,000 people per year and Burlington will have to accept its fair share, just like every other municipality.

  • Stephen White

    Downtown is already a construction site.

    If all this development is going on downtown while the Mobility Hub consultation is underway, and the final design of the Mobility Hub hasn’t been confirmed, and Council hasn’t given their approval on the final recommendations, then why in hell are we bothering with the consultation process?

    More and more these Mobility Hub consultations are looking like a sham.

  • Judy

    Greedy investors and the city planning department don’t seem to care what the residents want or that Burlington is becoming a concrete jungle. Most people I have talked to don’t agree with what is happening to their once beautiful city. Living near the lake doesn’t mean much anymore because soon you won’t be able to see much of the lake.