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September 23, 2016 in Buying Toronto Real Estate, Canadian Real Estate Market, For Sale By Owner, Location, location, location, New in New Homes, Pay what you want listings, Real Estate Investments, Save on Comission Fees, Selling Toronto Real Estate, Sold Watch, Toronto MLS Listings, Toronto MLS Sales, Toronto Neighbourhoods, Toronto Real Estate Trends, Toronto Real Estate Update, What's next (in real estate) | Permalink
Know Toronto. Take a walk.
This weekend's Jane's Walks may be an eyeopener.
The late urban thinker Jane Jacobs believed the way to understand a city like Toronto, and know its true needs, was to walk its streets. Her ideal comes alive this weekend in the form of more than 100 neighbourhood walks in Toronto and another 160 in cities across Canada. Jane's Walk, now in its third year, provides the opportunity to gain insight into the wonders and challenges of your own neighbourhood or learn about an entirely different part of the city.
The free walking tours on Saturday and Sunday are led by volunteer guides of all ages and backgrounds, and range in focus from the history of a neighbourhood to its present and future.
Through youth-led tours, Jane and Finch, Jane and Wilson and St. Jamestown – neighbourhoods generally in the news for poverty and crime – take on a new dimension. Where do the kids build forts? Where's the best snack shop? What's it like to live in the shadow of the unwalkable Highway 401? Who are the neighbourhood characters?
These are things that turn our monochromatic images of a neighbourhood into a truer picture. It can also serve to galvanize communities in their fight for needed improvements.
When Jacobs began her work in the 1950s, cities weren't seen as having a vibrant future. Experts declared that cramped, disorderly downtowns would hollow out, to be replaced by neatly planned suburban subdivisions. Jacobs knew they were wrong then; we know it today.
Fifty years ago, Jacobs wrote: "No one can find what will work for our cities ... by looking at suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You've got to get out and walk."
The new Queen Street East
One of the reasons we love Toronto – and, of course, we all love Toronto – is streets like Queen. Either West or East, this is one of the most attractive arteries in the city. And by attractive, we don't mean physical appearance – though in stretches Queen can be impressive – we mean attractive as a place to be.
Little surprise, then, that Queen dates largely from the 19th century, apparently the last time in Toronto when Torontonians understood intuitively how to build a city. The width of the street, the height of the buildings (largely two to four storeys) and the generally compact and connected conditions make for an ideal urban roadway.
Though Queen West has been a major destination since the early 1980s, even late '70s, Queen East is still getting going. Some might call it gentrification, but the changes now underway go beyond a coat of white paint.
Toronto Condo Critique
Bellair Gardens makes the best of its site.
Sitting at 18 Valley Woods Rd., overlooking the Don Valley Parkway, this 11-storey complex stands out above its neighbours, not so much for its height but for the quality of its architecture. Rather than the usual precast concrete, this one's all glass. And instead of the typical rectangular grid, it's all curves. Occupying a sloping site, the building has been set on a poured concrete base that grows deeper as it nears the valley to the west. This means the façade south to Brookbanks Drive is less than exciting, but who will notice?
Perhaps the best view of Bellair Gardens is from the DVP, which it engages dramatically. If an urban highway is your idea of a view, this place could be ideal. If it isn't, stay away. For commuters, however, it makes a nice change from the anonymous slabs that make one long to leave the city far behind. The image of Bellair Gardens, if not the reality, is of a building that makes the best of a location some would consider unfortunate. In that sense, it deserves full marks.
Toronto's Tony Neighbourhoods
Do You Live In One Of The Most Desirable Real Estate Areas In The Greater Toronto Area?
There's a certain irony in the fact that the one thing the GTA never seems to run out of is the one thing that's always in short supply. That first 'one thing' is a seemingly insatiable demand to own a home in the city. That 'other thing' is increasing prices that's making the search for a place to live harder to afford. The Toronto Real Estate Board has named the locations where would-be homeowners could have the hardest time ponying up the bucks for new digs and the leader is typically Toronto - it's anywhere near the Yonge St. corridor.
According to the experts, increases near the longest street in the world have escalated to the double digit range in the first six months of 2007 - and there's no sign things will change anytime soon. The average cost for a single detached home in neighbourhoods like Forest Hill, Chaplin Estates, Deer Park and Cedarvale is now a whopping $1,046,500 - a 16.8 percent hike from last year.
