ONE longtime supporter of new developments in the Exchange District is wondering if regulators might be playing a little fast and loose with the issuance of zoning permits in efforts to encourage more activity in the neighbourhood.
Leon A. Brown Ltd., a property management firm with several properties in the area, has had offices in and has owned the building at 460 Main St. since the early '70s.
Bob Brown, who now runs the firm his father started, said he is a big supporter of the new developments in the area including his new next-door neighbour, the Fox and Fiddle restaurant and pub, which moved into the main-floor space of the 108-year-old Bank of Toronto Building last fall.
Earlier this summer, the owners of the restaurant informed Brown that they received a permit to build an outdoor patio in front of their pub.
Brown said he congratulated them and thought it was great idea. But last week he got a call from one of the Fox and Fiddle partners to say they received permission from the city allowing them to put a patio in front of his building.
It was the first he'd heard about it.
The next day, the construction began.
"I'm astounded," Brown said. "I have been in this business (property management) for 30 years and If I want to do something, I have to make sure everyone around me knows what's happening."
Brown asked for construction to stop and approached officials at CentreVenture, the downtown development agencies whose own offices are just a block north on Main Street.
"I said to them, 'You folks knew, the Fox and Fiddle folks knew, the zoning department knew'... I am the only guy who didn't know," he said.
Brown said CentreVenture's explanation was not completely satisfying, but he believes someone somewhere in the process of issuing the permit for the patio dropped the ball and made a mistake.
For his part, Ryan Daneault, co-owner of the Fox and Fiddle, declined to comment on the matter.
"The only thing I want to say is that we are here to help revitalize downtown and we are proud to be part of the revitalization process," he said. "I think the city is just trying to make the street better and the area better and that's it."
The patio encroaches onto Brown's frontage by about three metres and does not obstruct the front door of the building. Daneault said his permit actually allowed him to take the patio even further but he chose not to.
Brown said his lawyers will pursue the matter to find out where the gap was that left him the only one not told his neighbour was building a patio in front of his property.
"The street is not mine but I'm expected to look after it and clean it up," he said. "I pay taxes to maintain the front of it. Why should someone else get the financial benefit from it?"