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.


Tag Archives: national bank

Meet ‘SoCo’ – Toronto’s mini-Manhattan – the neighbourhood that condos built

Joe O’Connor – National Post

Hannah Lee’s friends thought she was crazy. She was a seamstress with a dry cleaning business in the city’s east end, and a loyal clientele ensuring that all the bills were paid on time, with a little left over. And so why pick up and relocate her shop to the barren lands just west of Air Canada Centre, south of Front Street, on the ground floor of a condominium tower at 33 Lower Simcoe Street?

When Ms. Lee opened Simcoe Cleaner in 2009, she started having doubts. Her closest neighbour was a coffee and ice cream shop. It went bankrupt. Her new crop of regulars, most nights as she left work, consisted of three homeless guys that would stretch out in front of her store to catch some winks.

“It was a little scary around here,” she says. “There was nothing. But I kept thinking, they are going to keep on building — they are going to keep on building.”

And they did.

Comment: It is amazing to see these neighbourhoods come into existence. First come the people, then the retail spaces, some office space and boom – a whole new neighbourhood where once was barren industrial and railroad lands.

Toronto South Core
Ms. Lee’s neighbours now include a pharmacy, a dentist, a corner store, two sports bars, a whiskey bar, a taco joint, a gym, a sandwich shop, a grocery store, a state-of-the-art aquarium and a state-of-the-art public square where fans gather to watch games on a video screen outside the ACC, multiple coffee shops, a cluster of residential condo towers, new office buildings, construction cranes heralding more to come, plus the most recent arrival — a fully booked out, 567-room Delta Hotel that opened two weeks ago.

Comment: Some grocery stores would be nice, though. They seem to be sorely lacking downtown.

In a blink, a great swath of former rail lands — real estate Torontonians once associated with parking lots, a crumbling Gardiner and urban blight below Union Station on Front Street, running roughly from the Rogers Centre/CN Tower in the west to the Air Canada Centre in the east, and ending at Lake Shore Boulevard to the south — is a neighbourhood.

A pop-up, mini-Manhattan, known to its estimated 15,000 residents — a number expected to mushroom in the coming decades — by a Manhattan-sounding name: SoCo (for South Core).

Jack Robinson refers to it as the “precinct,” even though he is not a cop, but more like a wise old sage who has seen it all, which he kind of has from his perch as the CEO of CN Tower. The former soap salesman starting working at the tower 20 years ago when the view to the east featured railroad tracks for as far as the eye could see.

All he sees now is progress.

“It is no longer lonely at the top,” he says, gesturing out the window at the new world below. “The city used to stop at Front Street.”

Comment: Just wait for the eastern port lands to fill in. From Corus Quay to George Brown, through to the West Don Lands and the Pan Am Games site, East Bayfront… that whole empty area will turn into a vibrant new ‘hood over the next 5-10 years as well. Blows me away!

And employers used to stick to the established financial core north of Front or else shipped their workers to suburban satellite offices, marooning them in areas awash in metaphorical tumbleweeds — instead of new eateries, liveable spaces and a revitalizing-for-the-21st century Union Station.

Telecom giant TELUS would signal a reversal in trend four years ago. At the time, its 2,000 employees were scattered in 15 different locations throughout the GTA, a host of addresses that, from a business perspective, didn’t make sense. What did, however, was depositing all those workers in TELUS House, a brand new, 30-storey, $250-million tower, built to the gold standard in energy efficiency and outfitted with a wellness centre, a gourmet kitchen — and formaldehyde free furniture. TELUS’ new digs opened at York Street and Bremner Boulevard in May 2010.

The PwC tower opened next door two years later, with 2,400 employees. The financial services company selected its hip new environs as the ideal place to upset the traditional office hierarchy, and moved all the big cheeses out of the corner offices and into the fray, alongside the minions.

“Some of our less tenured staff are actually closer to the windows,” says Ted Graham, Innovation Leader at PwC. “We all have clear glass offices. Everybody can see you. It actually lends itself to collaboration.”

