The Friday Rant: CityPlace As A “Ghetto”

This week, an article appeared on Eye Weekly’s online newspaper called “Ghetto Fabulous.”  It was a follow-up to last week’s cover story in which I was quoted as saying that CityPlace will be a “ghetto” in twenty years.

My opinions were rejected by readers of the original article, as they were quick to defend CityPlace, and even quicker to misinterpret my comments.

But any press is good press, right?

Any press for Charlie Sheen is good press, but not for Lindsay Lohan, right?

Every time I open my big yap and share my views on Toronto with the general public, I know that not only do I have the potential to irk people, but I’m also opening the door to readers misinterpreting what I say.

I was interviewed for a cover story in last week’s Eye Weeklyabout condominium developments in Toronto, and I was asked to give my top three and bottom three picks for Toronto condos.

The bottom three were easy: CityPlace, CityPlace, and more CityPlace.

But unfortunately, that didn’t fly.

I did, however, include Cityplace as my #1 worst condominium in downtown Toronto, saying the following:

#1: Anything in CityPlace – Mariner Terrace, Telegram Mews, Navy Wharf.  Who comes up with these names?  There are 20-something buildings and about 10,000 units all within spitting distance of eachother, with no surrounding infrastructure, no character, no history – and no way that this won’t be a ghetto in 20 years.

I stand by my comments, and if it weren’t for the fact that I was under the gun to quickly provide a few words, I might have flushed it out a bit, and I might have been even meaner!

The original article can be seen HERE.

The follow-up article, “Ghetto Fabulous,” can be seen HERE.

The problem I have with the reader comments is that these people don’t quite understand how to view real estate in Toronto.

To understand my comments about CityPlace being a future “ghetto,” let’s first examine the word itself.

At www.wikipedia.org, a ghetto is defined as:

A section of a city occupied by a minority group who live there especially because of social, economic, or legal pressure.”

The definition takes this one step further and says, “A ghetto is now described as an overcrowded urban area often associated with a specific ethnic or racial population.”

Let’s avoid a discussion about the origin of the word “ghetto” as it pertains to 1940’s Europe, and consider how a 2011 version of the term “ghetto,” in the most sarcastic, cynical nature that I’m accustomed so speaking in, can be applied to CityPlace.

I suppose part of my issue with my original comment in Eye Weekly was the fact that their online version of the story was split into two different articles.  The article that said about me, “He calls it like he sees it, sarcastically documenting, in hilarious video and blog posts, his disdain for sex-driven marketing, murky purchase agreements, shoddy construction, and poor planning, as evidenced by his perennial whipping-boy, CityPlace,” was in a completely different article from where I made my comment about CityPlace as a “ghetto.”  Without knowing my platform, I suppose people might take my comments as literally as a definition that claims a ghetto is best evidenced by 1940’s Europe…

Regardless of how people view my comments, ie. whether or not they have heard my outrageous voice before, I’d like to tell you how I think CityPlace will be a ghetto in 20 years.

I hate CityPlace.

Always have, always will.

It represents what I dislike most about condos in Toronto: no history, no character, no business, no surrounding infrastructure, poor construction, poor design, and rampant overcrowding.  It ignores the simple tenets of supply and demand.

It represents what I dislike most about the people that buy there: no imagination, no knowledge, no desire for something better.

It represents what I dislike most about the Realtors who sell units here: they’re not thinking outside the box, they’re not working for their clients, they’re taking the easy way out, and above all – they refuse to take a stance on anything.

CityPlace is a collection of over twenty buildings, all towering over eachother, all starring out at eachother, and all built poorly, in my opinion.

CityPlace is mainly owned by investors, many of whom are overseas in Asia or the Middle East, and who have never set foot inside the condo itself.  If foreign investment ever pulled out of the Toronto real estate industry, which area of the city do you think would be hit the hardest?

The design for many of these buildings is poor.  How many times have you been inside a unit at CityPlace and the bedroom is almost shaped like a triangle?  How can you place furniture in your living room properly when it’s not a square or rectangle, but rather an odd collection of angles?

Ask the residents of 4K Spadina how they enjoyed the flood a few weeks after they moved in…

I guess what I’m getting at is that CityPlace represents the lowest common denominator in the downtown core.

If you’re an investor overseas – just plunk down some money for ten units in the newest CityPlace building.  They’re cheap, and they’re easy.

If you’re a buyer with budgetary constraints, look no further than CityPlace.  Units there are cheaper than anywhere in the downtown core.

But isn’t this what will serve to make this area a ghetto in 20 years?

The definition of a “student ghetto” goes on to say:

“Landlords have little incentive to properly maintain the housing stock, since they know that they can always find tenants.”

Oh, how true is this about dear CityPlace!

Step inside a unit in CityPlace that has had three tenants in three years, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

I would estimate that more than HALF of all CityPlace condos are owned by investors and speculators.  These people have no reason to spend money on general upkeep of the units when the vacancy rate in Toronto is 1.5%, and as a result, the units fall into disrepair.

This is a bona-fide reason why CityPlace will slowly turn into a “ghetto.”

Nobody has ever described CityPlace as “luxury living” or “upscale” in any way.  It’s the cheapest, most easily obtainable real estate in the downtown core.

