Bank Street and the “adjacent” neighbourhood

The other day, I wrote about the proposed re-development of Fifth + Bank (or, as everyone knows it, Fifth Avenue Court). There was a line about the stepbacks it’d have on the eastern edge of the property:

The proposed development intensifies the property while providing a sensitive transition to the adjacent residential neighbourhood, preserving the character and scale of the existing context.

This is flat-out wrong.

Bank Street is not adjacent to the residential neighbourhood; it is the centre of the mix-use neighbourhood.

I know, I know, this seems like an innocuous mistake, but it makes it seem like the developers don’t understand the area or urban development. In the proposal, they talk about Bank Street being a mix-use street and a Traditional Main Street, but then they totally ignore that it’s the main street of a mix-use neighbourhood.

This is important, because if developers want to come in and build up in a neighbourhood (which is generally a good thing), they should probably understand what that neighbourhood is.

This…mistake, we’ll call it…could be a beneficial misrepresentation of the situation. They’re talking about stepbacks that transition to the “residential” neighbourhood. This would make it seem like, perhaps, the development won’t be a significant change to the neighbourhood, but will be a change to the busy street “adjacent” to the neighbourhood.

Considering the recent history of one of the members of the development team within this very neighbourhood, I’m not really inclined to give much benefit of the doubt to the proposal.

And this isn’t the only they get wrong. The proposal also states that traveling south along Bank, the street is made up of one- and two-storey retail and commercial buildings until you reach Holmwood. This is absolutely wrong. It’s not even a matter of interpretation. A half block south of “Fifth + Bank”, there is a three-story residential (only) building–a pretty big demonstration of how the Traditional Main Street is a mix-use area.

I don’t know if this is willful ignorance, or if they just don’t care. And even though this particular falsehood doesn’t particularly affect their proposal, it says to me that they have little interest in understanding (or demonstrating an understanding) of the neighbourhood in which they want to build, the neighbourhood they want to alter significantly.

This proposal is pretty close to being a good project for the neighbourhood, but considering the information that has already been presented, there’s no reason to believe the current development team will get it there.

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