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Shining a spotlight on some of Toronto's up-and-coming properties
The annual BILD Awards celebrate the GTA’s hottest, new digs. Here are four properties prospective buyers should take a look at
 
 
From soaring skyscrapers to low-key low-rises, the Building Industry and Land Development Association highlighted some of Toronto’s top properties at the 39th annual BILD Awards.

The annual ceremony, held last month, honours achievements in planning, design, sales, marketing and city building in 40 categories. A group of 41 judges from across North America selected this year’s winners from 850 submitted entries. Members of the public also pitched in, with more than 5,200 voting online, for the People’s Choice Award winner.

The awards, attended by more than 1,200 industry professionals, set a spotlight on some of the GTA’s hottest real estate projects, while also showcasing how the industry is evolving. Here are four new options buyers should take a look at:

M3 CONDOS — BEST MID/HIGH-RISE PROJECT OF THE YEAR
The 81-storey twisting tower in Mississauga, wrapped by jagged, sawtooth balconies and a black-and-white zig-zagged façade, is an Urban Capital project.

The developer rose above the competition with its contemporary, sculpture-like design. The judges also emphasized the project’s planning, overall quality, sustainability and marketing campaign. The M3 will stand alongside the M1 and M2 condos, as well as six other buildings the developer hopes to erect in the coming years. 
 
Why it stands out

At about 260 metres tall, M3 Condos is more than half the height of the CN Tower, making it among the five tallest buildings in the country. Nearly sold-out, it has about 900 residential units, six levels of underground parking, 15,000 square feet of retail and the same amount of office space.

Why you want to live here

Besides such features as deep, contour, soaker tubs in their sleekly styled suites, residents can enjoy the condo’s indoor saltwater pool, a fitness centre, restaurants, event spaces, screening rooms, a kids playground and splash pad, all with a view of a two-acre park in the middle of Mississauga, near Burnhamthorpe Road and Confederation Parkway.

Price

Starting from over $300,000.

CHARBONNEL — BEST LOW-RISE PROJECT OF THE YEAR
This Summerhill community of 19 luxury townhomes is developed by Treasure Hill Homes.

With a reputation for high-quality builds, Treasure Hill Homes’ Charbonnel project was recognized for its superior mid-town location, as well as its focus on customization, accessibility and green space — the latter three representing the peak of new industry trends. 

 
Why it stands out

Each townhome provides an immense sense of space through large, long, triple-pane aluminum windows in most rooms. Foliage lines the backyard and also borders the rooftop terrace. Customization options include a media room, private library, or personal spa. To future-proof units and make them accessible, the townhomes come with private elevators that service each floor.

Why you want to live here

Charbonnel hems the corner of Avenue Road and Oaklands Avenue near De La Salle College, providing walkable access to the boutiques, restaurants and galleries in Rosedale, Summerhill and Davisville villages, while also making for an easy commute to the downtown core, sitting near the TTC Summerhill station on the Yonge-University Line.

Price

Starting from over $3-million.

 

LAKEVIEW VILLAGE — BEST NEW PLANNED COMMUNITY
The Lakeview Village that hopes to transform Mississauga’s waterfront is led by Lakeview Community Partners Ltd., a collection of 25 groups in construction, design, architecture and transportation. The ambitious project, which reimagines land that used to belong to the Ontario Power Generation Station, demonstrates new levels of creativity and collaboration in the industry.

Starting construction in 2021, the developers aim to create a self-sustaining community with homes and jobs for up to 17,000 residents, plus shops, restaurants, entertainment, business parks, nature — all connected to Lake Ontario. 
 
 
Why it stands out

One of the highlights from the seven different sections of the village is Inspiration Point, which will blend into Lake Ontario with a park, waterfront trail and cultural programming pop-ups along the shoreline.

Why you want to live here

Lakeview village will provide a mix of low- and high-rise residential units and amenities for every season — summer splash pads, winter skating rinks, and seasonal markets. Walk to nearby businesses in the Lakeshore Getaway in the north and Serson Innovation Corridor to the east.

Price

Not yet available.

M2M CONDOS — PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD
One of the most coveted awards of the evening, with members of the public casting their votes online, went to M2M Condos in North York, by Aoyuan International. The developer has properties around the world, including One30 Hyde Park in Australia, The Granville in Vancouver and properties in China. 
 
 
Why it stands out

BILD noted that Aoyuan’s vision for M2M is a condominium community that supports and encourages a healthy urban lifestyle, while providing living options that make it easy for families to raise children in the city. The master plan includes more than 1,500 new residences, a community centre and a daycare.

Why you want to live here

Located at the corner of Yonge and Cummer, there are plenty of dining and shopping options nearby, as well as TTC transit access. It’s also near a variety of green spaces such as the Bayview Golf and Country Club, The Thornhill Club, Newtonbrook Park, Silverview Park and Hendon Park.

To be finished in 2021, there will be five towers in total that will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, plus one-bedroom suites with two dens.

Price

Starting at $389,900. 
Toronto Condo Prices See Weakest Growth in 5 Years as Rules Bite
Toronto condo prices continue to level off amid tighter lending rules and a surge in new supply.

The average price per square foot of a resale condo in Canada’s biggest city rose 3.3% to C$683 ($520) in the first quarter from the same period last year, the weakest gain since 2014, according to market-research firm Urbanation Inc. The average price of a condo was up 3.6% to C$579,000 in the same period, the slowest rate of increase since 2015.

Condos Cool
Price gains for Toronto resale units fall to 2014 levels
 
 
 
“Condo prices are still being propped up by factors like high immigration, a strong job market, rising income, low borrowing costs, but we see demand starting to take a hit due to high prices, following a 45% run-up over the past three years,” Shaun Hildebrand, president of Urbanation, said in a phone interview.

