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Tag Archives: heritage preservation

Wacky real estate stories that hit home in 2012

Susan Pigg – Toronto Star

It’s the stuff of water-cooler conversations, dinner party drinks and rants over the backyard fence.

Few things have the power to entertain – and enrage – like real estate.

If 2011 was the peak of Toronto’s condo boom, 2012 was the start of the slowdown, with the GTA housing market now heading into an uncertain 2013.

Comment: Yes, 2012 slowed down to a more normal pace. Once that is higher than the 5-year average before the crazy records of 2011. 2013 will see highs, with prices and volume above recent 5- and 10-year trends. So slow…

But all that angst about the future doesn’t take away from some wacky real estate wonders of 2012.


It was far more than just a decrepit Roncesvalles garage with its own address and outrageous $99,999 price tag. The collapsing structure became symbolic of a housing market that had become almost too hot to touch.

Comment: Except it did not sell. Making it only symbolic of one man’s greed, trying to get a price double or triple what the property is worth. Mind you, if the City was not so bass-ackward when it comes to laneway housing, this garage might actually be worth something.

Realtor Nick Kourakos says he had “several offers” and queries from three architects after listing the 16-by-12 foot laneway property on the MLS last spring. One person offered $85,000, says Kourakos, for the graffiti-covered garage which comes with its own unusual address – 81 Rear Lynd Ave.

All the offers were conditional on city approval to build on the stand-alone property, says Kourakos, which wouldn’t be standing at all if it wasn’t for the rolled-up rug, scrap lumber and aluminum fishing boat that have kept the fragile walls upright through storms and Hurricane Sandy.

Kourakos was looking for clean, not conditional, offers on the property, which he bought for $12,000 as an investment four years ago. And he’s paid the price, acknowledging that the big-money days are gone, at least for a while.

Comment: Who is going to buy it without knowing they can build there? That is why the offers are conditional. And seeing as no one has come in clean, anyone who has done thei homework has found that they cannot do squat with the land.

“I’m still looking for that one person who wants an address in this area,” says Kourakos, who’s now willing to take $79,000.


It turned out to be a circus, all right – more than 300 people huddled under big white tents on a cold rainy day in October as Ritchie’s auctioned off South Sea pearls, Hermes purses and, supposedly, a Park Lane Circle luxury home.

Three bids were registered on the five-bedroom teardown or, more precisely, on the one-hectare private enclave on which it sits in one of Toronto’s toniest neighbourhoods, according to Ritchies.

But two months later, the house is still going, going, but far from gone.

The two final bidders, one offering $5.3 million and the other $5.4 million, have walked away after a nearby property went for under $5 million.

The biggest winner, it turns out, was Ritchies, which has been recruited by about a dozen other homeowners keen to avoid weeks of open houses and obsessive cleaning for – with any luck – a one-day sale.

“Most of the homes are not going to be of this value, but they’ll be simpler because we won’t be taking bids from China and other international buyers,” said Ritchies managing director Kashif Khan.

“But we’re not doing them until closer to spring. I think I’ve still got frostbite from the last one.”


The property at 2 St. James Court is a far cry from a historic property. It’s really a concrete bunker that has become such a Cabbagetown curiosity that it’s now a stop on Cabbagetown walking tours, says a neighbour.

Last August 7, city officials finally pulled the building permit on the house that nobody wants: It has no front door, has enraged neighbours and is a real reach from the 1860s livery-turned-historic-house that once stood on the site and that owner Norm Rogers was obliged, under the city’s heritage preservation laws, to replicate.

Rogers has been trying for almost a decade to build a bigger home on the 28-foot wide by 61-foot deep lot, 9.5 feet of which is a right of way which, until the city stepped in last summer, had been blocked by construction material.

Comment: All I can say is he is a bad bad man for tearing down something so lovely and leaving such a steaming pile of… concrete in its place. He should be forced to rebuild, or pay for the city to do it. One by one, this is how our city heritage is destroyed.

The building, while unsightly, has at least been cleaned up. Rogers is in Florida until January and considering where to go from here.

“I’m never going to quit. You can use that as your headline,” said Rogers in a phone interview. “I’m just going to have to apply for a new permit.”


Artist and house hunter Samantha Turnbull had spent a year looking for something different. She found it on Toronto’s east-end Coxwell Ave. and was so determined to have a house unlike anyone else’s, she offered more than $125,000 over the $349,000 asking price for the crazy 800-square-foot cube house on stilts.

The sale freed up a little cash and creative energy for its designer, Toronto alternative architect Rohan Walters, who’s done it again. This time he’s built a 2-1/2-storey concrete block home at College St. and Lansdowne Ave. on what used to be a 37-by-10-foot driveway.

The recently completed project is yet more proof from Walters that housing can find its place in unique spaces. He’s made it his life’s mission to create comfortable, environmentally sound homes where no one else dares tread.

This newest house – which he’s renting out as he once did the Coxwell cube house – truly hits home for Walters. It’s attached to the studio house he built for himself and his family back in 1996 on a triangular piece of derelict land that was once home to a Mediacom billboard.

Comment: Bravo! Can we clone Mr. Walters a couple hundred times?

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.