On The Waterfront!

Houses in cities across north America often sell for big numbers if they’re “on the water,” assuming that is a body of water, ie. a lake or an ocean, and we know that ravine-lots do well too.

So where can you find something “on the waterfront” in Toronto?

Where you can you have both a cottage and a home?

Clearly not downtown, we know that for sure.  But venture out further east, and you’ll be shocked at what you can find…

OnTheWaterfrontPic

If you can’t immediately name both the people pictured above, then you need more culture.

And if you can’t name the movie that they were in, well, then I think all hope is lost.

To quote Homer Simpson:

“I saw this movie about a bus that had to SPEED around a city, keeping its SPEED over fifty, and if its SPEED dropped, it would explode! I think it was called, ‘The Bus That Couldn’t Slow Down.'”

Anyways…

There’s a house in Toronto that I have always admired, and it’s on Fallingbrook Drive, in the Beaches.

People will suggest that the “prime Beaches” are just north of Queen Street, and east of, say, Scarborough Road.

All the best-known streets are named after trees: Balsam Avenue, Cedar Avenue, Silver Birch Avenue, Willow Avenue, Pine Crescent, Spruce Hill Road, Beech Avenue, etc.

But the best pocket in the Beaches is actually east of Victoria Park Avenue (most people associate “Victoria Park” with “Scarborough”), and in the area pictured below, with the red dot denoting the house I have always admired most in Toronto:

Fallingbrook

Fallingbrook Woods, Fallingbrook Road, Fallingbrook Crescent, and Fallingbrook Drive.

There must be something special about this pocket, just by the names alone, no?

Well when you curve around the bend on Fallingbrook Drive, you can actually see Lake Ontario from in between the houses!

There are only a couple of houses that back onto the water, as seen here from Land Registry:

FallingbrookDriveSat

Just look at that!

These houses have docks!

Like a cottage!

So just imagine having a house – in Toronto of all places, where you look out at the water, you have a beach, and you have a dock.

Did you ever think such a thing existed?

Look at the photos from the MLS listing – the last time my “dream home” was listed, in 2006:

FallingbrookBeach1

FallingbrookBeach2

Yes, really.

That’s a private beach, and that’s the LAKE!

This lot is truly one of a kind, and perhaps that’s why it sold for $2,850,000 seven years ago.  Just imagine what that would cost today.

The crazy thing is – several of these homes have been completely rebuilt in the last few years, so it’s not inconceivable that almost $3M is truly “land value.”

Okay, so at this point you’re thinking, “David, why are you teasing us with waterfront lots that cost $3M just for the land?  How is this useful to us?”

Well, the point I wanted to make today was that not every waterfront lot is going to cost you $5M, all-in.

Go east, my friends.

Go further east, into Scarborough proper, and toward Midland Avenue.

Just west of the Scarborough Bluffs is a small pocket called “Cliffside,” and in that pocket is a street called Fishleigh Avenue:

Fishleigh

As you can see from the map, Fishleigh Avenue backs right onto the water, and while cruising the area last night, I couldn’t help but notice that some absolute monster homes are being built on those lots.

And what do these lots cost?

Well, not $3 Million like the lots on Fallingbrook.

Here are two photos of the backyard and beach (yes, “beach,” I can’t believe it…) from a house that sold for $815,000:

Fish01

Fish02

Yes, that’s right folks – you can have Muskoka Chairs overlooking the lake, from your house in Toronto.

Okay, fine, those aren’t Muskoka Chairs……they’re cheap, ugly, plastic chairs from Zellers or Target.  But you get the point.

And this wasn’t just $815,000 of “land value.”  This was a ranch-style bungalow on a 55 x 200 foot lot, fully liveable, although probably in need of an aesthetic renovation.

Here are two photos from another listing on the street.  Imagine having a photo of a sunset over the lake in your MLS listing!?!?!

FishLeighSunshine FishleighSwing

Am I alone here?

Isn’t this mind-blowing stuff?

It took me 22-minutes to drive from Fishleigh Drive to my downtown condo at 8:30pm, so assuming there’s traffic, maybe it takes you 40 minutes.  But if you work long hours (like many of the very successful people who have bought lots on this street and are building monster homes), and drive to the office at 7:30am, the commute is nothing.

