Why Toronto is the Most Unique City in The World with Stephen Diamond from Diamondcorp
Stephen Diamond, President and CEO of Diamond Corp, talks to Andrew la Fleur about what makes Toronto the most unique city in the world, why investing in condos in the core is a sound choice, and why The Well development at Front and Spadina is a ‘dream come true’ opportunity.
Stephen Diamond Interview Highlights
0:11 In the News
4:55 Who is Stephen Diamond & How Did He Get Into the Real Estate Market
8:00 What is DiamondCorp All About & What Are They Most Passionate About?
10:35 What is the Key to “Rezoning”?
16:30 Does Toronto Have a Condo Bubble?
21:00 Why Should Condo Investors Buy Today, Particularly in the Downtown Core?
23:40 The Selby Condos
25:00 Rental Buildings
27:35 The Well Development
34:50 Demand for Retail and Offices
36:50 King & Spadina Project
37:50 Will DiamondCorp Start Developing Sites Themselves?
39:08 Too Many Cranes, Too Many Condos?
42:45 Where to Find Out More about DiamondCorp
How to Leave a Review for The True Condos Podcast on iTunes
Stephen Diamond Interview Transcript
Andrew la Fleur: Hi and welcome back to the show. I’m very excited today. I’m going to be interviewing Stephen Diamond from Diamond Corp. We’ll get to that interview in just a minute, but before we do, I wanted to just bring to you something that’s happening in the news again here. The headline from the Financial Post reads, “The markets eye Bank of Canada rate cut for the first time as oil rout damage deepens.”
A long and worried title. Basically what the article is saying is that very interestingly that the markets are now pricing in to … They’re pricing into the market. The possibility of rates actually going down in the next little while.
For the last year or so, if you’ve been paying attention to all the headlines, it’s been, “Get ready, rates are going up. Rates are going up soon. The days of … The low interest rate days are almost over.” Everyone is preparing as though this thing is a foregone conclusion, but now what’s happened is oil prices have come down so much about 50% as of time of recording this podcast. Oil prices have come down.
Canadian dollars falling and there’s a threat now of recession actually happening in Alberta because of the oil price plummeting. Now, they’re saying the Bank of Canada might actually lower interest rates as oppose to raising them as everybody has been predicting. This is very interesting and for me, it brings out a couple of points I just wanted to briefly highlight here.
First thing is that you want to invest in Toronto and obviously I’m biased and obviously you know me and I sell condos in Toronto, so I’m going to say that. What I mean by that is that you want to invest in the largest city in Canada. You want to invest in the city that’s the financial center of Canada. You want to invest in a city that’s growing 100,000 people per year. You want to invest in a city with a diversified economy.
This crisis and the oil price has sort of exposed some vulnerabilities in the economy in Alberta, so a lot of people have made a lot of money in real estate investing in Alberta over the last few years, but to me, this is just another reminder that over the long term, there’s no better place in my opinion to put your money in Canada than right here in Toronto and specifically in the downtown core.
The second thing that I want to bring out from this article is as real estate investors, we need to not fear interest rate hikes. First of all, because they’re very unlikely to actually happen and as this article is pointing out, interest rates might actually go down in the short term here.
Regardless of whether they go up or down, we need to stop worrying about them as real estate investors if you got the thing that I’ve always … I’m always teaching my clients to purchase. That’s a positive cash flow in real estate, positive cash flow in condos. You’re always going to be okay in the long run.
If interest rates do go up, it just means that you’re going to have more renters and less people would be able to afford to buy, you’re going to have more renters and rental rates go up. Your income on the properties that you own tends to go up in times of interest rates rising.
If these interest rates start to fall and money becomes cheaper, more people will buy and the prices of assets tend to go up in that sort of environment. Your properties is going to appreciate in value.
The beauty of owning real estate, again, just a reminder sticking to the fundamentals of why we’re investing in real estate versus other things that we could put our money into is because it’s such a unique asset class compared to anything else and it really protects us from those fluctuations in interest rates be they up or be they down.
All right, so without further ado, let’s get to my interview with Stephen Diamond from Diamond Corp. Okay, it’s my pleasure to welcome to the show Stephen Diamond. Stephen is the president and CEO of Diamond Corp. Stephen, welcome to the show.
Stephen Diamond: Thank you.
