SEARCH
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
Insights
Podcast
Videos

How Condo Investors Can Take Advantage of the New Game Changing Park Coming to Downtown Toronto

Last Updated on

Mayor John Tory announced Toronto’s plans to create a new 21-acre park downtown overtop of the existing CN rail lines. This park is a game changer for the city, downtown, and condo investors who are looking to purchase in the immediate areas. Listen to today’s episode to find out what Andrew la Fleur thinks and what he is recommending condo investors do to take advantage of this exciting new development.

Click Here for Episode Transcript

Andrew la Fleur: This week, Mayor John Tory announced the city’s plans to build a brand new 21-acre park in the heart of Downtown Toronto. What does this mean for condo investors, and what should you do about it? Find out on today’s episode.

 

Speaker 2: Welcome to the True Condos podcast with Andrew la Fleur. The place to get the truth on the Toronto condo market, and condo investing in Toronto.

 

Andrew la Fleur: Welcome back to the show. John Tory gets up in front of a microphone and surprises everyone with this huge announcement this week, that the city has plans to build a new 21-acre park on top of the CN rail corridor in Downtown Toronto. This announcement seemed to come out of nowhere. These kind of announcements are usually leaked, or people hear about them long before they’re ever announced. They did a fantastic job of not doing that this time. Everyone in the urban real estate development condo community was surprised by this very interesting and potentially exciting, amazing, game changing. I mean, the objectives people are throwing around in the media and in the press and in the industry are huge.

 

I would, 100% agree this is potentially a major, major, for lack of a better term even though it’s been used a lot, game-changing type of a project for the city for the Downtown. Certainly, for the areas immediately adjacent to where this park will be. I want to talk about a few things on this podcast. Of course, you can read all the news, articles. You can talk to your friends. You can go on Twitter and what not. All that stuff is already out there in terms of what’s going on with this, but as usual, I want to take this information from a condo investor’s perspective. Give you my thoughts on it. We’re going to do that today on this episode of the podcast so, going to talk about three different things. One is, what we know about this, first of all. Number two is, what I think about this. Number three is, what condo investors should do. What we know, what I think, and what condo investors should do.

 

Let’s start with what we know about this proposed park. First of all, it’s important to know that it’s proposed. This is not planned. This is not paid for, certainly, already. This is not the city building a new sidewalk or something. This is a major, major undertaking and this is just the very first step. The city is basically saying, “We want to do this. We intend to make this happen, and we’re working on. The first steps we’re doing is creating basically a study type of report to analyze the feasibility and the cost of doing this, and figuring out the budgeting of how the money would be raised to make it happen.” That’s where they’re at right now. It’s an idea. It’s a vision. It’s got the full support of the mayor and, obviously, the local Councillor, Joe Cressy for this area.

 

What else do we know? We know it’s going to be 21 acres in size. That is a very large, but not astronomically size sort of a park. It’s 21 acres, which is going to make it a vary significant park in the Downtown courts. They want to build it between Bathurst Street and Blue Jays Way. It’s going to go underneath Spadina on its way between Bathurst and Blue Jays Way. Blue Jays Way is that street that basically runs right into the SkyDome. It’s Peter Street. Used to be known just as Peter Street and it is still known as Peter Street. North of King, I believe. North of King. It changes back to Peter Street, but it was named Blue Jays Way, I guess, back in the early ’90s when they won their championships there.

 

Between Bathurst and Blue Jays Way, obviously, CityPlace is the major development in that general area on the Southside. Between Bathurst and Spadina, you’ve got the majority of CityPlace. You’ve also got the original CityPlace buildings from back in the late ’90s on Front Street. On the Southside of Front Street, which would be on the Northside of the tracks between Spadina and Blue Jays Way. There’s plenty of good lengths and everything to the visuals for this proposed park on the show notes for this episode, which you can always get at truecondos.com/podcast. You can see the show notes for this episode and all the episodes of the podcast.

 

We also know that, again, in order to make this happen, the city can’t just do it. The rail lines are owned by CN Rail. They also own the air rights, which is something we don’t hear a lot about in Toronto. Air rights, which is something you hear a lot about in cities like New York, where they’ve been building buildings on top of other things for many, many decades. In Toronto, you’ll probably hear that term more and more in the years to come. As more and more projects and the density increases Downtown, more and more projects will be built on top of other things existing.

 

488 University is one condo building that’s under construction, that’s being built on top of an existing commercial office building on University Avenue there. That’s one example, but this is another, obviously, with the park where they would have to build on top of the rail lines. They would build a platform, a deck. They’re calling it, Rail Deck Park, for now. They would build this platform of concrete and steel, and build an entire park on top of that. It’s very, very interesting. Very big idea. Very exciting.

 

What else do we know? We know it’s going to cost, according to their estimates, tens of millions of dollars per acre. At 21 acres, you’re looking at, if you’re interpreting that, it’s probably somewhere between $400 and, say, $800 million in today’s Canadian dollars. Which is a lot of money, obviously, it goes without saying. They’re saying it could take four to five years to complete, which to me, it doesn’t sound like a lot at all. I mean, it takes four to five years to complete a condo building. To build a 21-acre park on top of an existing rail line, obviously at first glance, I think that’s pretty optimistic. Let’s get more into that in a moment, but those are the things that we know so far about this park.