As I sit here, staring out the window at the CN Tower, Scotia Plaza, and the word “Dynamic” that’s plastered across the top of another building that I can’t really identify, I can’t help but wonder what life would be like, looking out at Lake Ontario instead…

26 Comments

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  1. Jose says:

    Mikko,thank you for your code example. PDF prvieew (first page) works fine.$image = new Imagick();$image -> readImageBlob($bytecode);$image -> setImageIndex(0);$image -> setImageFormat( png’);$image -> scaleImage(200,200,1);header( Content-type: image/png’);echo $image;But precessing is slowing down to ~ 10 seconds when the document has 50 pages (size: 1.3 MB). I guess, imagemagick is scaling all the 50 pages. Is there any possibility to avoid the processing of second and following pages?Best regards

  2. Jane says:

    The gentleman who did the research about Cliffside Public School was correct that the school does not have a good reputation. If you live on the west side of Midland South of Kingston Road your children would go to Cliffside school whereas if you live on the east side your children would go to Chine Drive Public School, which Gayle Nyberg when she was head of the school board referred to as “the country club”. It is a small school in a spectacular water-front setting. Further east if you buy in Cliffcrest your children will go to Fairmount Junior Public School which has a coveted arts based curriculum. The school is situated on a beautiful park backing onto the Bluffs. There are some co-ops in Cliffside where I believe the people pay market rent however there are no apartment buildings in Cliffcrest south of Kingston Road. You have to do your research. There is a pocket on Kingston Road at Morningside where I don’t feel safe but it is much further east. I think people who have a negative view of Scarborough are thinking of areas like Morningside which do exist but the Bluffs is an enclave.

  3. Jane says:

    I lived in the Beach for over 35 years and was fortunate to buy into the Bluffs a few years ago. You could not pay me to live in the Beach again. I have found an idyllic peaceful oasis that is tranquil and feels like a resort town. I live a little further east from Midland and if I leave my house at 7:30 and drive along the Danforth I can be at work downtown within 25 minutes. You have to visit this neighbourhood to believe it. Waterfront and scenic views about and some of the larger homes hire professional gardeners so their gardens are spectacular. Don’t be fooled by the shops on Kingston Road as they do not reflect the homes or the people who live in the homes. . Take a drive or walk down the leafy winding streets south of Kingston Road. Many of the original homes are being purchased for the land and being replaced by custom built family dwellings so if you have not visited for a while you will find that it has changed. The trick to making money in real estate is to be ahead of the trends. This real estate agent was giving good advice. Money aside, it is a fabulous place to live if you love nature, peace and having reasonable proximity to The Beach, The Danforth and Downtown.

  4. javad says:

    would be appreciated if I receive listing for houses with waterfront view.

  5. Willow says:

    Why not purchase a houseboat and live “Sleepless in Seattle” style? There is one for sale on 7 Brimley Rd. South #15 (E2868624) for 355k and it’s in the Chine Drive PS district. Not sure what you would do in the winter, though…

  6. JP says:

    Take it from someone that used to have an unobscured, 180 degree+ view of lake Ontario and Toronto from a high floor… It’s nice having the view, but after a while, you don’t notice it and don’t appreciate it as much as your visitors do. It’s nice to have when it comes time to sell though!

    Moreover, in this case, the beach isn’t yours and the water here is usually too cold to swim in, and I’m not sure I would even if it were warmer. The number of houses in areas like that with pools leads me to believe I’m not alone there.

  7. DavidP says:

    “People will suggest that the “prime Beaches” are just north of Queen Street, and east of, say, Scarborough Road.”

    You mean west of Scarborough Road? All the streets you proceed to name are west..

  8. Jim says:

    Using Google Maps & View, the neighbourhood seems to have large lots with several that have swimming pools. The streets are filled with mature trees. The houses on the south side sits atop of the bluffs

    The shoreline is really a pathway that runs along the base of the bluffs at this point. The bluffs is protected from the lake erosion by a stone break water and trees. At strategic points the breakwater juts out to the lake in pier like formations.

    I would love to live in this neighbourhood and chat with Mr Rogers. I would just make sure the house is protected by trees growing on the bluffs. There is house with a large pool quite close to the edge that isn’t protected by trees growing on the bluffs. It looks like a sheer drop.

  9. Jonathan says:

    Sorry David – perhaps I can point you in the right direction though. If you look at Lake Promenade in Etobicoke you may find what you seek. It’s hard to tell from Google Maps, but I see a few of what might be docks or concerete mooring breakwalls which might be the best you get for the main body of Lake Ontario. If you go to Mississauga or Oakville you might also have good luck, but there are no bargains to be had!

    There are also houses backing on to things like Grenadier Pond, Humber River, etc. but I don’t know that I’d want to be swimming in any of those. Such a shame…

    1. Kyle says:

      Unlike the Eastern waterfront homes, the ones on Lake Promenade do come with riparian rights, which i think means you own the land up to the waterfront and in theory allows you to install a dock and moor your boat to it.

