Newsletter – February 28, 2017

In today’s issue:

Just listed : From the best What Toronto has to offer
View from Overseas on Toronto Real Estate market
Top 10 hottest countries for Chinese buyers.
Canada is #3 for Chinise buyers and Toronto is a # 1 in Canada

 

Just listed: From the best What Toronto has to offer

4201 – 65 Saint Mary Street, Toronto.
Price: $1 850,000

65 Saint Mary Street is a unique residential complex located right on the grounds of the University of Toronto. The deluxe building is a high-end offering of superior condos that offer a luxurious lifestyle in the vibrant heart of the city. Featuring a rooftop patio boasting stunning views of downtown and Lake Ontario, the building also includes a large, chic entertainment/party room as well as a fully equipped fitness centre. Located just steps from the Bloor Street boutiques, the Subway, Queen’s Park, health facilities and so much more, this stylish residence was designed as the ultimate in convenience.

Unit 4201 is a fabulous condo boasting over 1477 square feet of sumptuously appointed living space. Fitted with two large bedrooms as well as a den and two oversized balconies, the unit is an executive offering of the highest standards. Extra wide, engineered hardwood floors in a rich hue combined with stunning, contemporary crystal light fixtures add to the gorgeous modern aesthetic used to finish the living space while walls of windows overlooking the city and walkouts to the two balconies add to the appeal of this exclusive home.

The foyer is airy and bright while the living room is a sophisticated setting boasting a stunning view of the city on two sides. The adjoining dining room shares the same contemporary appeal while the gourmet kitchen is a European inspired setting fitted with a quartz Waterfall centre island, a striking mosaic tiled backsplash and highend Miele appliances.

The master bedroom is a spacious setting featuring a superbly organized walk-in closet as well as a deluxe, five-piece ensuite fitted with a custom vanity and glass shower stall. The den is a large space that can easily serve as an extra bedroom if needed. Boasting a lobby that is certain to impress and a location that is second to none, this exceptional offering is not going to be available for very long.

 

Photo Gallery:

If you would like to discuss options please call us at 416-927-9898 or email at tkonkina@rogers.com and we will get back to you within the next 24 hours.


View from Overseas on Toronto Real Estate market

by www.opp.today

The average price of available new single-family, low-rise homes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Canada, has now topped $1million to a new record.

In January, the average price of the homes, which includes detached, semi-detached, row and townhomes, increased to a new record of $1,028,395, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) announced today (Thur 23 Feb).

Values of new ground oriented homes have grown 25% in the last year, according to the data from Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new-home market intelligence.

The average price of a new detached home increased to an unprecedented $1,316,325 in January. Ten years ago the average price was $444,368. Meanwhile, the average price of a new GTA townhouse was $879,619 compared to $328,989 in January 2007.

BILD President and Chief Executive Officer, Bryan Tuckey, says, “The GTA is facing a severe shortage of housing supply, particularly for single-family homes which sell as soon as they come to market.

“When there aren’t enough homes to satisfy demand, prices increase and that is exactly what has been happening in our region over the last decade.”

There were just 1,524 new ground-oriented homes available for purchase in builders’ inventories at the end of January, a near all-time low. In January 2007 there were 18,400. Meanwhile, supply of new detached homes declined to 534, the lowest ever recorded in the GTA. Ten years ago, there were 12,242.

The average price of new condominium apartments in stacked townhouses and mid and high-rise buildings in the GTA reached $507,511 in January, also setting a new record. The average price per square foot reached an unprecedented $625.

New apartment prices have grown 13% since January 2016, increasing by almost $60,000. A decade ago the average price was $322,569.

“Our industry is implementing provincial policy by building more condominium apartments and less ground-oriented housing,” Mr Tuckey says. “A decade ago condominiums represented just 42 per cent of available inventory compared to 88 per cent in 2017.”

After years of healthy supply, the number of new condominium apartments available for purchase began to decline. In January 2017 there were 11,529 new condominiums in builders’ inventories across the GTA, which is a 10-year low.

