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Toronto Real Estate

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Printers Row Lofts - 525 Logan AvenueRare, stunning loft conversion by Bob Mitchell, known as Printer’s Row. This vintage architectural gem located in the heart of Riverdale features soaring ceilings and 15-foot windows with a south view. This boutique 12 unit loft building is nestled in a lovely residential area. The suite’s walkout to private terrace was the original entrance to the building and overlooks a picturesque garden. Large master bedroom with two closets. Open concept main floor has a spacious upper loft overlooking the living room. MORE DETAILS HERE

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Condo buyers say no thanks, we’ll walk

Alexandra Posadzki – The Canadian Press

When Barbara Lawlor first joined Baker Real Estate, a Toronto firm that markets and sells new condo developments, over two decades ago, selling a condo unit without an accompanying parking spot was a Herculean feat.

Today, only about a quarter of Baker’s clients are looking to buy parking spots.

“It’s an enormous shift in the buyer’s attitude,” says Lawlor, who is now Baker’s president. “People don’t want parking as much as they used to.”

Parking spots are falling out of favour with many condo buyers, thanks to the proliferation of car-sharing services and a greater emphasis on transit and walkability by city dwellers.

Comment: We really need more car sharing lots with more options. And bike sharing. And then create the bike paths and better pedestrian access. Combine it with more amenities that can be walked to. For the 100th, put public spaces in the lower levels of new condos. From schools to libraries, rec centres to grocery stores. Give people somewhere to walk TO.

Walkable condos
“If you’re on a really good transit route, you would certainly think twice about whether you need to buy a parking space,” Lawlor says, noting that buying a parking spot in a downtown Toronto development can cost around $50,000 and renting them is quite expensive, too.

Louie Santaguida, president and chief executive of Stanton Renaissance, had planned to build up to four levels of underground parking at his On The GO Mimico project, a condo development under construction in the west part of Toronto near the GO line. However, Santaguida says most buyers snatching up the units pre-construction aren’t keen to shell out for parking, given that one of the building’s selling points is that it’s situated right next to a GO Train station.

Santaguida is planning to apply to the city to have the building’s parking requirement reduced.

“We’re hearing more and more about developments that are coming up along good transit nodes that are actually asking for leniency around no parking, or minimal parking,” he said.

Comment: Then use that extra space for other things, benefits to the building and to the community. Put a grey water recycling system where cars would have parked. Add a few extra Zip Car spots. So many better ideas than empty parking garages.

“The trend is moving away from vehicle ownership, especially in urban centres like downtown Hamilton, downtown Montreal, downtown Toronto and downtown Vancouver. Because there’s adequate infrastructure to get you where you need to go on a timely basis and quite frankly, in most cases, sooner than you can using a vehicle.”

Vancouver developer Jon Stovell, president of Reliance Properties, says the city of Vancouver has been encouraging developers to reduce the amount of parking that they build, in order to reduce traffic congestion and encourage other forms of transportation including walking, biking and public transit.

“The parking ratios have been going down steadily for a long time, and they’re getting to some really low levels now,” Stovell said, nothing that developers used to build up to two parking spots per unit. Now, many are only building one parking stall for every two condo units.

Comment: And now, with the push from the public and the consumers, now is the time for the municipalities and developers to get cracking on improving the non-car infrastructure.

In Toronto, Tribute Communities has erected a 42-storey condo tower with no permanent resident parking — just nine spots reserved for a car-share service. Knightsbridge Homes is proposing a similar development in Calgary.

Most municipal governments are coming to terms with the change and relaxing parking minimums, but some developers have faced resistance.

Santaguida’s planned 30-storey condo project in downtown Hamilton, rising out of the historic James Street Baptist Church, stirred up controversy, partly on account of not having a parking spot available for each unit.

The developer was challenged by trying to build an underground garage without disturbing the foundations of the former church. After some deliberation, the city agreed to a proposal that will see Stanton Renaissance build 122 parking spots for the building’s 259 units — but the decision has faced some criticism.

“Some people are resistant to any type of change,” Santaguida said. “But you can only buck a trend for so long.”

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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First look: New Yonge and Bloor tower would be Toronto’s tallest

Alex Bozikovic – The Globe and Mail

Is it The One? The new development at the southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor streets will be sold with that catchphrase, and it will in some ways earn that title. The design by global architects Foster and Partners is tall, brawny and complex.

The project, which developer Sam Mizrahi and the architects presented to a community meeting Wednesday night, would be the third tall tower to rise at the corner. However, in size and architectural character, it would stand out: The proposal places 72 levels of apartments on top of an eight-level luxury shopping mall, and wraps a grid of structural steel outside of its glass skin.

Comment: I love this project, a lot. For my fellow geeks out there, think of both One Bloors as Toronto’s Argonath - The gateway to the city.

