Posts Tagged ‘condos’
The Toronto Star‘s Christopher Hume mourns, perhaps prematurely, for the end of Yonge and Bloor as a happening cultural destination.
The richer Toronto grows, the poorer it feels. The most recent reminder came with the death of Avrom Isaacs, long one of the two or three most important art dealers in Canada.
For several decades his gallery on Yonge St. just north of Bloor was Ground Zero for anyone interested in contemporary Canadian art. Just doors away was Carmen Lamanna, the other legendary Toronto gallerist, not so much Isaacs’ rival as a fellow traveller. A few blocks west in Yorkville, Walter Moos opened his gallery in 1962, a year after Isaacs moved to Yonge
Eventually, the Village, as it was then called, was enshrined as Toronto’s designated art district. At its height, there must have been more than a dozen art galleries in Yorkville, not all of them worthy, but part of the scene nevertheless.
Today, little remains. A few dealers have hung on, but even before Lamanna and Isaacs died, both had been forced to relocate, victims of rising rents and land values that they did as much as anyone to increase.
[. . .]
By the turn of the century, however, this stretch of the city’s main street had become a series of restaurants and after the demise of the Fiesta, none of them particularly noteworthy. Lamanna’s old place even did time as a massage parlour.
Pretty soon the three-storey mid-19th century buildings that comprise the streetscape will be part of a 58-floor condo tower that has also displaced the venerable Cookbook Store that stood at the corner of Yonge and Cumberland for 31 years.
Back in December, I posted a photo of a block-long strip on Yonge Street below Wellesley, once full of stores and restaurants but now rezoned for condo construction. This vista, I think, deserves another picture.
The Toronto Star hosts Katia Dmitrieva’s Bloomberg article noting how Waterloo’s tech sector is making its real estate attractive to investors.
In a banquet hall in north Toronto, a condominium-sales event is generating the kind of frenzy more often seen on a trading-room floor.
Michael Wekerle, former Bay Street trader, technology investor, Dragons’ Den judge and now real-estate mogul, steps up to a podium in front of about 1,600 people to make his pitch. Waterloo, with its two universities and a burgeoning technology sector that’s attracted companies such as Google Inc. and dozens of startups, is booming, he says.
“It’s a land grab,” Wekerle, 52, dressed in a light grey three-piece suit and trademark sunglasses, tells the rapt crowd last weekend. “There were zero cranes when I first showed up there and there are 15 cranes in the sky now.”
He finishes his speech. Then all hell breaks loose. Prospective real-estate investors surge to the back of the room, submitting paperwork for offers on one or more units as agents in suits shout and gesture to clients, who anxiously pace the aisles. Three hours later, the 250-unit, $85 million District Condos project is sold out and 170 people are added to a waiting list.
The fervent demand for property in Waterloo highlights the city’s coming-of-age as an investment destination: first by technology companies and now real estate firms looking to gain from the city’s metamorphosis. Real estate investors at the event, including families, seasoned individuals and couples, were looking for higher returns than in Toronto, where homes are sold for almost double what they are in Waterloo.
The Globe and Mail‘s Kerry Gold notes the concern of many Vancouverites that condo development in that city’s Chinatown could undermine that neighbourhood’s existence. This sounds familiar, honestly.
King-mong Chan, who was born in Hong Kong and came to Canada at the age of 1, says he has been discovering his roots through Vancouver’s historic Chinatown. But as encroaching new midrise condo developments threaten the culture and charm of the tiny neighbourhood – with a history that goes back to the 1880s – he’s wondering if there will be anything left of Chinese tradition once the condo developers are finished with it.
“There shouldn’t be any more condos,” says Mr. King-mong. “We’ve seen enough development. It’s like a train unleashed.”
Mr. Chan is part of a coalition of young Chinese-Canadians that has formed in the last couple of years in reaction to the sweeping changes in Chinatown. Many see them as the voice of a movement to save Chinatown before it’s too late.
For some, Chinatown’s sudden infusion of condos is a case of, “Be careful what you wish for.” For others, it’s exactly what they feared would happen after new zoning allowed for taller buildings.
For more than a decade, Chinatown and the area around it had been suffering from a lack of vitality. The demographic had aged, businesses were hurting and, at night, the sidewalks were dead. Members of Chinatown’s business community wanted a solution, so the city held a series of public consultations and eventually rezoned the area to make way for buildings as high as 17 storeys along Main Street. The idea was that density, by way of condos, would revitalize the area and get shoppers into stores.