Tag Archives: estate opportunity
Jennifer Febbraro, National Post
It was once considered the undesirable fringe of the downtown core. East Bloor at Sherbourne, and its surrounding blocks, connoted the sick and the homeless, rundown coffee shops and prostitutes. But over the past nine years, beginning with the demolition of the asbestos-filled Wellesley Hospital, the neighbourhood has revamped its reputation and brought back a little sparkle in the eyes of real estate investors.
“People used to think the Sherbourne and Bloor neighbourhood was scary,” says Sophie Taskas-Kehdi, sales manager at The 500, an area condo project. “But now it’s completely flourished.” Ms. Taskas-Kehdi explains that the Times Group, The 500′s developers, deemed the neighbourhood an untouched market and were the first to make a footprint in the area. “I remember selling out of a little trailer,” she laughs. “It was so desolate even just a few years ago — and hardly anyone walked by. Now it’s a pedestrian thoroughfare bustling with residents, families, children.”
With development came retail outlets to accommodate residents. Of course, the regular players such as Shoppers Drug Mart and Tim Hortons made their way east. And Ms. Taskas-Kehdi notices the young, urban demographic gravitating to the pub, Gabby’s, at the Isabella Hotel at 556 Sherbourne. A recent retrofit sports a refurbished patio that bursts at the seams most summer nights. It’s the largest patio in the ‘hood, accommodating up to 75 outdoor diners. “It’s the place to be from May to October,” Ms. Taskas-Kehdi says.
Not one to miss out on a real estate opportunity, Tridel, the largest condo developer in the GTA, also saw dollar signs when the Wellesley Hospital came crumbling down. They acquired the site where the hospital once stood in 2005 and began launching the Verve Condos and Lofts just east of Jarvis on Wellesley. What happened next was a surprise even for Tridel. They sold 70% of the 440 units within the first 10 months. And not a brick had been laid.
“What we underestimated was the sales in that location,” says Jim Ritchie, senior vice-president of sales and marketing. “At the time, there weren’t many competing condo units and yet here was prime real estate in the heart of the business district, easy access to transit, great parks, and all things downtown. You really don’t even need a car if you live here.” Rabba and other retail outlets soon scrambled for limited rental opportunities at the base of the first tower.
With this kind of sell-out success, Tridel launched a second development, the James Cooper Mansions, on Sherbourne about 100 metres south of Bloor. As a heritage site, the James Cooper Mansion, built in the early 19th century by the shoe entrepreneur James Cooper, could not simply be demolished. So Tridel performed the heaviest residential move in Canadian history. They picked up the 800-ton house, set it aside, dug out a parking garage, poured new foundation for the tower, then shifted the mansion back into place. A jaw-dropping video of this procedure can be viewed at tridel.com.
“The interesting thing about the Verve and the James Cooper Mansions,” says Mr. Ritchie, “is that the majority of our buyers came from other parts of the city simply because they wanted a place in the downtown core.” With 274 suites, Mr. Ritchie says the demographic consists mainly of singles and couples and not too many families with kids.
Development begets development. For the Bloor-Sherbourne neighbourhood, the results appear impressive, considering the fact that this was a zone previously written off in the ’90s as too remote to develop. To the north sits Rosedale Valley, to the south, Allen Gardens — and in between — a few lucky buyers who got in on the action early enough. Now that Toronto’s core has come to include the revitalized Bloor-Sherbourne ‘hood, latecomers to the game are making sure they’re in before prices swing upwards.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416-388-1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
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