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Great Gulf abandons luxury for affordability with new Queen and Dufferin condos

Sometimes a developer has to admit when it has misjudged the neighbourhood.
Back in 2012, Great Gulf Homes announced a plan to build luxury townhouses on Florence Street at Dufferin, north of Queen West. Although the area has been rapidly gentrifying, the steep prices for Lighthaus, starting at $1 million, raised a few eyebrows. Even though the units were big and the design innovative, it seemed a little misplaced in the emerging neighbourhood. So about 15 months ago, Great Gulf set aside its Lighthaus idea and went back to the drawing board.
The new vision, Brockton Commons, will go on sale in the four to six weeks, with construction slated for the fall. And it’s much more in line with the relaxed up-and-coming-but-not-establishment-yet feel of the neighbourhood. Even the name is a nod to history, community and modesty, not hipness.
“The market in that area is really more value-oriented and more family-oriented,” says Chris Wein, president of Great Gulf Homes. “We spent the last year doing the redesign, doing public consultation, working with the city, the planning department and the local councillor to arrive at what we have now.”
Rather than 20 homes starting at 2,200 square feet, Brockton Commons will be 36 units of stacked towns and row houses starting at 900 square feet, priced from $370,000. The build will be less daring, though several units will have rooftop terraces. Designed by TACT, a firm that’s worked on nearby projects like 2 and 8 Gladstone and Edge condos, Brockton Commons will bring a solidly modern look to a street that’s a bit of a hodge-podge.
“Brockton really represents a new opportunity for us,” says Wein, who’s also behind the landmark (and very upscale) tower at 1 Bloor East. “You’re going to be seeing more and more inner city in-fill sites like this one. It’s pretty exciting to look at neighbourhoods like Parkdale, Queen West, Leslieville, which have pockets where that scale of development can come to fruition.”
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Chris Wein

Architects seek feedback on St. Lawrence heritage conservation plan

This week Torontonians got a chance to provide feedback on proposed strategies to protect and nurture the heritage character of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood, an area that includes the first 10 blocks of the city laid out by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1793.
Council identified the district a high priority area for a Heritage Conservation District back in 2012 and commissioned a study that was endorsed in 2014. Now Fournier Gersovitz Moss Drolet et associés architects (FGMDA) have put together draft policies and guidelines to show off to the public.
“It’s been building on material from the study,” says Caitlin Allan, a planner with Bousfields Inc., which has been working with FGMDA and the city on the heritage district process.
Since the study, FGMDA has compiled a detailed list of all the properties in the area and has divided them into two groups: buildings that contribute toward the heritage character of the district and those that don’t. Each group would be subjected to different proposed policies and guidelines that would determine how their buildings should look and how owners can contribute to that character. Torontonians got their first opportunity to look at those proposals Tuesday, and the feedback from that session will be taken into account for another consultation later this spring. A final document could go to City Council for approval some time this year.
Will the designation of Heritage Conservation District have a noticeable visual impact on the area in the next five or 10 years? Maybe not. The policies and guidelines likely won’t force existing property owners to make their properties look more historic.  But they will shape future development—and heritage rules have more force than comparable zoning-based policies and guidelines.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Sources: Sarah Corey and Caitlin Allan

Will community hubs find room in underused schools?

