A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘condos

[URBAN NOTE] “From Bar Volo to Zipperz, Toronto’s businesses uproot as condos sprout up”

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Bar Volo’s relocation to a Church Street location, driven by condo development on its Yonge Street location, is hardly rare. The Toronto Star took a look at it and other businesses driven from their homes.

As multi-storey condos sprout up across the city, some long-time businesses have been uprooted.

Between January 2015 and June of this year, 97 condo projects were started, for a total of 26,750 units, according to Altus Data Solutions, a provider of real estate data and market intelligence.

Inevitably, some businesses have been caught in the crossfire of the residential development boom.

The list includes a bar beloved by beer connoisseurs, a Leslieville diner known for its western sandwiches and a downtown hostel once voted the best on the continent.

An influx of about 100,000 people per year and a pressure to build upward instead of outward are reshaping the retail and commercial landscape, said Matti Siemiatycki, a professor of urban planning at the University of Toronto.

“Those pressures together are creating a perfect storm that is challenging for existing businesses, an environment where change is happening very quickly and unsettling a lot of the current businesses, many of which have been there for a long time,” he said.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 15, 2016 at 8:29 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Downed elevators plague Aura condo, residents say”

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The Toronto Star‘s Alex Ballingall reports about the problems at the new Aura condo tower.

Jim McNally lives 77 storeys above Yonge St. Through his floor-to-ceiling windows he looks down on Queen’s Park and the University of Toronto, and on a clear day he can spot distant planes on the tarmac at Pearson. The family physician says he put “all his marbles” into the condominium and much prefers the downtown locale to an alternative in the suburbs.

But life at such great heights hasn’t been so great lately.

It’s the elevators.

McNally doesn’t trust them.

There have been periodic problems since he moved in about a year and a half ago, McNally told the Star in an interview, but since a powerful rainstorm hit Toronto last Monday, the lifts’ lack of lifting has hit a new low. Of the nine elevators that serve the 79 floors of the Aura tower at Yonge and Gerrard Sts.—a building with billboards that boast: “Canada’s Tallest Condominium”—three have been broken for more than eight days, said McNally, who sits on the condo board.

For those like him that live above the 55th storey, only one elevator works—sort of. As of Tuesday afternoon, it was manned by a kindly security guard on a stool, who would pilot the elevator to the requested floor, stopping at every fifth storey on the way down to pick up any departing residents. If you want to go down, you can call the concierge and ask for the lift to be sent to your floor, or you can take the stairs to one of the storeys where the elevator is scheduled to stop.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 6, 2016 at 4:15 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • blogTO looks at some of the high points in the Yonge and Eglinton condo boom.
  • D-Brief notes a demonstration in orangutans of some of the traits needed for speech, and language.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the isolated young star CX330.
  • Dangerous Minds reports on a late 1970s yearbook for Siouxsie and the Banshees.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that perchlorate salts are all over Mars.
  • The NYRB Daily notes the particular tenor of Chinese nationalism makes it difficult to deal with the South China Sea.
  • Savage Minds starts a discussion about the ethnography of violence.
  • Torontoist carries the guest essay of a Caribana fan who will be giving the festival another try.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia has returned to the stagnation of the pre-Gorbachev 1980s.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell finds, on reanalysis, a positive connection between Brexit support and Austerity.

[URBAN NOTE] “Why are Young Torontonians Moving into Tiny Micro Condos?”

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The title of Alina Bykova’s Torontoist article is a rhetorical question. Downtown living is really worth it.

When Sean Solowski saw his 27-square-metre apartment for the first time, he was struck by the huge windows and the flood of natural light. It was 2009, and Solowski had just moved from Ottawa, where he had been studying, back to his native Toronto. The apartment was on the second floor of a building dating back to the early 1900s near Dundas and Gladstone, and even though it was considerably smaller than most studio apartments, it was perfect for the 33-year-old.

