Tag Archives: canadian
Creative solutions are urged to make intensification work for families
Excerpt from an article by Theresa Boyle, Real Estate Reporter, Toronto Star
Toronto’s director of urban design wants to see more family-friendly condominiums built in the city.
During the recent municipal election, candidates such as Ward 20 victor Adam Vaughan suggested too many condominiums offer small units targeted at young singles. When couples settle down and start families, they are often forced to move out to the suburbs.
It’s about creating “real communities with the highrise condominium form,” he says.
The convertible suite is one idea that’s gaining in popularity, he notes. This involves building a large three- or four-bedroom unit in a condominium in such a way that it can be divided into two units, each with separate access to the hallway.
Another idea proposed by Vaughan during the election is to “rough in” connecting doorways between small condo units, so a family can purchase two small units and turn it into a single large one.
Glenn Miller, director of education and research with the Canadian Urban Institute, says it’s necessary for condos to accommodate people through the various stages of their lives.
“I don’t think condos are not family friendly. People think you have to have a backyard to raise children. They have to get over that,” she says.
She adds there’s a parkette across the street for the children, and they love to frolic in the condo‘s amenity spaces. As well, the Toronto Reference Library is directly across the road.
A three-bedroom condo is expensive and families feel that, for the same price, they can get a house with a backyard, she says.
Freedman agrees a shift in mindset is necessary when it comes to raising children in condos.
But he says there are some features that make condos more attractive to families, such as having great playgrounds, parks, community centres, libraries and schools in the area.
But he notes developers in other cities are designing condos with those family-oriented facilities included.
“I understand in New York there are lots of condo buildings that have all kinds of amenities for kids, such as after school drop-in and homework rooms, supervised indoor and outdoor play areas, et cetera.”
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High-rise projects sandwiched between downtown and the suburbs have to offer more to compete effectively
By Derek Raymaker – The Globe and Mail
The vast choice in new high-rise condominium suites in central Toronto has wedged prices and demand in a nice equilibrium, if temporarily.
At an average price of $331 a square foot across Greater Toronto, condominium prices are not spiralling out of control in the same way as new detached homes, even though four high-profile super-luxury projects, including one under the Ritz-Carlton banner, have been launched, driving up the average price.
And Torontonians should be surprised and satisfied to know that condo prices here are in line with most other Canadian cities, and actually a bargain compared with Victoria, Vancouver and Calgary.
When you pull yourself away from the economic analysis (which shouldn’t be too hard) and visit the sales centres of new downtown projects, you’ll find finely tuned marketing machines aiming directly at the lifestyle-oriented instincts of buyers looking for convenience and trendy design.
But it’s location that will always trump these other factors, and a hot corner can be worth all the granite countertops in the world. There are over two dozen condo sales centres currently open in central Toronto, and there would seem to be something for everyone .
In Etobicoke, the western lakeshore straddling the mouth of the Humber River continues to hit the right notes with buyers. The subway — and subway extensions — have guided North York’s high-rise development. And the Scarborough Town Centre transit and highway corridor is the site of pretty much all of the high-rise projects in that former borough. Of course, these all come with the discount you’d expect for being out of the trendy loop that exists south of Eglinton Avenue.
None of this is rocket science to any savvy marketing team. But there is one key advantage these traditional low-rise neighbourhoods have over the trendy downtown projects that bodes well for future high-rise development. That is the prevalence of tens of thousands of older couples who want to sell their large maintenance-intensive houses, but not leave their neighbourhoods.
There’s also the added bonus that many of these older buyers are able to buy a high-end two-bedroom suite priced at $500,000 or so with no mortgage after they sell their family house for $750,000 in pockets like Lawrence Park or The Kingsway.
Bayview Avenue has been a particularly popular spot for new empty-nester buyers looking for a well-appointed suite with larger square footages than you’d find in downtown Toronto‘s shoeboxes in the sky to handle all the family heirlooms.