RBC’s WaterPark Place III has since joined the mix, right down the street, as have Kinross Goldcorp, SNC-Lavalin, National Bank, Royal & Sun Alliance and more. The former wasteland is now brimming with bankers, lawyers, engineers, techies and insurance guys and, once a month, several of the firms participate in an executive lunch. A brainstorming session, intended to cleave open new avenues of business, find common cause and, of course, spend money on lunch at a local restaurant.

Mr. Robinson, the CN Tower chief, is happy with the arrangement. He brands SoCo as the southern extension of the entertainment district. You can pay for parking once, visit the Tower, catch a ballgame, check out the Ripley’s Aquarium, grab dinner in Maple Leaf Square and perhaps meander down to the lake — using the new elevated footbridge attached to the underbelly of the Gardiner to get there. But he also looks at the area as a resident, an empty-nester, sharing a condo with his wife on nearby Queen’s Quay.

His walk to work is six minutes “on a bad day.” And his three central gripes as a Toronto taxpayer — “congestion, congestion, congestion,” — is heard echoing all around the residential/office spaces of SoCo.

“We are building a community from scratch with South Core around the remnants of a 20th century infrastructure — with the Gardiner, pieces of the Lakeshore Boulevard, as well as the railway,” says Joe Cressy, the rookie city councillor for Ward 20, the southern extent of which includes a chunk of SoCo. “But the South Core, in particular, is not a conventional neighbourhood, because it is three things at once.”

Comment: But they do need to work on infrastructure!

It is an employment centre, an entertainment hub and a rapidly growing vertical neighbourhood.

It is that last critical component, in the endless agonizing over what to do about the Gardiner and public transport at large, that often gets overlooked. People actually live in SoCo. Many want to have kids, some day, a demographic requiring community centres, daycares, schools and public spaces to play in. Meghan Coghlin, a nursing student, is one of those people. She lives in SoCo with her nuclear engineer fiancé, Calvin Kwong.

“We love it here,” she says. “We walk to get groceries, to baseball games, and the restaurants, and this is new, are opening for weekend brunch. We have a car, but we never drive it on weekends.”

Ms. Coghlin grew up watching her parents catch the GO train into the city from Oakville. She has no interest in doing the same. Neither do the 26% of North Americans between age 16 and 34 who don’t have a driver’s licence. She wants to walk to work.

“We have talked about raising our kids here,” she says. “But it really isn’t a place for families, yet.”

Comment: A school would be a good idea.

SoCo is hip, no doubt, but to achieve true community status — where families establish lasting roots — it will need to be lame, too. It needs screaming brats. Alas, even the condo salesperson I spoke with a few doors down from Hannah Lee’s store readily acknowledged that you could have a baby in one of the two-bedroom $509,000 suites above, but a family of four? Forget it.

The kid-free vibe extended to the playground at the south end of Roundhouse Park, in the shadow of the Gardiner. It was just Ms. Coghlin, her Norwich terrier, Matty, another young woman with a similarly small dog, and me. Six buses were parked in front of the aquarium — all tour groups from New York. A woman pushing a stroller did roll by but, like the bus folk, she was from out of town.

Ken Greenberg is a Toronto architect/urban planner with a portfolio of accomplishments — Toronto’s Port Lands, Calgary’s Riverwalk, Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York and Fan Pier in Boston, to name a few. He thinks big. He also lives small, in a condo just west of SoCo, and he says that, even as an insider, the pace of development in the area is astonishing.

“We are absolutely achieving what every city wants, which is this great mix of people living and working in the same area,” he says. “But where are the playgrounds — the daycares, the schools, the libraries — there is a big game of catch up going on.”

Creating a vibrant “public environment,” he says — and another park is planned for south of the old Expressway — is a transformational undertaking as urgent as solving the city’s gridlock woes. It is time to recognize SoCo for what it is, a new neighbourhood, and not just another condo canyon. The place has an aspirational, enviable pulse. The place is on the move, which is more than can be said for the poor schleps idling in their cars in front of Hannah Lee’s shop on Lower Simcoe on a recent afternoon, staring out their windows, knowing the Gardiner awaits.

Yes. Life is good in SoCo, if you ask your local dry cleaner. Hannah Lee isn’t scared anymore. Her business has tripled in five years.

“I think it will continue to grow,” she says. “It has taken some time, but my friends don’t think I am crazy anymore.”

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

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent 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.