A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘condos

[URBAN NOTE] On #densitycreep, Toronto condos, and relative poverties

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A few days ago, the Toronto Star featured the article “Midtowners battle the rise of the midrise” by Manisha Krishnan. This examined the plight of midtowners near Yonge and Eglinton faced with possible real estate depreciation.

A group of midtown Toronto residents has banded together to fight what it’s dubbed “density creep,” amid a push for midrise development citywide that shows no signs of abating.

The Density Creep Neighborhood Alliance formed in response to a proposed townhouse development on Keewatin Ave. near Mt. Pleasant Rd., north of Eglinton Ave. E.

The group of about 50 neighbours claims the project — a four-storey, 80-unit building that will replace eight properties from 200-214 Keewatin Ave. — will ruin their stretch of million-dollar homes set on deep, private lots.

“I’m really concerned about my property value going down,” says Lisa Goodwin, 49, a stay-at-home mother of two who has lived in a four-bedroom dwelling on Keewatin Ave. for 19 years.

“Right now all the houses are $1.1 to, say, $2.2 (million) but they’re looking at putting in places that are only $500,000.”

Would that we all owned such inexpensive property in Toronto. blogTo noted the mockery online, as did the CBC. I do agree to a certain extent with this, but I also agree with a Facebook friend that in Canada’s culture, with its aspirations to property ownership, depreciating house prices could well mean relative poverty. The extent to which this culture of ownership is a good thing is entirely open for debate, and yet does not seem to be discussed.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 27, 2015 at 11:11 pm

[URBAN NOTE] The SCMP on the problems with the Vancouver housing market

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Writing for the South China Morning Post‘s The Hongcouver blog, Ian Young argues that Vancouver’s real estate market is uniquely unaffordable to new entrants largely because of the impact of wealthy investors. Vancouverites and other West Coasters, thoughts?

One position states there’s nothing particularly unusual about Vancouver’s housing situation. Yet this He doesn’t have a million either.neglects the fact that the city’s unaffordability is now globally exceptional, exceeded only by that of Hong Kong.

Foreign money might be a factor, concede some, but it must similarly influence other markets, right? Not really – since immigration data demonstrates that the influx of rich immigrants to Vancouver (80 per cent of them Chinese) is unmatched by any other city in the world, at least in terms of wealth-migration schemes that clearly define asset benchmarks.

Others seek to frame unaffordability as inevitable, since Vancouver is a city of limited land supply. But plenty of other cities are in the same boat: New York and Singapore spring to mind. Both are expensive cities, but Vancouver has left them in the dust in terms of unaffordability. If Vancouver (price/income ratio 10.6) could achieve the affordability of New York (6.1), or Singapore (5.0) I’m betting that Eveline Xia would be dancing down Main Street.

Surely Vancouver has always been unaffordable? A quick check of the stats will show that as recently at 10 years ago, Vancouver’s price/income ratio was in dancing territory, at 5.3.

[. . .]

An exceptional cause must be found for an exceptional situation, and for Vancouver, that can be found quite easily in wealth migration, which exploded in the past decade.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 27, 2015 at 11:01 pm

[PHOTO] Another new condo, at Queen and Dufferin

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Another new condo #toronto #queenstreetwest #dufferinstreet #parkdale #condos #architecture

Written by Randy McDonald

May 26, 2015 at 3:09 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Early 19th-century schooner discovered in condo development site”

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The Toronto Star‘s Alyshah Hasham wrote about the discovery of a schooner nearly two centuries old near Fort York in a condo development site.

It is the oldest ship ever discovered in Toronto, an early 19th-century schooner found this week by archeologists doing a routine exploration of the site for a condo development near Fort York Blvd. and Bathurst St.

It the ship’s day, everything south of Front St. would have been underwater, with several wharves jutting into the lake, the largest of which was the Queen’s Wharf, a major commercial hub built in 1833.

“We suspect this ship was scuttled deliberately to provide a scaffold for the workers building the wharf,” said David Robertson, senior archeologist at Archeological Services Inc.

The archeological dig began in early March with the intent of documenting the wharves built there in the early 1800s, Robertson said. On Monday, they discovered the wooden skeleton of the schooner.

Only a small portion of the ship remains: the ship’s keel, or spine — which runs about 15 metres from bow to stern — and a portion of the hull.

Patty Winsa wrote earlier this week about how the site was and will be preserrfved.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 20, 2015 at 11:04 pm

[LINK] “Here’s a Bargain: Federico Fellini’s $4.6 Million Home in Recessionary Rome”

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The weakness of the Italian real estate market is the subject of Flavia Krause-Jackson and Giovanni Salzano’s Bloomberg article. That property is so important in Italy is a sad irony.

What does $4.6 million buy you in Manhattan? A two-bedroom apartment in the Flatiron District with views of the Empire State Building. In Rome, the same amount in euros can get you something twice the size: Federico Fellini’s home no less, a fifth-floor attic in a historic palazzo where the filmmaker lived while making “La Dolce Vita,” according to Coldwell Banker, the real estate brokers in charge of the sale.

Even if you’re not a film buff, a bargain is a bargain: three bedrooms, three bathrooms, terraces overlooking lush gardens of an aristocratic villa. Similarly-sized pads in the area go for about 2 million euros, according to data provided by Italy’s Ministry of Finance. But the fame of its ex-resident doubles the asking price for 141 Via Archimede.

[. . .]