Hildebrand sees price growth capped at 6% for the foreseeable future due to a wave of supply. A record 71,378 condo units were under construction in the first quarter, according to Urbanation.

The Toronto housing market took a hit last year after the government tightened mortgage-lending rules to ease rising debt and soaring home prices in the region. That pushed a lot of buyers into the cheaper condo segment, which saw prices jump as much as 11% in the first quarter of last year.

Rents Ease
“The stress test is creating affordability challenges for first-time buyers plus single-family home prices haven’t become more competitive and growth for larger suites is also starting to slow down,” Hildebrand said. Price growth for smaller units is still well above average while growth for larger ones has fallen below average.

The average price of a three-bedroom condo reached C$800,000 in Toronto in the first quarter, higher than the combined average price of C$727,000 for semi-attached, row and townhouses in May. In contrast, prices averaged below C$500,000 in the first quarter for studios and one-bedroom units.

Rent gains for Toronto condos have also been easing in the past few quarters and are expected to continue cooling amid a surge in completions of condo and purpose-built rental apartments, Hildebrand said. 
Canada remains relatively affordable for foreign employees

An annual ranking of the affordability of global cities for employees working abroad shows Canada has stayed stable.

Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey finds that Canada’s major cities are relatively affordable while global peers have become more expensive for ex-pat workers.

Vancouver remains the most expensive in Canada but slips three places from last year to 112th in the rankings while Toronto, last year’s costliest in Canada, slips six spots to 115th.

Montreal saw a strong rise in cost of living, up eight spots from last year to 139th. Calgary (153) and Ottawa (161) remained stable.

“From a global perspective, Canada remains a relatively affordable place to live and an attractive destination for expatriates placed by organizations outside the country,” said Gordon Frost, Partner and Career Business Leader for Mercer Canada. “Cost of living and quality of living are key components of a competitive total rewards program and compelling employee value proposition – both of which are essential for companies to attract and retain the best talent as they prepare for the workforce for the future.”

Meanwhile, the strength of the US dollar made major cities there more expensive for international workers with New York up four places to 9th, the highest-ranked city in the region; San Francisco (16) was up 12 spots, Los Angeles (18) climbed seventeen places, and Chicago (37) jumped fourteen places.

Asia is most expensive

The costliest places were dominated by Asia which took 8 of the top 10 places.

Hong Kong (1) remains the most expensive city for expatriates both in Asia and globally as a result of the housing market and currency being pegged to the US dollar, driving up the cost of living locally.

It’s followed by Tokyo (2), Singapore (3), Seoul (4), Shanghai (6), and Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (7).

“Cost of living is an important component of a city’s attractiveness for businesses,” said Yvonne Traber, Global Mobility Product Solutions Leader at Mercer. “Decision makers increasingly acknowledge that globalization is challenging cities to inform, innovate, and compete to foster the kind of satisfaction that attracts both people and investment – the keys to a city’s future.”

Mercer Cost of Living Survey – Worldwide Rankings 2019

(Mercer international basket, including rental accommodation costs)

Why every residential street in Toronto could use a little apartment building

 

If you ever find yourself wondering why there are so few little walk-up apartments in Toronto — of the kind that are absolutely commonplace all across Montreal — you can look to history. “In May 1912, the city declared a full-scale ban on apartment buildings in residential neighbourhoods,” writes Emma Abramowicz in an essay in the new anthology House Divided from Coach House books, which examines the affordability crisis in housing in Toronto. In the 1960s, she writes, planners cemented this occasionally overlooked rule by making preservation of the character of stable residential neighbourhoods a key goal.

This separation between “residential” zones and places where you can develop meaningful new housing has been preserved in the recent zoning and Official Plan changes, other essays in the book make clear, which allow apartment construction pretty much along main streets only, or in new neighborhoods on former industrial or rail lands. That’s why we see so many sky-high condos springing up clustered in certain areas, and so few triplexes or four-storey walk-up apartments anywhere.

The authors and editors of House Divided, on the whole, make the argument for just that kind of development as not only worthy of allowing, but essential to encouraging. Planner Gil Meslin outlines the benefits of these low- and midrise, “neighborhood-scale” apartment buildings: They are permanent as available rentals, not subject to the family whims of in-law suites or basement apartments; they help preserve affordability in upscale and gentrifying neighborhoods; they fit in architecturally even while allowing a relatively high number of people to live in a space. Those things — and the increased population they can bring to an urban neighborhood — make an area a better place to live. They make parks lively, populate schools, support a thriving local retail streetscape.

And yet they are all but impossible to build. Anthology co-editor and Globe and Mail architecture critic Alex Bozikovic details an award-winning design by German architects for affordable, well-designed 11-unit, four storey buildings that can fit on the same size lot as a large single-family home. They look great, and easy to build. Yet Bozikovic then explains how the regulations in place in Toronto would make it virtually impossible and completely impractical for a developer to try to put one in Toronto — even on a corner lot across from highrise apartments a short walk from a new LRT line in Scarborough.

That’s part of the “where” question central to the book’s arguments. If low- and midrise walk-up apartments (and duplexes and triplexes) are the form they argue should be allowed, the location they have in mind is vast: the city’s “yellowbelt,” the area (more than twice the size of Manhattan) that is zoned exclusively for detached single-family residential dwellings. According to book’s authors, if you added just one duplex per hectare in the yellowbelt you could house an additional 45,000 people. The potential extends beyond the city’s immediate borders: John Lorinc reports in his introduction on a report estimating that Mississauga could house 435,000 new people just by allowing low- and medium-density infill development in established neighborhoods.

