Cookie baron’s factory lands could become massive new development

Torontoist

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Cookie baron’s factory lands could become massive new development

The realty company behind Liberty Village is now eyeing 27 acres in south Etobicoke.

Photo courtesy of Dan Arsenault, via the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

William Mellis Christie’s cookie empire once stretched across Toronto: factories on King Street East and on Adelaide, a family mansion on Queen’s Park Crescent, and, ultimately, a 27-acre plot in Mimico where, from 1948 up until 2012, Mr. Christie’s successors manufactured his famously good cookies under the shadow of the iconic, branded water tower.

The plant went out of business in 2012, leaving 550 employees out of work, but a prime plot of land suddenly available. Even then, developers saw a promising opportunity: the same week the factory announced it was closing, the land’s owners met with two city councillors and proposed building 27 new towers, representing 7,000 new homes.

In order to do that, the owner, Mondelez Canada, needed to have the land re-zoned. City Council rejected their application. They appealed to the OMB, and that appeal is still pending.

Last year, First Capital Realty, the same developer behind planned communities such as Liberty Village, bought the land. They’ve now announced their intention to turn it into a “whole community” in an interview with the Etobicoke Guardian:

“Really, 27 acres is such a significant size property, we’re really developing a whole community,” Shpigel said. “Not only retail and services that are in demand, but community amenities, residential, restaurants, banks and open spaces.” … “We inherited the OMB appeal, but we haven’t acted upon it,” Shpigel said. “Our desire is to work with the city and the community on a complete development.”

City Councillor Mark Grimes (Ward 6, Etobicoke-Lakeshore), who originally met with Mondelez back in 2012, maintains that the area cannot handle that many more residents. As the Guardian points out, recent years have seen 25,000 new condos built in the neighbourhood, with thousands more currently under construction.

The obvious problem is the lack of transit in the area, but Metrolinx has overlooked the area as a possibility for a GO station. Grimes and his fellow councillors continue to lobby Metrolinx, while City staff are examining the possibility of introducing a right-of-way streetcar track to could ferry residents into the city centre.

In the meantime, City councillors are considering protected heritage status for the iconic Mr. Christie’s water tower, the last remnant of the cookie baron’s legacy in a changing neighbourhood.

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