Two new enthusiasms of the provincial government could end up having an interesting synergy across the GTA, especially in neighbourhoods looking for increased community services.
On one hand, there’s the beleaguered Toronto District School Board, currently being sized up by an expert panel led by former mayor and chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission Barbara Hall. Hall and her panel will lead up to 20 public consultations between March and May 2015 to make recommendations for improving the governance of the TDSB.
Under pressure by the Ministry of Education to balance its budget, the TDSB has been selling off underutilized property and has raised more than $400 million from the sale of 66 properties since 2008. And it’s doing a further review to see how it can consolidate its real estate assets.
“The province is telling the TDSB, you have a lot of surplus [space], maybe you can turn that surplus into revenue,” says Daryl Sage, the CEO of the Toronto Lands Corporation (TLC), the TDSB offshoot tasked with the redevelopment and sales of property no longer required by the school board. In the process, the TDSB has upset many communities who don’t want their schools closed and replaced by housing or commercial developments.
On the other hand, last week Premier Kathleen Wynne appointed Karen Pitre as chair of the new Premier’s Community Hub Framework Advisory Group. The advisory group will review provincial policies and develop a framework for adapting existing public assets to become community hubs.
That’s where the two initiatives collide: Can underutilized schools share space with community organizations, or be repurposed as community centres?
“TLC is not just in the business of disposing of sites, it’s really trying to find a way to maximize the benefits from a site,” says Sage. “With the province’s interest in community hubs, we’ll be looking through that lens now. If you step back, you realize there are so many amenities that a school may have—gymnasiums, classrooms, fields, tracks, swimming pools. If there are ways that those benefits can be shared in the community, you can see that’s where the province would like to go.”
With the city also asking for more input into how TDSB handles properties it deems underused, the possibilities for more intensive use of school properties becomes very impressive indeed.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source Daryl Sage

The street food conversation goes on... and on

About 50 people turned up on March 5 for the latest in a seemingly endless procession of consultations, amendments, rule changes and other perambulations regarding the city’s policy in street food.

According to Carlton Grant, director of policy and strategic support with municipal licensing, the main sources of concern included the cost of running an operation and the rule that disallows a vendor from being within 50 metres of an open restaurant or on any side street.

The latter restriction means that spots where people gather for food are the precise places new, untested vendors are not allowed to sell, and the former means that the very reason for street food’s success in cities that are known for their street food — that it’s cheap and home-made — is unlikely to become a reality in Toronto.

Unless these consultations end up carrying more weight than the Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), whose members include those restaurants and their buffer zones.

According to Grant, a permit to sell food on the street costs $5,066 for a year, or $13.88 a day, plus the cost of hourly metered parking.

“We'll take the information that we heard from the various industries, food trucks, food carts, restaurants, BIAs and the public and continue to refine the city's street food program,” Grant says. “We're considering potential improvements to the program to create further opportunities for vendors including a 6 month or a 9 month permit, increasing the time a food truck can vend to 5 hours, adding Green P parking lots over and above the 58 commercial parking lots we made available last year and including pay and display parking spaces on collector streets.”

Currently, there are just 17 food truck operating in the city, in addition to 39 ice cream trucks, a number that may rise if the public’s concerns make it into the recommendations.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Carlton Grant
Photo: Richie Diesterheft

Toronto wins award for the way it handles graffiti

The key to the way Toronto handles its graffiti is co-option. Instead of anathematizing vandals, Toronto works with street artists. The result: We will have no Banksy to call our own, but Vogue does seem to like Queen West an awful lot.

“We recognized from the outset that we would not be able to eliminate graffiti vandalism,” says Elyse Parker, a director in the city’s transportation services, but that they would be able to achieve goals in enforcement and support for victims of vandalism and for street artists. “What is unique to Toronto and the graffiti management program is it was recognized that what look like mutually exclusive approaches to graffiti can exist simultaneously. Our new by-law recognizes that graffiti art is permitted, provided there is agreement from the property owner, the graffiti is created for purposes of enhancement, and consistent with the local neighbourhood character.

“The city now has an excellent relationship with the graffiti and street art community. We have a street art directory which lists about 90 artists, who the public can access and engage with. We continue to develop programs, projects and services that will meet our four areas of direction. For example, in year two, we started our ‘outside the box’ program where we engage artists to paint or wrap traffic signal boxes, which are unattractive and magnets for tagging.”

The by-law, which was passed by council in 2011, has resulted in mass erasures of graffiti determined to be vandalism, over 200,000 square feet of the stuff in 2014 alone, with more, Parker says, if you count the independent efforts of individual business improvement areas (BIAs), school boards and homeowners.

