Making A Splash
A collection of waterfront condos makes living in the city that much nicer
Lisa Van de Ven, National Post
Bordering the waterfront of the Don River, the West Don Lands in east Toronto has had its share of uses: About 180 years ago it was a park, while it’s also been dedicated to housing and industry. In recent years, though, it’s just been old brownfield land, contaminated and lying fallow. It was hardly living up to its potential, or glamourizing the environs, which is why Waterfront Toronto — the entity in charge of revitalizing the waterfront all along the city’s edge — made developing it a priority. Today, there are almost 6,000 new residences planned for the West Don Lands, an 80-acre site, including rental and condominium buildings, as well as parks, schools and other amenities.
The first phase, River City, is a five-tower condominium community by Urban Capital. The first building won’t launch until the fall, but excitement over the project is palpable. Units at River City is expected to start at approximately 400 square feet and $179,900.
Buyers will get the chance to be part of history, explains David Wex, partner with Urban Capital: “The residential component of Waterfront is starting here,” he says. “This is the first phase of Toronto’s 25-year plan, so [buyers] are getting in on the ground floor — that’s really big.”
This is just the latest condominium that will be making its mark on Toronto’s waterfront. Condo buildings have been rising along the water’s edge over the past several years, with sites in various stages of development from the West Don Lands to Oakville. These buildings are changing the city’s landscape, while offering a different perspective on urban living.
“People downtown often feel congested because there’s so many apartments and everything’s closed up,” says Ralph Del Duca, vice-president of marketing with Chestnut Hill Homes. Most people prefer a pristine view from their window, rather than a clog of buildings, he says.
Mr. Del Duca is preparing to release a waterfront site, in an area that’s undergoing a facelift of its own: Park Lawn Road and Lake Shore. The 34-storey as-yet-unnamed building will feature 289 units, 90% of which will face the water; it will be released in spring/summer 2010.
What Mr. Del Duca expects at the new site is what other waterfront developers further into their projects have already noticed: a more outdoorsy, active buyer than those purchasing downtown. They’re buyers who not only like gazing out over open water, but enjoy waterfront amenities, including the trails and parks that line Lake Ontario.
“[These buyers] really like the idea of the outdoors,” says Nestor Repetski, senior partner at Winick Realty Corp., which represents Plazacorp/Berkley’s West Harbour City site at Fleet Street and Bathurst.
Currently in its second phase, with the first under construction and starting occupancies later this year, West Harbour City has suites ranging from 567 to 1,395 sq. ft. and from $259,900 to almost $1-million. Both Coronation Park and the Martin Goodman Trail are nearby, offering opportunity for those who like strapping on their cycling cleats: “If you’ve got a bike, you can literally bike from there out to the far reaches of Mississauga,” Mr. Repetski says.
Or, if you prefer, you can jog along the trails instead. Danny Salvatore, president of Fernbrook Homes, has two waterfront sites — Pier 27, at Queen’s Quay and Yonge, and The Shores in Oakville — with partner Cityzen Development Group (units at Pier 27 range from 890 to 4,466 sq. ft. and from $582,000 to $4.466-million, while at The Shores units range from 606 to 2,600 sq. ft. and from $325,900 to $1.513-million).
Mr. Salvatore says many of the buyers he’s chatted with at both sites plan to do their share of jogging. With the Bronte Outer Harbour Marina close by at The Shores, there’s also several boaters among them. “The marina’s right across [from The Shores],” Mr. Salvatore says. “The marina also has restaurants, then there’s the pier itself and the boardwalk.”
If it sounds like some dreamy waterside resort, that’s exactly how some developers describe it. Jason Shiff, executive sales manager at South Beach Condos + Lofts, a project by Amexon Development Corp., says many of his buyers are attracted to that resort-style feel. Suites at South Beach, located at Park Lawn and Lake Shore, range from 454 to 1,960 sq. ft. and from $188,000 to under $1-million. He’s enticing a range of buyers, many of whom appreciate the site’s amenities, its retail offerings, and the nearby parkland. “We’re in the action, but we’re secluded,” Mr. Shiff says. “We get a lot of young professionals who work downtown and they buy here, because they get the seclusion here.”
Finally, The Pemberton Group has two waterfront projects: Park Lake at Ellis Avenue and Lake Shore, and Ashford Terrace in Oakville. Suites at Park Lake range from 615 to 1,145 sq. ft. and from $240,900 to $440,900, while units at Ashford Terrace range from 830 to 2,950 sq. ft. and from $339,000 to $1.8-million.
At Ashford Terrace, Sylvia Valente, sales representative with Circle M Realty, broker of record for the project, says the waterfront is a “huge selling point.” Waterfront buyers, she adds, are looking for a lifestyle more than anything.
“It’s a very serene setting,” she says. “It’s minutes to all the amenities, but it feels like a resort property.”
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