And the thing is that while Toronto and its region’s population have been growing quickly (far faster than the housing supply), these “stable residential neighborhoods” have been shrinking — actually losing population as people have fewer children, as seniors age in place in big old houses, more single people live alone, and as gentrifiers convert rooming houses into family homes. Bringing residential population density back up to mid-20th-century levels wouldn’t just ease affordability, it would revitalize neighborhoods and make serving the residents with top-notch public services and facilities more efficient.

At this point, the big hurdle seems to be an obsession with “prevailing character” — the assumption by existing residents and officials and the regulations they write is that somehow a small apartment block will destroy a neighborhood. But when you look at the existing triplex and small apartment blocks that are scattered around the city (on High Park Ave. or Roncesvalles near High Park, Brunswick or Palmerston near the Annex, on Donlands in East York or Vaughan Rd. north of St. Clair, or on Midland Ave. near the Scarborough Bluffs, just to cite a few examples) what you see is they fit in fine. All of these are pleasant — mostly very desirable, actually — places to live. And the character of those places is enhanced by the presence of those apartments. It seems to me every residential street in the city could use one or two little apartment buildings.

The book is careful to note that this isn’t some silver bullet for affordability. Lorinc writes “zoning reform is necessary but not sufficient.” Supply isn’t going to solve affordability all by itself. And to that end, there is some discussion of social housing, especially of Vienna where two-thirds of the population lives in publicly subsidized housing and the city tops global livability rankings. But walk-up buildings in the yellowbelt could be part of a social or charitable housing component to the solution, too.

In a city where current regulations encourage developers to go big or go home, House Divided makes a compelling argument that the city should invite them to go smaller and give us more homes.

Source: The Star

  

Toronto’s 'Google City' will get $1.3 billion investment
 
A plan to create a modern, high-tech city in Toronto will benefit from a C$1.3 billion (U$980 million) investment from Alphabet Inc. but the project has raised some questions from Waterfront Toronto.

The parent of Google will invest in the project through its Sidewalk Labs subsidiary and aims to work with local partners to finance the $3.9 billion development on Lake Ontario.

The plan to create a five-hectare neighbourhood includes tall-timber housing and a new Canadian HQ for Google and was set out by the firm in document released Monday.

“Our plan puts the public sector in the driver’s seat in ways that’s not the norm for a lot of tech companies in the world,” Dan Doctoroff, the company’s chief executive officer told Bloomberg at a media briefing. “Sidewalk aims to partner with the government in order to create the conditions for real estate developers, civic organizations, tech companies, and residents, workers and visitors to build a great community in the decades to come.”

Addressing housing affordability, Sidewalk has said that half of the residential units built would be purpose-built rentals, with 40% larger apartments with 2 or more bedrooms.

4 in 10 of all residential units built would be below-market rates and it believes that could bring around 1,700 below-market rate homes to the area.

Sidewalk will not be leading the entire development but focus instead on the area of the Google headquarters, around 7% of the entire project.

Waterfront Toronto concerns
In an open letter Stephen Diamond, the chairman of the board of directors of Waterfront Toronto, the body responsible for the revitalization of the waterfront, has responded with some concerns about the Sidewalk Labs Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP).

“Based on our initial review of the MIDP, there are a number of exciting ideas that respond to challenges we face, particularly related to environmental sustainability and economic development. There are also proposals where it is clear that Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs have very different perspectives about what is required for success,” wrote Diamond.

He set out the early causes for concern:

Sidewalk Labs proposes the up-front creation of an IDEA District that covers a much larger area than the 12 acres of Quayside. Waterfront Toronto has told Sidewalk Labs that the concept of the IDEA District is premature and that Waterfront Toronto must first see its goals and objectives achieved at Quayside before deciding whether to work together in other areas. Even then, we would only move forward with the full collaboration and support of the City of Toronto, particularly where it pertains to City-owned lands.
Sidewalk Labs proposes to be the lead developer of Quayside. This is not contemplated in the PDA. Should the MIDP go forward, it should be on the basis that Waterfront Toronto lead a competitive, public procurement process for a developer(s) to partner with Sidewalk Labs.
Sidewalk Labs’ proposals require future commitments by our governments to realize project outcomes. This includes the extension of public transit to Quayside prior to development, new roles for public administrators, changes to regulations, and government investment. These proposals raise important implementation concerns. They are also not commitments that Waterfront Toronto can make.
Sidewalk Labs has initial proposals relating to data collection, data use, and digital governance. We will require additional information to establish whether they are in compliance with applicable laws and respect Waterfront Toronto’s digital governance principles.
A review and evaluation process is now beginning including consultations with the public and other stakeholders.
Why are Toronto condo sales finally slowing down?
 
Toronto condo prices might hit a ceiling soon.
 
 
When Toronto’s market began correcting in 2017, it appeared someone forgot to tell the condo market. Sales and prices soldiered on upwards, while the low-rise market languished — but the soaring performance of the high-rise segment could be winding down, suggests realtor John Pasalis.

Pasalis, whose research work has been cited by the Bank of Canada, outlines what he says is behind slackening sales, which are down nominally for the first five months of this year when compared to the same period in 2018.

“What’s the cause of this cooling in demand for condos? High prices,” writes Pasalis, also the president of the Toronto-based Realosophy brokerage, in a blog post.

“More specifically, the fact that condo prices have been rising while low-rise prices have been trending down — condos are starting to look a bit expensive relative to detached and semi-detached houses,” he explains.

According to May home sales data from the Toronto Real Estate Board, the average price of condo apartment is $590,876 compared to $1,042,218 for a detached home. While the difference in price is no small amount, it’s less pronounced than it was at the height of the market, Pasalis notes.