The definition if vandalism is simple: Does the painter have the permission of the owner of the property she is painting on? If not, she’s a vandal. It might be argued that the very nature of graffiti and other forms of street are is transgressive, that it draws much of its energy from the unilateral commandeering of public or private property for its own ends.

But then again there is something to be said for painted traffic signal boxes over tagged ones.

And it seems the Institute of Public Administration of Canada and Deloitte agree. They've awarded the city a silver-level Public Sector Leadership Award for its program. (The gold went to a similarly successful effort in co-option, the Quebec city of Repentigny’s Skate Plaza.)

As far as the Queen West BIA is concerned, the graffiti program has helped them enormously.

“They believe that one of the reasons that Vogue magazine named them last July as the second coolest neighbourhood in the world is because of the street art in their neighbourhood and the relationship they have with street artists,” Parker says. “They claim that their costs to remove graffiti vandalism have been reduced by 40 per cent since the inception of the program.”

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Elyse Parker

Midtown plan wins national award as "model for other cities"

A plan that would entrench, expand and entwine midtown’s green spaces has won recognition from the body that governs those who design the nation’s outdoor spaces.

The Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA), which counts 1,900 of the country’s approximately 2,000 landscape architects as its members, named it one of the best pieces of work in the country, excelling in craft, leadership, project management, innovation, as well as environmental and social awareness.

The plan, developed by a team that included landscape architects Public Work and infrastructure consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff, identifies five potential green space continuums which the team describes as “large scale public space proposals that bring together changes in the design of parks, streets and open space.” The include a long stretch of green along Yonge Street on either side of Eglinton, anoher along Eglinton itself, the transformation of Broadway, Montgomery, Roehampton and Orchard View “into a lush, green, multi-purpose promenade,” and a “re-imagined” Redpath Avenue to be bookended by “two great parks.”

“This is a project that was given an award for planning and analysis,” says CSLA executive director Michelle Legault. “Many landscape architects consult, and they develop plans for cities. This one developed with the City of Toronto, a blueprint that will help guide the evolution of the public spaces and public realm in midtown.

“Essentially what we’re saying is that this is a really high-level, highly efficient, extremely innovative plan. It’s a model for other plans for other cities.”

Plans are just plans until they are executed, of course, but this one, approved by council in its Aug. 25 session, is meant to be executed over a period of two to three decades.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Michelle Legault

The future of work: The food court

Have you ever thought of working in a food court?

John White at WZMH Architects thinks you should, and suggests if you haven't, you may already be behind the curve.

“One of the interesting things that we found in designing Waterpark Place is that the food courts are taking on a new identity,” he says, referring to the 30-storey RBC-branded building just south of Queens Quay that officially opened in December. It's the southernmost point in the underground PATH system, and also features a 627-seat food court, designed by WZMH.

White says that RBC, along with other large firms such as Deloitte, have started operating their offices using something called hotelling. The idea is that instead of having your own office, cubicle or desk, you reserve one, per your needs, each morning, whatever you need to keep at the office relegated to an assigned drawer.

“It is no longer a fixed-seat concept,” White says. “The food court is becoming the fixed seat.”

But even without hotelling, and the office downsizing that's prompted it -- seeing per-worker office space reduced from an average of 150 square feet, according to White, down to 100 – you might already have noticed the shift. That is, serious people interviewing other serious people for serious jobs in public, and professionals meeting in surroundings that afford a good deal less formality – and possibly even more security – than is possible in an office.

To cater to this, WZMH has designed its Waterpark food court with three themes.

“Lounge seating has a living room feel,” he says, “like the high-end waiting area of an office. Business casual has tables scattered around that can be collected into boardroom-sized surface. Urban is more communal table seating.”

They've also incorporated two skylights to provide the sort of atmosphere conducive to long-term sitting.