And this brings me to my next point, and perhaps one of the largest issues I have with the misinterpretation about my use of the word “ghetto” as it pertains to CityPlace: I speak of this area as a ghetto as it pertains to the downtown core; not the GTA, and not Ontario.

Would I rather live at CityPlace or Jane/Finch?  Yeah, I get it.

But relative to the downtown core, on a comparative basis, CityPlace is worse than everything else.

That is the point that I was trying to make.

Relative to the new luxury developments throughout the core, or relative to King Street, Queen West, or even the crap they’re building at 126 Simcoe and 21 Nelson – CityPlace is garbage.

Overcrowded?  That’s an understatement.  This is the most dense area of the city and it’s only getting worse.

Lack of surrounding infrastructure?  It took them eight years to get a Sobey’s built within walking distance.  How many bars, shops, restaurants, and businesses are in the ghetto west of Spadina?  Maybe one drycleaners, a Subway Sandwiches, and hopefully a nail salon.

But how in the world can you compare this overcrowded, boring, faceless locale to living on King Street?  In Liberty Village?  On Queen West?  In the Entertainment District?  In the St. Lawrence Market?  On The Esplanade?  The list goes on…

CityPlace will never be a collection of poor, drug-crazed residents like what many people consider a “ghetto” to be, at the most intense interpretation of the word, but it will be the worst collection of condominium units in the downtown core in 20 years, if it’s not already, in my humble opinion…

Supply and demand has long since been ignored, and there are simply too many units in CityPlace to satisfy what will eventually be a lack of demand.  Buyers don’t really differentiate between Neo and Montage – they’re just two of the many new towers in CityPlace.  To me, they’re just a collection of awful units in an awful location.  How discerning can you really be when you’re starting at the very bottom?

I’m one of the most active downtown condo agents in today’s market, and what I see is truly astonishing.

I’ve never seen more knowledge among buyers than I do today.

The “premium” units are selling for over-asking and in multiple offers.

The garbage is sitting on the market.

Our condominium market is so efficient right now that nothing is falling in between the cracks.  Case in point, in my building where everything is selling in multiple offers, a unit was listed at $379,000 that was likely worth around that price.  They took offers, didn’t get what they were looking for, and subsequently re-listed higher at $399,000.  That’s known as “the real estate kiss of death.”  When a seller plays pricing games, the buyers know to stay away.  They know what’s really going on, and they simply pick up and leave.

Buyers are more savvy than they’ve ever been, and they’re looking way beyond the condo unit itself.  Buyers are looking at everything else; things I’ve been championing for years: the building, the location, the neighbourhood, the shops/restaurants/bars, public transit, access to highways, walking distance to A, B, and C, and about a dozen other criteria that make CityPlace look like a ghetto.

Fewer buyers are being lured into junk like CityPlace because, “Like, OMG, there’s a bowling alley in the condo!  And, like, a really cool gym where good looking guys with spray-tans wear Hurley toques inside!”

When was the last time you went bowling anyways?  Do you really need this in your condo?

Buyers will put a premium on a King Street property because of the A+ location, and appropriately assign a B- or C+ to something two blocks up on Richmond Street.

Buyers in today’s market are far too savvy to buy into junk like CityPlace.  Or at least most are.

People who live in CityPlace have bought into the worst collection of condos in the downtown core, and if and when our market ever turns, they will be the hardest hit.  This is what will turn the area into a ghetto in twenty years.

I stand by everything I say, and everything I write.

And when anonymous readers of Eye Weekly Online say things like, “Even a clown like Rob Ford knows that allowing a ghetto to be the first view a visitor coming in from the Gardiner gets would be disastrous for the city,” they’re speaking from a knowledge base of zero. 

Can Rob Ford change supply and demand?  Really?  Can he affect free market dynamics?

And if somebody else says, “Mr. Fleming is ignoring the first rule of real estate: location, location, location,” then they’re missing my point entirely.  Because what I am saying is EXACTLY about location, more specifically, that CityPlace is an awful location. 

Was this not clear?

If people think that CityPlace has “scarce waterfront views,” then perhaps they’ve only been in one building, facing immediately south, and not one of the thousands of units whose views are of another building, and another beyond that.

If people think that CityPlace is: “In close proximity to the financial district and the city’s most well-known landmarks (CN Tower, Rogers Centre, the theatre district),” then they’re not thinking specific enough.  How about living IN the theatre district, and not just in a ghetto that is a twenty minute walk from it? 

They’re entirely missing my point.

But what else should I expect?

The masses have spoken, and their opinions are as unfounded as the thoughts of the prototypical 20-something “investor” who plunks down a deposit on a pre-construction condo in 2011 because “it’s, like, a totally great way to like, make money.”  If only you had that idea back in 2003…

Do your homework.  Think outside the box.

And put your goddam name on what you write.