  10. Alex says:

    A beach is nice, but I’m betting it’s not safe to swim in the water there, sorry. The few beaches where it’s safe to swim in Toronto are only safe because they’ve done a lot of work to make it so (still you’re not supposed to go swimming after heavy rainfall because of the runoff). I’ve seen people in the water at Frenchman’s Bay in Pickering, though I’m not sure how safe it is there (I guess if it wasn’t there would be signs), and I can’t think of anywhere in Ajax you can safely go in the water. It would be a nice view to have, but if you can’t go in the water then I wouldn’t pay $3M or more for it. Especially since you can’t walk anywhere. Cottages are nice to go to for a week or so, but they aren’t very conducive to day-to-day living, like being able to walk to the corner convenience store when you run out of milk instead of driving.

    1. ScottyP says:

      Well, if you put any credence into the opinions of the Blue Flag program, Toronto’s beaches are, for the most part (to quote the Star), “world class”:

      http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/08/11/toronto_beaches_are_world_class_but_still_avoided_by_locals.html

      Funny, how so very little in this city is, in actuality, “world class” despite the constant bleating on the subject by its residents… and yet one of its few definable “world class” attributes is generally avoided by those same residents like the plague.

      1. Joe Q. says:

        The beaches are pretty clean, but the water is cold. To me that’s the main disadvantage. And at least in the western suburbs (Mississauga / Oakville) the lakeshore area tends to reek. I don’t remember that in Scarborough when I was growing up — must be a west-side thing.

  11. Joe Q. says:

    Jonathan took the words out of my mouth. The “beach” may be there, but you don’t own it, it’s 100 feet down off the edge of a cliff at the back of your property, and to top things off, that cliff is steadily eroding as time goes by — so don’t get too close to the edge.

  12. Jonathan says:

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think any of those lots go all the way to the lake shore, and in most cases (Fallingbrook might be an exception) you would have to scale the bluff to get to the water. The beaches are technically publicly owned, although not readily accessible. I don’t think you would be allowed to build a dock even if you did own the beachfront, and even if you could the winter ice would destroy it! It’s a nice idea though…

    1. @ Jonathan

      What a buzz-kill!!! 🙂

  13. Chroscklh says:

    In my country, water view mean flood. But commute is no problem because no one work. Prime real estates is usually ones with front door you can close to stop bears.

    1. GinaTO says:

      This is hilarious

  14. JG says:

    And suddenly my Friday became much sadder … realizing i live in the nightmare of Suburbia where my view is being squeezed in by hundreds of cuttie cutter homes. *sigh*

  15. Geoff says:

    I think your time estimate is wrong. Try leaving on a Tuesday at 7.30am from there. My guess is more like 55 minutes with traffic.

    This doesn’t sound like much, but many people who use daycare such as myself live and die by the clock – can’t drop off before 7.40am and can’t pickup after 6pm. Squeeze.

    1. jeff316 says:

      You bet. Child-care is just one of many factors driving demand for centrally-located homes. Are you a family of two-incomes, both derived from jobs in the core? Daycare may be much easier to get (and a bit cheaper) if you’re out in Mississauga but you’re one late GO Train from having them handed over to the CAS after 6 PM.

  16. Graham says:

    But what about the local school David! I know you are big on the public school districts.

    The local school for Fishleigh Drive is Cliffside PS. The Fraser Institute rating is 2.3/10. 2.3! I did not expect it to be that low. Rank 2934/3030 for 2012-13. There’s only one year of data though.

    1. guest1 says:

      The Grade 6 enrollment at Cliffside is 13 students. Wouldn’t take much to drag down the average. As the original owners, now seniors, sell off their homes more families will move in and these stats will change. The Catholic school in the area ranks 5.7 and has grade 6 enrollment of 18.

      1. Red says:

        Hey Steve! You signed my Captain America hat yseterday, if you recall! It was good to meet you, and thanks again! You should check out my blog at nicklisz.blogspot.com. At the moment it’s mostly school work but i’m going to be uploading a lot of artwork starting in a couple weeks when school’s done. It would be greatly appreciated if you could follow me on there, and if you ever have some free time check out the art i’ll be posting up. Great to meet you again Steve!

  17. Paully says:

    Back in high school, the very best parties were held on the beach under the bluffs at Ravine Dr. and Hill Cr. Easy to have bonfires but no easy access for the cops to spoil our fun. Someone actually had a heavy rope tied to a tree at the top to help people get down and up the ravine again later without killing themselves!

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