According to White, the food court vendors are onside with the new dynamic, figuring what they lose in turnover, they gain in larger groups.

White sees this conscious food court design as the beginning of an inevitable trend that will involve the entire PATH system realizing that it's no longer catering to an office-bound, or even 9-5 world.

“More than transitory spaces you move through,” he says, “these are spaces you will inhabit.”

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: John White

This weekend, U of T will change the way we think about cities

This weekend, a three-day symposium at the University of Toronto's school of architecture has set itself the task of redefining the way city's are conceived.

Michael Piper, an assistant professor and the organizer of the After Empirical Urbanism symposium, defined one core challenge as an explosion of the concept of urbanism.

The term “urbanism” started out, he said, comprising just city planning, urban design and architecture.

“But in the mid 1970s, for various reasons, the field began to expand,” he said, “into ethnology, anthropology, data analysis. It's become very complex, loaded with a series of other things, instead of just studying the physical space of cities, you'll study the people who live there and their cultural backgrounds. This is all very good, but with all this observing and civic engagement is that we've lost the idea of how to design. So what we're going is try to take all these empirical practices and how to make them operative and more design sensitive.”

The symposium, which is open to the public, has invited people from these many different disciplines and practises, who usually hive off into conferences of their own, to discuss how the future of thinking about cities might incorporate all their areas of expertise without losing track of the basic responsibility of urbanists, which is to make cities, rather than merely analyze them.

Piper says that in the 1970s urbanists, inspired by thinkers like Le Corbusier, began overhauling cities in ways they had not been overhauled since Hausmann re-did Paris. The result was much brutalist concrete and housing projects that have since been deemed disasters both by urbanists and the general public. He gives as an especially egregious example the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St Louis, Missouri, built in 1954 and demolished as early as 1972, but Chicago's Cabrini-Green or Toronto's own Regent Park would serve as well.

Urbanists were ambitious and optimistic in those decades, thinking that their ideas were better than ones that had come before, and willing to sacrifice heritage and history on the altar of the new and Modernist.

“These practices have come from the failure of modernism,” Piper says, referring to the disparate state of contemporary urbanism. “We can't design the whole city, so let's just look at it. What we're saying is you can't design a city like the Modernists tried to, but it does not mean we can't attempt to think on a large scale or to think through design.”

Talks and presentations over the three days, from Feb. 27 to March 1 at 230 College Street, include “The Use and Misuse of History,” “Fictions of the Ordinary,” and “The Bias of Data.”

Entry is free.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Michael Piper


Freed condos teams up with Karl Lagerfeld

Peter Freed's long been known as a design-friendly developer. His King West-area developments, like 66 Portland and the Thompson Hotel, played a large part in making the neighbourhood what it is. The relatively young developer was also, at least in the beginning, known to cater to a youthful demographic, but with his latest project, the now 46-year-old Forest Hill-raised developer moved uptown and raised the age his sights are set on.

Art Shoppe Lofts and Condos is not only slotted for Yonge and Eglinton, it's also going to be a partnership with the 81-year-old Karl Lagerfeld.

“We have always sought to find ways to partner in our developments with some of the great design minds of our generation, and share their style,” Freed wrote in a press release announcing the partnership. ‘We look forward to sharing Karl Lagerfeld’s distinctively ultramodern, highly structured style for the Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos and believe that his premier Canadian condominium design will create spaces that will be valued by our residents, treasured by our City, and appreciated by the world.”

Freed has long been known as more of a partner than a developer. Though his name has accrued considerably brand value, and tend to play big in the announcements and hoardings, the projects have largely been done by others. In this case, in addition to Lagerfeld's contributions to the design of the lobby, CD Capital Investments is the money behind the man. It's not the first time he's partnered with a name designer either. His condo building at 75 Portland included ideas from Philippe Starck.

According to CD Capital's co-founder and managing partner Todd Cowan, Lagerfeld will be in charge of the interiors of the lobbies, and will be attending the opening when the buildings are scheduled to finished in 2019.

