The developers behind a proposed high-rise Four Seasons Hotel and condominium complex in Yorkville are giving $2-million to a nearby school after concerns were raised about how much shadow the project's two towers would cast over the school's playground.
But the plans for the Toronto-based luxury hotel chain's new five-star, 46-storey flagship, just east of the existing Four Seasons in Yorkville, are still expected to face opposition before a city council committee today.
The development, which will cost at least $325-million, has been in the works since last summer, and calls for two towers, one 46 storeys and the other 30 storeys, mostly on land now occupied by a car dealership at Bay Street and Yorkville Avenue.
The taller structure was originally set to be 55 storeys, but was shortened after a series of meetings with residents and city officials, said Councillor Kyle Rae, who supports the project.
However, the towers will still cast some shadows, especially in the morning, on the playground at Jesse Ketchum Public School, on Davenport Road north of the site, causing parents and some local residents to object to the plans.
Toronto District School Board chairwoman Sheila Ward agreed yesterday to drop the board's objections in return for $2-million.
The money will go to building new play equipment relocated to a sunny area, skylights to compensate for the lack of sunlight, and other building improvements.
"Two million dollars is not to be sneezed at," said Ms. Ward, who accepted the deal before a 5 p.m. deadline yesterday that was set by the developers, a joint venture between the Four Seasons and Menkes Developments Ltd.
Ms. Ward said she had spoken with three of the five members of the school's parents' council, who were supportive of the $2-million deal.
However, Donna Wright, chairwoman of the parents' council, said yesterday, before she learned of the deal, that she didn't want the school to trade sunlight for cash.
"I don't think sunshine should be sold at any price," Ms. Wright said.
She pledged to speak out against the development today when the plans come before the Toronto and East York Community Council.
In addition to the $2-million for the school, the developer is promising another almost $8-million in street improvements, public art, a publicly accessible park area, and improvements to the nearby historic fire hall and the Toronto Reference Library.
But Mary-Helen Spence of the Avenue Bay Cottingham Residents Association said the project is too dense for the area, and accuses the city of giving the development "special treatment."
The current Four Seasons on Avenue Road, which has played host in recent years to countless Hollywood stars during the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as the Rolling Stones, Nelson Mandela and Tony Bennett, is expected to continue to operate as a hotel even after the new property opens in 2009.