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[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO shares ten interesting facts about Scarborough.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at orbits where two or more objects can share a path.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on Lockheed’s allegedly promising plan for near-term fusion reactors.
  • Eastern Approaches notes concerns about media bias in Slovakian print media.
  • Geocurrents notes how recent events show that Ukraine does not cleave neatly into pro- and anti-Russian halves.
  • Joe. My. God. observes that the Micronesian state of Palau has decriminalized homosexuality.
  • Language Hat looks at the history of how fonts get their names.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the arguably stagnant and over-regulated labour market of France.
  • James Nicoll has announced his ongoing effort, to commemorate the Cuban missile crisis, to review books on nuclear war.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla notes that astronomers have found a second small Kuiper belt object for the New Horizons probe to survey.
  • Spacing Toronto blogs about the demographic and economic challenges of millennials in Canadian cities.
  • Towleroad looks at problems with gay intimacy visibility on American television.
  • Window on Eurasia considers tensions over migration in post-Soviet Russia.
  • The World notes the devastating impact on living standards of the Greek recession.

[URBAN NOTE] “A Drone’s Eye View of Toronto Reference Library”

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The Toronto Standard‘s Igor Bonifacic has shared a remarkable video of a drone flying through the Toronto Reference Library.

After receiving a $10.6-million infusion from multiple levels of government and the Toronto Public Library Foundation, the Library decided to invest the cash into a variety of improvements, including automated shelving, futuristic looking study pods, a suite of 3D printers and a suite of new learning spaces. The improvements are already starting to pay dividends; visits to the branch increased by 20% during their construction.

As many of the improvements have a high-tech twist to them, it seems only fitting that the TPL decided to document and advertise them with a technological marvel like the consumer aerial drone.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 15, 2014 at 11:43 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO shares vintage pictures of University Avenue.
  • Centauri Dreams imagines, with the help of the Impressionists, deep time.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining ancient hot Jupiter KOI-183b.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers ways violence can be understood as a contingent sociological phenomenon.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh does not think that criticizing Germany for its economic policies is a good idea.
  • Joe. My. God. shares Australia’s stunning anti-immigration ads.
  • Languages of the World’s Asya Perelstvaig shares an old post noting Russia’s significant issues.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that low female participation in the Japanese economy threatens the country’s future.
  • Torontoist shares an argument in favour of lowering speed limits to save lives.
  • Towelroad notes American criticism of a new anti-gay law in Kyrgyzstan.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russia’s economy is likely to stagnate and warns Ukrainians that Russian imperialism towards Ukraine is popular and will outlast Putin.

[URBAN NOTE] “Fears that shoddy Toronto condos could become future slums”

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This Thomson-Reuters article at CBC makes the decent point that the future of Toronto’s condos, built shoddily and not up to handling environmental conditions, is dire. Might the booming new neighbourhoods on the waterfront and elsewhere become slums in a couple of decades?

While Toronto’s housing boom rolls on, some of the housing itself is falling apart.

Canada’s biggest city has more than 100,000 units under construction as developers and investors seek to cash in on condo prices that are up 25.7 per cent in the city over the past five years. The trouble is, many buildings are so poorly constructed that some residents fear that the money-spinners of today could become the slums of the future.

Glass panels have been falling off newly built Toronto condos, including the luxury Shangri-La and Trump towers and a dozen or more lesser-known buildings across the city. New buildings suffer from water leaks and poor insulation, making them ill-suited to Canadian weather.

“Many buildings that went up during the beginning of this condo boom are already facing high repair costs, and in many cases lawsuits, because they are built so shabbily,” said Ted Kesik, a professor of building science at the University of Toronto.

“The life cycle is clear. They are okay for the first five years, they gradually deteriorate by year 10 … and don’t even reach year 20 before significant remedial work needs to be done. In 50 years these buildings may well become an urban slum.”

‘In 50 years these buildings may well become an urban slum.’- Ted Kesik, professor of building science at the University of Toronto

That’s all far in the future for builders and investors who have had little trouble finding tenants, with the city’s rental vacancy rate at 1.8 per cent. Condo prices are rising across the country, up 16.8 per cent in the last five years, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 14, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Posted in Economics, Toronto, Urban Note