I do it every day…

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  1. […] skyline and landscape has changed exponentially. Let’s take the area around lakeshore, called CityPlace. This area ten years ago was completely different. Now it is home to towering skyscrapers, […]

  2. jo says:

    It’s simple. CityPlace and Liberty Village, are not neighbourhoods built on community, services and access to resources. They are corporate developments, formerly rail lands that were acquired by Liberty group and Concord in the late 90s. They are corporate investments, NOT neighbourhoods. They have no feeling, no landmarks, and no relationship to their industrial origins. They lack character and connection. They are dystopian, colourless landscapes that remind me more of suburban developments than urban communities. They were built with Big Box stores and cars in mind, not pedestrians and public transit. (WHICH IS ANOTHER TOPIC ALL TOGETHER) The vast majority of people who live there aren’t from the city, and are comfortable because it reminds them of their suburban roots. I’ve known many people who moved there from Mississauga, Brampton and other 905 “bridge and tunnel” areas who believe its a clean and safe alternative to the “real” city because theres a Starbucks and 24hr Goodlife and big name grocery stores. Ignorance is bliss and these developments prove that. As far as I’m concerned, let them have it. Toronto needs real people, with local attitudes and interests. Not culturally conformist idiots who call it the “six”.

    -Proud Muddy Yorker

  3. […] that are cut off from the rest of the city lose their money, they tend to become ghettos. At least this guy seems to think so, and to be honest I’ve seen nothing but bad news about shoddy building and […]

  4. Maggie K. says:

    Still reading through your archives. I am really enjoying your blog. When you flesh something out you are adding more flesh to it, making it bigger not flushing it.

  5. kenny says:

    hi, long time reader

    wanted to ask something – do you really think pure plaza liberty villages condos are much better? I’ve been to a lot of them and their architectures are drawn by drunk architects, with HORRIBLE layouts, unusable space and absolutely absurd retarded views, balconies, kinks and corners. Also they have one of the lowest quality i’ve seen. I just sort of really want to know your views and maybe some of these other commentators views on the comparison

  6. Bamelin says:

    I live in Neo and there are ups and downs.

    Ups:

    Sobeys in building
    Amazing facilities … I use the pool daily
    View from my unit is amazing
    Security in building is excellent (can’t even use elevator without a security fob)
    Multiple parks nearby including dog park
    Close to Gardiner
    Walking distance amazing neighborhoods (queen west, King st, entertainment and theatre districts etc)
    Cut off from “busy” part of city giving a nice sense of separation between “home” “fun” and “work” — cityplace feels like a residential area

    Downs:
    Lots of partyers in building and lots of renters
    Finishes aren’t the best
    visitors parking is a joke (10 spaces for 2 buildings)
    Loud living next to Spadina and horrible congestion
    Somewhat cut off from rest of city — I listed this as a plus but it’s also a con depending on what you are looking for

    Overall I would never buy here. But it’s been a fantastic place to rent.

    1. chrsitian says:

      yall are stupid, ive lived Harlem…you call that character ? its ghettooooooo ive been chased by rats and ppl here…the only downfall about city place is no SUBWAY.. street cars mess up traffic anyways and shouldn’t even be considered on a one lane road… all of you saying CIRTYPLACE isnt real toronto yall are knobs and belong up at ST clair with all the rats and homless crack heads… CITYPLACE is
      New young and Trendy and its like 5 mins walk to the entertainment district so unless you cant walk you are just a Toronto want to be hipster speaking out of your A$$

  7. Sud says:

    City Place is sloppy and on drugs like the mayor of the city.

  8. B Chang says:

    I know this article is old, but I was looking around cityplace recently and was at the matrix buildings on front st west. Does anyone know what the real story is with the patios being gutted, the cracks in the parking area and the lawsuits against the developer? These buildings are now not CMHC eligible, and bank appraisers are very harsh on their valuations – does anyone who really know have an idea when and if these issues will be resolved? How long have they locked the doors to the patios as they removed all the railings and glass and when will they restore them.

    1. CityPlaceDweller says:

      Yes, totally agree, I’m a CityPalce dweller and the workmanship is poor, and we’ve suffered our second flood this year. Add to that our damages that were done to our car during the ‘repair’ of the parking garage (really? so soon after it’s built?) and we are thousands of dollars in the red after living here. Thank goodness we rent and don’t have to pay a realtor to sell this place ….

  9. Min says:

    I totally agree with the article. Cityplace is crappyplace. I lived there for two months and still wasn’t able to fully move in yet. There are repairs that needed to be fixed and it would take them 2-3 times to fix something simply like caulking on the windows. The builders are sloppy and careless. The customer care department doesn’t know what they are doing and the project manager has a very low building standard i.m.o. I was told by the project manager yesterday after I’ve told him that I’m moving out next year that Concord (CityPlace) is built better than most of the condo’s around the area. I laughed in his face. Concord Cityplace is the ghetto. They are still using weights to open the gates, people pee in the underground parking, repair was done on the pipes already due to “minor leak”, the unit below me needed repairs due to leaking, a fire occurred on the 8th floor because young people just don’t care about cityplace. Cityplace is a so called young professionals living space. Meaning, lets party and disturb our neighbors. And since no one cares about the building, why should we do? You are also not allowed to choose your own internet provider even though the unit is officially yours. I can go on and on but I will stop now. Good Luck to anyone who lives there. If you plan on living there, make sure you buy the Ph unit, any other units would probably be crap. Oh and check the walls with a balance. One of my walls are slanted and was told they might not be able to fix it. Concord SUCK!!