 

We also know that it’s not the first time that this has been done. Other cities have done similar things, where they build parks on top of other things. The most notable example, if you’ve ever been to Chicago. Amazing city that Toronto is often compared to. It’s a great lake city. It’s similar size to Toronto. It’s got a great vibrant downtown similar to Toronto. It’s got, maybe, an arguably better water front than Toronto. Chicago has built Millennium Park. In the past decade, I want to say, it was completed. That’s a similar thing where they built on top of a parking garage and, I believe, a bus station or some rail lines.

 

They built this amazing, world class, famous park that anyone who’s been to Chicago has been to this park. It’s really a gathering point for the city. All the tourist go there. Everybody’s taking pictures and putting it on all their Facebook and everything. This is a spot you go to when you’re in Chicago. That’s, to me, the closest example. New York has done other similar projects, as well, but not exactly like this. Millennium Park in Chicago would be very similar. That’s what we know about it.

 

Now, number two, what do I think? Well, I want to let you know what I think. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons why you listen to the podcast. You want to know what I think, so here’s what I think. I think, it will get built, first of all. I do think that this will happen. I think, it just makes too much sense. As land is becoming more and more scarce Downtown, as we talk about all the time, it’s just a glaringly obvious spot to build on Downtown is this rail lines. They’re right in the center of Downtown. The location is perfect for development, but the problem with it is that, they are active rail lines. You can’t, obviously, build on it because they’re active rail lines, but they’re just land that’s sitting there. Underutilized. Undeveloped. We have the technology. We have the means to, now, build on top of it.

 

Financially, it’s starting to make more and more sense every year. As prices of real estate continue to go up, it’s making more and more sense to look at building on top of things. As I mentioned, the air rights. I definitely think that this will get built. I hope that it will get built in four to five years from now. I think, it will probably take more like, five to ten years to actually get built from now. That’s okay. Ten years is really not that far away when you think about something as major as this. It takes probably 15 years to build a new subway line from the moment funding is confirmed until it’s actually open for business. Five to ten years, to me, for something like this, which will be a huge asset to the city would be fantastic.

 

What I really like about it is that, and it’s something that people are starting to talk but not a whole lot, but it can be extended. This can be a growing park. We live in an app-based society, where you buy a phone and you can download all these apps and things on your phone, your device and it becomes better and better over time. It’s a similar kind of concept I see here with this park, where you can basically start building one section at a time of this park and it can get bigger and bigger over time. Eventually, you could have an incredible … You can imagine an incredible park space on top of these rail lines all the way out to, say, Liberty Village to the West. Right through to the Weston Lands and the Don Valley in the East.

 

It’s very interesting to think about it from that perspective. How we’ve got this growing city that is completely surrounding these rail corridor on both sides. Why don’t we start to connect the two halves of the city, so to speak? Because these rail lines really divide our source of major physical barrier division between the different neighborhoods Downtown. This park could connect all those neighborhoods together and just be a huge, fantastic, amazing resource for the city for generations. Forever.

 

What else do I think? I think, it will make the neighborhoods, again immediately surrounding it, greatly improved and greatly increase their desirability. The values in those areas, well, will seriously increase compared to what they would, otherwise, if this park does get approved and does go in. I mean, you can imagine it. Especially, the most obvious example of course is CityPlace. It’s had its many critics over the years, but one of the biggest things is just how it feels cut off and, physically, it is cut off. It’s cut off from the rest of Downtown because it’s on the other side of the tracks, right?

 

If this park comes in and you’re connecting to the city via a park, I mean, it’s a huge win for CityPlace in the years to come. I think, it greatly increases the desirability of CityPlace’s, the neighborhood. You can imagine waking up in CityPlace and you work in the financial district. Instead of having to cross over rail tracks and fight through traffic and street cars and all this kind of thing, imagine now, in the future, you can walk or cycle or skateboard or roller blade or whatever you want to do through a park all the way into the Downtown Core. Boom! You’re at your office. Up at your condo, ten-minute walk, the entire walk being through a park and then you’re at your office? I think, that’s pretty cool to think about as an amazing place to live and experience the city. The live, workplace sort of aspects of the city.

 

All in all, I’m hugely in favor of this. I really hope it happens. I do recognize it’s probably going to cost way more money than anyone thinks. It’s probably going to take way longer than anyone thinks. From a real estate perspective, I understand and I see what is happening in the Downtown Core. I understand and see that the price of land just sky rocketing and it just makes so much sense for the city to start this process now. Because it’s definitely going to make more and more economic sense, you could say, to build a park in this such a fashion, moving forward. I do think that it’s going to take a lot of partnership and integration of the private sector to make this happen.