Planned for 2131 Yonge, the projects is intended to consist of a 28- and a 12-storey tower, with the largest units limited to two bedrooms.

Unlike Ridpath's, Toronto's other grand old furniture store, the Art Shoppe is not shutting down, at least not yet. They moved in December to 71 Kincort Street near Castlefield and Caledonia.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Todd Cowan


RealNet identifes watershed in GTA housing market

Toronto’s real estate market may have reached a tipping point.

According to a recent study, the price gap between condos and single-family dwellings has topped the quarter-million-dollar point.

“The gap is not widening because condos are cheaper,” says RealNet president George Carras. “That gap is widening because the price of the homes we’re making less off - the detached homes — is rising at an increasing rate.”

Carras says it’s the natural result of the now 10-year-old Greenbelt, which limited suburban sprawl and instantly made all the land on the city side of the belt more expensive.

“Intensification is no longer the plan,” he says. “It’s the reality.”

Carras feels it’s clear now that Toronto is headed in the same direction as Vancouver, where the condo-house gap is almost $800,000. “You’re going to see more high-rise, less low-rise, which means you've got an extremity condition,” he says.

The future of Toronto is not necessarily exclusively towers, however. Carras says that the recent building code changes that allow what is referred to in the industry as “six-storey wood” — allowances for buildings as high as six storeys to be framed in wood rather than more expensive concrete or steel, up from the previous limit of four storeys — will mean a lot of low- to mid-rise condos and what are known as vertical towns, to increase the diversity of both Toronto’s housing market and its architectural cityscape.

Carras also predicts an increase in mixed-use development.

Historically, he says, “commercial and residential real estate tended to be in different camps. Because intensification is not a reality, the only source of land for future residential development in the long term is going to come from intensification of existing commercial real estate stock.”

In other words, those towers that have been sprouting up for the past decade are just the beginning, with the next decade bringing us a bunch of new shapes and sizes to intersperse amid what was starting to be a sort of vertical monotony.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: George Carras


Toronto comes in global top 10 for hotel wifi speed

It’s not the sort of thinig you tend to know about your home city, but according to a recent global study, Toronto hotels have the 9th best WiFi in the world.

According to Yaroslav Goncharov, head of the Hotel WiFi Test, 39 hotels were tested 171 times by volunteer guests, who used Goncharov’s test site to clock and record the speed of the service in their hotel. This data, along with information about where it was available and whether it was free or a charged service, went into compiling the ranking.

The study found that 76 per cent of hotels tested in Toronto have free WiFi, and the quality of the WiFi was marked at 61.5 per cent, which represents the number of hotels that offer what the organization considers to be “adequate WiFi quality” in the city. The top-ranked city, Stockholm, came in at 88.9 per cent and 89.5 per cent, respectively.

He says the quality of hotel WiFi, which is of increasing significance to tourists and can play a large role in a city’s image abroad, rests on the quality of local Internet service providers, “and whether local hoteliers understand the inportance of good WiFi,” Goncharov says. “For example, in some cities, hotels value their location so much that they forget about other amenities.” He gives Las Vegas as an example, where WiFi tends to be worse on The Strip than in other parts of the city.

Though Montreal came in fifth, Canada did not make the top 10, losing out not only to No. 1-ranked South Korea, but Ukraine (No. 3), Romania (No. 5)  and Hungary (No. 10).

The top 10 city list also included Budapest, Tokyo, Dublin, Portland, Moscow, Amsterdam and Kowloon.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Yaroslav Goncharov

City hears from the public on the Scarborough subway

It looks like the Scarborough subway will indeed be going ahead, after a Feb. 10 council vote quashed Councillor Josh Matlow’s suggestion the issue be re-opened.

The city had just held its first public meetings on January 31 and Feb. 2 about the still-contentious Scarborough subway extension.