  10. Jone says:

    It’s very informative article and discussion

  11. Sebastian says:

    I agree completely that cityplace is not exactly the most tasteful location, having about as much personality and history as a wealthy, young vulgarian. Yet I wouldn’t be so quick to fulminate. I understand that this writer has a job to do, and it’s his job to appear as if he is sensitive to what is worthwhile and tasteful in the world of condos, like a music critic who boasts that he doesn’t like the popular movement, but lauds the less known andante for its subtle melody, while perhaps not fully feeling that what he is more interested in conveying is that he is privy to a secret of which the masses are ignorant. I have no doubt that this writer’s tastes in condos are refined, but Cityplace is not without its perks. There are not a few a condos with a gorgeous – perhaps not so much of the lake, but of the rogers centre, the CN tower and the skyline. The TTC is very accessible here, especially being to so close to Union Station. The docks to Toronto Island are within a short walking distance, which is particularly great if you have children. Pubs, restaurants and bars and popping up more and more frequently. Many condos are not in fact triangular, but as rectangular as one could hope for. But what is perhaps most desirable is a youthful energy and generally happy mood. Yes it’s true. Despite the peevish tone of this author, the tenants of City Place seem more than happy to live here. They are quite comfortable and clean with their A/C, in suite washers and dryers, pools and hot tubs and fitness rooms. It will never suit a refined condo artist, I’m sure, but no one here would be so extreme as to call it a ghetto, in any sense of the term – unless the term has been refined in some stretched way to serve the author’s libel.

  12. CityPlace Dweller says:

    Are you kidding me?? Do you understand anything about location? Go to other big cities like New York or London and you’ll understand that location is not measured in steps to street car or shawarma place on Queen St. (speaking of drunken frat boys), but reasonable walking distance – yes 10 minutes is considered close for anyone not in wheelchair. CityPlace is located right between re-invigorated waterfront AND city core – both entertainment and financial districts, yet comfortably removed from both to provide peace and comfort.
    Most of CP units have better views and more sunlight than anything on King or Queen St, where .5 million 1 bedrooms are glued to one another. Speaking of amenities, where else in the city core can you find 25m lap pools in buildings – not even in expensive elite gyms anymore. And yes, I use them extensively – I swim 20 laps before work every day, before I walk 15 minutes to my luxury office on King W. I haven’t used even a bicycle, let alone car in the last 5 years living there.
    These are the undeniable facts that will ensure long term value of the place when Toronto grows to 10 million people – just like there will never again be a cheap place on Manhattan island, not because it’s close to this or that, but because it’s ON the island.

  13. Lui says:

    some of the units are very good but what David is trying to point out is the cluster of condos adds zero character to the area,it feels like your encircled in a concrete maze with only one exit and thats onto Spadina.The traffic and congestion between 3:00pm to 9:00pm is terrible and with the damn traffic light its causing huge back ups almost from morning to night for those exiting onto the Spadina off ramp.I would never buy a unit here not because the units are terrible is the area cannot handle this much people in such a small area and everyday is a struggle to get home.The wear and tear of these units must be mind boggling since renters arent known to be gentle with the units or the amenities.

  14. TylerF says:

    @ John K – your point is well taken. I agree on the Battery Park City comparison. Actually, your right – that is probably the most fitting comparison as far as NYC goes, as BPC is also a planned community.
    I agree that Harlem has plenty of character absolutely but my point was more arguing how location propels people to move to a neighborhood, they would not otherwise live. Harlem is still considered undesirable to most wealthy New Yorkers, especially above125th street. But the proximity to central Manahattan raised the value of property closer to upper Manhattan (near the 100’s).
    Parts of BPC I would argue are even farther removed from Manhattan than CP relative to Toronto, due to the West Side Hwy but BPC is still considered a high-end desirable neighborhood due to its proximity to Wall St. even though in the eyes of most true New Yorkers especially hipsters – it sucks. (Btw, I’m not saying CP is as great as BPC but lets face it: not much in Toronto is as developed/great as NYC).
    As far as CP being a ghetto, I still have to generally disagree. I have been to many different CP condos – some have horrible layouts; some have good ones. There is so much within walking distance especially with the building East of Spadina: King West, Air Canada Centre, CN Tower, Rogers Centre, theatre area and the financial area, how can it become a ghetto? And these areas are still developing with new places in CP’s future is yet to be determined: the library, the bridge across the tracks etc.
    As far as CPs rep, I know 10-12 people who have lived there. No complaints except 2 people from the same new building who frankly, said stuff that you here all the time in Manhattan – crappily built, security is unattentive etc. As far as finishes? I heard the new Parade tower will have Meile appliances. Cmon…A ghetto does not have Meile appliances. Bisha, 300 Front St West, Ritz Carlton, The Thompson, TIFF building are all within spitting distance of the first CP towers. There selling at prices comparably higher than anywhere in the core aside Yorkville. If you think, you’re going to have 1500 sq-ft condos in 300 Front St. West going 1.3M+ (which btw, is beside some energy/power plant) and similar units in CP across the street going for 50% of that. That’s very unlikely. Maybe 70-80% sure. But twenty years from now, 300 Front St. West will be just as shabby as any of those old CP buildings. No one is going to care about 5 year difference. Location is what matters at the end. They’ll just reno if necessary.
    All the talk about “lack of character” in CP is absolutely true and of all ‘planned neighborhoods’ but the proximity from some good character neighborhoods is not very far (5-10 mins). (I personally think Liberty village is worse in this respect btw)
    Bottom line – Foreign investment is not a precursor for a crappy development. The Shanghai is selling 19M+ condo right now that’s only 2500 sq-ft. Shanghai is not marketing to locals. Foreign Investors view every city the same – they look at the location, the views, the layouts etc. Like BPC in NYC, CP is part of the Toronto skyline and with water-views. To foreign investors, its a no brainer. That’s why their rich. If Toronto becomes the great world-class city, it wants to be, these kinds of properties always go for a lot of $ (Toronto is a cheap urban city by all international standards btw). I mean, every picture of the Toronto’s skyline, positively or negatively, advertises CP.
    Under-hyped is better than over-hyped and to me. I think the problem with CP is it was “over-hyped” intially so people are going the opposite way because they are surprised how it turned out. But that does not mean the place is some huge disaster. There was absolutely nothing there before. When 15K people call CP their home, the nieghborhood will not be the best Toronto neighborhood, but will not be the worst either. Most people who live there have too few complaints.
    Just my two cents…

