Toronto Loft Conversions

Toronto Loft Conversions

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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.

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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: skyscraper

The sky’s the limit for Toronto residential growth

Christopher Hume – Toronto Star

With the exception of the car, nothing has changed the city more than the condo. Thanks to the condo, thousands and thousands of new residents have flooded into Toronto and helped make it one of the most vibrant cities in North America.

At the same time, however, many Torontonians, indeed, whole neighbourhoods, are consumed with rage against the condo. Mere mention of the C-word is enough to send shivers down the spine of otherwise mild-mannered homeowners and turn them into howling NIMBY hordes.

Typically, the object of their fury is height. And in a city where residential developers now routinely propose 75- to 85-storey towers, the fear of highrise buildings has never been more palpable.

Yet the most controversial condo project in Toronto these days is not something such as David Mirvish’s Frank Gehry-designed triple-towered skyscraper extravaganza at King and John Sts., but a quietly elegant six-storey building at 109 Ossington Ave. It would replace a used-car lot and garage, the sort of thing you’d expect locals would be thrilled to see disappear.

Think again. In addition to height – six storeys is too much, four would be better – the arguments against the midrise scheme are that it would suck the life from the street and be a “party building.”

Architectural renderings of 109 Ossington show a frankly modernist structure, an arrangement of glass-and-concrete cubes that breaks down the bulk into a series of smaller elements. With retail at street level, it appears to be fully integrated into the neighbourhood, and a welcome addition to a part of town that has seen little investment over the decades.

The same scenario is also being played out on Queen St. E., where the object of scorn is another midrise condo by the same architectural firm, one of Toronto’s most innovative, RAW Design.

NIMBYism, which has an increasingly ugly side, has reached the point where many Torontonians seem to think they have the right to choose their neighbours.

The complaints are revealing. Most revealing is the accusation that 109 Ossington will be a “party building.” This assertion gets to the heart of the fear and loathing so many feel for the very idea of the condo. Condos, they charge, attract the young, the noisy and the rootless.

As much as anything, perhaps, it is also a reaction against the marketing of condos, which, in its emphasis on “lifestyle,” has long been aimed at the younger end of the market. In fact, developers have focused on specific demographic categories: the rich, of course, but mostly this mythical cohort of young, upwardly mobile professionals.

At the same time, in an effort to keep units affordable for this group, builders have reduced apartment sizes to the point where they have become more attractive as investments than places to live.

CityPlace is a good example. The average stay at the massive and still-unfinished development, which extends west of the Rogers Centre to Bathurst St., is said to be 27 months. Transient populations such as this, so the logic goes, don’t put down roots and have little stake in their building let alone neighbourhood.

This marketing model has worked until recently because of the apparently insatiable demand on the part of international investors from China, Russia, Asia, Iran and beyond. That’s changing now, but it hasn’t been unusual for 60 to 70, even 80,% of new units to be snapped up by investors. The result in a market as hot as Toronto’s is the condo industry has grown disconnected from the market. On the other hand, bankers, who look no further than the bottom line, like what they see.

Now, stricter mortgage and amortization requirements introduced by the federal government have had their intended effect. Investors are withdrawing. Sales of condos and building starts are down; the heady days of the Toronto real estate market are drawing to a close.

“The Golden Age of the condo may be over,” admits Toronto’s leading real estate analyst Barry Lyon, “but it’s good. The market needed this.”

“What we’re seeing is a healthy market correction,” he argues, “it’s one that’s long overdue. We need to catch our breath. We’re tracking 420 sites that are for sale in the GTA. It should be 300 or 320. We’re building so quickly we haven’t had a chance to learn. We haven’t had a chance to build for an evolving market.”

Lyon makes a lot of sense. Indeed, one imagines a period of reconciliation in the decades ahead during which the condos built today will finally be made inhabitable through interior renovations and, when possible, joining units. But the big issue must be how to ensure that projects yet to be built are more finely adapted to human, not exclusively industry, demands.

As more aging couples and families choose to stay downtown and go highrise, planners and developers will also have to figure out ways of providing larger living spaces that are affordable. Regardless of what builders say, it can be done. Why, for example, are condos in New York larger on average than those in Toronto?

One of the major difference is that the condo in Manhattan is not viewed strictly as an investment or a temporary domicile, but as a place to live, often with kids and pets.