Overall there were 13,053 new homes in builders’ inventories across the region in January compared to 31,461 a decade ago.

Mr Tuckey says, “Today in the GTA there are less than half the overall number of new homes available to purchase than there were a decade ago. Lack of serviced developable land, excessive red tape and frequent delays in the development approval process have all been large contributors to our housing supply crisis.”

New condominium apartment sales were the strongest recorded for a January following a record year in 2016. There were 1,199 homes sold across the GTA in January, most of which were sold in the City of Toronto. The total is 11% up year-over-year.

Patricia Arsenault, Executive Vice President of Research Consulting Services at Altus Group, says, “Demand for condominium apartments is coming from a variety of sources.

“Among them: end users who prefer the locations and amenities afforded by condominium apartments; families who might have opted for a single-family home, but have been shut out of that segment due to lack of available product; and investors who are the key providers of new rental supply for the GTA’s growing population.”

Sales of new single-family homes declined to one of the lowest Januarys in the last decade. There were 741 homes sold across the region of which 369 were detached.

With more than 1,450 members, BILD, formed through the merger of the Greater Toronto Home Builders’ Association and Urban Development Institute/Ontario, is the voice of the land development, home building and professional renovation industry in the Greater Toronto Area. BILD is affiliated with the Ontario and Canadian Home Builders’ Associations.


 

Top 10 hottest countries for Chinese buyers.
Canada is #3 for Chinise buyers and Toronto is a
# 1 in Canada

Juwai reveals top 10 Chinese buyer picks for 2016

By Juwai.comWhere were Chinese property investors looking to buy in 2016?Propelled by rising property prices in China’s domestic property market, burgeoning retirement planning boom with China’s silver generation, and the fact that property is the most preferred asset class for Chinese, Chinese appetite for overseas property remained undaunted by various cooling measures imposed by various markets last year.We share the top 10 countries and cities most in demand with Chinese real estate buyers on Juwai.com in 2016, and take a closer look at recent trends that drove Chinese property investors to the following locations.
The US continued its reign as the most viewed and enquired investment destination by Chinese buyers on Juwai.com last year.And while Australia, Canada, and Japan held a solid grip on their respective spots, it’s riveting to note how the other countries had varying positions on both lists. One clear example is the UK, which ranked sixth in terms of views yet placed fourth in terms of Chinese buyer enquiries.France, which was the ninth most viewed country by Chinese homebuyers, didn’t even make the cut on the second list. Instead, it was Singapore that crept into the list to become the tenth most enquired country last year.Find out why Chinese enquiries tend to differ from their initial searches here.

Top 10 most-searched cities by Chinese

We break it down further, and offer a closer look at the ten cities most viewed by Chinese homebuyers in the following countries.

United States (US)Despite being faced with the prospects of a Trump presidency during the last few months of 2016, the Chinese love for the US stayed true.

Chinese buyer enquiries for US real estate on Juwai.com were up 178% y-o-y in the final weeks of 2016.

In terms of popularity, Los Angeles (LA) and New York City (NYC) remained unchanged as the two most sought-after cities in the US, while third-placed Seattle can thank the British Columbia foreign buyer tax for its latest surge in popularity with Chinese, as reported by Bloomberg.

The implementation of the new 15% foreign buyer tax in August 2016 saw Chinese buyer enquiries increasing 66% y-o-y for Seattle, even as it fell 43.4% in Vancouver during the second half of 2016.

The biggest climber was Irvine, which is home already to a huge Chinese community – 17% of Irvine’s population are Chinese2, and Irvine has now become the largest city in the continental US with an Asian plurality.3

Despite the ambivalence encircling Trump’s travel ban, we believe the US will hold steady in the hearts of Chinese homebuyers in 2017, as many Chinese are still chasing after the American Dream, and the US is still extremely popular with Chinese students1 – 34% of China’s high net worth population consider the US as the #1 education destination1, and 72.6% of Chinese buyers on Juwai.com cited education as their chief motivation for buying in the US in 2016.4
AustraliaSitting tight at #2, Australia stayed ever much in demand with Chinese buyers last year, who seemed unfazed by lending restrictions, new stamp duty, and land tax surcharges on foreign buyers in parts of Australia.