  15. Nick says:

    Long time reader, first time poster here.

    I happen to live (rent) in Cityplace and can’t agree more with you David. There is no substitute for good location, which almost all of cityplace does not have.

    However, I have to agree with the distinction that some have made between buildings like Apex and the rest. The only decent buildings in my opinion are Apex (where I live) and Matrix, which are the oldest but are on Front and, more importantly, east of Spadina. The lights at Bremner and Spadina take literally 5 minutes to cross sometimes when I try to go to that oh so convenient Sobeys (fortunately I have a car so drive to Loblaws at Queen’s Quay most of the time). I can only imagine the frustration of people who have to wait for those lights every day when walking to work/into the city.

    Because I am in Apex, I do not mind LIVING in cityplace, as it is cheap, easy to walk to work/shopping etc…, and can get on the Gardiner in 2 minutes to go to other areas of the city that actually have things to do. Having said this, I still would never OWN a unit, even in Apex, even though it seems to be relatively well built and less full of loud, obnoxious 20 somethings (a demographic which I am part of).

    When I eventually buy a property of my own, I want an area with character, stores, bars, restaurants etc… What I mean is I want a community, not a place to live. In the foreseeable future, CP will never be a community, and thus it will never be like lower Harlem and get pulled up by surrounding areas. St Lawrence Market is my preferred location for all of these things. I think the Lower Donlands area further east is a much better candidate for the “Harlem” analogy, which does not have too much right now, but is at least a community, close to cool areas like the Distillery and St Lawrence Mkt, and will surely be transformed over the coming years with the Pan Am games coming.

  16. Richard says:

    Scott, love your comment! Yes, John Michael Thumb is an ignorant, self-important ass. I’d like to meet him face to face so that I can take him down a notch (or enough notches to put him with the serial killers).

  17. Jon k says:

    To the NYC guy…. I just moved to Toronto from NYC. You’ve actually proven the OP point. There is character in Harlem. Fruit stands, corner stores, clothes stores, Schools etc. Harlem was built over time and is a true neighborhood, unlike CP. All of manhattan is neighborhoods, even Brooklyn is ‘somewhere’ CP is nowhere.

    A more apt comparison would be battery park city in lower manhattan. Like CP it is a recent creation , cut off from the rest of manhattan by west side hwy. No subway stops, limited buses, limited services. And a ten min. Walk to wall street. So far, so good. But having lived in BpC for a year the shortcomings of CP are obvious. Where is the gorgeous walking path by th Hudson? Where are the schools? Museums? Why don’t all the buildings have private parks and great views? Where is the quiet at night? And BpC is still in progress some 35 year after starting. It wasn’t bult overnight like CP, and it was carefully planned as a community.

    CP can never turn into BpC or anyplace with character.

  18. Joren Carlson says:

    “Shittyplace” is already a ghetto.

    Has been pretty much from when the first tower went up. Mostly foreign owners bought in there with every intention to flip ’em and make a quick buck. Then things changed and now most of them are rental units, owned by off-shore owners who really don’t care as long as the cheques don’t bounce. This tends to attract some tenants who apparently get dogs and let ’em shit and pee in the hallway and don’t clean it up, or throw lit cigarette butts out the window without a thought to the people living below them.

    I have little respect for builders because they basically put up shitboxes using substandard material not suited for our climate. Look at stacked townhouses just about anywhere, but Liberty Village for example. Or the new “X” condo downtown at Jarvis and Charles. The suite doors look like something they got off the back of a truck. They’ll be showing their age in about a week.

    I have clients that relocate from outside Canada and they usually wonder why we’re not looking at any of the buildings in CityPlace (because I won’t take anyone there without them specifically saying they want to go). When I explain why, most of them are good with not going. I only had one client that wanted to rent there and that was mainly because he travelled so much he wanted something cheap.

    A major beef I have with Toronto in general is the OMB and the city and their planning (or lack of same). They’ll take an area like Lake Shore Blvd or Queens Quay that had a couple of nice condos but still a nice looking area, and then allow developers to put up several more condos so packed in that instead of nice views, all of a sudden hundreds or thousands of people have views of each others suites.

    Then theres CP.

