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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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From New Dream Homes and Condos Magazine
In the 1850s, the area now known as Bloor West Village was the property of Lieutenant Colonel William Smith Durie, the first commanding officer of the Queens Own Rifles. The street that ran through his estate is now known as Durie Street. The present day neighbourhood began to be developed in 1909, when this district became part of the City of Toronto. Soon after amalgamation with Toronto, Bloor West‘s roads were paved and city services were made available.
Bloor West‘s first residents were immigrants of Eastern European background. These are the residents who helped found the Bloor West Village Business Improvement Area, the first of its kind in Canada. This shopping district has helped make Bloor West Village one of Toronto’s most popular neighbourhoods.
This is also a popular neighbourhood for families since it is home to many excellent schools and is within walking distance of High Parkâ€”Toronto’s biggest and best-known park. Covering 399-acres, this Toronto landmark contains picnic areas, flower gardens, animal paddocks, a restaurant, an outdoor amphitheatre, sports facilities, a trackless train, an adventure playground, and a large pond.
Other local attractions include the Annette Recreation Centre, which is attached to the Annette Street public school. This centre has an indoor pool, a small gymnasium, and a baseball diamond. A little bit east of the Annette Centre is the Annette Street Public Library, which offers programs for adults, children, and preschoolers.
Bloor West Village is also home to The Humber, a movie theatre that is conveniently located on Bloor Street, just west of Jane Street.
Homes in the area are all fairly similar in size and styleâ€”having been built in a relatively short period of time between 1912 and 1923. Most houses feature deep front porches that are well shaded by the majestic oak and maple trees that line the streets of this neighbourhood.
Although known for it’s great selection of stores, the Bloor West Village shopping district is as much about eating as it is about shopping. It’s a virtual smorgasbord of bakeries, delicatessens, specialty food shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Convenience stores, fruit and vegetable markets, dry cleaners, video stores, and other shops catering to everyday household needs, can also be found on Jane and Annette streets.
The Jane and Runnymede subway stations are part of the Bloor-Danforth subway line and are both within walking distance of the homes in Bloor West Village. The Annette Street bus connects passengers to the Dupont subway station on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line and there are additional bus routes on Jane Street and Runnymede Road.
Commuters are only about ten minutes from the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevardâ€”providing quick access into and out of the city.
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