Juwai IQ Data revealed that Chinese enquiries for Australian properties priced up to $1 million were up 34% in September, compared to 12% in June, as reported by Reuters.

Another reason behind such healthy demand from Chinese was due to an emerging trend last year, which saw the rise of the Chinese ‘Upgraders’ – Chinese Australians who are increasingly choosing to upgrade from apartments to house and land packages.

This new trend is mostly driven by the first wave of Chinese buyers in Australia, who first bought apartments during their student days. However, most have now married and settled down, and like most Australians, many now seek a larger home with land as they move on to their next phase in life.

New Australian student visa rules, which went into effect on 1 July 2016, further fuelled Chinese investment in the Australian property market, particularly as 52% of Chinese property hunters prefer to invest in school districts, compared to 23% in CBD, and 17% in areas close to Chinese communities.6

As for where Chinese are looking, Melbourne – voted the most liveable city in the world5 – led the pack, followed by Sydney and Brisbane as the three most-searched cities in Australia. Elsewhere, Gold Coast experienced a resurgence in popularity, while Rockingham made its debut into the top 10 for the first time.

CanadaEven the furor surrounding the new foreign buyer taxes in British Columbia (BC) was unable to oust Canada from its third spot on the list.

After all, Canadian real estate is still considered a bargain by Chinese property buyers, and Canada remains the third favourite emigration destination for China’s rich and wealthy6, thanks to it being one of the best places in the world to live in.

Canada is home to three of the ten most liveable cities in the world: Vancouver (#3), Toronto (#4), and Calgary (#5), according to the Global Liveability Ranking 2016 by The Economist Intelligence Unit.5

While the 15% foreign buyer tax may have led some Chinese homebuyers towards Seattle, other Canadian cities saw significant increase in Chinese buyer attention on Juwai.com as well.

Nevertheless, Vancouver still remained as the second most viewed city in Canada, behind #1 Toronto and ahead of #3 Montreal. Two other Canadian cities that also received a surge in Chinese searches were Calgary, which saw a significant increase in Chinese enquiries on Juwai.com during 1H 2016, and Winnipeg.

With a Toronto councillor renewing calls to follow the footsteps of British Columbia in imposing a foreign buyer tax in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)7, how would these rankings change in the next quarter? Either way, regardless of where they’re looking at, Canada looks set to stay hot in demand with Chinese property buyers.

This rings true, considering education is a strong motivation driving Chinese real estate buyers abroad, and Canada recently overtook Australia to become the third most favoured education destination for Chinese HNWIs.1 This, together with the fact that more and more direct air links – such as the Hainan Airline’s new direct air link between Calgary and Beijing – continue to be added between various cities in China and Canada is likely to propel more Chinese towards Canada in the coming years.8

United Kingdom (UK)Already acclaimed as a safe haven, UK’s popularity with Chinese saw a huge spike on the back of the post-Brexit depreciation of the British pound, which made UK properties a bargain buy in the eyes of Chinese homebuyers.

Chinese buyer enquiries surged 40% on Juwai.com in the month following the Brexit referendum.

While London still dominated as the top choice for Chinese property hunters last year, its increase in stamp duty of 8% for property worth over £250,000 has led many Chinese to look towards the North, particularly at Manchester.

Chinese enquiries for Manchester were up 53.8% y-o-y on Juwai.com in November 2016, and we can see why. With the completion of the HS2 High-speed Railway extension to Manchester, which makes it just 59 minutes away from London Euston instead of 2.5 hours9, as well as the newly-added Beijing-Manchester direct flight from Hainan Airlines, which is set to attract over 20,000 Chinese and generate a revenue of £250 million for the UK economy by 202610, 2017 could be the year for Manchester as more Chinese continue eyeing other UK cities as an alternative investment location offering better returns and yields than London.

