One Of These Things Just Doesn’t Belong…


4 minute read

November 25, 2009

Quiz Show!

I’m going to present three options for properties that have sold in the past few weeks for $583,000.

I’d like you to tell me which one stands out from the rest…


Does anybody already know where this story is going?

Did anybody happen to read yesterday’s paper?

Regardless, it’s more fun this way…

The following three properties have all sold for $583,000.  I’d like you to take a look and try to figure out which one stands out from the rest.  Maybe I’m looking at the price, maybe the condition of the property, or maybe the size of the land itself.  Maybe, just maybe – we’ll all come up with different answers…

#1 – 282 Howell Road


This beautiful 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom home in the heart of residential Oakville sold for a mere $583,000.

Situated on a very large 49 x 134 foot lot that backs onto a ravine, this 3000 square foot home boasts “numerous quality updates and upgrades” as per the somewhat non-descript MLS listing.

Sounds like a sweet deal to me!

#2 – 1 Ravenwood Place


Who could believe that behind this unassuming facade sits $120,000 in renovations?

This East York bungalow sold for $583,000, most of which can be attributed to that incredible, lush front lawn that is looked after by my good friend Greg from Eco-Cut.

Greg – those shrubs look like they could use a slight trim…

#3 – The Pontiac Silverdome


This modest, 88,000 seat stadium sold for $583,000 just last week.

Situated on 127 1/2 acres of real estate, there is parking for both your Vespa and your wife’s Geo Metro.  You may even be able to squeeze in your mother-in-law’s Prius…

Once a Michigan landmark, the Silverdome was apparently a tough sell because many buyers were under the impression that it sat 89,000 – not a paltry 88,000.


Any ideas?

Can anybody figure out “which one of these just doesn’t belong” as we were taught on Sesame Street when we were kids?

I know, I know….it’s clearly the bungalow on Ravenwood.

But just for a moment – let’s look at the Pontiac Silverdome.

This stadium cost $55,700,000 to build back in 1975, so even without calculating inflation, the stadium sold for 1% of it’s construction cost!

That may even be a better deal than 282 Howell Road…

As the story goes, a Toronto developer submitted a “bid” for $583,000 via snail-mail and never really expected to “win” the Silverdome.  He runs a rather small portfolio of retail and industrial real estate, and figured he would toss his hat into the ring when the stadium went up for sale earlier this year.  He said he forgot about even submitting the bid until he was notified that he won.

The stadium has cost the City of Pontiac $1,500,000 just to maintain each year since 2002 when it became vacant.  There hasn’t been much use for the 88,000 seats since then.

What gets me the most about this story is that there was actually a “FOR SALE” sign out front of the stadium.  Imagine driving by Air Canada Centre or Skydome and seeing a sign like this:


I have to say that reading this story in yesterday’s paper really made me feel like I dropped the ball (not like Barry Sanders did in the Pontiac Silverdome of course, because he never fumbled…).

I spent yesterday looking at the last few units left at developments like 83 Redpath and 2 Gladstone, when all the while I could have been buying the Pontiac Silverdome.

There was a condo for sale at Mozo Lofts a few weeks back that I mulled over – at the price of $599,000, and all the while I could have lived in the Pontiac Superdome!

This Mozo condo, which I will write about next week, was about 970 square feet and had a 1300 square foot terrace outside.  Pretty nice, I know!  But compare this to the 127 1/2 acre Superdome that had 88,000 seats, and clearly I didn’t have my priorities in order!

Living in the Superdome would have been quite a treat.

Imagine eating hot-dogs, morning, noon, and night.

Imagine the romantic picnics you could have on the astroturf field with your significant other.

Think of how great Twilight would look on the Jumbotron!

It might get a little cold in that dome at night, but I’m sure you could burn some of the 88,000 extra seats for warmth.

Buyers in Toronto are paying $600 per square foot for condos in the King West area, when all the while they could be paying a little over $4,500 per ACRE in Pontiac, Michigan.

If you’re currently looking to buy real estate, bow your head in shame for letting this one slip through the cracks.

However, some early reviews are slagging this small-time Toronto investor for purchasing the property.  They say it’s going to be near impossible to turn a profit on the stadium.

But I wonder – isn’t the land alone worth a measly $583,000?  How many houses could you build on that 127 1/2 acres?  One house per quarter-acre works out to 510 houses.  So you’re paying a little over $1,000 per building lot?  Tell that to the developers who buy up Leaside bungalows for $700,000 just to tear down!

I know, I know – it’s apples and oranges.

But how bad has the real estate market (or entire economy!) become when you can buy a freakin’ STADIUM for the price of a 2-bedroom condo in downtown Toronto?

Well….at least the Detroit Lions won last Sunday, right?

Oh yeah….it was against the Cleveland Browns – the only worse team in the league…

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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  1. fidel

    at 11:53 am

    How many houses could you build on that 127 1/2 acres?

    Many, but you won’t see it happen in this lifetime. Detroit is the only city that is shrinking in size each year. I can’t think of any situation where people will start moving there en masse anytime soon.

    With 1.5 mill maintenance fees, I can’t see this guy turning a profit. How many big names can fill an 88K stadium an hour outside of detroit, especially considering the far superior Ford stadium.

    I believe the skydome was also sold for much less than the construction cost. Once they make their money I guess it doesn’t matter what it sells for 20 years down the road

  2. WEB

    at 7:45 pm

    John Templeton said to buy “at the point of maximum pessimism.”

    I think this purchase may just be what he was thiinking about when he said this…..

  3. Peter

    at 9:02 am

    I had a good laugh reading this posting. keep up the good work on your blog.

  4. dong

    at 1:11 am

    This is not uncommon. Sport facilities are black holes. They will never increase in value, especially these stadiums built in the boonies. You don’t have to look to far for an example. The Skydome was sold to Rogers for $25M while it cost close to $600mil to build. Just the LAND is worth more than $25M. teddy did good!!

  5. smith

    at 2:48 pm

    With 1.5 mill maintenance fees, I can’t see this guy turning a profit. How many big names can fill an 88K stadium an hour outside of detroit, especially considering the far superior Ford stadium.

Pick5 is a weekly series comparing and analyzing five residential properties based on price, style, location, and neighbourhood.

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