Though approved by council in 2013, there is still no funding for the 7.6km, $3.5billion underground connection between Kennedy and Sheppard stations.

The meetings, which were partially intended as information sessions, and partially to elicit feedback, asked for input on which route might be best, the timing for the studies that will have to be undertaken, and more generally, just how the public would like to be involved and consulted on the issue.

The subway extension is meant to be a replacement for the 30-year-old Scarborough Rapid Transit system, the construction of which some attendees remembered causing havoc with their basements, which had to be fixed by the TTC. Longtime resident Narita George told the Toronto Sun after the first of the two meetings that she was worried that is that above-ground project wreaked so much damage, that the much more involved underground construction would do even more.

According to Tim Laspa ,who is co-ordinating the consultation efforts, comments -- which continue to be taken online -- have ranged further afield.

"The McCowan Road and Markham Road corridor options received the most positive comments," he says, and also that "the City should consider provisions for a future expansion of the subway line beyond this extension. Participants identified several important local destination points to consider, including the Scarborough Hospital, Eglinton GO station, Centennial College and University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus."

The public meetings are meant to be the first phase of the project, to be followed, according to the city’s presentation, by choosing the corridor, recommending the alignment — that is, decide on the precise route and where the stations will be — and a final review. The city promised all of these stages would involve both online and in-person interactions.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Tim Laspa

The future of Toronto building is up and over

There’s a potential downside to the Green Belt strategy that has worked so well in preventing suburban sprawl and maintaining some natural landscape with easy reach of Canada’s biggest city. The more intense the building gets, the more expensive it is to build, to run a business and to live.

We’ve already seen the price of detached homes shoot up to near Vancouveresque levels.

But that, says Barry Charnish, is where the engineers come in.

“We’re running out of land,” he says. “And now that the heyday of condos is going away, the sites are getting more difficult.”

Charnish is founding principal of Entuitive, the engineering firm specializing in large-scale commercial, industrial and residential building that’s behind some of the more innovative approaches to increasingly constructed development needs, including Brookfield's Manhattan West complex over Penn Station in New York, and Garrison Point here in Toronto.

Garrison Point is a development in a triangular plot of land between the Milton rail line and the Lakeshore rail line just west of Liberty Village, and to Charnish, it represents what is going to be an increasingly common development challenge as land in cities like Toronto increase in both density and price, requiring infrastructure, like trains, subways and streetcars, to be incorporated into future complexes.

“Our problem at Garrison is on a couple of levels,” he says. “There’s the noise mitigation and vibration mitigation associated with the rail facilities. There’s also the issue of building it in the context of the existing construction that’s going on with the Strachan Street reconstruction, where they’re dropping the Milton Line down and building a residential building economically so that the client can sell at a reasonable price and make a reasonable profit. On Garrison, we’re faced with improving the quality of the windows, having building structure between the train tracks and the residential component and expansion joints so that there’s some mitigation of the noise.”

According tio Charnish, as land gets more scarce, and more complicated structures become the norm, engineers will increasingly be taking their place beside the architects as the major players in how buildings are designed.

Charnish cites 33 Bloor Street East as another, earlier example of the issue, where Entuitive had to install 10-foot deep transfer girders to support the building on top of the Yonge-Bloor subway station. Ordinarily, that would have been done with underground support, but because of the subway, and parking requirements, the building ended up being a good deal more complicated than it appears from the outside.

Germany’s been in the news recently with their plans to erect parkland over parts of the Autobahn, and Charnish sees the day in the not-too-distant future when major Canadian thoroughfares, like Decarie Boulevard in Montreal, will have to be built over, not with parkland, but with buildings.