Besides Manchester, other UK cities that savoured a boost in Chinese attention last year include Birmingham, Liverpool, and Edinburgh. Interestingly, two other notable UK cities that came out of nowhere to take the fifth and sixth spot were Cambridge and Oxford – home to the famed Cambridge and Oxford Universities.

Was this a coincidence? We say no. Seeing as 20% of Chinese high net worth individuals (HNWIs) voted the UK as the second most preferred destination for their children’s overseas education1, it’s definitely imperative to take into account how Chinese are highly motivated by education.

New ZealandThe Kiwi government’s move in January 2016 to loosen visa policies on multiple entry visas, offer longer business visas, and extend validities saw New Zealand reaping the benefits for the rest of the year.

409,008 Chinese visited New Zealand in 2016, a 14.9% growth11 that trickled over into the property market.

Chinese visitors to New Zealand increased 24% y-o-y by the end of September 201612, the same period that saw Chinese enquiries for New Zealand property grow 50% on Juwai.com.

By October, total Chinese enquiries and views for New Zealand on Juwai.com were up 80% and 127%, respectively, y-o-y.

With New Zealand becoming an emerging location increasingly favoured by Chinese, where were they eyeing in New Zealand last year?

Besides Auckland, which stayed firm at the top spot, all the other Kiwi cities either saw a change in ranks, or were replaced by other cities. Biggest climbers of last year were Hamilton and Oamaru, while Dunedin and Nelson dropped off the list entirely to be replaced by the cities of Clyde and Kerikeri.

Europe (excluding UK)With the euro still weak against the Chinese yuan, Europe continued to be of interest for Chinese investors last year.

Surprisingly, despite the terror attacks in France last year, Paris stayed as Chinese buyer’s most-searched city in Europe for 2016. However, France still slipped out of the top 10 list in terms of Chinese buyer enquiries last year, as seen above.

Barcelona and Berlin saw no changes from 2015 as well, and remained in the top three, albeit having swapped positions.

Elsewhere in Europe, we also saw newer alternative markets, like Budapest in Hungary and Amsterdam in the Netherlands emerge in 2016.

Still, it was clear to see that Spain was the star in Europe that enjoyed the biggest boost in popularity with Chinese last year – both Barcelona and Madrid moved up in ranks, and Valencia stayed steady at the seventh spot, while only Alicante saw a slight wane in Chinese interest.

That said, where would Chinese buyers be looking at this 2017? Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you posted in our next quarterly update.

Sources: 1. Hurun Report “Chinese Luxury Consumer Survey 2017”; 2. The Orange Country Register: Political candidates appeal to Irvine’s growing Chinese population; 3. The Orange County Register: Why Asians have become the dominant group in Irvine – and what that means for the city; 4. Juwai IQ Data, November 2016; 5. The Economist Intelligence Unit “A Summary of the Liveability Ranking and Overview” Report; 6. Hurun Report “Immigration and Chinese HNWI 2016”; 7. CBC News: Toronto councillor renews calls for foreign buyer tax; 8. Calgary Herald: B.C. tax could drive more Chinese buyers to Calgary, realtors say; 9. BBC: Chinese property investors bet on the Northern Powerhouse; 10. Gentlemen in China: More Chinese tourists going to Manchester; 11. Global Times: Overseas visitors come in record numbers to New Zealand; 12. COTRI: Newly-published government statistics show just how important Chinese outbound tourism has become to New Zealand’s economy;

Newsletter – February 16, 2017

In today’s issue:

  • Is Toronto For Sale? Who are the buyers and who is paying more?
  • Where Chinese are looking globally?
  • 10 Most Unaffordable Housing Markets
  • New Development coming soon with 50,000 jobs: East Harbour Site
  • New Ontario’s New LTT Rebate for First-Time Home Buyers
  • Toronto Real Estate Board Market Reports January 2017

 

Is Toronto for sale ?