One Bloor West
The Proposal

The planned tower would be Canada’s tallest, aside from the CN Tower, and perhaps its most expensive. Mizrahi Developments will ask the city for a total height of 318 metres, or more than 1,000 feet, with nearly one-million square feet of retail and residential space; the budget, Mr. Mizrahi said in an interview, will approach $1-billion, excluding the land costs.

Comment: Kind of good for the local economy, you think?

The proposal is being submitted to the city this week. If approved in its current form, it would be an exceptionally large building – the tallest in Toronto other than the CN Tower. Yet Yonge and Bloor is already emerging as a cluster of tall mixed-use towers, well-placed at the junction of two subway lines.

The developer’s argument for height and density will be aided by two nearby precedents: One Bloor East, across the street, is already rising to a height of 257 metres, and the Holt Renfrew redevelopment at 50 Bloor West was recently approved at 230 metres.

Mr. Mizrahi plans to clear the site, including the former Stollery’s, and proceed immediately with construction – digging more than 30 metres down for 10 underground levels, and leasing out the building’s retail space starting in 2018, even as construction continues on the tower above.

The design, by London-based Foster and Partners with the Toronto firm Core Architects, is a three-part composition: At ground level would be retail and restaurant space, reaching up through eight levels and pierced by a public atrium; above that, a box containing the tower’s mechanicals; and on top, a tower, about 9,000 square feet on each floor, of condo apartments. The tower would fill about half of the site, tight to the corner. A smaller eight-level box would form the western half of the retail space.

One Bloor West
The tower would place its structure on display. From ground to tip, the tower’s bulk would be carried by a steel exoskeleton – perhaps coated with bronze paint – that stands around the facades of the tower, leaving the interiors of each level wide open. Each facade would include one or two strips of “winter gardens,” semi-enclosed outdoor spaces, instead of balconies.

In drawings, this composition makes the tower feel like a piece of infrastructure – giving it a strange kinship with the 1970s behemoths on the northeast and northwest corners of Bloor.

This exoskeleton model has commercial advantages. The condo floors would be highly flexible and the retail space (more than 240,000 square feet) would be free of structural columns, with 22-foot ceilings. “We call it uncontaminated space,” Mr. Mizrahi said. “This is for global retailers who haven’t been able to bring their vision to Toronto because the space they need doesn’t exist.” Mr. Mizrahi would not disclose any potential tenants. One of the drawings he showed me included space for an “electronics retailer.”

Below ground, the building would connect to the PATH system to the north, and also reach diagonally under the intersection of Yonge and Bloor to connect to the subway.

In a strong concession to the public realm, sidewalks around the building would be widened substantially, to at least five metres on Yonge and at least eight metres on Bloor. The public lobby, facing Bloor, would be a 40-metres-tall atrium that, Mr. Mizrahi hopes, will evoke the strong urban space of New York’s Rockefeller Center.

One Bloor West
The architects

Mr. Mizrahi has made an ambitious choice of architects. Foster is among the best big architecture firms in the world. Sir Norman Foster co-founded the office in 1967, and by the 1970s, he was recognized as one of the leading architects of his generation. The firm grew to corporate scale – they now employ more than 1,000 people in 14 offices – but continues at a high level of design ambition. The firm’s most prominent current project is designing Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

In Canada, the firm has designed the Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building at the University of Toronto; a tower in Vancouver; and The Bow in Calgary, that city’s most prominent high-rise that, like other Foster high-rises, uses an exoskeleton structure.

One Bloor West
The developer

For Mr. Mizrahi, the project will be a radical step up in size and complexity. He worked briefly in real-estate development in the 1980s, he said, but he is best known as the founder of DoveCorp Enterprises, a dry-cleaning and laundry chain. He moved back into real estate in 2008, building custom houses in Forest Hill; then he marketed and is developing and building two condo towers on Davenport Road in Yorkville. Mr. Mizrahi’s company was the general contractor for those buildings, which are nine- and 12-storeys tall.

Building on that experience, he plans to likewise run the construction of 1 Bloor – expanding his company’s staff to more than 100. This is, as he acknowledges, a potentially risky move. A few homebuilders in the GTA have their own high-rise construction divisions, but most hire major construction companies. “I’m very passionate about the details,” Mr. Mizrahi said. “If I could find a construction company that would worry about the details in the same way, I would hire them. But I can’t.”

In design terms, Mr. Mizrahi will be stretching even further. The condos he built on Davenport Road are what builders often call “traditional” – in this case, a version of the limestone buildings of Haussmann’s Paris, stretched upward and capped in glass. Their design, by the local firm Page and Steele, is competent at best.