Andrew la Fleur: Stephen, why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your background. I know your family has a long and rich history in the real estate market in Toronto in particular, so why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in real estate?
Stephen Diamond: Sure. As you mentioned, my father was one of the founders of the Cadillac Fairview Corporation. As a very young teenager growing up, I was very interested in what was going on in the real estate business. When I was young, the part of the business that first attracted me was the policy parts of the business. Why is development important. How do you treat neighborhoods.
That led me to becoming a lawyer and into the area of municipal planning law because I enjoyed the opportunity to be an advocate for the development business. The business is often misunderstood, but when you think about it while there’s a lot of resident resistance from time to time for developments in their neighborhoods, really it’s the developer who is acting for those people that don’t have a home.
It’s the existing communities that are protecting their own interests and so the developer does provide a very important service to our community providing housing at needed locations for our future population.
That was the start of my interest in development and became a lawyer and practiced for many years as a municipal and planning lawyer and had the opportunity to be involved in some of Toronto’s most interesting and exciting projects. I acted for the owners of the Shangri-La Hotel that is now up and built. I also acted for the owners of the Four Seasons Hotel which is up and built.
At the time the Minto Towers at Yonge and Eglinton that were first introduced many years ago was quite controversial and I have the opportunity to act for them. I met Mr. Gehry, the architect, when I acted for the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Overall, there was a wide variety of really interesting projects that I had the opportunity to represent in the city and that was a large part of my career. Moving on, about eight years ago now, I left the practice and decided that I wanted to take the next step and form a development company which is now Diamond Corp and which is well underway.
Andrew la Fleur: That’s great. Can you tell us a little bit more about Diamond Corp? What is Diamond Corp all about and what do you most passionate about today?
Stephen Diamond: Diamond Corp is a company that looks from a financial aspect of missed opportunities or opportunities in the city where rezonings can enhance the value of real estate and result in designing and producing product. Most of it mixed use or condominium product for the city.
I’ve taken advantage of the skills that I have as a zoning lawyer and we look for those opportunities where zoning is an issue and proceeded to find and acquire these sites, and then redevelop them most the time with partners to bring them to fruition.
We’ve been involved with our very first project that we did was at 5 Saint Joseph Street. It won the Build Award for Best Condo Design of the Year. It’s just about to be occupied and was a very successful project both from an urban design point of view and from the market.
It was an opportunity where there were a lot of heritage [inaudible 00:09:27], but we feel that it was also great opportunity to actually [inaudible 00:09:33] and reserve the building and build a condo above the heritage building. The city agreed and we are successful with the rezoning and as I said, it’s now up.
What I am most passionate about is I believe we live in a great city and I believe that good urban design is very important to our city. I get very passionate about the buildings that we’re proposing. We like to build high quality, prestigious buildings, buildings that take advantage of the surroundings, buildings that respect the public realm.
We also work very hard with our neighboring communities to take into account the issues that they believe are legitimate and are concerning to them so at the end of the day, we can have a project that is well designed, respects the public realm, respects the surrounding community and hopefully we work hard to have those approvals in place, achieve those results with as minimal controversy as possible.
Andrew la Fleur: That’s interesting on that point. I want to go a little bit deeper. You are sort of an expert as you said in the rezoning process and taking one place of land that’s something and changing it into something that’s different and much more valuable and you’re making money for your investors in the process and your partners.
What is the key to rezoning? What is the magic or the secret sauce? How do you take something that is one thing and turn into something else to create this big change when like you said, it’s never easy, there’s always resistance from a lot of different sides and there’s a reason why it hasn’t been done yet and why you’re being brought in to sort of do that now? What’s the key to that rezoning process and making that happen in your experience?
Stephen Diamond: I guess if I discuss that, I’ll be giving away all my secrets and then every …
Andrew la Fleur: Right. Yeah.
Stephen Diamond: I think it’s a combination of a couple of factors that come into play. One is recognizing that the city and the public agencies have some concerns on a broader scale about the city that they feel need to be protected. That individual developers when they come in with respect to an application, may not understand or consider as they only want the city to look at the ramifications of their particular proposal.
The biggest factor that I would say to try to put in a simple fashion as possible with respect to the zoning world is that a land owner, if he wants a rezoning, has to remember that he’s not entitled to the rezoning that he’s asking for permission for a change. Therefore, if there’s going to be a change, they have to be able … The owner or the developer, has to be able to persuade the public agencies, the communities, the councilors, and the city staff that what they’re doing is in the public interest. That to me is the fundamental part of the planning regime or zoning issues.