Who are the buyers and who is paying more?

For the last couple of years, and particularly the last twelve months, we have been hearing  from our clients and even from our colleagues that the real estate market is crazy, that it is insane, unreasonable, and unaffordable. What is going on and where we are going?

When demand is high and supply is low, prices generally rise. That is just basic economics and goes some way to explaining what is going on in Toronto! We are low on inventory for every type of home, from condominium apartments to single family freeholds. We see more and more homes selling a a $1 Million over the asking price. Sometimes more than 50% over the asking price and, surprisingly, these are not always in the best areas!

The average selling price in the GTA was up by 22.3% to $770,745.00, in 2016, with double-digit gains in the average prices for all major home types including condos..

As a real estate professionals we are trying to understand and explain to our clients what we think about the Toronto real estate market and why this is happening? Why is the demand for Toronto homes so high?

Toronto is, perhaps surprisingly, NOT amongst 10 most unaffordable housing markets in the world. These are:

1. Hong Kong, China
2. Sydney, Australia
3. Vancouver, Canada
4. Auckland, New Zealand
5. San Jose, California
6. Melbourne,  Australia
7. Honolulu, Hawaii
8. Los Angeles, California
9. San Francisco, California
10. Bournemouth, UK

Toronto is still considered to be affordable, which is somewhat reflected in the fact that we see that 51% of the purchasers are first time buyers.

Population growth, low mortgage rates, low unemployment and an above-inflation economic growth has resulted in strong housing demands and very low inventory available, result in the price growth.

Moreover, Toronto is a very young city. We’re all happy to see like our city is changing for the better. We do not believe that our mayor,  John Tory, is doing a good job on Toronto streets, but we can definitely appreciate the developers for making our city every year better and better. That is why Toronto has become one of the most liveable cities in North America. We only wish we had a shorter winter, but then, we would also have Vancouver prices!

Another reason for price growth is low Canadian dollar and huge number of foreign buyers , in the market.

Below you can read the article by Juway real estate, from China. It states that the majority of investments by Chinese buyers are going to English speaking countries.

1. United States
2. Australia
3. Canada
4. New Zealand
5. United Kingdom

As the Chinese economy continues to grow, we should expect more investors from China in the Canadian real estate market. Today, when we sell a condo or a house as the listing agents, we expect the highest offer from the Chinese buyers and that’s almost always the way it works out. They always pay more!

Unfortunately, the Toronto real estate board and Canadian government do not collect information about the percentage of foreign buyers. The survey data collected from 3500 TREB members last year shows that the number of foreign buyers is estimated at between 4.9-6%, please click here for the full report >>.

We can only judge from our own experience and we believe that this information is not accurate and the percentage of foreign buyers in the GTA is much higher. Chinese buyers are spending $80 billion US  dollars every year on overseas homes and good portion of this money is being spent in Canada and, specifically, the GTA. Canada is the third most preferred country for investment by Chinese buyers.

This year, we should expect another 10-16% price growth in GTA and we believe that average price will reach $850,000.00. The average price for a condominium in Central Toronto has been reaching close to $1000 per sq.ft. And those prices are not for the best condos in Yorkville, like in days gone by. We are talking about most of the buildings in Central Toronto.

Is it a bubble or a growing city? I believe Toronto is a growing city where people are still willing to live their lives and invest their money. But time will tell!


 

Where Chinese are looking globally?