That, Mr. Mizrahi said, suits his own taste. But for 1 Bloor, he said, his firm interviewed a number of international architects, including Robert A. M. Stern, arguably the world’s leading designer of historicist towers (such as Toronto’s 1 St. Thomas). When they commissioned drawings of an 80-story Art Deco-style tower, “it didn’t fit,” Mr. Mizrahi said. “I quickly realized that architecture and what we do has to fit into context.”

One Bloor West
The process

Yonge and Bloor’s context is changing rapidly, with One Bloor East and the recently approved 50 Bloor West proposal. The Mizrahi building sits on a smaller piece of land than either of those, and it asks for approximately double the density of either building – but it would also have fewer condo units, 560, than either, and its larger retail area would, the developer argues, be largely served by transit.

The developer has begun private consultations with neighbourhood groups, including the local ABC Residents Association. John Caliendo of the ABCRA said his group is looking at the details of the proposal but is “broadly supportive.”

On the ground, the demolition of the Stollery’s building on the site is well under way and is continuing. Mr. Mizrahi faced harsh criticism when that 80-year-old building began to fall. Though the city granted a demolition permit, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said at the time that she had hoped to have the building reviewed for its heritage value and that Mr. Mizrahi’s demolition crews had proceeded without getting some necessary minor permits.

Mr. Mizrahi continues to insist that proper procedures were followed. Sean Teperman of Teperman Wrecking, the demolition contractor on site, said this week that the city has not issued any stop-work order or cited any permit violations on the site.

In any case, Mr. Mizrahi is making some gestures toward heritage. He asked for carved stone panels from the Stollery’s facade to be retained, and will have them incorporated into “a monument,” he said, within the tower’s atrium space. “Our goal is to build for the next 50 or 100 years,” he said. This project is “unprecedented and this corner deserves it.”

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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Can condos ever house families?

Units have to be flexible if groups other than students can ever move in

Fraser Abe – NOW Magazine

It’s no secret to anyone house hunting that prices in Toronto are high.

The most recent figures from the Toronto Real Estate Board puts detached houses in the 416 area at an average price of $1,040,018. So what’s a young family to do?

Comment: But a townhouse or a semi, look outside the core. There are tons of options. You can get a decent detached house near Jane & St. Clair for $500,000.

A detached home is a pipe dream for the typical buyer. Those same figures indicate that even semi-detached homes in T.O. are too pricey, at an average of $702,035.

Comment: In the 416. Try Pickering, where you can buy a 2,500sf 4-bedroom house for $500,000.

Condos are becoming the only option for many families that want to stay in the city.

Family in condo
Trinity-Spadina MP Adam Vaughan has long been a champion of the three-bedroom condo as an urban option for a young family of four or more.

But builders are often reluctant to include three-bedroom units, Vaughan says, because they’re much more difficult to pre-sell.

“You can’t sell a three-bedroom pre-sale, which is how developers make money. A project may not be ready for one, two or three years, which is not much of a problem for singles, but when there are kids involved, you need a home for them.”

Comment: It is not pre-sales that are the problem, buyers just don’t want them and aren’t buying them. Before or after. Problem is, they are either tiny and awkward to keep the prices down, or the larger ones are as expensive as a house.

Functionality also comes into question.

Many three-bedroom units are listed as 2+1 bedrooms, which typically means two bedrooms with windows and one windowless room listed as an office or den that could double as a third bedroom. That may work for an infant or toddler, but older kids (or adults) might feel claustrophobic in a space like that.

New condominiums have to be looked at like Toronto’s older Victorian houses, says Vaughan.

“It could have started as a duplex, then became a rooming house, then someone turned it into a single-family dwelling.”

Comment: Say what? How do you turn a condo into a rooming house?

Condos need to have a longer life cycle than a few years (or decades).

Even if families aren’t the first occupants of three-bedroom units (many owners opt to rent them out to students), Vaughan believes that eventually, as prices come down, families will move in.

Comment: Prices come down? What is he on? A $700,000 condo today, a 1,000sf 3-bedroom condo, will be $800,000 in 5-10 years. And the condo fees will be $1,000 a month. Plus hydro and maybe heat. That is why families will look to a house instead. That would have the same monthly payments as a $1-million house.

The ability to knock down interior walls to build bigger units will also come into play. But new condo developments need more than a great sushi place around the corner – they need infrastructure like schools and TTC service, he says.

Comment: Like I keep saying, put schools and libraries and rec centres in the bottom of the new condos.

Families will always find a way to remain in the city if that’s where they prefer to raise their children, but there are still a lot of issues to address.

Housing prices, the most pressing issue, are predicted to remain high. According to a report by TD Economics, the plunge in oil prices, which has lowered the Canadian dollar, will be a boon to manufacturing provinces like Ontario. This, along with foreign investors, will keep the Toronto housing market hot for the foreseeable future.

—————————————————————————————————–
Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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