Andrew la Fleur: Would you say that’s where … That’s what separates the projects that fail to achieve versus that do succeed for … You mentioned the Minto Yonge and Eglinton site. For example, if I was one that many people remember as being highly controversial, there was a lot of resistance to that, it was a totally new sort of form for the area.
Stephen Diamond: Yeah, that’s a perfect example, but looking at the project on its merit, it was a tall building, but it was being located at Yonge and Eglinton within walking distance of, not only a subway system, but actually a regional transportation node.
From a planning point of view, you would recognize that this is a very good spot for a project, but then the question is what were we going to deliver between the work that we did and Minto in terms of persuading the city that the time was right to embark on the project. We did engage top quality architects from Chicago who came in and helped us to design the building. We used amazing materials.
In fact, that was the first project that the Minto, to the credit, when we went through the process, we actually committed to the materials for the project as we went through which had never been done before. The pictures that people saw were what they were going to get because we legally committed to build what was envisaged.
There’s an open space between the buildings that we made public again is one of the additional public benefits. When that was all set and done and put together, the staff actually then did little announces of the area. It was just a [permutative 00:14:57] project to go ahead, what were the ramifications and they identified that there were two or three other sites where high buildings could go, but they were satisfied in the context of looking at everything in the neighborhood that a few additional high buildings in the area was good for the city and that therefore in the end of the day, between all the public benefits of this project was going to bring that it should move forward.
If you think back of [inaudible 00:15:26] Eglinton, across the street, there’s a smaller building but it’s really awful in terms of its urban design and there’s no …
Andrew la Fleur: Yes.
Stephen Diamond: [Crosstalk 00:15:34]. With the Minto building, with the retail along Yonge, but yet the towers are set back, it’s helped to revitalize that whole area. If you look back now, you would say that that project was a catalyst for a positive revitalization of a major part of the city.
Andrew la Fleur: Absolutely. Fast forward to today, like you said, there’s so many projects coming up there and now we have the LRT coming in. Of course, look at the results from an investment standpoint. Anybody who’s purchased … Anybody who did purchase in Minto originally has done very, very, very well with their investment and the neighborhood is … Like you said, the neighborhood has just boomed ever since and it’s going to continue to grow now with the LRT coming in. The next 10 years are looking just as good, if not better.
Stephen Diamond: Yeah, sure.
Andrew la Fleur: Let me ask you a question you probably get all the time, but I think it’s always interesting to hear different people’s take on it. Do we have a condo bubble in Toronto? What’s your opinion on that?
Stephen Diamond: It’s very interesting. I was on the phone earlier this morning with some people and we were talking about the housing business. The interesting question that arose was right now we’re in a dramatic decline in oil prices and yet I don’t recall reading in the newspapers or the magazines over the last few months that anyone predicted that.
Yet, on this whole issue of the housing bubble, we’ve been having these predictions for probably since I’ve been in the business for the last five or six years. Every few months, there’s a prediction that we’re in a housing bubble.
My own view on that is that economists can make a lot of predictions, but right now, it seems to me it’s not well grounded to suggest that we’re in a housing bubble. The housing bubble is a suggestion that one small change is going to deflate as a bubble does so that the values would go down to such a degree as to be somewhat catastrophic.
I don’t think there’s any evidence that we’re in a housing bubble. One of the things that people forget about in terms of looking at what’s going on in our city is there’s a tremendous amount of condominium construction going on in the city and the reason for that is the province some years ago put in a green belt north of the city. What that has meant is that they’ve artificially restricted the supply of land for housing.
All of a sudden, Toronto has a geographic boundary and that’s resulted in land south of the green belt getting very expensive, creating less affordable opportunities and also has resulted in a mindset that has changed where people are now accepting that they’re going to live in high density housing.
If you look at the stats of how many housing units were built in Ontario, 10 to even 15 years ago, and look tomorrow at the numbers, the total numbers of units we’re producing each year hasn’t changed to any great extent. What has changed is the mix in the units. We’re producing far more condominium units than we are single family units.
Ten years ago, you would have had 70% of the new housing in low-rise and 30% in high-rise. Now, that’s just the opposite statistics. There’s been that shift in terms of where the supply is moving to.
