Just months after Liberty Development Corp. cancelled a sold-out three-tower condominium project at Highway 7 and Maplecrete Road in Vaughan, stranding 1,100 hopeful buyers, the property development company has applied to build a new two-tower condominium project at Highway 7 and Maplecrete.
The new project designed by architects at Dialog calls for a 962-unit residential mixed-use development with 33- and 39-storey towers as well as a seven-storey mid-rise building. In the presentation from planning firm MBHC, the group is asking the city to let it build higher than the 30-storey maximum the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre plan allows for, and also to allow more density on the site – from 5 to 5.72 times the area allowed – which would see the buildings shrink the allowable setbacks, frontages and landscaping strips.
MBHC partner David McKay presented the new plan at a Vaughan city council session on June 5, and said Liberty was the manager of the development, but that a numbered company – 1930328 Ontario Inc. – owned the land. That’s almost the identical corporate structure as the cancelled Cosmos development, in that the land owner is a numbered company registered at the same 1 Steelcase Rd. address as Liberty Development Corp., and Liberty’s president and founder, Feyedoon (Fred) Darvish, is listed as the numbered company’s president. However, in this case, Liberty CEO Latif Fazel is also listed as a director of 1930328.
In its letter to Cosmos buyers, Liberty used this structure to suggest the cancellation was forced by a disagreement in terms between the vendor (or landowner) and Liberty, despite the fact that they shared common corporate control.
“We have recently learned that because of circumstances beyond our control and Liberty’s best intention, our project, Cosmos Condominiums, has been challenged,” reads the letter, signed by Liberty director of sales and marketing Shawn Richardson. “At this time, financing for the project on terms satisfactory to the Vendor cannot be arranged … It will force the project vendor to now cancel all Agreements of Purchase and Sale.”
Liberty now finds itself under scrutiny by those frustrated buyers, who have formed a private Facebook group – Cosmos Condos Terminated – What now? – where they discuss legal and political options for how to get redress over the cancelled condos. Santino Paglia, 33, is one of the moderators of that group and updated the buyers on the latest application. “The meeting at Vaughan city hall was pretty upsetting. Councilors did not bother answering or even entertaining our concerns,” he wrote.
Indeed, Mr. Paglia had a tense exchange at council with Ward 4 councillor Sandra Yeung Racco, who was chairing the meeting and told citizens at the outset, “You need to speak to planning matters only.”
Mr. Paglia shared his story of being a first-time buyer who grew up in Woodbridge, and demanded to know why the city would even accept an application from Liberty. “Your job is to develop the city and make it great, you should be cognizant of who you are doing business with and what their motivations are to build,” he said.
After hearing from city staff that the Planning Act mandates they process all applications, Ms. Yeung Racco tried to stop Mr. Paglia from interjecting with more questions: “I’ve been very lenient with you,” she said, “This is not a two-way conversation here tonight.”