Builder behind cancelled Icona condos proposing another project in Vaughan
|Toronto Star 03 Oct 2018 at 16:38|
The developer who sent cancellation letters and refunds to buyers of the Icona condos at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre last month is proposing to build a similar project at Yonge St. and Steeles Ave.
The City of Vaughan confirmed that the Gupta Group has applied for official plan and zoning amendments for the northwest corner of Yonge St. and Steeles Ave. The 2.85-acre plot that Gupta bought last year for $53.9 million would also include three towers and a hotel — like Icona.
A rendering of the cancelled Icona condos development by Gupta Group is seen on the left. The group has put in an application for a development at 7028 Yonge, with renderings on the right.
The application filed Aug. 24, 2018, less than a month before Gupta sent a Sept. 14 cancellation letter and refunds to Icona buyers, calls for a 65-storey tower on the corner of Yonge and Steeles and two more 52-storey buildings.
Icona was to include two 55-storey condo buildings and a 46-storey tower with a hotel topped by residential units. The plan was for about 1,633 condos altogether.
The still-unnamed Yonge and Steeles development is to include 1,878 condos and 12 townhomes. The site, across from Centerpoint Mall, is occupied by a Taco Bell, a Staples store and some small stores. More than half the condos — 1,029 — would be two-bedroom units; 694 would be one-bedroom apartments and 167 would have three bedrooms, according to the proposal on file with Vaughan.
Disappointed Icona buyers, who bought their units around February 2017, say they are frustrated that a builder can leave them in the lurch and move on to sell another project.
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“It just seems there are no rules in place that stop them from doing that,” said Patricia DeBartolo, one of the purchasers, who helped organize a meeting Monday evening that drew about 400 buyers to discuss potential court action against Gupta.
“There are 1,600 (Icona) units and their owners that have had future plans for their children, dreams (and) investments, literally snuffed out like a flame,” she said.
DeBartolo said the Icona cancellation feeds skepticism about the pre-construction home market.
“We can’t fault the city. They’re following the rules. Maybe the rules need to change. Something has to change,” she said.
The developer has blamed financial reasons beyond its control for cancelling the Icona project.
The buyers have asked provincial regulator and new home warranty provider Tarion to investigate whether Gupta should ever have sold condos on the Icona property because it was subject to restrictive covenants, legal restrictions written into the purchase of the land on Highway 7 near Jane St., that prevented the property from being used for anything other than a hotel and banquet facility.
A communications representative for Gupta told the Star that the company doesn’t know when it will build or sell condos at Yonge and Steeles.
“The project is at the beginning of the approval process,” Rhoda Eisenstadt said an email.
The email reiterated that Icona was cancelled because it was “unfinanceable ... they could not get financing.”
Gupta Group also denies that it ever named the Yonge and Steeles development as Icona on Yonge. Subsequent to the cancellation of Icona at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, some Icona buyers found references online to a development at Yonge and Steeles called Icona on Yonge. Those websites, which the Star has seen, were subsequently deleted.
Eisenstadt said her client did not create those sites.
“There is not now and never was an Icona on Yonge project. There is a site at Yonge and Steeles which is in the approvals stage. It has not been named. It is too early to do this,” she wrote in a response to queries from the Star.
Icona is the 12th condo cancellation in the Toronto area since early 2017, according to market research firm Urbanation.
In April, another Vaughan Metropolitan Centre project, Cosmos condos by Liberty Development, was cancelled. Liberty is redeveloping the Promenade mall, about four kilometres from Yonge St. and Steeles Ave.