Having said that, have we overbuilt in the condominium sector? There is likely potentially a little bit of oversupply. My view is, is that some of the units that we’re building, the smaller units, there maybe a few to maybe smaller units and we probably need some larger units, but in terms of housing accommodation and in terms of the demographics of the number of people moving into the city every year, I don’t see that we’re outpacing in any dramatic way the amount of housing that is needed for people to live in in terms of the supply and the demand.
Another indication of that is that we’ve been approached by a lot of pension funds and other institutions that are looking to build rental housing in the city. As the investors may be coming wary of investing in the city or have some concerns, there’s new purpose built rental being built in the city which shows that there’s just a demand for this housing that continues.
Andrew la Fleur: I think you sort of already answered this question in that answer, but in your opinion, speaking to the individual condo investor today, why should people buy condos today particularly in the downtown core?
Stephen Diamond: I think that the core of the City of Toronto is probably one of the most unique cities in the world today. It is.
Andrew la Fleur: Okay, that’s a big statement, so let’s explain what you mean by that.
Stephen Diamond: If you look around the world today, Toronto has one of the most vibrant city cores in the worlds and it has one of the safest city cores in the world. It’s a place where people want to live. The fact is because there’s been so much condominium construction in the core and that’s where the labor force is has also resulted now in more office development being in the core. There’s the opportunity for people to live close to where they work, live their car at home, have great amenities, have great entertainment, and have great features.
In terms of the world, Toronto is on its way to becoming … If you look into the future, is going to be one of the largest and most successful cities in the world. In light of the world environment, how many places … Every magazine that comes out whether it’s The Economist, or Fortune, or Newsweek, top 10 cities in the world, Toronto is always there and the core of the city is the most vibrant and most interesting part of the city.
There maybe fluctuations from year to year in terms of the supply and the demand, but long term, my own view and we’re continuing to invest millions and millions of dollars in this city, it is still a great place to be.
I think the bigger issues going to be in five years from now, we’re going to run out of sites in the core. While today people are spooked about investing, I think that anyone who has an investment in core condos is going to do very well over the long term.
I personally have invested in a couple, even though I have huge investments in our projects just on a personal note, because I believe that the core units are going to retain their value over time.
Andrew la Fleur: Very interesting. You mentioned pension funds and institutional investors on that note. I don’t know if anything is being officially announced or anything, but there’s some rumors going around about one of your projects that you’re involved in, the Selby Condos. I don’t know what you can speak to that and what’s going on with that project or what has happened there and what that might mean for the Toronto condo market. Speak about the Selby.
Stephen Diamond: I can’t say too much about the Selby because we are in discussions right now, then I must keep somewhat confidential. The only thing I can say is that we are looking at building the project as a rental building.
Andrew la Fleur: Okay. The original idea was for the project to be sort of a normal condo building, but now you’re looking at just building it out as a pure rental building, I guess, with the same density, the same design and everything?
Stephen Diamond: Everything would be basically identical, but rather than going to the condo market, we are looking at it seriously as a rental building.
Andrew la Fleur: What does that mean for the condo market, for the rental market that you’re not the only one? I’ve spoken to a lot of developers who had similar sentiments who are now traditionally condo developers who said, “You know what? We’re looking more and more at rentals because the rental market is so strong.” What can you say about that side of it and what it means for the market in a bigger picture?
Stephen Diamond: The way the market works in Toronto is that most of the actual purchasers who want to buy condominiums want to see a unit before they buy. What’s been spurring a lot of the pre-construction is the investors who are buying those units because they’re prepared to wait and hopefully they’re going to make a good return on their investment.
In the last few months, the developers have seen that because of all the media that the number and the amount of investors are perhaps taking a pause in terms of the level of investment, but yes the developers have also seen that there’s still a strong demand continuing for these units. The developers are looking for ways to accommodate that demand in a different manner and get them financed.
I believe that what will happen is that, eventually, those that are interested in investing in condominiums will see that there is a strong demand and that they likely should be looking again and they will purchase at appropriate locations and make investments into condominium units once again which will ensure there’s a balance in the marketplace, but it’s anything like supply and demand.
If we are overbuilding and all in terms of the condominium market and there’s a little less condominiums built over the next couple of years, then in two or three years from now, there should be an appropriate equilibrium in the marketplace. It seems to be working and there should be the balance in terms of those units that are available for sale and those units that are available for rent.