The Toronto housing market peaked in March 2017, and when it did, the gap between condo prices and detached home prices was a lofty $700,000. As of May, the price gap narrowed to $450,000, according to Pasalis’ calculations.

Over that two-plus-year period, condo-apartment prices increased 14 percent, while row house and condo townhouse values are approximately flat.

The new-condo segment is already seeing more muted gains. In April, the average asking price for an available new condo was $758,585, an increase of 2.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association.

So what’s the upshot of all this?

“The supply for condos is still relatively tight which is keeping prices up, but if we continue to see a cooling in the demand for condos, we may see condo prices hit a plateau,” Pasalis concludes.

For now, listings remain down from a year ago. At the end of May, there were 3,806 condos listed on the market in the GTA, down from 3,993 in May 2018.
First-Time Home Buyer Incentive
The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (the Incentive) helps qualified first-time homebuyers reduce their monthly mortgage carrying costs without adding to their financial burdens.

You need to have the minimum down payment to be eligible. You can then apply for a 5% or 10% shared equity mortgage with the Government of Canada. Your maximum qualifying income is no more than $120,000 and your total borrowing is limited to 4 times the qualifying income.

The Incentive has an equity-like payout, where the government would share in the upside and downside of the property value.

The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive launches September 2, 2019*.

* Barring any unforeseen circumstances the program will launch on September 2, 2019. The first closing will take effect on November 1, 2019.

Program Details

How does it work?

 The Incentive enables first-time homebuyers to reduce their monthly mortgage payment without increasing their down payment. The Incentive is not interest bearing and does not require ongoing repayments.

Through the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, the Government of Canada will offer:

-5% of a first-time buyer’s down payment for the purchase of a re-sale home

-5% or 10% of a first-time buyer’s down payment for the purchase of a new construction

How do I know how much I have to pay back?
You can repay the Incentive at any time without a pre-payment penalty. You have to repay the Incentive after 25 years or if the property is sold. The repayment of the Incentive is based on the property’s fair market value:

You receive a 5% incentive of the home’s purchase price of $200,000, or $10,000. If your home value increases to $300,000 your payback would be 5% of the current value or $15,000.
You receive a 10% incentive of the home’s purchase price of $200,000, or $20,000 and your home value decreases to $150,000, your repayment value will be 10% of the current value or $15,000.
NOTE: If your property value goes down, you are still responsible for repaying the shared equity mortgage based on the current home value at time of repayment.
 
Funding Available
The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive works on a first-come-first-serve basis. The total amount of funding will be $1.25 billion over 3 years.
 
Eligibility & Requirements
 
Who can apply?

Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and non-permanent residents who are legally authorized to work in Canada
Borrowers must have a maximum qualifying income of $120,000
-Total qualifying income cannot exceed $120,000 per year
-This is subject to qualifying income requirements set out by lenders and mortgage loan insurers
At least one borrower must be a first-time homebuyer, as per the definition below.

 
Are you a first-time homebuyer?

You are considered a first-time homebuyer if you meet one of following qualifications:

you have never purchased a home before
you have gone through a breakdown of a marriage or common-law partnership (even if you don’t meet the other first-time home buyer requirements).
in the last 4 years, you did not occupy a home that you or you current spouse or common-law partner owned
IMPORTANT: With the 4-year clause, it is possible that you or your spouse or common-law partner qualifies for the first-time homebuyer incentive (if you are in a married or common-law relationship). Even if you or your spouse or common-law partner has previously owned a home in the last 4 years.

 
How does the 4-year period work?

The 4-year period begins on January 1 of the fourth year before the year you purchased your home. It ends 31 days before the date you purchase your new home. Here are a few examples:
-if you purchase a home on March 31, 2015, the 4-year period begins on January 1, 2015 and ends on February 28, 2019
-if you sold your home you lived in in 2013, you may be able to participate in 2018 or if you sold the home in 2014, you may be able to participate in 2019

 
Are there other mortgage details?

Total borrowing is limited to 4 times the qualifying income. The combined mortgage and Incentive amount cannot exceed four times the total qualifying income.
The amount for the mortgage loan insurance premium is excluded from this calculation.
The Incentive will be a second mortgage on the title of the property. There will be no regular principal payments, it’s not interest bearing and has a maximum term of 25 years.
The Incentive will have an equity-like payout, where the Government of Canada will share in the upside and downside of the property value upon repayment.

 
Is Mortgage Loan Insurance required?

Mortgages must be eligible for mortgage loan insurance. The first mortgage must be greater than 80% of the value of the property. This is subject to a mortgage loan insurance premium based upon the amount of the first mortgage.
Mortgage loan insurance premiums may be subject to provincial taxes.

 
What are the down payment requirements?

Minimum down payment is 5% of the first $500,000 of the lending value. It is 10% of the lending value above $500,000 from traditional down payment sources.
Traditional down payment comes from the borrower’s own resources and may include:
-savings
-withdrawal/collapse of a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP)
-non-repayable financial gift from a relative
Note: Unsecured personal loans or unsecured lines of credit used to satisfy minimum down payment requirements are not eligible for the program.

 
What properties are eligible?

The Incentive is to help first-time homebuyers purchase their first home. Eligible properties include:
1 to 4 unit residential properties which includes
-new construction

-re-sale home
-new and re-sale mobile/manufactured homes

The property must be located in Canada and must be suitable and available for full-time, year-round occupancy.

 
What are the terms of repayment?

The first-time homebuyer will be required to repay the Incentive amount after 25 years or when the property is sold, whichever comes first. The homebuyer can also choose to repay the Incentive in full at any time, without a pre-payment penalty.
 

How is repayment calculated?

If a homebuyer receives a 5% (or 10%) Incentive, he would repay 5% (or 10%) of the home’s value at repayment.
Repayment is based on the property’s fair market value.
 

