New Development Of The Week: Market Wharf


4 minute read

June 17, 2008

How do you judge a new condominium development in terms of it’s value?

What criteria do you look at first?

Location?  Design?  Layout?  Price?  Amenities?  Developer?

Any of these are crucial to the success of the project, and they all get a thumbs up in my book…


Call me biased because I love living in the St. Lawrence Market area, but I really like this new project, “Market Wharf,” by Context Developments.

Context Developments might not be the largest builder in the city of Toronto, but I personally view them as one of the most successful.  By “successful” I don’t mean the builder that stuffs the most suitcases full of money, but rather the one that produces the product with the best reviews, the fewest issues, and at a price that isn’t prohibitive.

For example, I’m sure that the builder of Four Seasons in Yorkville is going to do a fantastic job, but at $1600 per square foot, isn’t that just expected?

Context Developments has brought us Home, the condominium at 383 Ellis Park Avenue that overlooks High Park.  We’ve all heard of Radio City on Mutual Street in The Village, and of course Tip Top Lofts down by the waterfront.  All three of these projects won awards for their design.  Last year, Context Developments finished Spire on Lombard Street in downtown Toronto, which set the new precedent for the height of a residential condominium north of the Gardiner Expressway, at 45 stories.

Context’s latest project, Market Wharf, initially received mixed reviews from residents and business owners in the area.  The project calls for a 46-storey condominium project with 8 floors of retail space and street level parking to be located at 18 Lower Jarvis Street, which is currently the site of a large parking lot.

Many residents fear that the height of the condominium will cause it to stand out amongst the rest, and that the height will also block the sun and light to adjacent buildings.

Parking is another large worry, in that the largest parking lot will be bulldozed in favor of the project, but plans are in place for a 483 space, above-ground facility to be built along with the condominium and retail space.

Context Developments seems to have an answer for any question that can be raised, and Context president Howard Cohen said he was a city planner in the 1970’s responsible for the St. Lawrence Market adding, “So I think I’m pretty familiar with what gives it it’s character.”

One of the slogans the project is utilizing, “GREEN IS GOOD” is attempting to attract the environmentally conscious clientele.  Here is a partial list of the environmentally friendly features of Market Wharf:
-optional sun screening window shades to reduce summer solar heat gain
-energy efficient thermal glazed aluminum windows
-master light switches at the front door that controls ALL apartment lighting
-individual suite electricity metering
-Energy Star appliances
-dedicated parking spaces for Hybrid cars, and car-share service in building
-compact fluorescent lighting in all hallways
-motion-controlled high-efficiency lighting in corridors, garages, and exits

Okay, okay, so what about the PRICE!

Well, there are three types of units at Market Wharf: Market Flats, Market Towns, and Water Suites.

The Market Flats don’t have any outdoor space whatsoever, while the Market Towns are 2-storey townhouses featuring large terraces.  The Water Suites speak for themselves in that they have a view of the lake, and start on the 9th floor.

Let’s start with the smallest Market Flat unit at 390 square feet, priced at $180,900.  This works out to $464/sqft, which is high in my mind, but not any higher than many of the other new developments in the area.  I still question who could ever live in 390 square feet, but I digress…

A typical 1-bedroom-plus-den unit, Model-F for example, runs about $446/sqft for a 641 square foot unit.

Moving on to the Market Towns, prices increase due to the large outdoor terraces.  Model-B is priced at $549/sqft for the 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom unit of almost 900 square feet.

A random sample of the Water Suites, shows that Model-G4 is priced at $564/sqft for the 615 square foot unit.

Overall, I think you get what you pay for.

If you’re looking for a substantial view of the lake (an unobstructed one unlike the buildings at 10,12,16,18 Yonge), or a large outdoor terrace overlooking the lake, St. Lawrence Market, or with a city view, then you’re going to pay for it.

The basic units; the Market Flats, are priced quite competitively when you consider what else is out there right now.  At the East Side Lofts on King Street, you can’t find a single unit priced under $500/sqft, and those have ZERO outdoor space.

Other developments throughout the downtown core are beginning to use the $500/sqft price-point as a floor and are pushing $600/sqft.

I personally think that the St. Lawrence Market is one of the best areas to live in the downtown core.  A few blocks distance makes a large distance, and while the “downtown core” isn’t exceptionally large, it can be sub-divided into dozens of areas, neighborhoods, communities, or whatever synonym you want to use to describe residential living.

While the classic saying, “Location, Location, Location” could be used first and foremost to describe real estate, I think you have to differentiate between resale real estate and pre-construction.  There are so many worries with pre-construction, and while location has a huge impact on the success of a given project, you must overly concern yourself with the project’s ability to get off the ground on time, or at all.

Context Developments have been successful in all of their projects, and while the completion of the amenities in Radio City was delayed, I find that people are always satisfied with their product.

I’ll be going to the Market Wharf launch on Tuesday, June 24th to view the project up close and personal.  I’m not in the market to buy yet another condo, but I will be highly recommending this one to my clients.

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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