Toronto could be forced to pay $340 million for air to build new downtown park
The private company that owns the location Mayor John Tory is looking to acquire to build an elevated park in downtown Toronto wants to charge the City a whopping $340 million — not for land, but for air.
In letter I haven’t fully processed, developers who own air rights over downtown rail corridor that council zoned to be massive Rail Deck Park, still argue to build several towers proposal OR to rent city air rights OR to sell them for $340M. I have never seen such a thing pic.twitter.com/P11j30N2Jp— Jennifer Pagliaro (@jpags) January 29, 2020
The construction of Rail Deck Park, a green space that would take over eight hectares between Blue Jays Way and Spadina, depends on Toronto being able to acquire the airspace above the railroad tracks that currently run through the area via the Union Station rail corridor.
Council has been in talks with Craft-Kingsmen Rail Corp. to purchase or lease the 1.2 hectares of airspace the development company currently owns so that the city can build the aerial park reminiscent of New York City's High Line, but the two haven't yet been able to come to an agreement about what constitutes a reasonable price.
The developer is now asking for $340 million for the airspace, or to lease it to the city for a 49-year term, starting at $25 million per year for the first five years.
Another option it has put on the table is to permit the city to buy into Craft-Kingsmen's existing plans for a mixed-use development over the rail corridor, which it has named the ORCA project.
The company would provide a raised deck with 12 acres for park space — amid the condos and other structures it has planned for the area — to the city for $540 million.
Council received this letter from owner of the air rights they need for Rail Deck Park. Options include leasing the rights for $25 million per year, or buying for $340 million. Staff say they haven’t had chance to really examine letter yet https://t.co/aDpMxuvLUY (PDF) pic.twitter.com/823T3ZfeHj— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) January 29, 2020
Given the hefty pricetag of these three options, the City decided at a meeting on January 29 that it will go ahead with expropriation proceedings if necessary, meaning it will essentially seize the land for an amount it sees as fair — a reasonable reaction to the offer of charging hundreds of millions for air.
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