Let’s look at a specific situation
Anita wants to buy a new home for $400,000.

Under the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, Anita can apply to receive $40,000 in a shared equity mortgage (10% of the cost of a new home) through the program. This is on top of the minimum required down payment of $20,000 (5% of the purchase price) from her savings.

This lowers the amount she needs to borrow and reduces her monthly expenses.

As a result, Anita’s mortgage is $228 less a month or $2,736 a year.

* This example is for illustrative purposes only. Anita will need to repay the incentive at 10% of the fair market value when she sells the property or after 25 years, whichever is earliest.

Here’s another situation
John has an annual qualifying income of $83,125.

To be eligible for Canada’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, he can purchase a home up to $350,000. John still has the required minimum down payment of 5% of the purchase price, $17,500 from his savings. He can receive $35,000 in a shared equity mortage — 10% of a newly constructed home.

This would reduce John’s mortgage payments by $200 a month or $2,401 a year.

* This example is for illustrative purposes only. John will need to repay the incentive at 10% of the fair market value when he sells the property or after 25 years, whichever is earliest. 
The Well is expected to add over $4 billion in economic activity to downtown Toronto
 
Picture-perfect skies served as the backdrop to this week’s special event and launch of the residential condominium component at The Well by Tridel. Situated on the northwest corner of Front Street West and Spadina Avenue, The Well is a master-planned community now under construction that will transform the former Globe & Mail site with a diverse mix of shops, restaurants, workspaces and residences.

The ambitious development project is the largest of its kind in Toronto at 7.8 acres and is expected to generate $4.2 billion in economic activity upon full completion, according to a new report by Altus Group. The details of the report were unveiled Monday afternoon by Toronto Mayor John Tory alongside Tridel Executive Vice-President Andrew DelZotto, Tridel Director and Executive Vice-President Andrea DelZotto, RioCan President and COO Jonathan Gitlin, and Woodbourne President Jake Herman, who, together with Allied Properties, make up the development team behind The Well.
 
 
 
“The Well is a transformational project and one of the most complex, multi-faceted developments Tridel has ever worked on,” said Andrew DelZotto. “This is choreographed city building, and it’s an honour and privilege to know that together with our collaborators at RioCan, Allied and Woodbourne, we are generating billions of dollars in economic activity and contributing directly to the growth of Toronto and the GTA as a whole.”
 
 
 
A large portion of the annual economic benefits of The Well stem from its commercial spaces, retail stores and overall management of the property. When completed, the development will be comprised of seven mixed-use towers and mid-rise buildings, space for 5,000 new office jobs, 1,200 new retail jobs, and over 750 new condominium units by Tridel.
 
 
 
Designed as an extension to the urban vibrancy and feel of King West, The Well is anticipated to become an exciting lifestyle and entertainment hub in the heart of downtown Toronto. Residents of the condominiums and rental suites will have access to world-class food markets, innovative retailers, globally-inspired restaurants, and modern office spaces all within a pedestrian and public transit-friendly neighbourhood.
 
 
 
Multiple architectural teams and visions came together to tell a cohesive story characterized by modern structures that pay homage to the neighbourhood by pulling visual cues from the existing architecture along King Street West. In addition to the gleaming glass towers and brick-clad podiums, The Well boasts a soaring glass canopy and centre atrium, sheltering pedestrians as they move along the multi-level shopping concourse and verdant green spaces.

“The Well has the ability to transform the downtown core and create an entirely new community,” said Mayor John Tory. “Investments like this are a reflection of the growth we are experiencing in Toronto and the confidence that businesses have in our city.”
 
 
 
Three purpose-built rental buildings will be developed by Rhapsody Property Management Services and RioCan Living, while the three condominiums, named the Classic Series I, II and the Signature Series are by Tridel. Classic I and II will take the form of two high-rise towers standing at 38- and 22-storeys tall , and the Signature Series will be a 14-storey midrise facing Wellington Street. Suites will offer thoughtfully-designed layouts, stunning views of the city and streetscapes, and expansive windows allowing for abundant natural light. The first occupancies at The Well are slated for late 2022.
 
 
 
Toronto is growing faster than any other city in Canada and the US

It doesn’t look like underlying demand for Toronto housing is relenting, as the city is the fastest growing in not just Canada but the US as well.

Experts often talk about population growth as a fundamental driver of housing demand, and new analysis from Ryerson’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development puts Toronto’s in perspective.

In fact, in a 12-month period ending last July, the city’s population ballooned by a jaw-dropping 77,435 people.

For context, the second-fastest-growing city, Phoenix, added 25,288 people over the same period.

Toronto’s gains overshadowed the combined population increases of America’s three most rapidly growing cities. Third-ranked San Antonio added 20,824 people, while Fort Worth followed at 19,552.

In a comparison of broader metro area’s, Toronto places second claiming 125,298 new residents in 12 months versus the Fort Worth area’s 131,767.

“The sources of growth for Toronto and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan areas were quite distinct,” reads the blog post by the centre’s director Frank Clayton and researcher Hong Yun Shi.

“For metropolitan Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, births were by far the largest component of growth, followed by net domestic migration and net international migration,” they continue.

Meantime, Toronto international migration was the biggest contributor to the metro area’s population boom, with births a secondary source.

“Net migration into Toronto from other parts of Canada was very small compared to Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington,” the blog post states.

Migration into Canada’s biggest cities has been a boon for residential construction investment as homebuilders continue to break ground for more housing for all these new arrivals.

Municipalities across the country issued $4.8 billion worth of residential building permits in March alone, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.

