Is 650 King Street West Going To Be “Boxed In?”

Condos | February 15, 2013

Gorgeous condo, airy feel, great natural light, fantastic view.

Now take away the last three points, and you’re left with…..what, exactly?

The first rule of real estate, or the motto, if you will, has always been “location, location, location.”

I agree, but perhaps that’s a bit too bland and generic.

If we look at a specific part of the real estate market, condos, for example, I would be willing to propose the following as the first rule and unofficial motto:

“Don’t ever buy a condo that looks out at a parking lot.”

I think you all know where I’m going with this…

I remember when “The Hudson” was completed around 2006 or 2007, and it was the talk of the town.  It was the newest, hottest building in the booming King West area, and I believe it may have won “Project of the Year” from some publication or another (although isn’t every car named “Car of the Year” by someone, some place?).

When the condo was completed, there were bidding wars on resale units.  Prices were sky-high, and this building was among the first in the downtown core to crack the then-monstorous $500-per-square-foot barrier.

All the while, I wondered how long it would take for a giant condo to be constructed on the parking lot site next door.

It didn’t take long at all.

Charlie Condos began pre-sales only 1-2 years after The Hudson was completed, and anybody facing east from The Hudson was going to have their gorgeous city & CN Tower view obstructed.

That’s a travesty, but once it became known that the developer at Charlie was Great Gulf Homes, who also build The Hudson, people got incensed.

Was there any sort of unethical behaviour about selling condos to people with great views, when, perhaps, you knew all along that the views would be obstructed because you were going to build a condo next door?

Maybe.  Probably not.

I don’t blame Great Gulf, and it could never be proved what they were planning/thinking and when.

I also think Great Gulf is one of the best downtown Toronto developers, and they don’t actually set out to screw people like the Urban Corps of the world.

Having said all this, I think it’s a shame that the east-facing units at The Hudson are somewhat “boxed in” by Charlie, but the design of Charlie allows for some separation.

Ah yes – separation!  How much?  How far?

How close can you construct a building to another building?

What if there are terraces or balconies?

What if there are windows?

What are the rules about “boxing in” existing condo owners?

Are there any rules?

Valid questions, but unfortunately, there are no rules set in stone.  I mean, theoretically, there are.  But any developer, anywhere, will make a Zoning Amendment Application and try to change whatever rules they don’t like.

That brings me to my newest pet peeve: the development at 525 Adelaide Street West.

Last year, Freed Developments gave King West its newest baby, called Six50 King West.

It’s a two-structure complex, with a building at 95 Bathurst Street and a building at…..wait for it…..650 King Street West.

I think the buildings are fantastic.  I love the location, the style is classic Freed, and the prices, believe it or not, are quite reasonable.

But alas, somebody is going to come along and spoil the party for about a quarter of the owners there!

There’s a development going in at 525 Adelaide Street West that is going to completely “box in” the north-facing units at 650 King Street.

And it’s a damn shame.

The “05” model is a fantastic open-concept 1-bedroom layout, corner-unit, with floor-to-ceiling glass.  It’s full of natural light, and it’s bright, and airy.

But what if you took away the natural light, the bright and airy feel, and boxed it in?  What would you have then?

Well, I guess you’d have a whole bunch of “05” models on the market at the same time, because the buyer pool seems to know what’s being built next door.

The site at 525 Adelaide Street has been a “planned” development for some time now, but the planning has been anything but straightforward.

In March of 2010, A company called “Boymelgreen Developers” was looking to build a 14-storey condo on the site, but that project was cancelled.

Then in 2012, Quadrangle Architects Limited (the site is owned by Adelaide West Residences Corp), made a zoning amendment application to the city of Toronto to construct a 19-storey, 440 unit condominium on the site.  The date was May of 2012, and while it’s too early to definitively tell, I’d say this project is going ahead.

It’s going to be called “Musee,” with an accent above the first ‘e.’  Ooooh-la-la!!

