Prices rise and options shrink in the east
By Derek Raymaker – Globe and Mail
Perched on a prime slice of attractive lakeshore and further graced with the lush Seaton conservation area and Rouge River ravine system, Pickering is turning into the Oakville of the eastern GTA.
Pretty good for a city that suffered from the unenviable reputation of hosting a nuclear power generating station. Buyers seem to have gotten over it.
The city is rapidly growing more affluent and tops the list of preferred locations for new buyers moving to Durham Region. City officials and regional planners, egged on by a vocal residential conservation movement, have responded with rigid planning guidelines.
Pickering‘s low-rise development was also greatly affected by the provincial government’s effort to establish a greenbelt around the Golden Horseshoe in 2005. In essence, the land supply for new low-rise housing was frozen, as was the municipality’s ability to expand its boundaries.
Developers have been making the best of it, with ambitious projects launched to redevelop land near Brock Road and Frenchman’s Bay into mixed-use condominium communities. San Francisco by the Bay, a two-tower condominium redevelopment of a former strip mall, has enjoyed especially strong sales, especially among empty-nesters, and given the city some intensification credentials.
On the low-rise front, Pickering especially resembles Oakville. Precious few communities – a total of seven – can be considered new with available homes or lots for sale, with not much on the horizon.
Construction began on just 22 low-rise houses from January to April, 2008, in Pickering. That’s just a small fraction of the 638 total low-rise starts throughout all of Durham Region in that period, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. data.
As a result, the average price of a new detached home in Pickering has skyrocketed over the past year, to $614,224, for the first four months of 2008. That’s a 46.1% jump over the $420,552 average detached price in the same period in 2007, and more than $200,000 higher than the average price of $398,334 throughout Durham Region.
At the top end of Pickering‘s new low-rise communities is the Ravines of Buckingham Gate, by Glen Rouge Homes, located in a fairly central community off Kingston Road east of Brock Road and backing on to secluded greenspace.
Fifty-three homes were launched last March, ranging from $583,000 to $750,000 for between 2,466 and 3,922 square feet, with 26 still available.
The more prestigious and expensive models, sitting on 60-foot-wide lots, are almost sold out, with only one of eight still available.
Everything about the Ravines of Buckingham is oversized, from the four-bedroom layouts to the columned porticos leading to the front door.
Another highly priced and coveted new community is Louisville Homes’ Amanda’s Enclaves, also fairly centrally located as an infill project in an established residential neighbourhood just north of Kingston Road.
Out of 18 lots launched in 2005, only one remains available, a 3,400-square-foot, five-bedroom home priced at $679,000 (most were in the $500,000-to-$560,000 range).
Finally, on the more affordable side of the market is Altona Trails, launched a year ago by Sunset Valley Homes at the southeast corner of Altona Road and Finch Avenue on the north end of town.
This infill community is also built on a smaller-than-usual scale to fit in with the existing surrounding neighbourhood, and consists mostly of townhouses.
A small number of semi-detached models is available, on compact, 18-foot-wide lots, ranging in price from $387,000 to $390,00 for 2,516 square feet.
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