Posts Tagged ‘condos’
I went on an extended hike east and south across Toronto
Of course, I wore my red-and-white plaid shirt. How much more Canadian could I get?
I last shared a picture of this statue of King Edward VII, built for a park in Delhi but later relocated to Queen’s Park, in May 2009.
I love these art deco office buildings east of Queen’s Park.
I like what a simple Instagram trick did for this shot on Bay Street, looking south at the towers.
This alley lies just west of Yonge Street on Wellesley.
The painting on the side of the Armen Art Gallery is worn.
The display of some of the books on sale at the Glad Day Bookshop was fresh.
This mural at Church and Wellesley is part of a #pinbuttonpride street history project put on by the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.
Crews & Tango was still colourfully decked out for Pride.
This rainbow of tulips planted outside a convenience store was adorable.
Outside Mies van der Rohe’s Toronto-Dominion Centre, the Pride flag flew alongside the flags of Canada and Ontario.
The twin towers of the Royal Bank of Canada headquarters, with their gold-impregnated windows, rise up.
Toronto Life‘s Philip Preville has a feature article noting that, between the condo boom downtown and the high price of real estate across Toronto, many people are having to live with homes that are smaller than they expected. Often much smaller.
Shannon Bury was 27, with a marketing job in the 905 and her own condo in Burlington, when the big city came to fetch her. The company she worked for was acquired by a larger firm, Pareto Marketing, which moved her job to Toronto. She moved along with it and traded up, selling her place in Burlington and buying a 607-square-foot, one-bedroom-plus-den unit in Charlie, a 36-storey tower proposed for Charlotte Street near King and Spadina. She got the unit pre-construction for less than $300,000, which was a steal, because really she’d purchased much more than space: she bought the dream Toronto and its developers have been selling throughout this decade-long boom. She was single in the city, blonde and svelte, with a well-paying career-track job and, soon, a condo on the edge of clubland. Toronto would be at her feet and at her service. It was the spring of 2008.
Then she met a guy. A great guy, Paul LeBrun, a Winnipeg native who’d landed in Toronto with a Bay Street securities job. They met at a mutual friend’s condo in February 2010, at a party to watch the Vancouver Olympics men’s gold medal hockey game. (The running joke among their friends is that Paul still doesn’t know who won; he was too busy wooing Shannon.) Before long they were living together at Yonge and St. Clair, with an eye to moving into her condo later that year, once it was finished. But the construction fell behind schedule, and their life together began to outpace the cranes. They got married in the summer of 2012, and when they moved into Charlie that November, they were already planning their family. “We figured it would take eight months or so to get pregnant,” she says. “Then there’d be nine months of pregnancy, so we’d have time to enjoy condo life before the baby arrived.” She conceived by Christmas.
Jacob, now 10 months old, is busy teaching his parents the true meaning of square footage. To make room for all the baby equipment, Shannon and Paul relegated to storage an armchair, an end table, a coffee table and, most recently, a loveseat. A lone couch remains from their brief childless-couple condo life. “Our time is spent in play dates, and play dates are spent with everyone sitting on the floor anyway,” Shannon says. Jacob’s playtime inevitably spills out into the hallway. The neighbours don’t complain, and neither does Shannon when, for instance, her 20-something party-boy neighbour has friends over for pre-drinks on the balcony before heading out clubbing. “I can’t hold it against him,” she says. “I’d be doing the same thing in his position. I’m jealous, really.”
Everything that happened to Shannon and Paul in the last few years is also happening to the city itself, shaped by forces greater than any of them. Toronto has been swept up in a maelstrom of human and economic migration that has swelled its population in the core. Shannon and Paul bought into the New Toronto brand: the vertical city of luxury living, cultural experience, Momofuku food and trendy boutiques. That’s how the lifestyle is marketed by politicians and developers alike, and it’s incredibly appealing to young adults in all their forms: staid professionals, graduating millennials, hipsters.
Now their lives are changing, in a wave that could turn out to be as big as the one that herded them downtown: they are becoming parents. Downtown Toronto is being reshaped by the latest baby boom. The total number of preschool-age kids is rising fastest where condo towers are going up, and nowhere is the demographic shift happening more intensely than in the crane-addled area south of Queen from University to Dufferin; there, the number of kids under age five has increased since 2006 by a whopping 65 per cent. Toronto is bearing witness to the birth of a new generational phenomenon: the Condo Kid.