Many Italians own more than one piece of property. To be precise, each homeowner has an average 1.3 properties, according to a Bloomberg News calculation of Finance Ministry data. Average housing wealth is estimated by the Bank of Italy to be at more than 200,000 euros per household.

Now, if you’re anything like the typical Italian household, whose average disposable income is a mere $24,724, and your children are staring at youth unemployment of 40 percent in a country mired in a record-long recession, chances are you’ll be eager to sell that second home you’re paying much-hated taxes on.

Problem is, the housing glut is driving prices down. Even for something as priceless as Fellini’s Roman abode. After Cyprus, Italy is the euro-area country where house prices fell most in the last two years.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 19, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Posted in Economics

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[URBAN NOTE] “Church of Scientology owes city over $100,000 as Yonge-Bloor site languishes”

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The Church of Scientology’s downtown Toronto location on Yonge just south of Bloor, where I had some readings performed on me on the streetSeptember 2004 and where I witnessed Anonymous protests in February 2008, has today come up in the news for back taxes. The Toronto Star‘s Stephen Spencer Davis reports.

The Church of Scientology of Toronto, which owns 696 Yonge St., owes more than $61,000 in property taxes and penalties for 2014, out of a total of just under $112,000. The organization made only partial payments of its 2014 property taxes, according to Supervisor of Collections Stephen Franceschini.

It also owes $57,348.15 in taxes and penalties on the interim 2015 property tax bill, according to Franceschini.

Property owners receive an interim tax bill near the beginning of each year, and typically a final bill in May. Payments on the 2015 interim bill were due March 2, April 1 and May 1, according to the city’s website.

“We have contacted the local Church in Toronto and they intend to get this paid forthwith,” Scientology spokesperson Linda Wieland said in an email.

The news comes as the organization says it still plans to convert the Yonge St. building into one of Scientology’s “Ideal Orgs,” which it first announced in early 2013. Scientology describes these facilities as “cathedrals” in desirable locations, “intended to meet increasing demand worldwide for Scientology services and initiatives.”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 19, 2015 at 6:18 pm

[LINK] Two notes on migration into Detroit

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An interesting discussion on Facebook was started when someone shared a New York Times op-ed, “Let Syrians Settle Detroit” by David D. Laitin and Marc Jahrmay. The idea is provocative, but–I think–sound.

Detroit, a once great city, has become an urban vacuum. Its population has fallen to around 700,000 from nearly 1.9 million in 1950. The city is estimated to have more than 70,000 abandoned buildings and 90,000 vacant lots. Meanwhile, desperate Syrians, victims of an unfathomable civil war, are fleeing to neighboring countries, with some 1.8 million in Turkey and 600,000 in Jordan.

[. . .]

Syrian refugees would be an ideal community to realize this goal [of repopulation], as Arab-Americans are already a vibrant and successful presence in the Detroit metropolitan area. A 2003 survey by the University of Michigan of 1,016 members of this community (58 percent of whom were Christian, and 42 percent Muslim) found that 19 percent were entrepreneurs and that the median household income was $50,000 to $75,000 per year.

What confidence can we have that traumatized war refugees can be transformed into budding American entrepreneurs? We cannot know for sure. But recent evidence of recaptured children from the clutches of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and victims of violent crime across five continents reveals that they become more active citizens than similar compatriots who have not suffered from these traumatic events. In the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, Syrians, despite psychological scars and limited resources, have set up 3,500 shops, stores and other businesses.

Refugees resettled from a single war zone have helped revitalize several American communities, notably Hmong in previously neglected neighborhoods in Minneapolis, Bosnians in Utica, N.Y., and Somalis in Lewiston, Me.

Resettling Syrians in Detroit would require commitment and cooperation across different branches and levels of our government, but it is eminently feasible. President Obama and Congress would have to agree to lift this year’s refugee ceiling by 50,000. The State Department, which handles overseas processing of refugees, would need to open offices at the camps in Jordan and Turkey, determine eligibility and administer a lottery for resettlement. Homeland Security, which controls the borders, would have to carry out accelerated security checks, as has been done in the past for Vietnamese and for Iranian religious minorities. Health and Human Services would need an expansion in the $1.5 billion it budgets for refugee resettlement.

Someone in the comments linked to a Detroit Free Press article noting that rents are starting to rise substantially in that city.

Rental rates in downtown Detroit-area buildings have risen so high, some young professionals who breathed new life into the city core just a few years ago are now being priced out of the market and forced to move — a type of middle-class gentrification that has some developers eager to build new residential projects.

Development experts say demand far exceeds existing rental units in choice areas, such as Midtown, Corktown and the Detroit riverfront, where influxes of mostly young, well-paid professionals drove rental rates to new heights in new, existing and soon-to-open apartment buildings.

In many cases, landlords are asking $200 to $400 more a month for apartment leases than they were just a year or two ago because of the high demand and almost nonexistent new supply.

The phenomenon cannot be captured by the traditional definition of “gentrification,” when low-income households are displaced by the yuppie class. Rather, renters already in the middle class and enjoying professional careers now are being displaced by those even farther up the income scale who can afford the higher rents.

“Our office routinely turns down probably two people a day, letting them know we just can’t help them find something to rent,” said Ryan Cooley, owner of O’Connor Real Estate and Development in Corktown. “There’s just a lot of 20-year-olds wanting to live in the city.”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 15, 2015 at 11:37 pm


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