Toronto Loft Conversions

Toronto Loft Conversions

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Modern Toronto Lofts

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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: spadina ave

Playing politics transformed the GTA

Pat Brennan – Toronto Star

She liberated the kings and changed the face of our town.

Politicians of all stripes, from City Hall to Queen’s Park to Parliament Hill, have had significant impact on the building of new homes in the GTA, but likely few have left as big a mark as Barbara Hall.

When she was mayor of Toronto in 1995, Hall noticed that many of the city’s industrial operations had vacated the city core in favor of more spacious suburban sites. That left many industrial buildings and their adjacent parking lots sitting empty, with little prospect of another industry tenant moving in.

“Maybe those industrial neighbourhoods need a renewed life,” speculated the mayor. So she launched her Kings Regeneration Initiative, which encouraged developers, builders and Toronto residents to create and buy new homes in new downtown neighbourhoods.

Hall persuaded council to make zoning changes for the King St. W. and Spadina Ave. neighbourhod, plus the King St. E. and Parliament St. industrial area that permitted residential development, either in converted industrial buildings or in new structures.

Many market watchers believe Hall’s initiative triggered the biggest downtown condominium boom in North America. Today there are more Toronto condominium projects under construction or coming to life on architects’ digital draughting boards than in New York City and Mexico City combined.

Hall’s regeneration experiment, designed by chief planning officer Paul Bedford and cheered on by the late urban activist icon Jane Jacobs, caught on fast. People wanted to live in lively neighbourhoods. Many of those empty 60-year-old industrial buildings were soon throbbing as entertainment venues and their funky interiors attracted modern tenants, such as new media, fashion designers, architectural firms, industrial designers and a variety of other burgeoning new technology businesses.

Within five years, nearly 8,000 new residences were created along the King corridor between Bathurst St. on the west and the Don River on the east.

Context Development, then known as Cohen and Alter, was the first developer to jump at the eased rules and regulations in the King-Spadina neighbourhood and built a new condo at 20 Niagara St. — and many projects since.

Cohen, a former planning director at Harbourfront, said in an interview with the New York Times, “an opportunity came up for a really interesting site, because it was right on a park in this quasi-industrial area, but very close to Toronto’s core. We thought there might be some demand to live downtown in an area that had a lot of character, although it didn’t appeal to everybody because it was still full of old industrial buildings and parking lots.”

Hall wasn’t successful in her 1997 bid to be re-elected as mayor of the much larger Toronto megacity, but her legacy has spread beyond the Kings to practically every intersection in the city core — and, of course, throughout the GTA.

She is still very much involved in getting people into downtown residences as chief commissioner at the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

“There is still a lot of discrimination in Toronto housing. We find people are refused rental accommodations because of their religion, because of their race, their heritage. We work to overcome those unfair and illegal discriminations and get people into homes,” Hall says.

The City of Mississauga didn’t exist when Hazel McCallion was elected mayor in 1970. She was elected mayor of Streetsville, an urban island surrounded by Toronto Township and its sea of farm fields.

Today, more than 713,000 people occupy those farm fields; Toronto Township has grown into the City of Mississauga and swallowed up Streetsville. It became one of Canada’s fastest growing cities in the last century and its 91-year-old mayor says its orderly, planned and admired growth was inspired by two companies — Cadillac Fairview and Markborough Properties.

Those two development giants started Mississauga’s growth spurt on its west side by creating Erin Mills and Meadowvale.

“Development was started in Mississauga by those two companies and they did it with precise planning, with controlled growth and creating communities that were designed to put people first,” says McCallion in an interview with New in Homes & Condos.

“Our council decided that all new development in Mississauga had to follow the same approach. Peter Langer at Markborough Properties and the principals at Cadillac Fairview — later Marco Muzzo — were excellent for our council to deal with. They were tough negotiators, but they were fair and when we finally reached an agreement, they stuck to their word.

“We required that kind of approach from all developers proposing projects in Mississauga,” says McCallion, now heading for her 34th year as the city’s mayor.

“We discouraged small development proposals in favor of big packages because we could seek more enhanced site planning to maintain the Cadillac Fairview standards.