At the same time, like the rest of the planet, North America is witnessing a return to the city. Car ownership rates are down among young people for the first time since the 1950s. The same phenomenon can be seen in Europe where, after nearly 70 years, bicycle sales have outstripped car sales.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has fought the trend, but to little avail. Removing bicycle lanes from Jarvis St. makes this city an object of international smirking, but it won’t keep people from their bikes. Ironically, this step backwards comes at the same time when congestion in Toronto has reached a low point: According to at least one survey, gridlock in this city is the worst in North America. Another report, released last week, had three Canadian cities in its list of the worst five; in addition to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver made the cut. The U.S. cities were Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Canada, it appears, is falling behind. But the speed at which we erect condos says otherwise. Our growing desire to live in the city has fundamentally altered the way we view downtown. No longer is it seen as a place to escape from, but rather place to escape to. The historic Canadian distrust and disapproval of the city has started to give way to a new appreciation of the benefits of mixed-use density that characterizes downtown.

In an RBC/Pembina Institute study published last summer; most respondents said they were willing to sacrifice space for location. They made it clear, all things being equal, that they would prefer to live in a town or city rather than a car-dependent suburb.

But of course all things are not equal. The big complaint against urban housing is the cost, which fewer and fewer can afford.

The argument for condos has never moved far from the issue of affordability. But the condo phenomenon, if not the condo boom, is about more than just prices. It lies at the heart of this great shift to the city, one that in decades ahead will come to characterize the early part of the 21st century as much as suburbia summed up the post-war period.

For a variety of reasons, urban life makes more sense than it has for generations. In a world of instant communication and social media, the lure of vehicular mobility is no longer irresistible. But before condos can fulfill their city-building potential, Toronto will have to learn how to have a mature debate on the subject, not a screaming match.

The most innovative, urban and progressive projects in Toronto today are those with public sector involvement, notably the Regent Park revitalization and those on the waterfront. In both cases, the spaces between buildings were planned first. As a result, the buildings were conceived as part of something larger, a community, a neighbourhood, not just another piece of architecture occupying its site in a state of splendid isolation.

Now it’s time for developers not working with public agencies to reacquaint themselves with the city they have done so much to change, the city that has made them so very rich. Builders argue, for example, that few buyers are really interested in the much-ballyhooed family unit. They claim larger apartments are the last to sell, that demand just doesn’t exist.

On the other hand, condo towers in this city are home to more families than many realize. It isn’t unknown for buildings to have several dozen families with kids among its residents. Not only must they agitate for schools and playgrounds in areas where children have traditionally been rare, they must also battle with their own condo boards, some of whom are less than enthusiastic about having kids around.

These are cultural wars that have yet to be played out. Even today, Canadians harbour a deep-seated bias against apartment living, especially highrise and rental. In many world cities, however, the Canadian ideal of the single-family house in the city is simply not feasible, let alone affordable. That’s also true of Toronto, where real estate prices have become a major issue.

The only more pressing issue might be the fear of change that now grips the city. It slows down legitimate growth and polarizes neighbourhoods. Though city residents are right to be vigilant, even militant, but when they do so irrationally, they discredit their cause.

Toronto’s Official Plan specifically states that development should be focused on what it calls the “avenues” — the main streets — so that it can be kept out of the city’s established neighbourhoods, which are typically lowrise. Even so, there have been epic battles that have lasted years and necessitated the expenditure of millions of dollars.

Think of the twin-towers of Minto’s Quantum project at Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave., or One Bedford at Bloor St. W. and Bedford Rd. Each in its own way has greatly enhanced the neighbourhood and streets on which it is located. Yet both were vilified.

Though the architecture differs, each project succeeds at ground level, which is where condo towers make their most crucial contribution to the city. The Minto project is instructive; despite claims from outraged locals, it was the best thing to appear at this important North Toronto corner in decades. One of the nicest touches is the pedestrian walkway that bisects the site on an east-west axis. It leads directly to a subway entrance on the other side of Yonge, thereby endearing itself to the thousands of commuters who use it daily.

This project could serve as a model for large-scale mixed-use condos in Toronto. Height notwithstanding, Quantum is ever mindful of context and responsive to it. Also worth pointing out is that a feature such as the walkway adds tremendous value without increasing costs. After all, how much does a path cost?

If nothing else, the approaching slowdown will be helpful if it provide an opportunity to analyze and absorb the lessons of recent years.

The hardest part, however, may be what happens beyond the city core in the post-war towers on the so-called “inner-suburbs.” The semi-official Tower Renewal Project, launched during former Toronto mayor David Miller’s term, has showed how these ubiquitous slabs can be not simply rehabilitated, but civilized. Though the owners have much to gain, mobilizing them won’t be easy.

In the meantime, decreased demand will spell the end of the residential skyscraper — at least temporarily. More than ever, developers will focus on smaller projects, especially midrise. They cost less to build and are easier to finance in these troubled economic times.

But as we have learned from bitter experience, even these seemingly benign schemes get a rough ride in Toronto. Some cities just can’t take yes for an answer.

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.