Popular Units at Purpose-Built Rental Apartments
Top 10 Richest People In The World
Toronto New Home and Condo Sales up 120 % in April
Following last month’s explosion in search and purchase requests from Toronto condo buyers,

GTA new home and condo sales are up 120 % from April of 2018.
 
 
According to Altus, high-rise condo sales are up 137% from April 2018, as well as low-rise sales, up 81%.

 
Considering, April’s increases in both purchase requests and sales, our user insights have reported a 20% increase in purchase requests in May of 2019 from May of 2018.

Could this continued wave in interest indicate another potential sales surge?

 
Let us know what you think.   
Chicago Finds a Way to Improve Public Housing: Libraries

 

CHICAGO — Cabrini-Green, the Robert Taylor Homes: demolished years ago, Chicago’s most notorious projects continue to haunt the city, conjuring up the troubled legacy of postwar public housing in America.

By the 1970s, Washington wanted out of the public housing business, politicians blaming the system’s ills on poor residents and tower-in-the-park-style architecture, channeling tax breaks toward white flight and suburban sprawl. Now the nation’s richest cities invent all sorts of new ways not to solve the affordable housing crisis.

Is any city doing public housing right these days?

I recently visited three sites that the Chicago Housing Authority has just or nearly completed. These small, community-enhancing, public-private ventures, built swiftly and well, are the opposite of Cabrini-Green and Robert Taylor. With a few dozen apartments each, they’re costlier per unit than the typical public housing developments, and they’re not going to make a big dent in a city with a dwindling population but a growing gap between the number of affordable apartments and the demand for them.

That said, they’re instructive. As Cabrini-Green and other isolated, troubled old mega-sites proved, bigger isn’t necessarily better. These are integrated works of bespoke architecture, their exceptional design central to their social and civic agenda.

And they share another distinctive feature, too: each project includes a new branch library (“co-location” is the term of art). The libraries are devised as outward-facing hubs for the surrounding neighborhoods, already attracting a mix of toddlers, retirees, after-school teens, job-seekers, not to mention the traditional readers, nappers and borrowers of DVDs.

Co-location is of course not a new idea. Other cities today link subsidized housing developments with libraries, New York included, but Chicago’s outgoing mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has made a point of touting the concept, and seeing it through in ways other mayors haven’t.

He leaves office next week with his reputation still tainted by the uproar several years ago following the release of the video of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald. The city’s downtown glistens but poorer residents south and west of downtown struggle with shuttered schools and unending gang violence.

These three new housing projects, on the city’s north and west sides, are clearly part of what Mr. Emanuel hopes will be his ultimate legacy. The projects mix public housing units with heavily-subsidized apartments and, in one case, market-rate ones. 

 

Mr. Emanuel talked often as mayor about the value of public space and good design. People don’t only need affordable apartments, as he has said. Healthy neighborhoods are not simply collections of houses. They also require things like decent transit, parks, stores, playgrounds and libraries.

Mr. Emanuel extended the city’s subway system, network of bike lanes and popular Riverwalk. He completed the elevated, long-discussed 606, Chicago’s version of New York’s High Line; brought marquee stores like Whole Foods and Mariano’s to grocery-starved neighborhoods like Englewood, and parks like La Villita, replacing a former Superfund site, to communities like Little Village.

He also commissioned leading local architects to design a string of small, civic gems, including two boathouses by Studio Gang and a new branch library in Chinatown by Brian Lee, from the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which I have stopped into on a couple of occasions. It’s a neighborhood linchpin and landmark.

Mr. Emanuel’s predecessor, Richard M. Daley, who tore down what remained of Cabrini and began to replace old, debased developments with New Urbanist-style mixed-income ones, gave Chicago Millennium Park and loads of planted flowers. He built cookie-cutter library branches, police and fire stations. I toured the Edgewater library one morning, a two-story, brick-and-concrete box, about as inviting from the outside as a motor vehicle bureau office and ostensibly indistinguishable from one.

The cookie-cutter model was conceived to lower building costs and insure a kind of architectural equivalence across diverse neighborhoods. Library officials tell me the one-size-fits-all design invariably needed some tweaking, from site to site, so it didn’t turn out to be especially economical. And the common denominator obviously did nothing to beautify Chicago or celebrate communities with distinct personalities and desires.

Mr. Emanuel adopted a different model. Capitalizing on the city’s architectural heritage, he touted striking new civic architecture as an advertisement for the city and a source of community pride. Distinguished civic buildings in underserved neighborhoods constituted their own brand of equity. Good architecture costs more but it pays a dividend over time.

The three new housing projects partner the Chicago Housing Authority with the Chicago Public Library system and two private developers, Evergreen Real Estate Group and Related Companies. Working with Eugene E. Jones, Jr., who runs the Housing Authority, Mr. Emanuel persuaded federal officials that public libraries could be co-located with public housing projects without putting federal housing subsidies at risk.

That freed up streams of money for the co-location idea, which was partly strategic: the library helped sway community groups resistant to public housing in their neighborhoods. 

 

But co-location was also just plain good urban planning. In cities across the country, branch libraries, which futurologists not long ago predicted would be made obsolete by technology, have instead morphed into indispensable and bustling neighborhood centers and cultural incubators, offering music lessons, employment advice, citizenship training, entrepreneurship classes and English-as-a-second-language instruction. They are places with computers and free broadband access. (One in three Chicagoans lacks ready access to high-speed internet.)

For longtime neighborhood residents and tenants of the new housing projects, the branches at the same time provide common ground in a city siloed by race and class.

A city-run architecture competition in 2016 attracted submissions from 32 local firms. The winners were John Ronan, the architect who did the beautiful Poetry Foundation headquarters in downtown Chicago; Mr. Lee from Skidmore; and Ralph Johnson, who also designed the O’Hare international terminal, from the local office of Perkins + Will.