 

If you look at Millennium Park in Chicago, I mean, huge reason why that project got built even though it was way over budget was because of private donations. You go there, and I’ve been there and one of the things you notice right away is just there’s … it’s a more of an American thing, but I think, we really have to look at this more as Canadians is involving the private sector more into our public infrastructure projects like this. You go to Chicago Millennium Park and you see signs everywhere for all the millionaires and billionaire benefactors, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, all these people who donated millions and millions and millions to making the park happen. They get to put their names and their stamps all over everything. It’s a bit of a vanity project, obviously, for them. I say, great. Bring it on!

 

If there’s Canadian billionaires out there that want to make a mark and leave a legacy and they want to donate $20, $30 million and have a huge sing or statue or whatever they want or some trees named after them, I say, bring it on. Go for it. Who cares? I don’t care when I’m in a park and I see names of donors or even corporate sponsors. “This tree is brought to you by Rogers Communications” or whatever. Fine. If that’s what it takes to build an amazing resource that’s going to be an asset to the city and a draw, internationally, for people to Toronto for the next hundred years, let’s do it. Let’s make it happen. Let’s get as much private money involved as we can. I’m all for it. Everybody knows that we don’t have the money to build this thing solely through public funds. It’s just not going to happen if we try to do it that way.

 

Okay, so that’s what we know. That’s what I think. Now, I want to finish with, what should condo investors do. Well, first of all, as condo investors, this is the kind of trends, these are the kind of projects we really need to keep our eyes on. We really need to stay ahead of the curve and understand what’s happening before these things happen. Think strategically. Like I said, I do believe that this kind of a project, it is going to happen. Obviously, it makes sense to start thinking about as investors investing immediately in that area to benefit from this major project that is going to happen. Again, we want to be thinking long term, strategically, as investors.

 

This is a perfect example of how we can do that. You want to look at what’s happening in the area. Well, CityPlace is largely all built out. The final CityPlace buildings will be where the CityPlace sales center, which is Spadina and the rail tracks there essentially on the Southside. There will be the final major tower and everything of CityPlace will be built out there. That will certainly be one to watch. There’s been a lot of talk, of course, about the Well Development at Front and Spadina on the Northside of the tracks. Front and Spadina has a massive project called, The Well. Tridel recently, with some other partners, try to out-purchase the residential rights of that property to build several towers at the Well Development, Front and Spadina. That, perhaps, will come out, I want to say in 2017. That’s certainly one to watch and to look at.

 

With this announcement, the prices of the units at the Well probably just shot up. Tridel’s probably very happy that this announcement was made, because they closed this deal before it was made, I’m guessing. They might be thrilled that their asset that they just purchased is probably going to increase a lot in prices of what they can sell these units for because of it.

 

Let’s not forget what we have right now. One of my favorite projects of the past year or so. A project that I have invested in, personally, that I recommended my own friends and family to invest in. I am actually the number one selling agent, and the project have sold so many units there. That is Minto West Side. Minto West Side is right at Front and Bathurst. It is poised to be right at the gateway of this brand new park. Right at the doorstep of it. It’s right at your doorstep if you’re living at Minto West Side. They do have great, fantastic units still available there. If you’re interested in investing in something right now, a building that’s under construction that will be completed in about two and half years, I highly recommend Minto West Side as a great investment opportunity.

 

If you’d like more details on that, send me an email, andrew@truecondos.com, or call/text me, 416-371-2333. I’d love to get you the investor package on Minto West Side to take a look at. Taking advantage of this amazing announcement of the new park, which will be right at the doorstep of the building. Just generally speaking, again, it’s another good reminder. I don’t know when the Well is coming out, but, I’m sure whatever it comes out with which is right next to Minto West side, the prices are going to be much higher. They’re going to be much higher than whatever Minto West Side is coming at. Just look at the price at Tridel and these developers are paying for the land. They have to price it high. They must [inaudible 00:21:26] just to make any money. It’s going to be priced very high.

 

Again, the days of $600 to $650 per square foot Downtown are nearly over. If you’re still able to purchase brand new condos in great locations from a good builder, like Minto West Side, for around $600 per square foot or $650 per square foot, that is a fantastic, fantastic investment if you ask me. The prices, I believe, are going to rise significantly over the next two, three years. If you’re still able to find this type of real estate at these types of prices, the time to get in is now. We will definitely look back at this year in a couple of years and say, “Wow, I can’t believe that we could have it or that we did.” Hopefully, “We did purchase those units at those prices back in 2016 because, wow, look at how much things have grown in just a couple of years.”

 

All right, so there you have it. There’s my thoughts on the new Rail Deck Park. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you found something interesting and insightful in today’s episode. If you did, why don’t you go ahead and share this podcast with somebody you know, who may be thinking about investing in a condo Downtown. Thank you very much for listening. Until next time. I hope you have a great week. Bye for now.

 

Speaker 2: Thanks for listening to the True Condos podcast. Remember, your positive reviews make a big difference to the show. To learn more about condo investing, become a True Condo Subscriber by visiting truecondos.com.

 

Tags