By Juwai.com
Canada is a number 3 country for Chinese to invest in Real Estate.
Chinese are buying properties abroad like there’s no tomorrow – investing over US$80 billion on international property last year alone.In fact, Chinese outbound real estate investment is slated to grow as much as 50% this year2, and this is following record-breaking property shopping sprees by Chinese throughout the world.This shows that Chinese overseas property investment is nowhere close to tapering of anytime soon. What’s more, Juwai research indicates that what we’ve seen so far is but the tip of the iceberg.Where are Chinese buyers looking to invest, though? We shed light on the top 10 countries most enquired by Chinese property investors on Juwai.com in the adjacent map.Interestingly, each Chinese buyer is diferent, and while many share similar yet somewhat distinct aspects, where they hail from influences their motivations and dictates their buying preferences as well.
Sources: 1.Juwai Research compiled from National Association of Realtors (NAR), Australian Foreign Investment Review Board, Savills, and National Bank of Canada; 2. Colliers International

10 Most Unaffordable Housing Markets

By urbantoronto.ca

According to the 13th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey (2017), the 10 most unaffordable housing markets are as follows:

Hong Kong, China

Sydney, Australia

Vancouver, Canada

Auckland, New Zealand

San Jose, California

Melbourne, Australia

Honolulu, Hawaii

Los Angeles, California

San Francisco, California

Bournemouth, UK

The survey measured the affordability of “middle-income” housing in Australia, Canada, China (Hong Kong), Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

It is based on a “median multiple” approach, which tries to normalize house prices across the world by looking at median house prices over median household incomes.

The above list probably won’t surprise you, as well as the report’s focus on land supply. But I did want to call attention to the following remark:

My own housing research focused on this difference: Why did Germany (and similarly Switzerland) provide housing stability where much of the Anglosphere did not?

In a nutshell, the answer to this question has a lot to do with the way councils are funded. In jurisdictions where local decision-makers stand to gain from new development, they will be much more eager to make it happen.

The topic of incentives is not something that is often focused on when we talk about land supply. But it’s a really interesting point. Because the reality is that, in many cases, the incentives probably work in the opposite direction to the one described above.


 

New Development coming soon with 50,000 jobs: East Harbour Site

By urbantoronto.ca

Last November, a preliminary master plan revealed the scope of First Gulf’s plans for the once-industrial expanse of Toronto land long referred to as the Unilever site.

Although public details of the plans for a new office, retail, and transit hub only date back to last year, the long-vacant site now feels more like a promise of the future than a relic of the past.

More than anything, it was the renderings of the transit hub that did it. Promising a futuristic, curving rail station, the sexy transit showpiece would be complemented by First Gulf’s vision for a new commercial centre employing some 50,000 people across almost 11 million ft² of new office space.

With detailed plans for the transit station now available – UrbanToronto’s in-depth look is available here – First Gulf’s submission to the city also details a comprehensive vision for the 60-acre (24 hectare) site now known as the East Harbour.

Predicated on the development of the much-needed Relief Line, enhanced GO service, and a new streetcar line, the futuristic transit hub – all grand arches and sleek curves – remains the locus of attention. Flanking it, a retail and employment hub is envisioned as as major commercial centre.

Master planned by Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and Adamson Associates, the proposal offers an early look at what promises to be a transformative development.

READ FULL ARTICLE >>


 

New Tax Rebate – Share the Good News

New Ontario’s New LTT Rebate for First-Time Home Buyers.

First-time home buyers are now eligible to get $4,000 off the Canadian dream and we need your help to help spread the word. 

 

Effective January 1st, 2017, Ontario has doubled the land transfer tax rebate for first-time home buyers from $2,000 to $4,000. That means that a first-time home buyer will pay no provincial tax on homes sold for $368,000 or less.

Ontario REALTORS® lobbied hard for the improved rebate and we’re very proud to promote it to first-time buyers.

www.FirstHomeRebate.ca 

To help promote this new rebate we’ve created a website www.FirstHomeRebate.ca with an informative video and calculator that can help your clients figure out how much tax relief they can claim on their first home.

We’ve also equipped the site with tools and information you can share with prospective buyers to encourage them to get into the market.

REALTORS® and the Canadian Dream 

As REALTORS®, we know home ownership is part of the Canadian Dream. It’s a source of financial security, drives economic activity and binds communities together. The benefits of home ownership are why OREA fights so hard to protect it and make it more affordable for young families.