Hit the Annex or Yorkville and you'll be paying 14.3 percent more now than you would have in 2006. The asking price for a home in either of those locations currently sits at $883,869. And it's the same almost everywhere - even small houses in Willowdale are going for $618,179, a 12.2 percent increase.
And you'll only get a small break if you look outside T.O. The City Above Toronto is laying claim to its own price wars. Seek out a spot in Thornhill and you'll be shelling out about $565,000 to snatch the ownership deed - up 15 percent. Head to Port Credit and you'll need to sport credit if you don't have the $581,000 sellers are asking up there. That's 11.3 percent more.
How expensive has it become for buyers in this market? The Board claims 56 of the 62 districts it examined have experienced big hikes and vendors in close to half of them are demanding about $500,000 or more. And because demand remains high, a majority of them are incredibly getting 100 percent of their asking price.
What can you do if property is on your menu but the financial fallout leaves you feeling queasy? Consider a condo or townhouse. "With affordability a growing concern in the Greater Toronto Area, more and more purchasers are turning to condominium apartments and townhomes," agrees Michael Polzler of RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada in a statement. "Close to 80 percent of districts reported an average condominium price under the $300,000 price point, making the product a more attainable first step for an entry-level buyer, particularly in sought-after locations."
But that doesn't completely solve the problem. Condo costs are spiking, too, with many up between 10 and 32 percent over the same time last year depending on where you're looking. And real estate experts not only think it will continue, but that this could be a record setting year for both sales - and asking prices.
Top Housing Price Increase Areas Over Last Year
(Based on single detached home)
Forest Hill, Chaplin Estates, Deer Park, and Cedarvale: $ 1,046,500
South Hill, Annex, Yorkville: $883,869
Lansing, Willowdale, Newtonbrook: $618,179
Port Credit, Mineola: $581,167
Toronto the ________
Toronto's hapless pursuit of a good marketing slogan
Despite all the time and money invested in Toronto marketing over the years, the city hasn't hit paydirt. For many Torontonians, the recent, widely criticized "Live With Culture" ad campaign, which attempted to sell an edgy image of Toronto to U.S. alternative-weekly newspaper readers, was the last straw. Not to forget what was "the last straw" before that: the 2005 launch of the disappointingly vague "Toronto Unlimited" city brand.
It's no wonder, then, given disappointment with the official city marketing line, that the winning entry last week in the Astral Media Outdoor "My Toronto" design competition was "Toronto: Picture it your way." This city-promoting slogan and image, dreamed up by two twentysomething Ontario College of Art and Design students and voted on by more than 5,000 residents, reflects the desire of Torontonians to define their own city, rather than have it defined for them.
Why is the city was trying so hard to come up with unsuccessful new campaigns when "Toronto: You Belong Here," a slogan slapped on most taxi bumpers around town, was pretty great.
Toronto slogans buried in the city's marketing past include the late 1990's "World Within a City" and the post-SARS Tourism Toronto campaign, "It's time for a little TO," and the 1970s-era, post-sexual revolutionized "Toronto: Affectionately yours..." At one point the city's economic development department offered a clipped memorandum to the world's CEOs, "Toronto: Canada's Business Address." Still current is "Toronto: City Within A Park," Toronto Parks and Recreation department's moniker.
Then there's Tourism Toronto's 1980s through to early 1990s admonition to "Discover the Feeling!" delivered "with feeling". Or the Toronto Industrial Board's humorously understated late-60s brochure "Toronto: The Exciting City" as well as their later, peer-pressure-oriented button campaign "I prefer Toronto." One of Tourism Toronto's first campaigns, launched soon after its formation in 1926, with the straightforward, but perhaps disputable, "Toronto: Canada's most beautiful city."
Toronto, it seems, is continually in a state of comparison, either saying "Hey! We're like New York, Paris, and London!" or "Hey! We're nothing like New York, Paris, and London!" or, God forbid, sometimes both at the same time (the latter being part of what hobbled the Live With Culture attempt). Simultaneously, there's an underlying murmur of "Um, but at least we're way better than Calgary and Vancouver."
Toronto Regional Politics
There has been a growing tension between Toronto and the surrounding GTA area since the mid 1990s, with Toronto complaining that it has been economically exploited by its neighbours. The election of the Harris government was attributed to his support base in the suburban "905" region. During his time in office, many provincial services were downloaded to the municipal level, which caused great financial strain on an already indebted city. Although the succeeding McGuinty government has attempted to address this imbalance, Torontonians feel that his attempts are half-hearted because McGuinty also had significant "905" support during his 2003 election victory.