The libraries share real estate with the apartments but maintain separate entrances. The apartment blocks are designed to command views from a distance; the glassed-in libraries, to command the street.

Mr. Johnson’s project, the $34 million Northtown Affordable Apartments and Public Library, near Warren Park, is a four-story snaking structure, shaped like a twisty garden hose, trimmed in fluorescent green, backing onto a historic bungalow district, along a stretch of avenue that features a Jiffy Lube and Mobil station. It’s meant to be, and is, a beacon and an eye-catcher.

The building’s upper floors include 44 one-bedroom apartments for seniors. They perch atop a bright, glazed, double-height, 16,000 square foot library, which curves around an interior, teardrop-shaped garden, the library’s roof doubling as a terrace for the housing tenants. The apartments I saw looked great, with floor-to-ceiling windows. A community garden in the back helps negotiate the tricky transition between the bungalows and the busy avenue.

Mr. Ronan’s Independence Library and Apartments, in Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood, a $33.4 million project, tells a similar story. Evergreen is again the developer. The apartments, one- and two-bedrooms, as at Northtown, are all subsidized for 44 seniors and the library occupies the ground floor. The six-story apartment block is a vivid, snowy white tower with rounded corners, clad in corrugated metal, punctuated by multicolored balconies.

The library juts toward the street. It’s a soaring, two-level affair, with a music studio and makers’ workshop tucked into a corner, towering concrete columns, bleacher seats and a mezzanine facing a big, teak-lined roof deck that is accessible from the apartments. The place is welcoming and richly detailed. Light pours in from three directions. Patterned wallpapers, among other touches of color, soften a vocabulary of exposed and striated concrete, with the corrugated metal on the outside serving as radiant paneling for distributing heat inside.

Mr. Lee’s project, the Taylor Street Apartments and Little Italy Branch Library, encountered the fiercest community resistance. The blowback ended up reducing the size of the apartment tower and stepping its mass back from the street.

The $41 million project includes 73 apartments, seven of them market-rate. Related is the developer. At seven stories, clad in Aztec-brick and chestnut-colored panels, the building at once stands out from but also echoes aspects of the neighborhood. There are two floors with glassed-in, single-loaded corridors, the sort of perk you mostly find in high-end residential developments. A double-height library, with a curtain wall and bright orange acoustic baffles, anchors the street.

When I stopped by, moms clustered with toddlers in a bright corner of the library. The place was quiet, dignified and cheerful. Upstairs, views onto empty lots suggested more development coming. The area is gentrifying.

Like the other two, the project seemed both bulwark and boon. This may not be the only way to solve America’s affordable housing problem, but it’s a start. 

Preconstruction condo buyers must do research to avoid cancellations: Experts
 
For many prospective homebuyers who want something brand new or need more time to save money, preconstruction condominiums present a tempting opportunity.

But buying a preconstruction condo rather than an existing unit comes with risks, including the rare case of a builder scrapping the project entirely, and experts say there's no way for buyers to fully protect themselves from that worst-case scenario.

"That's sort of the nature of buying a condominium unit from plans," said Denise Lash, the founder of Lash Condo Law in Toronto. "With that comes the risk and there really isn't much you can do."

So far this year, two projects representing 239 condominium units in the Greater Toronto Area have been cancelled, according to data from Urbanation Inc. Between 2016 and 2018, builders scrapped plans for 6,729 units.

There are a number of reasons for which projects fail to materialize, wrote spokeswoman Pauline Lierman in an email, including financing, poor sales or a redesign, such as changing the product from condos to townhouses.

All sale agreements will have a built-in clause that allows a builder to cancel a project under certain circumstances, said Lash.

"They need to have a way out," she said if, for example, the bank suddenly refuses to lend the company the necessary funds. "That's just the way it is."

While purchasers would eventually have their deposits refunded, possibly with some interest, they would find themselves back in the hunt for a condo when prices may be higher and now unaffordable for them, she said.

Lawyer Lisa Laredo always tells her clients to research the builder first, adding most of the big builders that have been around for a long time tend to get the job done.

"Who are you buying it from and what is their track record?" said the real estate, wills and estate lawyer.

Prospective buyers should also look at the way the company will construct the building and unit, she said, including the materials they're using and if they're building to standard or above.

Lash suggests buyers hire a lawyer to look over the sale agreement to avoid some other risks of preconstruction condos.

Contracts may allow the builder to make sweeping changes, she said.

One client of hers purchased a unit that by move-in had been significantly altered. Changes included a balcony that faced the common outdoor area, a new location above the party room and a column in the middle of the living room, Lash said.

"It was all subject to change if you read the documents," she said.

It's possible to add some protections in, like restricting the ability for ceiling height in the unit to be reduced, Lash said.

Without a lawyer, buyers can also be hit with hefty closing fees, said Laredo, who has seen agreements that include $10,000 to $15,000 in additional costs at closing for things like installing meters or conducting the final inspection.

These aren't hidden costs if someone reads and understands the agreement, but otherwise can be an unwelcome surprise.

"That can be very difficult for a first-time buyer. All those amounts make a difference, especially if they're just trying to get into the market."

It's possible to have the builder agree to cap costs for certain or all categories, said Lash.

"Most projects that I've seen, there's some kind of negotiation on the added cost."
Get smart: Looking at the future of homes
 
Connectivity is expected to be a growing trend in the future. And, not just in your home, but also in your surroundings

There’s been a lot of hype about the next-generation urban lifestyle in a fully integrated, tech-saturated world. It’s a life where phones and sensors manage everything from music and appliances, control sidewalk temperatures, traffic flow and even arrange autonomous transport.