  19. TylerF says:

    As a Toronto-native and ex-New Yorker, I have to say I find this post entertaining. I’ll admit that I am not as familiar nor really understand the nuances of Toronto real estate (but Im also not eager to assume that Toronto’s real estate is much different than anywhere else). But in New York (and if Toronto has a chance of ever being a ‘real’ international city like NYC), from an investment perspective, the nuances sound sort of exaggerated.
    I think the problem here is we are getting the perspective of people who are not wealthy investors. I say this because there is a total misunderstanding of how much location plays a role in real estate and how little other stuff means like the actual quality of units etc. Finishes and cheap microwaves? The differences in CP vs. other Toronto condos is not dramatic enough to mean anything, investment-wise. So students can scratch the hell out of the walls. Who cares? All of it is replaceable. In places like NYC or London, everything is reno’d. Location rules.
    The most expensive areas in NYC are probably SOHO and the Upper East Side. Do people complain about crappy cheap leaky-roof apartments there? Absolutely. (When the rich people move in, they get that fixed btw). In fact, plenty of celebs own places in SOHO that if they were in Toronto, it would make CP look like the Wardolf-Astoria. TRUST ME. And these places average upwards 1.5-2M for a 1-bedroom+den. Rich kids from the Hamptons move to New York and complain about their 4K rent/month crappy 1-bedroom apartments all day long. That’s just a sign of wealth. And anywhere pictured along the Manhattan skyline is not a ghetto (Lucky for Toronto, CP won’t be either, folks)
    I think a better question to ask is why people would tolerate living in such a shabby area like “Cityplace” (Hard to say w/o laughing out loud). Let me use an example: In the southern part of Harlem/Morningside Heights (areas which used to be called ghetto areas) close to the Upper East Side and Upper West side, condo prices rise with property increases in the Upper East Side and Upper West Side. Places in the Upper West might be 2M. That same place in Morningside Heights will go for 1.7M. Why? Proximity. If proximity can even erase the defining reputation of a place synomonous with the words “ghetto” like Harlem, what do you think it will do for so-called “crappyplace”? In the NYC-Harlem areas I mentioned, while not as expensive as the Upper East Side or Upper West Side, the prices closely mirror that of the premium neighborhoods just adjacent. So, in other words, if King West continues it’s prominence, (which seems likely given the TIFF building, the Thompson, theatre district, financial district, the Ritz Carlton and Liberty Village all close or just down the street etc.) and CN Tower/Roger’s Centre remains a desirable area, then, inevitably, CP will see modest gains. The proximity of CP is just too close to Thompson, for instance, for someone to say “I’d rather pay 1.3M to live in the Thompson rather than 600K for somewhere in CP, just down the street”. The difference between CP and hot places like the Thompson (which is over-rated btw) is just not great enough to hold. You can walk to Thompson in 5 minutes. You can walk to Bisha in 6 minutes. It’s much more likely that the CP condo would go for 80%-90% of the relative price, even if CP suffers a bad rep.
    As far as CP not being considered “upscale” – I’m not entirely sure I even know what an upscale condo is in Toronto anymore, given this post. To be real, I am a real estate investor with 4 properties in North America and I can’t tell the difference between a CP condo and any other cookie-cutter condos in Toronto – and yeah, I have been to plenty. Some CP units I have been to were absolutely terribly-designed, others have excellent layouts and beautiful views. Good and bad like everywhere. There are 1M+ homes in CP which puts it up there with anything else higher-end in Toronto. Retail in CP is lacking because the gov’n will not allow anything which causes extra traffic but that will change as the years drag on.
    To be truthful, given posts like this, call me crazy, but this makes me think that the best investment in Toronto might be CP. The average Torontonian just does not understand the condo market in major cities. If you remember when those first CP buildings started, nothing was there. Now those first Concord Apex buildings are considered the best located CP condos because of developments that started AFTER Cityplace residents flooded the area. Investors made an absolute killing. The same will likely happen once 15K residents move in. The land was cheap when Concord bought it, no one cared for it. They are making it into a much better place, than what it was. (No one can disagree there). They can throw up condos and sell them super-quick because they paid peanuts for the land and will sell condos for lower than the market to get the “80% sold” credit quick. New retail/hotel/restaurant developments are targeted close to CP, on the West side of the city. CP investors/residents can be partially accredited for driving the development of the Toronto condo-boom (hate or love it), ending clubland and even growing King West (After all, they are the ones hitting the King West bars, wasting their money). TIFF is now located there. Ritz Carlton just opened down the street. So CP is the most ridiculed and the most underestimated by a sub-group of risk-averse Toronto – and therefore, the cheapest. Hmmm….to me, CP sounds a lot like a lucrative long-term investment.

  20. Scott says:

    The Hierarchy of Life, according to John Michael Thumb:

    TOP
    -John Michael Thumb
    -Residents of CityPlace (see preceding notch)
    -Glenn Beck
    -Pastor Benny Hinn

    BOTTOM
    -Realtors like DF
    -Child Molesters
    -Serial Killers

    Threw in notches 3 and 4, on a hunch. But the rest is accurate, I presume?

  21. colin says:

    I think you should do an all Cityplace week on Torontorealtyblog.

