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Mixed reviews for developments

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Craig Kitching, left, president of the Corydon Avenue Business Improvement Zone, with Ernie Walter, of Walter International Inc., at 668-670 Jessie Ave.

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Craig Kitching, left, president of the Corydon Avenue Business Improvement Zone, with Ernie Walter, of Walter International Inc., at 668-670 Jessie Ave. Photo Store

A new development called Altro off Corydon, which promises to enhance Corydon Avenue’s status in the city, is being greeted with mixed reviews from neighbours and Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry).

"This is a neighbourhood that represents the city," said Ernie Walter, of Walter International Inc., developer of the condos. "It allows people to see activities. It’s got this diversification of culture in the neighbourhood. This is the neighbourhood that should have the boutique hotels and this is the neighbourhood that should have the change in the city, and this should really be our Yorkdale (Toronto)."

The $100 million worth of infill housing developments are all about the urban lifestyle, said Walter.

 Craig Kitching, president of the Corydon Avenue Business Improvement Zone, is in favour of the developments because it allows residents to give up driving so much and take up walking and biking.

"On the flip side, we have that the city cannot maintain its infrastructure, and as we sprawl it becomes harder and harder to maintain the city and get the services we want," said Kitching. "The parks, the policing, the paving, the sewers are getting harder and harder to do."

The infill condos have replaced old, worn-out homes with chic living spaces for professionals young and old. The design and density of the buildings have been met with mixed reviews.

"What is happening with the neighbourhood, as it goes along, is you have a chance of it deteriorating until the houses are only worth the ground they stand on, which essentially (makes it) a slum. But in a healthy neighbourhood and city, those ‘loose teeth’ are plucked and regenerated," said Kitching.

Gerbasi said she knows there is change coming to Corydon with respect to new development.

"Obviously it harkens to the issue of not having a neighbourhood plan," said Gerbasi. "There have been a lot of adversarial issues around some of these developments, and I think it’s because we don’t have a neighbourhood plan."

Natalie Hasell, 40, a meteorologist, has lived on Warsaw Avenue for almost 10 years, just behind the new 668-670 Jessie Ave. developments. She remembers going to meetings for a neighbourhood plan and is a little upset the plans fell through.

She said she walks past the new development around the corner from her home often, and though she knows the previous homes were falling apart, she doesn’t think this one fits in.

 "I’m glad that those spaces were considered valuable for someone to develop, but I find that the style, unfortunately, and it’s my personal opinion, that’s it’s really rare that the style that they choose to use really matches the neighbourhood," said Hasell.

Brynn Macek, 26, an architecture intern, has lived a few doors down from the 668-670 Jessie Ave. location for a year and watched the development being built.

"I think the effort is there and it’s good (Walter) is trying to build up the neighbourhood," said Macek. "The style just doesn’t seem relevant in the area."

Macek’s friend, Colin Herperger, 32, also an architecture intern, agreed, but is glad the developments have been built with quality.

"It’s tricky being the first to do it in the neighbourhood," said Herperger. "But it can open doors for young architects to also come in and do the same."

Gerbasi said the Corydon area is already a very desirable place to live in the city and it is almost impossible to find a place to live there. She supports the idea of increased density throughout the city.

"I’m totally supportive of that but it has to be well-planned," said Gerbasi. "And it has to be at the consideration of the existing neighbourhood."

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