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Condo boom driving up Toronto’s density

Jayme Poisson – Toronto Star

Tara Gratto and her chef husband Souheil were drawn to the culturally diverse downtown. Recent grad Laura Kalbfleisch needed to find a place in a hurry — the swimming pool was a draw. And Bryan Martin, a personal trainer with season’s tickets to the Jays, wanted to be smack in the middle of the action.

The residents of CityPlace — a large, densely populated section of former railway land now climbing to the sky with multi-tower condo development — are a new face of the city.

They’re young urban professionals who want to live and work downtown, even if it means moving into busy buildings that some say feel more like university dorms.

Wednesday’s first results of the 2011 census show that a small downtown pocket — from Lake Ontario, north to Front St., west to Bathurst St. and east to Spadina Ave. — has seen explosive growth.

The census echoes what everyone’s been saying: That Toronto has gone vertical.

In 2006, the population in the area that includes Harbourfront and the old railway lands stood at 1,106 people. As of last year that had skyrocketed to 5,911 — a 434% increase.

That’s more than triple the average population density of about 4,150 people per square kilometre for the rest of the city.

Once home to a spiderweb of tracks and derelict buildings, it’s evolved into a vibrant sporting and residential community. Nine new buildings have gone up since the 2006 census, says Ben Myers, executive vice-president of the condo market research firm Urbanation.

Many residents — such as Gratto, 34, her husband Souheil Badran, 33, and their two young children — rent from investment buyers.

“I’ve always liked downtown,” said Gratto, who has lived in a coveted three-bedroom apartment on Telegram Mews since 2010. “It’s much more culturally diverse down here. So being in a multicultural marriage, we wanted an area where that was the norm.”

Badran, who grew up in a condo in Lebanon, is a chef-in-training at the Royal York hotel, about a 15 minute walk away.

Personal trainer Bryan Martin, 27, bought his loft-style townhouse two years ago. Besides the gym, pool and sauna, he loves not having to shovel snow. Laura Kalbfleisch, 28, a psychology grad now working as a freelance editor, shares a one-bedroom with her lawyer boyfriend. Being near the lake has been a bonus for walks with their dog, Balu.

Experts say fundamental shifts in population and lifestyle — couples putting off marriage and children, workers rebelling against long commutes — have paired with a backlash against urban sprawl to spur one of the most sustained real-estate booms in history.

Condos present a more affordable option for first-time buyers such as young adults and new immigrants — two groups naturally drawn to the buzz of big cities, said Adrienne Warren, senior economist and manager with Scotiabank.

Empty-nesters looking to downsize are also driving the condo craze.

Meanwhile, demand for land is pushing developers to build vertically, encouraged by government policies designed to curb sprawl. Multi-unit dwellings now make up roughly half of all new housing stock.

Toronto’s population rose 4.5% from 2006. Spikes in several neighbourhoods probably had to due with vertical growth, experts say.

Condo-heavy Liberty Village experienced 143% growth; the Bay Street corridor saw a 57% boost.

Pauline Lierman, a senior research analyst with Urbanation said that with downtown becoming more built-up, future growth will probably take place farther north. For example, the population has doubled in the corridor between Sheppard and Finch Aves. Since 2006.

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor with Century 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who are
interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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