And the city is welcoming its Condo Kids, in essence, by putting their cribs in the alcove nursery that condo marketers call a “den.” The real estate tracking firm Urbanation says that, as of last March, there are more than 25,000 condo units under construction in the former City of Toronto, and few of them will have more than two bedrooms. Only 21 of the 50 projects in pre-construction will have three-bedroom units. Even the units with two bedrooms are getting smaller: the average size of a condo in the GTA has dropped precipitously since 2009, from well over 900 square feet to 797 square feet today. Singles in the city are coupling up, having kids and looking for bigger homes, yet developers continue to flood the landscape with ever-tinier units—a situation abetted by a lack of planning and enabled by politicians. A quiet revolution is underway in how Toronto raises kids, one that was perfectly predictable but for which the city has failed to prepare. A whole generation of families are finding themselves stuck in their starter homes.
Yesterday on my Facebook feed, Toronto Life‘s Informer noted the imminent library of the latest branch of the Toronto Public Library, the new Fort York Branch opening opposite Fort York on the bottom of Bathurst Street, in condo country. The new branch will actually anchor the Library District Condos, a complex built by developers who offered to pay the costs of the branch’s construction. The whole thing is described by the National Post‘s Alex Jivov.
Opening this Thursday at 190 Fort York Boulevard, Toronto’s 99th Public Library Branch will contain unique features such as 3D printers, digital innovation hubs, and DJing equipment, all available for public consumption.
The 16,000 square foot glass structure will contain 35,000 books at opening. A computer centre will allow visitors to access the entirety of the Toronto Public Library’s electronic catalogue, totaling over ten million e-books, movies, magazines, and music albums.
Five full time staffers will provide assistance to those wishing to navigate and use the new facilities.
Designed by KPMB Architects, the Fort York Branch has partnered with developer Context Development to create a community built around the new library. “Everyone can agree libraries are wonderful things to have,” said Toronto Public Library Board Chairman Michael Foderick. “They have been and will continue to be a cornerstone for every successful community in this city. We’re just laying a new cornerstone right here in Fort York.”
The partnership has allowed the library’s $9.1 million cost to be completely funded without any cost to the taxpayer, according to Foderick.
The new location will have, among other things, DJ-ing equipment and a 3-D printer.
There’s certainly need for this location, in a neighbourhood that has literally sprung up out of nothing over the past decade. When I walked down there a decade ago soon after moving to Toronto, there was nothing but empty lots. By the same measure, I’m not sure that allowing the Library District Condos’ builders to build a taller building in exchange for doing something nice for the city is the best policy. What are the parameters for these offers? Where will it stop?
(Still, beautiful library.)
People upset by 2012 news that a stretch of King Street hosting the Princess of Wales Theatre would be torn down for a new Frank Gehry-designed condo complex can rest easy. The theatre will live! From Newstalk 1010:
It looks as though David Mirvish will get the condo towers he wanted on King Street.
He’s also going to be able to keep the Princess of Wales Theatre intact.
According to several sources, Mirvish, architect Frank Gehry and Toronto city staff have been working on a compromise to get giant condos built on King St., while keeping heritage buildings in the area.
The new plan would see two condo buildings, instead of three, and much taller than original specs. The two buildings would soar 92, and 82 storeys respectively. But while it’s taller, Mirvish and Gehry say it’s actually smaller in scale.
Toronto’s head planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, said it is wrong to call the new plan a compromise. “It’s a new project that’s better than the project that existed before,” she said.
Ms. Keesmaat said planning staff are “absolutely thrilled” with the result. “Frank Gehry has been able to use his creativity to come up with a proposal that, quite frankly, exceeded my expectations about how you could have a tremendous amount of development on this site and at the same time be very true to its historical context.”
While the block would get a taller tower, Ms. Keesmaat said its slender profile would reduce shadows.
Mr. Gehry conceived the original design as a candelabra with three candlesticks. The two-tower design will be “sculpted almost like waterfalls flowing into a pool on one side, and on another aspect of it having a clay appearance,” Mr. Mirvish said.
“Frank is building me a jewel box,” Mr. Mirvish said. That “box” will be placed on top of the warehouse on the west end of the block, and will have 9,200 square feet of space to house art exhibitions. That’s a small fraction of the space in the original design to house Mr. Mirvish’s personal art collection. OCAD University will have a facility on the site as planned.