If you take a look at the rendering of the site on the cover page of the zoning application, it looks like this:

Okay, that’s’ not so bad, right?

So the building will be on Adelaide, and back onto the building on King Street – 650 King West.

But in reality, and without this crude mockup, we see what is really going to be built on the site and how it will affect the owners at Six50:


Sooo……the new condo at 525 Adelaide Street is going to basically abut the back of Six50?

That’s what I mean by “boxed in.”

Sure, there might be a setback, but if you read the zoning application, you’ll see that the developer wants to also build townhouses on Brown’s Lane, and lengthen and widen it!  So this isn’t about preserving the air and light for owners at Six50; it’s about jamming a dozen townhouses into that laneway!

You can read the full zoning amendment HERE.

It’s a shame, it really is.

I love those condos at Six50, and I’m willing to bet that the north-facing owners love it too.

But aside from having construction in your face for two years, and listening to jackhammers at 8am six days per week, the north-facing owners are going to experience a serious change in atmosphere once that new building at 525 Adelaide Street is completed.

They’re going to be completely boxed in.

Take a beautifully-finished condo that is open, airy, lofty, with floor-to-ceiling windows, a nice view, tons of natural light, and then take ALL of that away.  What are you left with?

With condos to the west AND to the north, I think residents might feel inclined to keep their blinds closed 24/7.  And if you live in a condo where you keep your blinds closed all the time, well, you may as well live in a basement with no windows.

It’s a damn shame.  I know there’s a lot more to a condo than the view, the natural light, and the lack of loud construction for a period of two years, but it’s just so hard to swallow.

I said it at the onset, but it’s worth repeating:

Do NOT buy a condominium unit that overlooks a parking lot.

If you ignore the first rule of condominium investing, you may box yourself in, and it might take you a while to find your way out…

Back To Top

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


  1. ScottyP

    at 7:58 am

    When I bought my harbourfront condo in 1998, the biggest selling point was the view of the water. Unless the city was going to fill in the harbour, I knew the view would never be compromised.

    But, being a corner unit, I fretted a bit about the view of the city to the north; there were parking lots everywhere between condo and skyline. Obviously, there was a considerable risk that the city view to the north would eventually be blocked by future development. Still, we went ahead with the purchase knowing that the lake view to the east was unimpeachable.

    Again, I was worrying about all this in 1998. Those folks who purchased 650 King on the north side did so in the middle of a massive condo boom. They did not have a large thoroughfare or lake to buffer their view. They were buying smack in the middle of an increasingly popular neighbourhood. And they knew that the city wasn’t exactly picky about going along with zoning applications and amendments submitted by developers.

    Point being, those residents could have *easily* foreseen construction outside their window – and complete view obstruction – within a few years. This isn’t rocket science. In a way, they were fortunate to get 6-7 years of “airiness” before the other shoe dropped.

  2. JC

    at 12:39 pm

    X at Charles and Jarvis is another good example. Another new high rise has gone up north of it, and another will go up immediately south of it. Nothing like living 20-30 or more floors up and having nothing but a view of your neighbors.

  3. Mike

    at 12:55 pm

    @jc, X condo has the Rogers building that will preserve views for many residents. Yes those 2 condos are going up north and south, but that’s not bad if you have an east or west view. Some buildings around king st are completely surrounded by other condos.

  4. Mark

    at 5:10 pm

    BTW, I bought one of the resale 438 King St. Condos when it opened. Charlie has been planned for probably a decade. I checked online with the city, and it had a drawing of the much taller Charlie right next the the Hudson even then. I bought on the outside, facing Spadina.

    1. David Fleming

      at 7:30 pm

      @ Mark

      I’m a big fan of the west-facing units at The Hudson! I’ve got a client in one, and he has a wicked southwest view, overlooking King West. If you want quiet, it’s probably not for you, but downtown living comes with the hussle and bussle, and King/Spadina has exactly that!

Back To Comments