Timbercreek (White-Julie) L-TO
January 13, 2015

A Record Year For Toronto Condo Rentals

To skeptics wondering who's living in all the condo towers popping up round town, Urbanation has the answer: heaps of renters clamouring to live in the core. Last year saw the number of condo apartments leased hit an all-time high, up 15% over 2013 to an eye-popping 22,765 units.

“It was surprising the market continued to grow at the rate it did last year,” Urbanation SVP Shaun Hildebrand tells Bisnow, noting the 15% uptick in transactions came after a breakout year in 2013 for the condo rental market, which grew 28% versus 2012. “Incredibly strong demand” for condo rentals meant the market absorbed the greatest-ever amount of new supply in 2014. Condo rents appreciated just 0.8% in 2014, a considerable deceleration from 4.1% in 2013. “Rent growth has been held back by the huge increases in supply we're seeing, creating more competition among landlords,” Shaun says. 

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Half the units in condo buildings under construction are destined to be rentals, Sean points out. “The condo market has become the de facto rental market for new supply.” It can be a tight squeeze for renters, however, as builders shrink unit sizes to maintain affordability amid rising land and construction costs. Last year the average condo was 761 SF, down 12 SF from the year before. (Forget that: Smart House, a condo project on Queen Street West by Malibu Investments and Urban Capital Property Group, features the city's first micro-condos, some under 300 SF.)

As people continue moving downtown in droves, demand for condo rentals remains quite strong, growing at the same pace as listings in 2014, which increased 10% in the final quarter. But Shaun notes things will soon change on the supply side, with condo completions poised to slow by 2017. “I think a lot more attention is being paid by developers and investment firms to developing purpose-built rental apartment buildings.”

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Ferry Terminal Design Finalists Revealed

Toronto Islands-goers are a step closer to not feeling like herded cattle. Yesterday, Waterfront Toronto revealed the teams short-listed to redesign Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park, an 11.4-acre site between York and Yonge streets. The ferry terminal, which sees 1.3 million people pass through its gates each year, dates back to 1972, and the area around it is in need of redevelopment, with better ties to the expanding downtown core. “We are looking forward to seeing how the teams propose to connect this orphaned site with the rest of the city,” says Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell (snapped below).

The short list includes local design firms architectsAlliance, KPMB Architects, Greenberg Consultants, Quadrangle Architects, Janet Rosenberg & Studio, and ZAS Architects, which joined forces with international firms on proposals. In all, 33 design teams from 12 countries submitted designs to be reviewed by a group that included reps from Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto. Lest anyone doubt the integrity of the process, organizers note it was overseen by an “independent fairness adviser.” Short-listed teams will put their visions on display at a public exhibition planned for March.

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TO Measures Up in Super-Tall Tower Stakes

Toronto came in a respectable fourth place in the global super-tall tower competition, completing three 200-metre-plus buildings in 2014. Canderel Residential's Aura at College Park (seen during last year's Busker Fest) tops the list at 272 metres (78 floors); followed by Cityzen / Castlepoint / Fernbrook Homes' L Tower (205 metres) and Lanterra Developments / Cadillac Fairview's first Ice Condos tower (202 metres). We can't hold a candle to China, which won by a country mile, having completed 58 (58!) 200-metre plus buildings in 2014, according to Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. The Philippines was a distant second, with a comparatively paltry five completions.

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