Toronto Loft Conversions

Toronto Loft Conversions

I know classic brick and beam lofts! From warehouses to factories to churches, Laurin will help you find your perfect new loft.

Modern Toronto Lofts

Modern Toronto Lofts

Not just converted lofts, I can help you find the latest cool and modern space. There are tons of new urban spaces across the city.

Unique Toronto Homes

Unique Toronto Homes

More than just lofts, I can also help you find that perfect house. From the latest architectural marvel to a piece of our Victorian past, the best and most creative spaces abound.

Condos in Toronto

Condos in Toronto

I started off selling mainly condos, helping first time buyers get a foothold in the Toronto real estate market. Now working with investors and helping empty nesters find that perfect luxury suite.

Toronto Real Estate

Toronto Real Estate

For all of your Toronto real estate needs, contact Laurin. I am dedicated to helping you find that perfect and unique new home to call your own.

 

Many condo buyers are happily going carless, and they’re changing building design en route

Alex Newman – National Post

Two years ago, Ted and Cathy Blackbourn were so sick of commuting to Toronto from Kitchener that they sold their house and moved into a condo in the St. Lawrence market area.

They also sold the car.

“Living where we do, we didn’t need a car and it was just an extra expense,” says Mr. Blackbourn, a newly retired teacher. “After commuting to work for so long, it was liberating not to have to drive anywhere. I just walk out the door and get wherever I need to.”

When what they need is too far to walk or take transit — visiting the relatives in Muskoka, for example — they use AutoShare.

The car-share concept, which first came to Toronto about 15 years ago, has great appeal to developers as well. Because parking spots haven’t been selling well, especially to buyers of suites smaller than 700 square feet, developers are left with a lot of inventory at the end of a project’s launch.

Comment: It is funny, I often hear about parking going unsold, but then I rarely see empty garages. Even so, build the garage and whatever space is unsold, use it for Zip Car or Auto Share, and maybe put some paid visitor parking in (to help offset condo fees).

The City of Toronto, aware of the situation, has reduced the parking requirements to .6 or .7 parking spots per unit. That’s still not low enough, says architect Roland Rom Colthoff, president of Raw Design, who has designed many GTA condo projects. “In reality, the need is more like .4 parking spots per unit because, downtown, people are walking or cycling to work. The infrastructure is still catching up.”

Comment: Exactly. The City needs to step up and start making the city more friendly to bikes and pedestrians. More bike lanes, better transit, easier to walk.

Rather than cut parking requirements to the bone just yet, the city is taking some intermediate steps through the car-share program. Any project with an on-site program garners itself three LEED credits. And for every car-share parking spot, the project can reduce its resident car parking by four spots.

Jared Menkes, vice-president of Menkes, thinks the writing is on the wall. “We’re moving toward an urban environment that doesn’t have or need cars. The low rate of parking purchase downtown tells us the demand isn’t there. Look at New York — most of the buildings don’t have parking.”

Kevin McLaughlin, who launched AutoShare in 1998 and first placed the program in 2003 at Context’s Mozo building at Adelaide and Sherbourne, agrees. “The sales of parking spaces continue to shrink, but we’re still building parking like it’s the 1950s.” Initially, car-share programs could replace resident parking 10 to one (it’s since dropped to four) and in the past eight years, his program has gone into about 25 condo buildings around the city.

Comment: Sort of. Many downtown condos are going up on parking lots. While there are spots being provided for residents, overall parking is being removed. And visitors to the city do need parking. As I said, give the condos the garages, but change the way they are used.

It could be much more, he thinks, if car sharing in a residential condo was also accessible to the public. When it’s only open to condo residents, it doesn’t generate enough income. But developers, eager to reduce their required parking spots (hence their costs) through the program, have been subsidizing it for a city-mandated two-year period.

When that expires, Mr. McLaughlin says, condo boards aren’t likely to be willing to shoulder the extra cost. The solution, he believes, is getting a mix of users who will use the program 24/7.

At London on the Esplanade, the program increased to five cars from its original two. But that’s because it went into a public access parking garage beneath the condo, says Sam Crignano, president of Cityzen, which developed the project.

Mr. Menkes, too, says public access is the aim in their residential developments with car share. At 90 Harbour, which is a mixed-use project that includes commercial, residential and 200,000 sq. ft. of retail, the car-share program will be in the public garage.

“The condo population alone is never enough to sustain four or five car-share spots,” Mr. Menkes says. “They haven’t just given up the car for work, they aren’t using it weekends, either.”

As downtown becomes denser, and land less available, parking opportunities will continue to shrink. The 55’x125′ site of Royal Canadian Military Institute Residences, for example, wasn’t large enough to allow the necessary ramps, so underground parking wasn’t an option.

The city was open to the no-parking idea, and wanted to see how well the units would sell without it, says Stephen Deveaux, urban planner and vice-president of land development for Tribute Communities, which developed the site.

Within nine days of launching the project in 2009, 270 of the 315 units sold. The site included five car-share spots, with options to increase to nine if necessary. These will be accessed via a freight elevator and four mechanic hoists that stack the cars one on top of the other.

“Putting car share in the building is part of the broader transportation demand — we have a ton of bike parking as well,” Mr. Deveaux says. “We partnered with AutoShare to see if there’s a take-up. But if it turns out there isn’t a market in the building itself, then that’s a very telling story about where car travel and parking is heading in the city.”

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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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