Most of the "905" municipalities have few cultural institutions, despite their significant populations. For instance, Mississauga is one of the largest cities in Canada by population but has no daily newspaper, television stations, or commercial radio stations. Despite having attracted significant investment over the last few decades, the surrounding cities are still considered bedroom suburbs of Toronto rather than independent municipalities, and as a result many are virtually unknown outside of Ontario. Prior to the municipal amalgamations that took place with the introduction of regional government, Oshawa was the only nearby city with a significant population and recognition.
North York: On top of Toronto
North York is where the condo is king — where developers have created entire neighbourhoods of stunning condominium towers. Several signature developments have been built along the major traffic arteries, especially on Yonge Street and along Sheppard Avenue.
There’s an abundance of theatre and entertainment centres, plus plenty of excellent restaurants and bars. Many, in fact, are handily located in the lower podium floors of major condo complexes.
Hundreds of condo residents in North York are able to do all their shopping, go to a movie or restaurant, or even catch the Subway, all without stepping outdoors. It’s a centre of grand style, the home of major furniture retailers with huge shops that attract shoppers from across the GTA.
North York is car-friendly, with wide streets and quick access to major highways. North York is on the move. North York is for people who are going places.
Restaurants in the Beach
One of the most tourist friendly locations in Toronto, the Beach district is also a welcoming spot for anyone interested in purchasing real estate. Part of the allure of this stretch along Queen Street East is convenient access to many entertainment amenities, which includes over 60 different restaurants.
Whatever your particular taste, there is guaranteed to be a restaurant in the Beach district to suit your mood. In the mood for a casual dinner of pizza or subs? There are several restaurants waiting to fill that empty spot in your stomach, including established chains like Pizza Hut and Mr. Sub as well as independent and well reviewed establishments like Pizza Nova.
Those in the mood for different fare can try out some of the casual dining rooms specializing in western fare that dot the area. Pubs like Murphy’s Law and Kitty O’Sheas are guaranteed to quench the burger and fries craving that naturally occurs in everyone from time to time, with the option of washing it down with a pint or two in a traditional Irish style pub besides. Those looking for a slightly more formal or family friendly environment can try out the Sunset Grill, Stoney’s Bar and Grill, or Whitlock Restaurant.
Being at the beach often puts one in a seafood frame of mind, and the restaurants in the Beach district are guaranteed to please in this area too. Again, diners can choose from the casual, home feel of restaurants like Lakeview Fish & Chips or a more formal setting such as White Bros. Fish Co.
Exotic fish tastes are also evident in the area, with several Japanese restaurants present including Yumei Sushi, Otabe, and Akane-Ya offering both hugely popular traditional sushi such as nigiri and maki as well as cooked Japanese fare like donburi and tempura. There are restaurants, in fact, made to suit almost any ethnic food taste you may encounter, including Middle Eastern (Aida’s Falafel), Thai (Bow Thai, Urban Thai Bistro), Chinese (Ho Lee Chow) and Greek.
And for those who want dessert after their meals, there are ice cream parlors and bakeries all over the Beaches.
The Beach has something to offer anyone in the area in terms of food fare; there are bakeries for a quick bite before heading to work, bistros and faster food for quick lunches, and both elegant and casual restaurants for long, relaxed dinners at the end of the day. The only thing that will hold you back is the difficulty you may experience when it comes to deciding where to go.
by Marc Trumpour
The Bubble on Bloor
Welcome to the latest addition to the area around Bloor and Avenue Road, the focal point of Toronto's recent cultural building spree. There's the revamped Gardiner Museum, the crystalline renovation of the ROM, the dramatically expanded Royal Conservatory -- and next to that, an inflatable dome that houses a driving range.
Is something out of place here? "A bubble dome on Bloor Street is a strange thing," says local architect Kim Storey, whose firm designed Dundas Square. "You usually associate those things with industrial sites or suburban sites."
"Aesthetically speaking, it's a mild disappointment," adds Joshua Cramer, a U of T law student who was walking past the dome after class this week. "I can't escape the image of us putting up this massive igloo on the campus."
Built in Guelph, the dome is the second-largest in Canada, according to its manufacturers, which has just installed a similar dome at Harvard. Measuring 107 metres long by 64 metres wide, it's held aloft by air compressors.
And to Bruce Kidd, the dean of U of T's faculty of physical education and health, it's a beautiful thing. "I'm proud of the fact that in a cultural precinct, alongside ceramics and history and music, sport continues to have its place as one of the most important parts of culture in the 21st century," he says.