The Scarborough housing developer can apply for an exemption from the building ceiling

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A representation of what the proposed housing units in the Enterprise Business Park would look like. contributed

Developers of Enterprise Business Park, hoping to add 336 housing units in 14 three-story buildings, asked Scarborough City Council on Wednesday whether they should apply for an exemption from the city’s building permit cap.

Business park owner David Miley said he recognized the request comes at a time when “there may be some anti-growth sentiment in the city for the development.”

But the workforce housing project, which began in 2017, has conceptual blueprints and financial partners, Miley said.

“We come here to ask you if we can finish the project that we started and that is halfway done,” he said.

The Enterprise Business Park, located on Route 1 between Haigis Parkway and Scarborough Downs Road, has approximately 300,000 square feet of office, medical, research and service space. Originally intended for commercial use only, plans changed in 2017 to a mixed-use format. A master plan for the park, which includes both commercial and residential uses, was approved by the city council at a workshop in January 2017.

The city is currently approving 144 housing units per year, with developer allocation capped at 20%. However, because the Enterprise Business Park is in a designated growth area, its developers are eligible to apply for 30% of the pool of 144, which equates to 43 units per year.

Miley said the delay between getting preliminary approval for the project and getting the required permits cost him two financial partners. Now he has a third.

“Other people in town are getting permits, so maybe you can see if I feel like, yeah, it’s not entirely fair,” he said.

According to Miley, Enterprise Business Park now generates over $1 million in tax revenue for the city annually. He estimates that an additional $750,000 will be added as the remaining commercial space is built, and an additional $750,000 from the proposed housing project will add $1.5 million for a total of $2.5 million.

The residential component of the project, developers said, could take up to three years to complete.

Councilors at Wednesday’s workshop said it’s up to developers whether to pursue a special zoning contract that could result in more permits or seek an exemption from the permit cap set out in the city’s growth management ordinance.

Applying for a treaty zone has its own hurdles, they said, and they’re still trying to get a handle on how GMO exemptions work.

“We’re literally in the middle of our first motion,” Councilor April Sither said.

The Downs is currently seeking a limited GMO exemption for the city for a 90-acre portion of its 525-acre urban development. They have applied for the right to build 430 units over five years, which is 86 per year.

The residential part of the commercial area development is planned as workers’ housing. North Carolina-based development company LMC largely replicates the layout of its housing units across the country, said Dan Lee, LMC divisional president.

“This limited design cost allows us to keep the overall soft cost down,” he said. “We’re trying to reach out to that workforce because we don’t have to ask for a cap.”

While the number of permits made available to developers will continue to grow, the Council will consider the application process that developers ultimately choose to follow.

A conceptual blueprint of the proposed housing extension to Enterprise Business Park in Scarborough is highlighted in the image above, with existing and proposed footpaths marked with dotted lines. Contributed / City of Scarborough

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