The next big challenge in Toronto, he figures, is the southwest corner of Yonge and Eglinton, with its TTC hub, which will ultimately require large spans to be built into the buildings that will no doubt be doing up in conjunction with the new LRT line. Charnish also says he wouldn’t be surprised is the entire corridor between the CNE and Sherbourne were built up along the same lines. “That’s pretty prime land,” he says.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Barry Charnish
Photos: Courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects and CityzenDominus


Hotel developer gets on the mixed-use bandwagon

“I think these days, multi-use is the right way to go,” says Steve Gupta, president, CEO and founder of Easton’s Group of Hotels. “It creates jobs, it has a flair for everything, it creates a community.”

Gupta is one of those guys that makes you believe there’s such a thing as a Canadian dream, and that it may be a little better than the American version. You can read about him practically everywhere, and the story of his immigration in 1971, the $100 in his pocket, the truck stop he bought in Port Hope, and onwards and upwards until he is able to say, as he did in the middle of our conversation, discussing his latest project at 4050 Yonge, “Once you do $100 million, $75 million, $200 million, it’s all the same thing.”

Gupta made his name in hotels. He builds them and owns them, more than a dozen now (including the Residence Inn on Wellington and the Hilton Garden Inn on Peter Street). But the news these days is that he’s moving into the mixed-use realm, adding office space and condos to his portfolio.

He has just bought 3.6 acres on Yonge Street at York Mills, abutting the subway station, which he plans to incorporate into his half-million square foot development. It will include 266 parking spaces, have 40,000 square feet of ground-level retail, a 202-room four-star hotel (he’s in talks with both Marriott and Hilton as potential managers) as well as office condos.

“We feel buying [office] condos is more appealing to people these days,” Gupta says, “because most of the office buildings are rental, and people renting less than 5,000 square feet are often pushed out. I’ve been in my office building for 25 years, and I’ve been moved three times. I believe it gives you pride of ownership, and you don't face rent increases.”

Mixed-use is increasingly an option Toronto developers are turning to as land becomes scarce and expensive. The Hullmark at Yonge and Sheppard, and the World on Yonge were early entries into the field.

Easton’s is also developing a 48-storey mixed-use project (including residential condos) called Dundas Square Gardens which, despite the name, will be built at 200 Dundas East across from Allan Gardens. It’s deigned by Page and Steele/IBI Group, with interiors by Munge Leung.

Gupta figures ground will be broken at 4050 Yonge by the end of the year, with about two-and-a-half years before it’s ready for occupancy.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Steve Gupta


Condos for artists keeping Toronto honest

Among the several serious concerns born of our condo boom, the most vexing is class. Even though most towers offer lower-priced units, they’re usually tiny, unsuitable for anyone but singletons who will eventually buy more expensive digs.

One of Toronto’s strengths has long been its class mixture. The Annex is an excellent example, where $5-million homes but up against houses split into six apartments that go for under $1,000 a month. But even in Forest Hill and Rosedale, there are apartment buildings that ensure people with a wide range of incomes can live there.

Artscape, among others, saw the danger to this equilibrium the explosion of downtown development posed, and has begun doing something about it.

Pace and 210 Simcoe are two below-market condo complexes, subsidized in the form of perpetual second mortgages that give buyers their down payment. Though similar to Options for Homes, about which we’ve written here in the past, the Artscape plan differs in two significant ways. First, the second mortgage plan applies not only to the first buyer, but to all subsequent buyers of the units in question. “We’re interested in permanently retaining affordable space,” says Artscape’s executive vice president Celia Smith.

The other is that these homes are only available to artists, as defined by the Canadian Artist Code.

The reason for this, Smith says, is to transform communities.

“You’re buying into the concept of community. You’re participating in that community, but you’re also contributing to it,” she says.

This isn’t the first time they’ve done it, though the scheme has changed slightly. Five years ago, they sold 48 units in the Triangle Lofts. What these two new projects — which are mostly built — represent is Artscape’s ambition to expand the project city-wide.

“We’d love to do this in every ward in the city,” she says, recognizing that art is not just a downtown phenomenon.

The deadline for applications is January 30 — that’s this week — for occupancy between late summer and the first part of 2016.

You can apply here.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Celia Smith
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