LATEST NEWS Building Envelope
July 23, 2012
Corsica Developments sells part of Dunlap Observatory land to Town of Richmond Hill, Ontario
The Town of Richmond Hill recently announced its council approved the $19.5-million purchase of 12.1 acres of land, some of which is on David Dunlap Observatory Park.
Corsica purchased 190 acres of largely-undeveloped land, west of Bayview Avenue and north of 16th Avenue, from the University of Toronto for $70 million in 2008. That land, about 35 kilometres north of downtown Toronto, was donated to U of T in 1935 by Jessie Donalda Dunlap in memory of her husband, David. The observatory constructed shortly after was credited with discovering a black hole in 1972.
The land will be the subject of an Ontario Municipal Board hearing August 7, when the provincial agency will deal with objections from the Richmond Hill Naturalists to a proposed settlement that would allow Corsica to build on some of the land. After Corsica bought the land it applied for zoning amendments and proposed to construct a low and medium density residential development comprised of 833 units.
The settlement proposal, announced in April, would have saved 99 acres on the west side of the observatory land from development. It affected 177.9 acres of land.
The other 12.1 acres, which will be purchased by the town is known as the "panhandle" and includes 4.1 acres under Elvis Stojko Arena on 16th Avenue, according to a June 29 press release. The other eight acres are on observatory land. The official closing date of the transaction is set for on or about October 12, 2012.
“This purchase brings the property into public ownership and will allow us to continue to provide services to our community,” Richmond Hill Mayor Dave Barrow stated in a press release. “With the purchase of the panhandle lands, the Town has now secured a total of 111 acres of the property for public use.”
In April, the town officially approved the settlement proposal with Corsica , which was accepted after negotiations that included the DDO Defenders, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and the Regional Municipality of York, which is the upper tier of municipal government for the town and surrounding municipalities. But Richmond Hill Naturalists objected to it.
In addition to a 74-inch telescope operated by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the land includes Elms Lea house, built in 1864, according to the website of Metrus Developments, Corsica’s parent company. It also includes the 77-year-old observatory administration building, built in the Beaux Arts style with an ashlar sandstone masonry exterior and a crown of copper-clad domes. At the time the developer purchased the land in 2008, it stated in a press release it intends to ensure the farmhouse and administration building would “remain intact.”
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