Andrew la Fleur: Interesting. I think just from a lot of my other conversations that there’s a wider belief in the rental market in Toronto. Like you said, the core of Toronto, the future is very bright and so institutional investors are not just from Toronto but from around the world are looking at Toronto and seeing that strength and they’re wanting to put big money in this market.
Stephen Diamond: That’s correct. That’s exactly what’s happening.
Andrew la Fleur: Shifting gears to another very exciting project that you have coming up and that’s The Well development. What can you tell us about The Well development? For those people who don’t know, maybe give us a little background where it is, what it is exactly and what do you have planned for this site?
Stephen Diamond: The Well is an amazing project. It’s a dream come true for us to be able to be involved with such an exciting project. It’s seven acres of land located at Spadina and Wellington and Front Street on the west side of Spadina.
For people who may not know where exactly it is, it’s where The Globe and Mail publishes its newspapers. The opportunity arose for us to acquire that land a number of years ago when the globe and Mail put it up for sale and we ended up entering in a partnership with two very fine and reputable and successful companies being Allied Properties and RioCan.
The three companies together made a decision that we wanted to build a legacy project, but also try to do something that would be a little bit different in terms of just designing something other than not just a number of condominium buildings.
In fact, we actually took a trip over to Europe and looked at a number of different projects and what had been done in Europe and came back with the idea of building a true mixed-use neighborhood. A project that would have office uses, a project that would have retail uses and a project that would have residential uses.
When we went to design it, what we saw in Europe was that rather than have an enclosed heated and air conditioned mall or shopping center type area, we were going to be somewhat bolder and, in terms of our retail, build an old fashion main street retail spine through the project which would not be heated or air conditioned where people would meander through the streets and do their shopping.
We believe that even though we have a difficult climate, provided there was some covers from time to time where people could take shelter in case of snow or rain, that this could be an amazing opportunity particularly in the King West part of the city.
This is now a project that is in the neighborhood of three million square feet and is proposed to have about a million square feet of office. It’s going to have about a million, 300,000 square feet of residential and it’s going to have about 600,000 or so square feet of retail uses at it.
We’re very, very excited about it. We’ve worked hard with the surrounding community who have been very, very positive to work with and actually made a positive contribution in terms of its design and that we’re very excited about the prospect of developing this site.
One of the things we’re [inaudible 00:31:43] and did our investigations is while there’s been a tremendous amount of condo development in the city that … To make a city fabric work, you need all the uses. You need the retail to service the residence. We found that there was a lack of retail and therefore we put all together to develop this true mixed-use community.
In fact, the project is so unique that not only is the neighborhood mixed-use but some of our buildings contain retail and office and residential uses. We have a mixed-use neighborhood and some true mixed-use buildings.
Andrew la Fleur: Wow, it just sounds absolutely amazing. I’ve seen some of the renderings and that’s the best way that I describe it to people who I’m talking to it about is it’s … When you said you went to Europe and you were looking for inspiration there, it definitely has that feel to it of a European city sort of walking streets or you have mixed-use. You’ve got just a lot of street life. You have very interesting retail and store fronts combined with residential, combined with office and it’s just …
From what I’ve seen so far, it really looks like something we’ve never really seen before on this scale in Toronto. In a sense, some of the renderings, it almost looks like it’s been there forever in a sense or it’s sort of naturally evolved as you sort of get that feeling when you’re in a lot of European cities versus the model we’ve seen a lot of in Toronto where you’re walking in these master plan neighborhoods.
You really have a sense that it’s just been created out of thin air and it’s just sort of … It’s more of an unnatural environment if that make sense.
Stephen Diamond: No, it does. I think you’ve hit on another key point is that we’ve picked up in the design, a lot on the fabric of what’s going on in the neighborhood and that is … That’s what makes this project. It’s a very unique and very exciting project. That’s for sure.
I’m not sure how many projects have been envisaged like this on such a large scale in the city at the current time.
Andrew la Fleur: Will there be condominiums available for sale in that project or it will just be rentals or there will be condos?
Stephen Diamond: There will be condominiums there for sure.
Andrew la Fleur: When might that go to market? Is that 2015 or is that still yet to be determined?
Stephen Diamond: It will probably be 2016 when we go to market.
Andrew la Fleur: 2016? Okay.
Stephen Diamond: Yeah.