So take a minute and visit www.FirstHomeRebate.ca, share it with your clients and be proud that Ontario REALTORS® are fighting to make home ownership more affordable.


Toronto Real Estate Board Market Reports
January 2017

Strong Start to 2017February 3, 2017 — Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 5,188 residential transactions through TREB’s MLS® System in January 2017. This result was up by 11.8 per cent compared to 4,640 sales reported in January 2016. Annual rates of sales growth were higher for condominium apartments than for low-rise home types.January 2017 picked up where 2016 left off: sales were up on a year-over-year basis while the number of new listings was down by double-digit annual rates for most major home types.“Home ownership continues to be a great investment and remains very important to the majority of GTA households. As we move through 2017, we expect the demand for ownership housing to remain strong, including demand from first-time buyers who, according to a recent Ipsos survey, could account for more than half of transactions this year. However, many of these would-be buyers will have problems finding a home that meets their needs in a market with very little inventory,” said Cerqua.The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark price was up by 21.8 per cent on a year-over-year basis in January. Similarly, over the same period, the average selling price was up by 22.3 per cent to $770,745, with double-digit gains in the average prices for all major home types.“The number of active listings on TREB’s MLS® System at the end of January was essentially half of what was reported as available at the same time last year. That statistic, on its own, tells us that there is a serious supply problem in the GTA – a problem that will continue to play itself out in 2017. The result will be very strong price growth for all home types again this year,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.Download Reports:

TREB Market Watch – January 2017 (PDF) >>

Historic Annual Sales and Average Price (PDF) >>

TREB Home Price Index – January 2017 (PDF) >>

TREB Condo Market Report – 4th Quarter 2016 (PDF) >>

TREB Housing Market Charts – January 2017 >

New Development coming soon with 50,000 jobs: East Harbour Site

by urbantoronto.ca

Last November, a preliminary master plan revealed the scope of First Gulf’s plans for the once-industrial expanse of Toronto land long referred to as the Unilever site. Although public details of the plans for a new office, retail, and transit hub only date back to last year, the long-vacant site now feels more like a promise of the future than a relic of the past.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, Hariri Pontarini Architects

Aerial view of the East Harbour concept, image via submission to the City of Toronto

More than anything, it was the renderings of the transit hub that did it. Promising a futuristic, curving rail station, the sexy transit showpiece would be complemented by First Gulf’s vision for a new commercial centre employing some 50,000 people across almost 11 million ft² of new office space. With detailed plans for the transit station now available—UrbanToronto’s in-depth look is available here—First Gulf’s submission to the city also details a comprehensive vision for the 60-acre (24 hectare) site now known as the East Harbour.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, Hariri Pontarini Architects

The existing Unilever site, image via First Gulf

Predicated on the development of the much-needed Relief Line, enhanced GO service, and a new streetcar line, the futuristic transit hub—all grand arches and sleek curves—remains the locus of attention. Flanking it, a retail and employment hub is envisioned as as major commercial centre. Master planned by Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and Adamson Associates, the proposal offers an early look at what promises to be a transformative development.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, Hariri Pontarini Architects

The site plan, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Alongside the 10.9 million ft² office space, the plans call for some 2.1 million ft² of retail space, potentially creating one of Toronto’s premier retail destinations. Fleshing out First Gulf’s optimistic vision for the site, the submission provides a a more in-depth set of urban design guidelines, as well as the preliminary three-phase plan for the build-out of the site.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, Hariri Pontarini Architects

The general massing for the site, with the tallest buildings exceeding 150 metres, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Clustered around a flexibly programmable 6.9 acre central plaza—intended as both a gathering space and a retail/cultural destination— the master plan depicts a collection of high-rise office buildings surrounding the open space. The proposal calls for 12 tower-on-podium structures, with a series of terraced forms rising above the evenly scaled base buildings. This model, however, indicates only the maximum planned massing for the site, and does not reflect the architectural expression of the eventual buildings, with the individual designs—which will likely be divided among a number of architectural firms—set to take shape at a later stage.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, Hariri Pontarini Architects

