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Toronto Loft Conversions

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Unique Toronto Homes

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Condos in Toronto

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Toronto Real Estate

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Tag Archives: office towers

New Toronto downtown South Core is rising fast

The quickly filling zone south of Union Station demonstrates how urban migration has changed downtown.

Christopher Hume – Toronto Star

Other cities celebrate when a new office tower appears on the skyline. In Toronto, nothing less than a whole new downtown will do.

Our latest, South Core, now taking shape between Union Station, the Rogers Centre and Lake Ontario, fills space long since paved over for parking lots. Construction continues, but the layout of the emerging neighbourhood is already clear. Comprising commercial, corporate and residential development – all highrise – this is Toronto’s first 21st-century downtown.

The difference now is that South Core is a place to live as well as work. The guiding principles here are connectivity, compactness and closeness. Mixed use is the mantra.

Comment: And this is part of the reason the condo boom continues. We are getting homes, business, places to work, places to eat and shop. It is not just condos willy-nilly any more.

“When I started working in the 1980s,” says second-generation developer Peter Menkes, “everyone was moving out of downtown. We were building suburban office towers. Now we’ve done a complete 180.”

Comment: Except along Sheppard, where there is also a ton of construction.

Toronto South Core
The new ideal is location, not space. The denizens of South Core want to live near where they work. They are willing to sacrifice the big house on a cul-de-sac in the middle of nowhere for a small apartment in the heart of the city.

Though young adults still drive the market, Menkes Developments ensures that 10% of condo units have three bedrooms to accommodate families. Kids’ play areas are de rigueur as is the new pedestrian infrastructure that makes South Core viable.

Comment: Yeah, no. Maybe 1% of condos are 3-bedrooms, if that.

This comes in the form of a series of footbridges that extend from Union Station to Queens Quay and the lake. In addition, office towers are organized to function as part of a pedestrian network that knits the neighbourhood into a coherent whole. By the time the eastbound exit ramp from the Gardiner Expressway at Yonge and Bay comes down in 2016, Harbour St. will be lined with cafes, stores and entrances to residential towers.

But in 2005 when Menkes bought the two-acre parking lot that is now the site of the Telus Tower on Bremner Blvd., the firm had no tenants and no guarantee it would find any. Today, it’s full and the two condo towers under construction – 68 and 65 storeys – are 90% sold.

“It’s all about walking and easy accessibility,” says Alan Menkes, who handles the firm’s residential operations. “People don’t need space any more; they want to be with other people.”

And as he points out, what made South Core possible was Union Station, the city’s busiest multi-modal transit terminal. Because of the subterranean PATH system, one can walk from there north to the Eaton Centre and south to the waterfront. In other words, Union Station is a pedestrian as well as a transportation hub.

This shift from a vehicular to a pedestrian focus informs much of the development currently unfolding in Toronto. There will still be parking, of course, but it will be underground and out of the way. As the Menkes brothers make clear, that’s not why people and businesses choose to be here.

Interesting, too, to see how this cultural change has created a new dynamic between office and condo towers. Until recently, the idea of living in one skyscraper and working in another next door would have been unthinkable; today it’s normal.

The question now will be how the city responds when the needs of old and new Toronto can no longer be reconciled. One thing leads to another and pretty soon the new downtowners will be demanding safer sidewalks, streets that don’t double as major arterials, playgrounds, places to walk their dogs and so on.

Though this transformation is well underway, it has far to go. At some point, the competing demands of these two infrastructural solitudes will have to be aligned. The Gardiner has been crossed, but other obstacles remain – for how much longer is not yet clear.

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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.

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