But how close to reality is it? Closer than some may think…

If the Sidewalk Toronto project is any indication, there’s plenty of innovative thinking going into making downtown living affordable and flexible enough to accommodate more than single professionals in one-bedroom condos. The project is a joint effort by Waterfront Toronto, the tri-level government organization, which oversees development of the area, and Sidewalk Labs, a research firm owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, to create a new kind of mixed-use, complete community at Quayside in the southeast end of the city.

What’s the appeal for potential buyers? What’s the price? And how long will they have to wait? Indications are it could lead to lower costs and happen sooner than many might think. Sidewalk Toronto’s projections are that if all goes according to plan, they will be breaking ground on their first two residential buildings by 2021 with occupancy in 2024. These will be the first two of 10 buildings planned the first phase of the project.

“Until now we have been building a lot of tall and sprawl in the way of mostly one-bedroom condo developments,” said Cherise Burda, executive director of the Ryerson City Building Institute in Toronto. “But we still haven’t addressed young families who find themselves having to travel long distances, and depend on their cars in order to have family-appropriate homes. Many younger buyers don’t want to live outside the city. They want to walk to work, or grab a bike share service.”

The path to the future of downtown housing is more than technology superimposed on buildings, managing thermostats and blinds using your mobile phone, or hailing a ride share service, she stressed. “New manufacturing and construction approaches can be used to improve housing flexibility to accommodate different family sizes; enable developments to be built on smaller parcels of land; and reduce construction costs. Ultimately being able to offer properties at an affordable price will be an easy sell.”


Sidewalk Toronto is a project that is taking the concept by the horns and providing a glimpse into the future of real estate development along the waterfront, Burda said. “One of the good points about that project is that technology is part of a bigger plan.”

Residences will be a significant departure from what buyers have been used to seeing. “These buildings will be extensions of the public realm,” said Jesse Shapins, director of public realm for Sidewalk Labs. “It’s not just what’s in your home but how it connects to other spaces, including the street, transit, cycling, vehicles and buildings. There is nothing being done of this scope in terms of building innovation and looking at every facet of a built environment.”

Sidewalk Labs is exploring a number of innovation and sustainability strategies, such as prefabrication of components off-site that can be assembled on arrival, and modular suite designs with movable walls that can be adapted for changing family needs.

“Imagine a world where you can start small and grow the unit as the family grows. We are always asking ourselves, what that would look like,” said Annie Koo, assistant director of development for Sidewalk Labs. “We can see multi-generational families living in connected units. We’re also exploring ideas such as on demand off-site storage facilities, and built-in multi-purpose furniture.”

Michael Bernstein, president of Juno Advisors, a real estate infrastructure specialist who served as an advisor on Waterfront Toronto from January to July 2018, says the concepts around modular construction are still very nascent but evolving quickly.

“We are seeing U.S.-based prefab/Lego type homes using 3D printed materials and recycled goods, windows with cellular connectors, and ‘greener’ cement embedded with carbon. These themes play along with buildings that are faster to build, better, cheaper and cleaner.”

Bernstein believes the Sidewalk project could influence planning on a global scale. “There are not many projects looking at areas so close to the downtown core. It is unique in that it is right next door to one of North America’s largest and fastest growing cities.”

Consumers for the most part are on board with the concept of an integrated lifestyle, Shapins said. “There are those that view a family neighbourhood as single family homes with yards and cars. That can still work for some. But a lot of people love the idea of being closer to their job, walking to get the things they need. They also recognize that lifestyle can have a substantial impact on the future of the environment and sustainable development. So we all have to think differently about what that family neighbourhood can be.”




Architects and developers are excited at exploring concepts that are scalable, reliable, replicable, and more environmentally friendly, he added. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm to learn and they are recognizing the need for a lot more family friendly housing, in concert with ground floor spaces, communities, public spaces and retail.”

Architects IBI Group in Toronto has made a significant pivot in the way it works and the kinds of buildings they create, said Mansoor Kazerouni, global director, buildings for IBI Living+ in Toronto. “Infusing them with technology and having them be informed by technology are definitely the way of the future,” he said. “But we know it can’t be done in isolation.”

To that end, IBI has created a dedicated Smart City Sandbox office on St. Clair Avenue in partnership with organizations that include Ellis Don, Ontario Power Generation, The Weather Network, Ontario Centres of Excellence, and Slate to explore a range of integrated concepts for residents, from intelligent climate control and service delivery, to in-building, co-working spaces and last mile autonomous vehicle integration.

As for public acceptance, Bruno Peters, director of IBI”s Smart City Taskforce, said that despite the talk around technology, buying decisions to some extent will still boil down to cost and convenience. At the same time, there is also an increased expectation there will be more focus on environmental responsibility.

“We are already starting to see building design adapting to how packages are delivered, or how people order goods and services with locker systems and curbside management that give residents a reason to live there and stay. But it will also depend on the market desire. How motivated will they be to spend the money to take advantage of those innovations?”

Kazerouni contends that millennials “don’t think twice about it. It’s simply second nature for them. Many of those types of services are here and happening and readily embraced by residents, such a pick up/drop off bays for ride share services, electronic parcel storage, and on-site workspaces.

Everything people are talking about is already in motion in various developments to some degree, he added. “What we would love to see is for it to all come together in a single smart community. When that happens, residents will be able to better communicate and participate not only in how their homes perform, but also their local communities and cities.”

But when these concepts transition to reality, what does that mean for homebuyers? Will they flock to those development communities, or resist such a wholesale change in their way of living?

The answer for the most part seems to be that development projects have to be transformative in order to tackle the growing urban housing crisis. With that, buyers will be willing to embrace the new way of living and working once they realize the benefits that go beyond gadgets and convenience.
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