Tag Archives: residential areas
The condos at Exhibit Residences will offer a bird’s eye view of the ROM
Lindsay Forsey, National Post
Nothing is guaranteed in life, especially if you’re talking about the view from your condo in a city developing at the pace Toronto is. One minute, it’s skyline galore, the next, you’re watching your neighbour do the downward dog on his Nintendo Wii.
There are pockets in the city, though, where the landscape is unlikely to change. The hub of Avenue Road and Bloor Street, for example, sits at the northern edge of the University of Toronto and Queen’s Park — spaces practically guaranteed to stay gorgeous, green and wide open.
That’s good news for buyers at many new condos being built in the neighbourhood. “We have everlasting views,” says Veronika Belovich, director of sales and marketing for Bazis International, the developer behind Exhibit Residences (exhibitresidences.com), located on Bloor at Avenue Road. “Exhibit views to the north overlook low-rise residential areas. To the south, you see Philosopher’s Walk on the U of T campus, Queen’s Park and the Royal Ontario Museum.”
Architect Roy Varacalli designed Exhibit to complement the ROM’s stand-out steel-and-glass Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Exhibit’s four cubes veiled in fretted glass will stack one on top of the other at skewed rotations, like a sophisticated, artful interpretation of a toddler’s toy blocks. “The building will fit beautifully within the context of the Bloor streetscape, which is becoming more modern and urban,” Ms. Belovich says.
The 32-storey condo will have about 200 suites ranging from 650 to more than 2,000 square feet. Prices range from $500,000 to more than $3-million and construction will begin in fall 2011.
Residents at U Condominiums, by Pemberton Developments, will enjoy those same everlasting views. Located on Bay Street, south of Bloor, and designed by Peter Clewes of Architects Alliance, the project includes two glass towers and 19 townhomes, with an acre of green space winding through the property.
“We have preserved areas to the south and west of U Condos, so nothing will be built there,” says Marianne Paroczai, broker for Circle M Realty, which is handling U sales. “We’ve had a lot of international investment and a wide range of buyers. Everyone from the nomadic exec looking for a pied-à-terre to young couples to families with kids.”
U’s first tower is 95% sold and will be completed in June 2012, while the second tower is 90% sold and set for June 2013 completion. Suites range from 325 to 1,477 sq. ft., priced from the mid-$200,000s to more than $1-million.
“This neighbourhood has always been popular, but there’s a great influx of new development here now, and that’s been very appealing to a lot of people,” Ms. Paroczai says.
Other developments in the area are also attracting attention. On Avenue Road north of Bloor, Pears on the Avenue by Menkes is 50% sold. The 20-storey condo designed by Page and Steele IBI Architects will house about 150 suites ranging from 525 to 1,974 sq. ft.
“Pears sits on the crest of Avenue and Davenport Road, so there are amazing city views to the south, and to the north we overlook Forest Hill,” says Mimi Ng, Menkes vice-president of marketing. “We’re right in the middle of two fantastic neighbourhoods. The Annex has a bohemian, casual feel, and then there’s the glitz and glamour of Yorkville.”
Suites are priced from the high $300,000s to $2.5-million and, so far, there’s a large local contingent of Pears buyers. “A lot of area residents are shifting from their homes into condos and they don’t want to leave the neighbourhood. They want to keep going to the same flower shop and grocery store and restaurants,” Ms. Ng says. Young professionals and move-ups are buying at Pears as well.
Approximately 12,000 sq. ft. of retail space at the base of the building will add to the buzz of the growing area. “New development and new residents will keep this community vibrant and bring fresh energy to an already great neighbourhood,” Ms. Ng says.
Construction at Pears starts this summer, with projected completion for June 2013.
One block east of Pears, The Florian by Diamante has also been popular with area residents looking to transition from large homes. The Hariri Pontarini-designed project was constructed with extra large bays that allowed for combination suites and tons of customization.
“Several of our clients have combined suites to create spaces up to 4,000 sq. ft.,” says Florian sales manager Gina DiLorenzo. “When you’re working with people who are moving from spacious homes, you have to give them that flexibility. It’s like a custom-built home within a condominium.”
Each floor in the 25-storey building has a maximum of four suites, all with two exposures, viewed through floor-to-ceiling windows. The 100-suite project is 75% sold, with remaining units ranging from 1,500 to 5,000 sq. ft., starting from $1.25-million.
The Florian is situated on an angle to maximize the views from every suite. “In the west, there’s almost no high-rise construction. You can see all the way to Casa Loma from the seventh floor,” Ms. DiLorenzo says. Occupancy at The Florian is scheduled for spring 2012.
