New tower would loom over Victoria Park
HIGHRISE: Auburn Developments wants to build the 25-storey complex
By CHIP MARTIN, The London Free Press
Auburn Developments did not return phone calls seeking a comment about its plans for the site, which go before a council committee Thursday.
London is about to get another highrise apartment, this one overlooking Victoria Park.
Auburn Developments is expected to bring its plans to city hall Thursday for a 25-storey building just north of Centennial Hall on Wellington St.
The firm that built the 23-storey, $35-million Harriston luxury-apartment tower at Ridout and Dufferin streets is also developing the $350-million, 10-highrise Barrel Yards residential and office development in downtown Waterloo.
Auburn, owned by the London-based Crich family, has also developed residential subdivisions across London and area, in Kitchener-Waterloo and in Barrie.
Company president Jamie Crich and vice-president Stephen Stapleton did not return multiple calls over several days from The Free Press about the tower that would rise at 560 and 562 Wellington. Auburn has its offices in the second floor of the five-storey building at 560. Next door is 562, a two-storey structure.
Stapleton is booked to appear before a city committee Thursday looking at core-area projects that will create jobs and boost London's economy.
The executive is expected to reveal details of the project that will rise on the site of the two buildings.
The investment and economic prosperity committee has also heard from another developer, Fincore Canada, which plans to build a $300-million artment and wellness complex at Wellington and the Thames River. It would have two 26-storey residential towers linked by an 11-storey "wellness centre."
The firm has applied for a rezoning to permit the massive project, although it doesn't own all the land needed for it. The investment and prosperity committee was so enamoured with it, city staff were directed to process the plans as quickly as possible.
Stapleton has provided artist renderings and floor plans for the 25-storey Auburn project that would include two floors of underground parking on its site at the corner of Wellington and Wolfe streets.
The Auburn and Fincore projects would significantly alter the downtown skyline that has seen residential towers built by Drewlo Holdings and Tricar Group in recent years. Many of the highrises have focused on the area around the Forks of the Thames River.
The committee has heard about dozens of projects ranging from plans for a music hall, casino, river-forks amphitheatre, downtown campus of Western University at the city hall complex to a new Centennial Hall.
In an interview last year about Auburn's Barrel Yards project in Waterloo, Crich said there weren't any plans for a development of that scale in London.
"London is blessed with solid highrise developers (like Auburn, Tricar and Drewlo)," he said. "We have more highrise developments here than many other cities. We are way ahead of curve in that department," he told The Free Press.
Crich also said it is hard to obtain land in downtown because of long-term ownership patterns.The company was founded more than 50 years ago by Don Crich, father of Jamie Crich.
The Harriston, which Auburn completed in 2008, saw its 193 units quickly snapped up. It overlooks Harris Park and the area near the river forks and it has been popular with young professionals, empty nesters and couples.
In Waterloo, the Barrel Yards project is expected to take 10 years to finish and it is massive. The city, faced with a shortage of land, has just recently begun approving highrise development there. It is located in the core on the site of a factory that made whisky barrels for a Seagram's distillery.
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Auburn Homes has a presence in these residential developments in the London area:
Upper Richmond Village
Foxhollow North Kent
Stoney North (a continuation of Stoney Creek Gate subdivision)
Lexington Ranch in Komoka
Meadow Creek Estates in Ilderton