    Excellent post which an environmental psychologist would agree with

  22. John says:

    Dear Sir,

    You are a moron. Realtors like you are one notch above child molestors and serial killers in the hierarchy of life. You’re a joke, hoss.

    John Michael Thumb

  23. Stan says:

    I live on King W. (renting) but sometimes shop at the Cityplace Sobeys.
    If you walk along the North side by the railway tracks, the entire area is littered with dog dung. No one bothers with scooping their waste.

    The shopping crowd in Sobeys always surprised me as I expected a more up and coming new condo crowd, but most people seem to be like zombies with vacant looks in their eyes, alone in their worlds. Quite an isolating place to shop. Maybe these are the partier renters.

    And, only the major banks can afford the rents, so the area takes on the tone of a Richmond Hill or Markham mall-in-a-box strip mall. Blah. The 905 has come home to roost in the GTA!

  24. KirkB says:

    I love your blog but have to both somewhat agree and disagree a little. The problem is I think the whole area is being painted with a broad brush. There are so many different buildings at Cityplace. Some are crap, some are decent. Some were built far west from Spadina and others closer to the rest of the city – just east of Spadina. I have lived in the Cityplace Apex. I don’t find any negative difference between Apex and any other condos in Toronto that I have stayed. In fact, I thought the building was pretty good and would recommend it. Bear in mind, I have only lived at Apex as far as Cityplace goes and it is probably one of the oldest Cityplace buildings on Front and Spadina. Sure, amenities were lacking. They absolutely need more upscale restaurants right on Front st. besides Subway, East Side Marios and Jack Astors. This was also before Sobeys or Longos came around so there were all these huge line-ups at Rabba. On other hand, plenty of places were a five minute walk away – Marben, Le Select and King West area/Roy Thompson Hall. The new Royal Bank building is like 2 minutes away. Apex is close enough to the gardiner hwy (right off the Spadina exit). And the building itself was well-built and the finishes in the condo were fine – although renovated. I felt it was even better than the Soho across the street, where I have also lived.
    That being said I have a friend who recently moved into a newer building in Cityplace by Sobeys and has said the place is a terrible ghetto. Cheaply made. With crappy hardwood which is rising despite the place being brand new. He didn’t really elaborate anymore than that. I don’t know which specific building he was talking about though because I have yet another friend in another building in one of those towers and has absolutely zero complaints – boasts about it.
    So Id say that I feel the older Citplace buildings look pretty much integrated with the rest of city – especially those on Front St.… but the ones south of Rogers Centre are more removed and from what I have heard and much worse places to live.

  25. Richard says:

    It is disgusting what has happened to ShittyPlace. There must be by-laws against littering and dog poo. The management of these buildings should enforce the damn laws! Or ban pets from the premises.

    If the 20+ buildings pool their resources, they should be able to *affordably* hire a dog poo patrol to issue fines. They should be able to set up video surveillance.

    Yes, ShittyPlace is *already* a ghetto…

  26. Matt says:

    I think CityPlace is already a ghetto. I could never imagine buying something there.

  27. Kyle says:

    Bottom line is Cityplace is mainly ghetto because of the high renter vs owners who live there ratio. Renters love living there because it is better than living in an old apartment but it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Yet because they are renters of the worst kind (20 year old punks) who like to make loud noise, litter beer bottles outside, buy dogs and don’t clean up their poos, the area has magically acquired a black cloud over its head.

    I think if you change your perception of CP into student housing/long term hotel than an actual condo for long term living than you won’t be as upset about this development. The renters, investors are ok with this (can’t be said for people that care about Toronto, Owners who bought units hoping to live there for the long term)

    You can’t really blame the builders for planning this area to be basic. The city planners were the ones to allow the area and buildings to happen.

  28. N says:

    Have you checked out the Panorama building? It’s got nice finishes, upgraded appliances, most units have 9 foot ceilings (mine has 11 foot ceilings), 2 min walk to the lake and a Loblaws opening up downstairs soon. The quality of that building is superb, great amenities and a more mature crowd (as opposed to Luna or one of those buildings in that cluster).

  29. Geoff says:

    Wait.. so Pickering IS the place to go now? 😉

  30. Havoc says:

    Controversial blogs get the best press.. and the most comments such as this one, which is similar to your “The Foundry Lofts” post. This analysis of Cityplace is the most accurate and thorough one you’ve written in my opinion.

    Why would anyone want to live in Cityplace after reading this blog post?

    1- Price: Where else can you find a 1 + den with parking for $1450 in a newer building?

    2- Views: If you bought a unit facing the highway or the railroads then you’re an idiot. A lot of Cityplace owners and renters enjoy some of the best lake, CN tower and city views in the city.

    3- Location: You can be on the highway in 5 minutes! You can walk to Sobeys in 5 minutes! You can be at any major bank in 5 minutes! You can be in Union Station in less than 10 minutes! King/Queen/Richmond Street shopping and dining is a short walk.

    4- Amenities: I’m not talking about bowling or karoake rooms. Harborview Estates has an amazing fitness facility and most of the cityplace buildings have excellent pools, gyms and exercise rooms.

    Although Cityplace has a lot of negatives, which are clearly highlighted on this blog, it’s not an awful place to live but preferably rent.