Tagged with , ,

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • Bad Astronomy shares a picture of the astonishingly crowded center of the Milky Way galaxy.
  • blogTO recommends things to do in the Junction and Liberty Village.
  • Centauri Dreans notes an interesting new binary star discovery, one where a hot Jupiter orbits each star.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on further research done of a close brown dwarf.
  • The Frailest Thing notes an interview with spaceflight proponent Elon Musk painting him as a messianic figure, a Moses or Noah.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper suggesting that western Europe experienced growign longevity from an early age.
  • The New APPS Blog notes the intersections of philosophy, religion, and euthanasia.
  • Registan notes the arrival of Islamic banking in the former Soviet Union.
  • Steve Munro notes the return of streetcar service to Queens Quay.
  • Torontoist is skeptical of Olivia Chow’s transit plan, not detailed enough.
  • Towleorad reports on a Russian exchange student in the United States who has claimed asylum and reports on civil unions’ new introduction in Chile.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the weaknesses of the Belarusian economy, observes the linguistic links between Crimean Tatars and various north Caucasian peoples, argues that 1600 Russian soldiers have died, observes Russian belief that China is an ally, and notes that older Muslim communities in Moscow separate themselves from the newer immigrant communities.

[PHOTO] Not yet a park, at 11 Wellesley Street West

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Not yet a park, at 11 Wellesley Street West

I made a couple of posts in 2012 about an effort to make a plot of land on Wellesley west of Yonge into a park. That effort failed, and the plot of land will host a condo tower. That condo tower, though, as described by Ryan Starr in a May 2014 Toronto Star article.

When developer Mark Mandelbaum envisages his company’s new condo project, 11 Wellesley on the Park, he sees green.

A slender and curvaceous 60-storey condominium tower planned for a three-acre site just west of the intersection at Yonge St., 11 Wellesley promises to be a big seller, given its prime downtown location and trendy design aesthetic. (Suites starting at $199,900.)

But it’s not the sales prospects that have Mandelbaum seeing green at 11 Wellesley on the Park. The development will include a 1.6-acre public park, a badly needed and long-pushed-for addition to a densely populated community that suffers from a lack of green space.

“Rarely do you have the opportunity to work on a piece of land that’s so significant, in such a significant location, with the added advantage of having it become part of the public realm,” notes Mandelbaum, chairman of Lanterra Developments.

The park will take up more than two-thirds of the 11 Wellesley site, with the condo tower situated at the northeast corner of the property, yielding as much land as possible for green space. Previous plans for 11 Wellesley — once owned by the province, whose intentions were to build a ballet and opera house there but ultimately sold the vacant land to Lanterra several years ago — contemplated a multi-tower project with up to 1,000 units and a parkette.

Lanterra’s plan now for 11 Wellesley consolidates 742 units into a single tower located at the top corner of the property, creating more room for sunlight as well as a larger urban park, which will be designed in consultation with the community. (Meantime the developer has created park renderings, to provide “an idea of what is possible with this size of land,” Mandelbaum says.)

“We’re pretty happy,” says Rick Whitten-Stovall, president of the Bay Cloverhill Community Association, who recalls taking part in a march from Queen’s Park to the empty 11 Wellesley site several years ago in an unsuccessful effort to convince the province to sell the land for use as green space. “There’s been a warm reception (in the community) to the idea that the park is finally going to really happen now.”

Still, this site is not yet a park. It’s currently a mere promise abiding.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 11, 2014 at 4:04 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Mizrahi Developments buys Stollerys at Yonge and Bloor”

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Via Toronto I’ve learned of a Toronto Star article noting that a major real estate developer bought Stollerys, on the southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor among the towers. A new tower will be rising.

Just two years after breaking ground on his first condo building, independent luxury developer Sam Mizrahi has vaulted in the big leagues, nabbing the Stollerys store and adjacent lands on the southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor streets.

The purchase sets the stage for a residential-retail development by Mizrahi, who is noted in Toronto for boutique developments such as the nearly completed nine-storey project at 133 Hazelton Ave. and the 12-storey building going up at 181 Davenport Rd.

“It’s really a game changer in a lot of respects and I feel very blessed to be part of it,” said the president of Mizrahi Developments. “This is one of most significant corners in Toronto, if not Canada, and we want to create a pedestrian experience and a destination that we can be proud of as a landmark building and for the future.”

For 114 years, One Bloor St. W. has been home to Stollerys, with its memorable green awnings and now 30,000 square feet displaying “British and European inspired garments for men and women of taste” over four floors.

The establishment is the “longest surviving business that I know of in the area,” said Briar de Lange, executive director of the Bloor-Yorkville BIA.

The owners selected Mizrahi from amongst many suitors, and money doesn’t appear to have been the differentiator.

The deal, estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, includes One and 11 Bloor Sts. W., as well as properties along the southwest side of Yonge St., but the parties won’t confirm price or scale until the series of closings are finalized.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 10, 2014 at 10:07 pm

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