Local empty-nesters (and a few international buyers) make up most of the future residents of Museum House — an exclusive 27-suite project located on Bloor at Avenue Road. The condo’s 17 residential floors consist of half- and full-floor units that sit above two floors of retail space.
“Museum House is a true boutique building,” says Caitlin Moon, vice-president of development for Yorkville Corp., the project’s developer. “This is a very intimate project. The larger developments in the area are beautiful, but they offer a different lifestyle. Museum House will be very private.” (The building’s footprint wasn’t big enough for a ramp to underground parking, so there’s a car elevator instead.)
Another design by Page and Steele IBI, Museum House will be clad in limestone, metal and glass. Four suites are still for sale, plus the two-storey penthouse occupying the 18th and 19th floors. A cool $12.8-million will snag the lucky buyer 5,618 sq. ft. of indoor living space, plus another 1,152-sq. ft. spread out over four terraces with panoramic views.
“We have forever views; that’s one of the things that makes us stand out,” Ms. Moon says. Museum House overlooks the Annex to the north and the ROM, Queen’s Park and U of T to the south. If you’re looking for a room with a view that’ll last, these ones will be ready for occupancy in fall 2011.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416-388-1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
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Ryan Starr – Yourhome.ca
David Leinster has a clear sense of what ails this fair city.
“Toronto has a really mean public realm,” says the landscape architect, one of six principals in The Planning Partnership (TPP), an urban planning and design firm.
“Planning in the city has been dominated by the car and accommodating it in every respect. There needs to be a shift in how we think about our streets and public spaces.”
For Leinster and his TPP colleagues, that’s the mission: Make the public realm — the environment around buildings that includes streets, sidewalks, alleys, parks, plazas and other open spaces — a primary focus of Toronto’s ongoing development planning.
As the city looks to add density in existing residential areas, TPP hopes to reverse years of automobile-centric urban design and help transform Toronto into a more pedestrian-friendly town.
TPP is currently working on projects such as the John St. cultural promenade, Union Station, the Front St. civic plaza, the West Don Lands and the Sheppard East LRT — initiatives that highlight public space and street life, which The Planning Partnership co-founder Dan Leeming says must be top priorities.
“Toronto is a world class city, but we don’t have a world class public realm,” he says in an interview with his partners at the firm’s Bay Street office.
“We’ve got amazing cultural diversity and good government, but we’ve got a built-form (the relationship buildings have with their surroundings) that’s not meeting that standard.”
TPP hopes to change that.
On John St., the firm has designed plans for a streetscape that will tie together landmarks along that north-south corridor, including the Art Gallery of Ontario and the CN Tower.
“It’s an important route that links a number of attractions,” says TPP partner Harold Madi. “But the public realm, the adhesive between those destinations, is currently an unremarkable street.”
To make the main drag more remarkable, TPP wants to add trees, widen sidewalks, include more squares and plazas, and enhance existing parks and open spaces.
With the influx of people moving into condos in the Entertainment District, Madi says it makes sense to improve public spaces.
“You’re doubling the population there, and the majority of them are walking to work, not using cars.
“They’re the ones who are going to experience this environment, but at the moment there are no trees, not enough greenery, and the sidewalks are too narrow.”
Andrew De Gasperis, a principal with Aspen Ridge Homes — currently developing a two-tower, 750-unit condo project at Richmond and Duncan Sts. — sees the value in offering homebuyers the promise of inviting public spaces.
“The city is transforming quickly, so when we sell to a potential buyer they want to know what an area’s going to look like when they move in,” he says. “If there are improvements being done to an area like John St., that’s what you want to see; you want it close to your development so there’s a benefit for purchasers.”
The Planning Partnership has also been working on a public realm plan for the West Don Lands, the first residential neighbourhood in Waterfront Toronto’s redevelopment of the industrial area.
The neighbourhood ultimately will include 6,000 homes, one million square feet of working space, an elementary school and two childcare centres.
To create a more engaging community vibe, TPP plan calls for plenty of public art and loads of landscaping and parkland.
Construction recently began on Underpass Park, a derelict area under the Richmond/Adelaide Sts. overpasses that’s being transformed into a new 2.5-acre park with recreational space, children’s play areas and community gardens.
The West Don Lands will also showcase a type of street never before seen in Toronto: the woonerf.
“It’s a model imported from the Netherlands,” Leinster says. “It’s a space where pedestrians, cars and bikes all share the same areas. It’s probably more similar to a lane than to any other street we know, except buildings front onto it.”