Daniels Corporation’s Kilgour Estates, just south of Lawrence Avenue, has been a huge hit with homeowners from the immediate area, with prices starting at $474,000 and going up to $1,586,000 for between 1,072 and 2,293 square feet.
Further north on Sheppard Avenue is Shane Baghai’s St. Gabriel Village, on a site to be shared with a church and to feature an emphasis on energy conservation. It has been on the market for a year with prices at $479 a square foot.
The overall price picture outside of downtown features many projects with fairly expensive suites like those mentioned above, and loads of traditional high-rise condos catering to the first-time buyer on a budget, but not much in between.
The early data for 2006 indicates it’s been a soft market overall in these areas, with a lot of building going on but not much buying.
In west North York, the average high-rise suite price reported for February was $269 a square foot, up a modest 3.8% from February, 2005, according to data compiled by RealNet Canada. The North Yonge Street corridor reports a price of $316 a square foot, up 1.6% from February, 2005, while Scarborough was at $276 a square foot, up 6.1% from February, 2005.
Etobicoke average suite prices are actually above the Greater Toronto average at $359 a square foot in February, up 3.1% from $348 in February, 2005.
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The Distillery District is a historic district to the east of the downtown core of Toronto, Canada, spanning 13 acres (52,000 square metres) and comprised of more than 40 heritage buildings and 10 streets.
Until 1990, the district housed the Gooderham and Worts distillery, founded in 1832, and which was once the largest distillery in the world, and which was owned in later years by Hiram Walker Co. Its location on the side of the Canadian National Railway mainline and located at the mouth of the original route of the Don River outlet into Lake Ontario which facilitated transport connections to the rest of Canada and indeed the world, and the entire area was once the industrial centre of Toronto and transhipping hub.
With the deindustrialization of the surrounding area in the late 20th century, and the winding-down of the distillery operations, the Distillery District was left increasingly derelict. Surrounding industrial and commercial buildings and structures were often demolished, leaving the former distillery surrounded primarily by empty lots.
Nonetheless, the closing of the remaining distillery operations in 1990 created redevelopment and investment opportunities for a district that contained the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America.
The economic recession of the early 1990s, however, and the resulting crash in residential condominium prices and office lease rates in downtown Toronto, delayed efforts to revitalize the district. Nonetheless, two residential condominium buildings were constructed on the periphery of the district during the late 1990s.
While the site awaited redevelopment and reinvestment, the Distillery District‘s unique ambience began to attract numerous film shoots. Since 1990, the site has served as a location for over 800 film and television productions.
In 2001, the site was purchased by Cityscape Holdings Inc., which transformed the district into a pedestrian-oriented arts, culture and entertainment neighbourhood. In 2003, the Distillery District was reopened to the public to great acclaim.
The new owners refused to lease any of the retail and restaurant space to chains or franchises, and accordingly, the majority of the buildings are occupied with unique boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and coffee shops, including a well-known micro brewery, the Mill Street Brewery.
The upper floors of a number of buildings have been leased to artists as studio spaces and to offices tenants with a “creative focus”. A new theatre, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, has opened on the site and serves as the home of the Soulpepper Theatre Company and the drama productions of nearby George Brown College. There are plans to develop residential condominiums, offices and more retail space on the vacant lands that surround the Distillery District.
There has been some criticism of the Distillery District‘s redevelopment. Some have suggested that the area’s gentrification has resulted in yet another upscale shopping district competing for the pocket-books of a wealthy demographic, and that opportunities for more publicly-funded uses have been lost. In contrast, others have noted that the district provides important space to local artists, and are supportive of the fact that the Distillery District is not dominated by large retail chains.
Regardless of any criticism, the preservation and active re-use of the historic buildings has been widely praised. The Distillery District is a National historic site, and has been designated for protection under the Ontario Heritage Act since 1976. It was listed by National Geographic magazine as a “top pick” in Canada for travellers. The redevelopment of surrounding vacant lands is expected to accelerate the district’s transformation from an abandoned industrial site into one of Toronto’s most unique neighbourhoods.
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