Canada's Condominium Magazine
The City’s Artists, Communities, and Developers Benefit
Toronto’s legacy is one of diversity, art, and design. The city is home to a wide range of artists, musical prodigies, developers, designers, and more. Recently, Toronto has witnessed a growing trend toward reimagined spaces, particularly as the city becomes overwhelmed with new condo towers, business centres, etc. While the number of usable spaces is decreasing, some developers have taken the opportunity to reuse older spaces that would otherwise remain vacant, as well as combining single buildings into multiple businesses and concepts.
Transportation hubs such as Union Station have been repurposed to serve as cultural centres that support local businesses and members of the Toronto arts community. Vanessa McDonald, Vice-President of brand and communications at Toronto Union, stated that “the new Union Station has a consistent programming calendar that offers the best of Toronto, with the latest art, food, culture, and innovation trends to be found under one roof in this historic yet modern meeting place in the heart of our city.”
“The idea,” she continued, “is to create a value-rich space within an existing space and to infuse the vibrant spirit of Toronto into the building. It’s designed to make the lives better for Torontonians and tourists.”
The first-ever Expo for Design, Innovation and Technology took over the former Unilever soap factory in the fall. The event offered educational and entertaining programs, including futuristic food dishes, a prosthetic arm that shoots out glitter, large infographic interactive art installations, etc. Furthermore, the event created buzz surrounding the building and its eventual use as a commercial development by First Gulf.
Rally Ossington was a first-of-its-kind project designed to ignite the local creative economy and act as a cultural showcase. The rally took place from October 2015 through January 2017, and it served as a thriving cultural community centre. Jacquelyn West, who ran the rally, stated that “the creative economy outperforms the general economy in Toronto. Our cultural exports are world-renowned. The use of empty and subsidized spaces enables Toronto to incubate talent authentically, build community, and exchange ideas.”
Shopping Malls Double as Condos
Shopping centres are being converted into condominiums in order to capitalize on a supply-constrained housing market, while simultaneously reducing exposure to a struggling retail sector. Only 12,500 new homes were available to purchase in the Greater Toronto Area this past October, a stark contrast to the averages between October 2000 and 2015. The market has been similarly rough for renters, which leaves developers and property managers scrambling for new solutions.
RioCan’s ePalace will launch with approximately a fifth of the retail space of some of its other malls and 1,100 condominiums and apartments, as well as some offices. The 400+ rental apartments will be the first of 10,000 residential units the developer plans to own by 2025. Thriving malls have begun to take notice as well. Yorkdale Shopping Centre, for example, will add upwards of 1,496 residential units, offices, and hotel spaces.
Finley McEwen, senior vice-president of development for Cadillac Fairview, discussed plans to spend roughly $2 billion to add residential units at four of the company’s malls, in addition to one under construction in Toronto. “Mixing uses creates a vibrancy after hours, they create safer streets… And they become naturally more attractive.”