We have to admire Bob Forrest’s chutzpah.

Bob has put a full page advertisement in this week's ERA newspaper asking us if we would prefer to rent or buy apartments in his "incredible" Clock Tower development.

It all seems a bit premature to me.

He doesn’t have planning approval for his monstrous out-of-place seven storey apartment building in the heart of the old downtown. And he can only go ahead with the underground car park if the Town does a land swap.

There are a million unanswered questions which must be addressed in the Planning Department’s forthcoming comprehensive report on the Clock Tower application and Bob is pushing these to one side as if they are trivial details.

Only last year Bob was telling his business partners:

"We have put some substantial effort into studying the rental option, rather than condo. There is absolutely no doubt about the market need.

Though we do not yet have a rental pro forma complete, I am expecting the pro forma to be richer than the current condo pro forma which is showing a profit of over $10m. Here is a few of the benefits of rental over condo:

1)    We are able to negotiate the quantum of Development Charges

2)    There is precedent in Newmarket for deferring the Development Charges for five years, without interest, and postponing them to construction financing thus converting them to equity at regular DC rates

3)    We believe we can achieve the same thing with a portion of the permit fees, cash-in-lieu and trail costs which jointly are about $1.5k

4)    There is precedent for a parking reduction. At $35k to $40k per parking space that would be nice

5)    There is a precedent for a permanent tax reduction in return for building rental

6)    We started out as a seven storey application and after a lot of shimmying landed at six storeys. We think there is a very real chance of regaining that 7th storey as rental

7)    The deal turns around much faster as we do not require a sales test.

If rental made sense then, why is Bob revisiting the issue now?

Does he really believe the future of his planning application is so finely balanced that councillors will be swayed by the issue of tenure – whether his seven storey building is rental or a condo?

Does he seriously expect them to (a) ignore their own policies for the Town’s Heritage Conservation District (b) change their own zoning by-laws to suit him and (c) agree a land swap while closing their eyes to all the reasons why this development should be killed stone dead?

We know the Mayor has already made his mind up. But does Bob really believe Tony Van Bynen will carry the full Council and persuade them that

“The Clock Tower is a great example of the intensification we need"?

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