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Newmarket considers Davis Drive apartment building proposal

170-unit proposed across from Lorne Avenue, rental or condo to be determined

Newmarket council grilled a proposal for a 170-unit apartment building coming to Davis Drive that could become rental.

Council held a public hearing Oct. 2 for the project by Format Davis GP Inc. to build an apartment complex across from Lorne Avenue, next to Hillview Drive. The proposal includes 77-one-bedroom plus den units, 57 two-bedroom units, and seven two-bedroom plus den units, with the developers still deciding whether to make it a condominium or rental building.

Macauly Shimoi Howson principal Nick Pileggi said the eight-storey building is meant to be "light" and not disruptive to neighbours. He further said it should not take too long to get the building once zoning is approved.

“This is not one where you’re into a lengthy planning process beyond what’s in front of council today," Pileggi said.

The development would feature 176 underground parking spaces and would only have right-in, right-out access onto Davis Drive. A pedestrian walkway is proposed connecting to Hillview and Davis. Council made no decisions on the proposal during the public hearing, with municipal staff to consider feedback and come back with a recommendation.

The access to the building garnered some concern. Resident Gary Blake wrote in with concerns about the impact on Hillview. 

“This large building with a significant increase in the number of residents in the area … will cause an impact on traffic and street parking,” Blake wrote to council.

A traffic study by Nextrans Consulting Engineers projected that the apartment would generate 54 auto trips during the morning peak hour and 49 during the evening peak hour. The study said that should not substantially impact nearby major intersections of Davis and Lorne Avenue, as well as Main Street and Davis. 

With left-turns into the property also not being possible from Davis, Councillor Bob Kwapis also expressed some concern with those who may U-turn to get access.

“Lorne (Avenue) already has U-turn issues in there, and I just see that becoming a little bit more of an issue,” Kwapis said.

The developers were asked about affordability. Pileggi said it was hard to pin down what the exact market rate might be, but if they do go the condo route, he said the smaller units could come in close to an affordable rate, potentially around $565,000. The larger, two-bedroom units could be around $650,000 in that scenario.

“This building will provide units that have certainly a different sort of market than the $1.1 million townhouse or the $900,000 townhouse that’s available in Newmarket today,” he said.

Still, with the federal government recently moving to waive tax on rental development, Pileggi said that rental has become a more appealing possibility.

Mayor John Taylor expressed his hope that there could still be some larger units included in the design. He said it is tough for larger families to find spaces that work for them.

“There’s a real shortage of family-sized units,” Taylor said. “And it seems like the vast majority (of units) coming online don’t satisfy that need.