Andrew la Fleur: Speaking on the commercial … Your partners RioCan, I guess, is handling the commercial side. Allied, I assume, is the retail side.
Stephen Diamond: Office side.
Andrew la Fleur: Office side, okay.
Stephen Diamond: Yeah
Andrew la Fleur: Right. Sorry, those flipped there. What are they saying or what are your partners … What’s the sentiment on the commercial and the office and the retail markets in the downtown core as well? Is there a big demand? Is there a huge need for more office and more retail?
Stephen Diamond: Yeah very bullish on the opportunities. In terms of the retail, as I said earlier, we built thousands of condominiums but we haven’t kept up with supplying the residents with the amount of retail that’s needed.
To have additional movie theaters and restaurants and places for people to shop, it’s something that’s just very, very much needed. In terms of the office, Allied is the king of the office development world in that part of the city and the core. Their buildings are 99% leased in the neighborhood and they are also very confident that this is a great location for office users.
A little bit different from the users that may want to be in the core, but they’re very excited about the opportunity and very confident about its success. In fact, if you look at the John Tory SmartTrack Planet, it is actually showing a stop along the new plan right at the corner of Front and Spadina, again, just showing what an amazing location this would be for office development.
Andrew la Fleur: Absolutely. Like you said, the King West area is already so established as a great neighborhood, as a place where people want to be. I think this is just great news for anybody who’s in the King West area already as well that it’s just going to be a home run to have this sort of project, this sort of scale in a location like this. It certainly looks like it’s really going to fit well with what’s already existing around the area.
Stephen Diamond: For sure.
Andrew la Fleur: Just up the street, you’ve got another project which I’m wondering maybe is it closer to coming to market? You have a site at King and Spadina. I don’t know if you can speak to that and what the plans are for that.
Stephen Diamond: I’ve zoned on that site and it’s about a 300,000 square foot building and it’s going to be actually, again, mixed-use. It’s going to have some retail and some office and some residential. It was designed by Don Schmitt at A.J. Diamond. We’re, again, partners of Allied Properties on that project and we’re just, as we speak, thinking about our marketing opportunities for the site in different ways that we’re going to go and bring that site to fruition.
Andrew la Fleur: That’s great. That will be at 2015 most likely that one?
Stephen Diamond: Yeah.
Andrew la Fleur: Everyone loves King and Spadina and we’re looking forward to hearing more about that one. What is the future for Diamond Corp? I know you sort of known, like you said, as a strategic partner, as a rezoning specialist, bringing in developer partners to do the actual building out of the sites. What I’m wondering if will you start developing sites yourself do you think?
Stephen Diamond: As the future unfolds, I suspect that the company will get more and more involved in the actual development of its projects because we’re very proud of what we do and I like to see them implemented. We haven’t made a … We’re about to go into discussion early in the New Year about our strategic direction and all options are on the table.
One of the beauties of the company, the way it’s designed right now is that we can be very nimble in the marketplace and can change quickly in terms of where we want to go by not actually having the burden of having an actual development arm. That’s one of the issues that we’re talking about.
In terms of being involved with our projects and bringing them to fruition, we’re very proud of the work we do and it’s a direction that for sure we’re going to be heading in.
Andrew la Fleur: Very interesting. I look forward to hearing more about that. Just one question as we sort of wrap things up here. I get asked a lot of the questions about the market and about condos and things, but is there one question that no one has ever asked you about yourself or your company or the condo market but that you wish that someone would ask you and what would that question be?
Stephen Diamond: It’s interesting. In terms of the marketplace, the question would be, “We read everywhere that Toronto has more cranes moving than anywhere else in the city, so is that a dilemma for investors in the condo business because we’re building so much condominiums?”
I dealt with this a little bit earlier because I find that that one statistic is totally irrelevant when it comes to viewing the marketplace for our housing. Because for example, if Toronto is growing by 100,000 people a year and Boston is growing by 20,000 people a year, then obviously we’re going to have more cranes in the air if we’re going to satisfy the demand and Boston.
Even in New York City, they may be a bigger city, but the question is are they proportionately growing as much as we are in terms of how much development we have? The other aspect that we talked about earlier in terms of that particular issue, again, is where are the opportunities for people to live in the Greater Toronto Area in terms of housing accommodation.
As I said, because of the green belt that’s been put in place north of the city, the amount of inventory for low-rise housing is very limited. Therefore, my own view is is that not only is there future for high-rise development, but in many cities in the world, today, one finds families living in high-rise housing.
