Idomo owner turns sights on condos
De Boer to build development at Allen-Sheppard
Idomo furniture’s iconic, bearded pitchman/owner has turned to building condos, in a project that will transform the desolate corner of Sheppard Avenue West and Allen Road.
North York Community Council this week approved a mixed residential and commercial development that includes six buildings ranging in height from 13 to 17 storeys.
“It’s nice to see that this area of the city is finally going to get some type of redevelopment,” said Gerrit de Boer, owner of both the Idomo furniture store and the property on the northwest corner of Allen and Sheppard on which it sits. He originally applied for a mixed warehouse, retail and office complex in 1988.
“The four corners around the subway station are really in need of urbanization.”
The site will be developed in two phases, separated by a new public road, de Boers Drive, that will connect Allen to Sheppard. The north block, Mr. de Boer’s first foray into residential real estate development, will consist of the existing three-storey Idomo building and 400 residential units in two of the six proposed buildings.
Liberty Development Corporation’s development of the south block will include 1,100 units in the other four, centred around a new public park. It’s the park that has Mr. de Boer most excited.
“It’s not just a development where you’ve got buildings and there’s no sense of community,” he said. “I think the key thing is that these buildings are around a public park. That really does define a central space that people can … relax and enjoy themselves in.”
Anthony Perruzza, vice-chairman of North York Community Council and councillor for Ward 8 York West, believes that, if done right, the development could kick-start a major facelift for a bland stretch of the city.
“It most definitely urbanizes a corner now which is pretty barren,” he said. “If it’s successful, it could be the catalyst for a considerable amount of other development in the area, both behind the subway station, as well as in other areas in the base and onwards.”
Mr. Perruzza said he still has reservations “about how the development is situated on site.” The safety of pedestrians crossing the Allen remains his biggest outstanding concern.
“It very much has the feel of a highway as opposed to an urban street,” he said. “One of the things that we’ve been trying to achieve is either an underground or above-grade pedestrian walkway to the subway.”
With construction expected to begin in the next six to 12 months, marketing and sales are Mr. de Boer’s next challenges.
Asked if he would transfer his trademark furniture-selling style to condos, he chuckled: “Well maybe for my side of the road, for my development. We’ll have to see.”
National Post Saturday, March 31, 2007 Page: A16 Section: Toronto Byline: Philip Alves