“And most of them are of that same quality, like Orey Fidani (deceased). His Orlando Corp. (now headed by son Carlo) created Heartland near the airport. It’s considered one of the finest business parks in the country. Harold Shipp has always given us lovely projects”

McCallion cites Aquitaine Lake in Meadowvale as one of the good public benefits of requiring extensive urban planning. “It was going to be just a storm water retention pond, but it’s one of Ontario’s finest small recreation lakes. We have a very popular three-day fishing tournament there each year.”

It was his 75th birthday on April 24, so it was easier to catch David Crombie at home for an interview. He is still as active in the community as he was through his three terms as Toronto’s mayor from 1972 to 1978.

Crombie stopped more housing projects than he initiated, but that was because he was trying to introduce new thinking to an old-guard city council — preserve and restore, rather than tear down.

There were many proposals before council to tear down the homes in poorer neighbourhoods so developers could build new housing. “That was stupid,” Crombie recalls.

He wanted small homes preserved and that’s why the desirable neighbourhoods of Cabbagetown, Kensington Market and Trefann Court exist today.

Ironically, Crombie was the driving force behind the largest urban residential development in Canadian history. He didn’t mind tearing down abandoned under-used industrial buildings and converting empty weed-choked fields on the edge of downtown Toronto to create new housing.

St. Lawrence Ward, better known today as St. Lawrence Market, is a community of 17,000 residences of both market-priced homes and subsidized apartments. Urban planners throughout North America considered it one of the finest examples of urban renewal, and its design concept has been repeated throughout Canadian and American cities.

The neighbourhood is bounded by Jarvis St. on the west, Front St. on the north, Parliament St. on the east and the railway corridor on the south.

“It was a horrible, decaying industrial area sitting on the edge of our downtown and serving no good purpose for our city,” says Crombie. He managed to bring together a team of foreword-looking urban planners, but considers his finest achievement getting the federal government, the provincial government and city government to come together as a single developer to get the project underway and see it successfully built out 15 years later.

“In those days, you could use backdoor approaches to bring various political entities and philosophies together to achieve something of benefit for the public,” he says.

“It is a shame that co-operation for the public good among various government levels just doesn’t seem to exist anymore. I doubt we could have created St. Lawrence Market in today’s attitude,” Crombie says.

Former Liberal cabinet minister Donald McDonald (Liberal MP for Rosedale), the late Liberal senator Keith Davey and Ontario Premier Bill Davis all played major roles in getting public money committed to creating St. Lawrence Market, he says. And his friend Jane Jacobs was one of his closest backroom advisers.

Scarborough Liberal MPP Alvin Curling has no idea why he was appointed Ontario Housing Minister in 1985 by Premier David Peterson.

He was the first black person appointed to the Ontario cabinet.

“At the time, I had no idea why I was made housing minister by David. I figured he must have heard about my teenage days in Jamaica. After I graduated from high school, I started organizing poor families living in squatter huts all over the island. They had occupied those sites for years, but were still considered squatters with no legal rights.

“I helped organize them into a recognized society giving them a community impact towards improving their quality of life,” Curling says.

As housing minister he pushed for government policies that would assist the housing challenges of many lower income residents of Ontario. Curling headed up the Peterson government’s introduction of rent controls in the mid 1980s.

He also wanted to keep developers active in providing new housing, particularly in the rental market and introduced various policies, such as interest-free loans to build new rental housing, and relaxed regulations so existing buildings, such as former industrial buildings and home basements could be more easily renovated to safe and secure living standards to relieve the severe shortage of rental housing.

“I wanted developers and builders to get a reasonable return on investment so they wouldn’t simply stick their money in the bank and stop building. In consultation with the building industry we were able to find a solution that guaranteed builders a return on investment that beat any bank savings rates and yet protect renters from run-away rental rates caused by a shortage of units,” he recalls.

Curling always maintained his Scarborough seat while governments changed and was Ontario’s Speaker of The House before retiring to become Canada’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Stephen Harper removed Curling as ambassador when he replaced Paul Martin in the prime minister’s office.

“I am still being invited by the president of the Dominican Republic as a consultant to advise his government how to make better housing available to his people at affordable prices,” Curling says.

And his name will live forever in the history of new homes in Scarborough. A new street soon to be cut into a new housing project will be called Alvin Curling Dr.

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.