    I would still buy a condo in Cityplace but only in select buildings and ONLY if it had an unobstructed ‘for life’ lake/city view but if I had other options in areas with more character I’d reconsider.

    BTW, I’m not a cityplacer coming to the rescue of the developments reputation…

  31. Franki says:

    @David, love the blog by the way. I have to agree and disagree with you a bit here as an investor in this city. Ghetto used a bit to loosely here, I’m certain that there’s more million dollar units in one building on ‘mariner terrace’ than the building you live in. Also, it looks to me that alot of people that read your blog probably have never lived or are new to living in a city like Toronto. Every building in any major city will have many renters, that’s a fact and people have to get over it. As for infrastructure, there will be more retail to come from what I was told. Your right, we have to wait and see. The area needs about 20 years to be judged.

  32. moonbeam! says:

    David you have been warning us about Cityplace for years in your blog, longtime readers know your views… You have been brutally honest about the negatives of CP despite pushback that would’ve made others back off! Good for you, stick to your guns & let buyers (and renters) who disagree beware. Cityplace not only is a ghetto, it may be a future slum!

  33. Dogbiskit says:

    I first developed a dislike of CP a few years ago after seeing several units there while my bf was looking for a condo. The units lacked quality and the floor plans and views were less than stellar. Then they started building more and more with no great increase in infrastructure, no development of a neighbourhood with character. Then I read about the many problems faced by residents as a result of building construction and careless and inconsiderate residents. “ghetto” was my thought well before your posts. I cringe whenever I see it from the gardiner. In response to that old adage, sometimes a book has that cover for a reason.

  34. Chuck says:

    keep on fighting the good fight DF!

    it’s amazing how having an opinion as a Realtor can really leave your butt exposed. I see it every day with our daily videos.

    but there’s only one truth, and you totally nailed it.

    they’ve just given you a bigger platform to deliver your message. no such thing as bad publicity.

  35. Duncan Scott says:

    Well written, well said… Awesome Post!! I especially like that you put your name on what you write and don’t hide behind “Anonymous” Cheers! Keep up the good work!

  36. roman says:

    I don’t want to sound like a weirdo or anything but I agree with every single solitary word you said, even the part about location which seems to be the one sticking point among readers. The “walkscore” tool that somebody posted above is interesting, but it doesn’t take into account that you have to walk across an eight -lane section of Spadina that is just north of one of the biggest trafic congestion spots in the city. Nor does it consider that while being able to walk to rogers centre also means there is endless traffic from both cars and people for 81 days of the year. It doesn’t consider that instead of walking through a nice park or cutting through Trinity Bellwoods, you have to navigate an unsightly maze of buildings. Anyhoo keep up the good work. This was a pleasure to read. I just kind of wished there would be more controversy.

  37. Vancity says:

    I live in City place and i agree with everythign that you said! Kidding. I’m a renter. WE came from Vancouver and rather than buying into a city we know nothing about we decided to rent for a year. For 1450 we got a one plus den with parking which is about 150 – 200 less than the king and queen pockets you speak of. Not bad, although true I would never buy in this concrete and glass maze.

  38. buk says:

    cityplace is next yorkville. watch out.

  39. Dan says:

    Clearly the only people who disagree with your views on CityPlace, are those sorry sad sacks who actually live there. Sucks to be you, but that don’t mean it aint true.

  40. Mila says:

    Agree with most of what you are saying about the quality of Cityplace building, but not about location.

    King and Queen may be better? Depends for what. Are you suggesting that condos outside cityplace are not too close to each other? Not facing a dead wall or another condo or a busy street filled with screeching street cars? Do they have Sobeys at every corner? Anything that’s a little bit nice on King and Queen – is pretty far from downtown core. Good luck if you need to drive. (And also good luck if you need to use TTC.)

    Cityplace maybe a ghetto, but everyone suffers from infrastructure problems in Toronto. Including all the luxury and snobby King/Queen residences.

  41. Gerrit says:

    Now I don’t live in CityPlace, but I think you exaggerate the issues with location. In terms of driving, you may be right, but the walkability of the area is quite good. In fact, I just punched it in the “Walkscore” website and it got an 85 (the average in Toronto is 49).

    As much as I agree that the immediate surrounding location is pretty dull, some buildings in Cityplace are less than a five minute walk away from King West. All of them are within 15 minutes. If you ignore the land value of being on a happening street like King, Queen etc, the location is just as convenient as many King Street locations.

    I can’t disagree with your other points though.

  42. Graham says:

    Long time reader, I think this is my first comment.

    Probably one of your best posts. City Place is terrible, but you don’t need to look very far to find people willing to defend the development. Just check out the UrbanToronto forum and you’ll find mostly spray tanned tenants in their 20s lauding the proximity to the financial district or king west.

    I look forward to the comments from the CityPlacers. It should be vicious and highly entertaining.

  43. Joe Q. says:

    Should say “original”, not “political”! @#$& phone keyboard…

  44. Joe Q. says:

    Nice post. I’ve never been inside a CityPlace building, but the isolation of those buildings is easy to see.

    The word “ghetto” is very old. The political ghetto was a gated area of Venice in the 1400s. Jews were only allowed to live in that particular area of the city, and were subject to curfews. City authorities would come each evening and lock the Jews into this neighborhood for the night, returning in the morning to let them out for the day.

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