In Ottawa, where he received his graduate degree in architecture from Carleton University, Solowski lived in a 51-square-metre apartment, and sizing down meant getting rid of some of his belongings. “It really makes you think, ‘What are the essentials of life?’” he says. Because the apartment only has one closet, he put many of his possessions on display. Two shiny motorcycle helmets are perched on the wall above an orange swivel armchair. A streamlined and expensive-looking Cervèlo road bike hangs from another wall. “Plan for things to have more than one function,” says Solowski, who made the best of his tiny pad with a futon couch that folded into a bed at night and a work desk that doubled as a dining table.

Solowski isn’t the only Torontonian purging his belongings and sizing down into a tiny apartment. Today, condominium developers are turning to micro condos to satisfy a growing need for downtown real estate.

In the last year alone, the number of micro condos in Toronto’s new housing market has risen to 11 per cent, up from five per cent, according to a study from Urbanation. Micro condo units appeal particularly to the younger crowd—people in their late 20s and early 30s who want to live and work in Toronto’s vibrant downtown core. The condos are smaller, cheaper, and easier to clean and organize, ideal for a young person who has recently landed their first professional job and may want to find a beginner’s footing in the city’s expensive real estate market.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 28, 2016 at 8:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Are we killing Yonge Street?”

NOW Toronto‘s Robert Allsopp fears for the future eof Yonge Street as a dynamic urban streetscape.

Downtown Yonge Street isn’t what it used to be.

The high energy of street life is fast disappearing. There are not many people around. We rarely walk far along the street because it lacks a sufficient variety of shops or range of sensory experiences to tempt us.

We do most of our specialty shopping and eating elsewhere. We do our chain-store shopping in the Eaton Centre and the many other interior malls linked by the underground PATH network that are vacuuming the life and the paying customers from Yonge.

The Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue (which occupy the old Simpson’s store) are still in full-blooded conversation with the street. Yonge-Dundas Square and Ryerson U have made a big difference, but their energizing effects seem locally concentrated.

The condo invasion has hit Yonge, but oddly, the hyper-densities haven’t added much public life to the street.

The key to Yonge Street’s success has been the rows of independently operated, narrow-fronted shops and businesses that collectively support intense social and commercial activity. What sustains Toronto’s main street are the many comings and goings from shops, cafés and bars at street level and the offices, showrooms and apartments on the upper floors. Entrances occur every few metres. There’s an intense synergy between the repetitive building type and the street. But this synergy is disappearing as buildings are stuffed and preserved in a lifeless trend I call urban taxidermy.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 13, 2016 at 7:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “The Toronto developer, the Iranian fugitive and the bitter condo feud”

Laurent Bastien’s article in The Globe and Mail makes for compelling reading indeed. What scandal!

Five years ago, Sam Mizrahi, one of Toronto’s most ambitious real estate developers, found himself in a basement in the city’s Bridle Path neighbourhood. It was there, he says, he began to fear for his safety.

In a span of just a few hours, one of the main financial backers of two of his luxury condominium projects, Mahmoud Khavari, had become one of Iran’s most wanted men, having left his position as the chairman of the country’s largest bank and fled to Canada amid a corruption scandal.

With Iran demanding Mr. Khavari’s immediate return, Mr. Mizrahi feared being caught in the crossfire of a potentially violent international dispute as they debated the future of their business partnership inside the former banker’s Toronto home.

The agreement worked out in that basement in the hours that followed the frantic flight to Canada has become the subject of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit before the Ontario Superior Court, and led to a feud between Mr. Mizrahi and the Khavari family of near-Shakespearian proportion, involving alleged death threats, international intrigue and some of the city’s hottest real estate.

The Khavaris, who dispute the threats of violence, are seeking at least $35-million in damages from their former business partner, arguing that they were denied a stake in two Yorkville properties in which they invested money, along with three others that include the massive, 80-storey One Bloor tower, the crown jewel of Mr. Mizrahi’s condominium empire.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 9, 2016 at 9:50 pm

[PHOTO] Pit, 2 (11 Wellesley Street West)

Pit, 2 #toronto #construction #wellesleystreet #11wellesley

Wellesley in the Park, a Lanterra Developments project at 11 Wellesley Street West, will one day rise 60 stories. Right now, the development is at the stage of being a hole in the ground.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2016 at 1:17 am


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