Winter skating in the central plaza, image via submission to the City of Toronto

While exact heights have yet to be worked out, the largest buildings would be clustered around the transit hub. The tallest—suggested as a 49-storey 204 metre-high tower—would be south of the station and on the west side of Broadview, with heights of other buildings gradually reducing to the south and east.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, OMA, Adamson Associates

Phase one, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Flanking the transit hub, the three tallest buildings would be built out first, with the first of the surrounding tower-podium structures set to follow.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, OMA, Adamson Associates

Phase Two, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Together with the last of the commercial office towers, the more intimately scaled “creative campus” buildings lining the east end of the site—which would cater to smaller, innovative businesses—would make up the final third phase of the project. As the viability of the project is strongly contingent on continuously evolving market conditions, however, no specific timeline for these phases has been provided.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, OMA, Adamson Associates

Phase Three, image via submission to the City of Toronto

While significant high-rise density is earmarked for the site, the master plan emphasizes connectivity and porosity throughout. Complementing the extension of Broadview Avenue through the centre of the site, a new street grid is supplemented by numerous mid-block connections, creating a pedestrian-dominated environment of mews and laneways. Alongside the Broadview extension, the two new streets will be a new north-south road through the east side of the site, and the so-called ‘East Harbour Boulevard’ that will run east-west. Both Broadview and East Harbour Boulevard would also feature separated bike lanes.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, OMA, Adamson Associates

A map of the site highlights the planned connectivity, image via submission to the City of Toronto

To accommodate the volume of commercial development, the planned blocks are relatively large, and potentially cumbersome. Compensating for this layout, the experience of a fine-grained urban street grid would instead be fostered by mid-block connections, which increase connectivity by filling out the site with pedestrian-only laneways.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, OMA, Adamson Associates

Pedestrian-oriented, greenscaped spaces are planned throughout the site, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Green space is also a prominent feature of the new community, with two parks joined by greenscaped streets and laneways. On Eastern Avenue, the 2.1-acre ‘North Park’ will provide a open space where East Harbour connects to the neighbouring community. Facing the Don River, the 3.9 acre ‘West Park’ is designed to animate the riverfront, providing a calmer environment that will hopefully be met by the upcoming naturalization of the Don River mouth. Overall, approximately third of the 60-acre site would be given over to green space.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, OMA, Adamson Associates

Open spaces are found throughout the site, image via submission to the City of Toronto

To make the area a more vital part of the city, the new neighbourhood is also planned as a major retail hub. In context, the 2 million ft² of planned retail is roughly equivalent to the 2.15 million ft² Toronto Eaton Centre, and slightly larger than the 1.7 million ft² Yorkdale Mall. However, while those malls serve almost exclusively as shopping destinations, the East Harbour retail plan calls for a combination of mall-style destination retailers and the sort of daily goods and services provided by neighbourhood stores.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, OMA, Adamson Associates

Street-level spaces could feature intricate paving, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Approximately half of the retail space (some 1 million ft²) will be housed indoors. Spread out across the office podiums, the indoor spaces—much of which would also be concentrated near the transit hub and central plaza—would feature a mixed retail program, with mall-style offerings. Connected by covered pedestrian passages and bridges, the indoor retailers would be complemented by another 1 million ft² of stores accessible solely from the outdoors. Compared to most major malls—which are defined by anchor tenants—the retail program promises to focus more on small, independently owned stores.

East Harbour, Toronto, by First Gulf, OMA, Adamson Associates

Another conceptual rendering of the street level, image via submission to the City of Toronto

We will keep you updated as the planning process continues, and more information about the massive East Harbour project becomes available. In the meantime, make sure to check out our dataBase file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment in the space on this page, or join the ongoing conversation in our associated Forum thread.