Eventually, I believe that within the City of Toronto, that is going to become a much more accepted way for people to live as it is elsewhere in the world and that that will also result in the continued demand for high density housing and perhaps larger family units for people to live in because these people want to be in the core of the city and need places to live and those options will become very important for them. That, I believe, is what we’ll see in the future in the City of Toronto.
Andrew la Fleur: That’s great and that’s certainly a theme that I’ve talked a lot about on this show is that move towards downtown living, towards the normalization, I guess, you could say of high-rise living for families. We sort of see it as weird traditionally here, but we are unique in the world because it’s not that way everywhere else.
I think we’re definitely heading in that direction. I think projects that have the vision like The Well, a project that you guys are working on and others in the city where developers have similar vision for mixed-use communities, I think those are going to be the spice where we really start to see that sort of lifestyle change happen.
Stephen Diamond: Absolutely. I think you’re dead on in those thoughts for sure.
Andrew la Fleur: Stephen, thank you very much for your time today again. If people want to find you or find more information about Diamond Corp, where is the best place that they should go?
Stephen Diamond: We do have a website that’s up that shows all of our projects and everything we do. It’s www.diamondcorp.ca.
Andrew la Fleur: Great.
Stephen Diamond: That is the place to go I would suggest and it says all the information about the company and also has my email address and other email address that people work here and shows all the projects that we’re involved in.
Andrew la Fleur: Great. I’ll be sure to include a link to that on the show notes for this episode. Stephen, thanks again for your time and hopefully we can have you on the show again soon. I wish you all the best in 2015.
Stephen Diamond: Thank you Andrew. The best to you and it’s been a pleasure speaking to you this morning.
Andrew la Fleur: Great. Bye for now.
Stephen Diamond: Okay, bye-bye.
Andrew la Fleur: Okay, there you go. That was my interview with Stephen Diamond from Diamond Corp. I hope you enjoyed that. That was one of my favorite interviews that I’ve done to date and Stephen had some really cool insights and interesting things to say I thought about the market.
It’s interesting. On top of the show we’re talking about oil prices back in Canadian economy and so on and he hit a great point that it’s interesting that no one predicted this huge crash in oil prices. No one thought oil prices were going anywhere and look at what happened.
Meanwhile, housing market, people have been predicting the housing market crash for years and years and years and it’s still hasn’t happened. It’s a very interesting point to think about there and I loved what he had to say about Toronto being the most unique city in the world in so many ways that the core of Toronto is just such a great, great place to put some money into now for the future, to look long term, to see where the city is going.
On that note, to understand … Again, I’ve said this so many times on this podcast that Toronto is a growing city that we are so unique in that we are growing. We are growing. It’s been well documented by approximately 100,000 people per year and so, yes, we do have a lot of condos being built. We do have a lot of cranes going up as Stephen talked about in the interview.
That has absolutely … Just because there’s a lot of cranes going up as he said isn’t a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just the reality of growth. It’s a consequence of growth that we have right now.
When you look at Toronto versus other major cities throughout couple statistics at you, something interesting to talk about at your next cocktail party. Toronto is growing by 100,000 people per year. The City of London in England, London, England, one of the great cities of the world, much larger city than Toronto, about eight million people in London, they are growing, would you believe, also at around 100,000 people per year.
One of the great cities of the world, one city that we’re always often comparing ourselves to, are we a great world city like, fill in the blank. London is always one of those cities that we mention. Much bigger city than Toronto, they’re growing by about the same rate as we are. The same number of people as we are. It’s so interesting there.
If you look at New York City compared to Toronto, but actually forget about New York City. Even though New York is a much bigger city again than Toronto, but if you look at the entire state of New York … Last year, the entire State of New York grew by, get this, 50,000 people. Very interesting. I came across that stat recently. 50,000 people. The entire state of New York including, of course, New York City grew by about half as much as the Greater Toronto Area, the GTA.
Little food for thought for you, and again, just more encouraging news to keep investing in Toronto and keep going for that positive cash flowing real estate here and you’re going to be very glad that you did in the long run. Thank you very much for listening once again. My name is Andrew la Fleur. You can always find me at truecondos.com and you can send me an email if you want to get in touch with me, firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call any time at 416-371-2333. Thanks for listening and have a great week.
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