A woonerf is also curbless and has different surfacing materials than regular streets. “This signals to drivers that you’re entering a different zone, so hopefully you act differently,” TPP partner Rick Merrill says.
Achieving greater motorist-pedestrian harmony is the focus of another project in TPP’s pipeline: a Union Station/Front St. public mall.
The firm’s vision is for a “grand civic plaza from the Royal York to Union Station, building face to building face,” Madi says. “This is the front door to the city and it’s a very important civic building.”
TPP hopes to make the area less treacherous to pedestrians, but Leinster acknowledges it will be impossible to eliminate all vehicle traffic along bustling Front St.
“At Union the cars are moving in one direction and the pedestrians are moving in another, so there’s this inherent conflict,” he says, adding that a woonerf-style approach might work well in this environment.
If calming Union Station traffic sounds like a tall order, TPP should be up to the task; this is the firm that gave car-loving Houston a reason to embrace public transit.
Last year TPP won an award from the American Society of Landscape Architects for its work on plans that are helping transform Houston’s gridlocked urban core into a place that now accommodates a light rail transit system —and pedestrians.
It wasn’t easy.
“We spent a lot of time on cross sections and how to make pedestrian zones work,” Merrill says. “Sometimes we had very narrow right of ways, and when you have a limited right of way, the pedestrian always suffers.
“But that’s actually the most important part of the corridor,” he adds, “because you’re trying to get people to the corridor to use transit.”
Back in Toronto, TPP is incorporating lessons learned from Houston into its plans for revamping the streetscape along the route of the new Sheppard East LRT, a 14-kilometre line that’s part of the Transit City megaproject.
“We’re looking at how people are going to get to the trains — is it accessible and how do we shape the pedestrian environment so that people are comfortable walking there,” Leinster says. “Because God knows you would not want to walk on Sheppard today, it’s miserable.”
In the end, Leeming says, effective public-realm planning — whether in the suburbs or downtown Toronto — comes down to challenging the “dominance of car culture.”
“Car drivers have had the right of the road for 60 years,” he says. “And they have this idea that the car has a God-given right to move at a certain speed, and a certain level of service is expected.
“Well, those rules went out the window 20 years ago. It’s shared space, but we haven’t learned how to share it yet.”
Proposal for residential development to pay for park
Anna Mehler Paperny – Globe and Mail
In 1943, it was the centre of Toronto’s Second World War aviation effort.
In 1994, the federal government announced its future as a massive national park.
Next week, the Downsview plan goes before North York community council when councillors vote on the latest iteration of the city’s proposals for the area, which make provision not only for 100 hectares of parkland, but for thousands of units of mixed-use residential development intended to pay for it.
If the vote passes and sends the proposed Downsview Secondary Plan to city council, it will set in motion plans 16 years in the making.
But Michael Baigel would really rather it didn’t.
“It’s a dreadful plan,” he said. “It was meant to be a national park … a real gem in the city.”
But plans for the Parc Downsview Park rely on turning much of the site – running from Keele Street in the west to Wilson Heights in the east and as far north as Sheppard Avenue – into intensified residential developments in order to raise money for the park itself, which is meant to be self-funding.
“They want to make it like downtown,” Mr. Baigel laments – something he moved to Toronto from Manchester, England, specifically to avoid.
“The reason people live in the suburbs is because they want to live in the suburbs. They don’t want to live in condos.”
Plans for the site have ruffled more than a few residential feathers in the various neighbourhoods bordering the park. But one of the most offensive is the proposal to remove ramps on and off Allen Road from Wilson Heights Boulevard.
The plan to foster “transit-supported mixed-use communities” includes 400,000 square metres of mixed-use development and a transportation plan that emphasizes transit use and provides for an internal pedestrian and bicycle network.
But residents argue this would add to already clogged traffic and force commuting motorists into residential areas.
Local councillor Mike Feldman is putting forward an amendment at the June 22 meeting asking city staff to shelve plans to remove the ramps, at least until residential development transforms the area enough for different traffic systems to make sense.
Apart from that detail, he said, the secondary plan is “a nice first step” for a project that, like a growing number of public initiatives across the city, will attempt to pay for itself by leveraging the real estate value of the land on which it sits.
But Mr. Baigel would rather see the plan scrapped altogether. He fears Torontonians “will never get that greenery back again.”
“They’ll make one area residential and then a few years later another bit will get developed. Eventually it’ll all disappear. Over 50 years, we’re going to lose that park in the centre of Toronto. … It’s going to be chipped away at.”
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