Redevelopment In Leaside!

Development | December 2, 2020

redevelopment

Raise your hand if you didn’t like my video from Monday?

Oh, sorry, that was meant to be facetious.  Put your damn hand down!

Yeah, so I set out to discuss “redevelopment in Leaside” and after I started filming, I realized there was no way I could get through a video without vomiting my life story and childhood memories onto the script, or lack thereof…

As I said in Monday’s video, I just can’t believe that this plaza is going to be razed.  But I also can’t believe it’s been eight years since I wrote that first post about the “potential” redevelopment of Sunnybrook Plaza.

One of the big-ticket items I’ve learned over my years in this industry is that redevelopment takes time.  Recall a video I did back in 2011 that looked at all the houses on Berwick Avenue which were boarded up, soon to become part of a condominium development known as “The Berwick.”

Here’s the video:

When do you think the very first house in that land assembly was purchased?

And when you look at the land assemblies completed on Soudan Avenue, west of Mount Pleasant Avenue, some of these houses were purchased two decades ago.

Land assemblies take time, and redevelopment takes even more.

So in the context of major redevelopment, it’s unreasonable to assume that a shovel can get into the ground inside of a decade for land that needs rezoning.

Then again, there are external factors as well.

Take the McDonalds on the southeast corner of Bayview & Eglinton in Leaside.

I mentioned in the video that this was slated to become a condominium back in the 2006 to 2008 era.  But what happened?

That site had been owned by McDonald’s Restaurants Of Canada Ltd. longer than Public Records goes back!  The first instance of ownership shows up in February of 1983, which is merely a transfer for $2.

So when did this property find its way into the hands of a developer?

November of 2003.  Aspen Ridge purchased the site for a mere $2,900,000.

Can you imagine?  Only $2.9M?

But that was back in 2003.  This was before I had started my real estate career, and when a Leaside bungalow, which now costs $1,700,000, could be had for a mere $350,000.

I would guess that Aspen Ridge leased the site back to McDonalds while they put forth plans to develop a high-rise condo.  Legend has it that area residents thwarted Aspen Ridge’s plans, but who knows what really happened, because in October of 2015, Metrolinx came along and expropriated the land.  Maybe they didn’t officially expropriate the land, and they came to a deal with Aspen Ridge, but you know how this goes.  Metrolinx wasn’t going to come away empty-handed.

The value of the purchase is not a matter of public record.

So the Leaside LRT station, which will be on the southeast corner of Bayview & Eglinton, was a Mcdonald’s for almost a half-century, and for a short time, was to be a high-rise condo.  And the funny thing is – Metrolinx has left the door open for future development on top of the planned LRT station.

In a 2019 article published by Metrolinx, called “As Toronto Looks To Future Growth, Leaside Station Holds Design Secrets To Grow With,” Metrolinx notes:

“At the intersection of Bayview Avenue and Eglinton Avenue East, Leaside Station is being built by CTS with additional structural elements to accommodate future development. This includes additional structural supports about the station’s southeast entrance and a layout that allows the entrance to remain operational during any potential high-rise construction.”

It sounds to me like that high-rise condo that Aspen Ridge was going to build in the mid-2000’s, which was “thwarted” by neighbours, might end up being built after all.

Then across the street, we all know what’s happening with Sunnybrook Plaza.

Purchased for approximately $18,500,000 in 2007 or 2008, the plaza continued to function for a decade.

The Leaside Property Owners Association (LPOA) had been fighting RioCan’s planned development for years, and in 2017, finally reached an agreement that would see a significantly reduced development of “only” 16-storeys and 11-storeys respectively, down from the planned 19-storeys and 13-storeys.  The original version also sought to have setbacks at the eighth storey, which would give the towers a much larger look and feel, but the agreed-upon version would see setbacks at the fifth level.

I can’t find “before and after” renderings, but here’s the current rendering:

These two towers are apparently slated to be purpose-built rentals, but in the ever-changing world of development, who knows if that will come to fruition.

There are 417 units scheduled to be built in the two towers, which will be a mix of studio, 1-bed, 2-bed, and 3-bed units.

The base of the building, like most condominiums or purpose-built rentals, will be home to about 30,000 square feet of retail space.

There is also a proposed 14,000 square feet of office space, but given the “work from home” movement that’s dominated 2020, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this space changed back to rental units.

I have no issue with the design, layout, square footage apportioned to residential/office/retail, or even size of this project.  As I said in my video on Monday, I loved visiting Sunnybrook Plaza as a kid, but brick-and-mortar is dying out, and people need places to live.  This space is better purposed as a rental building with retail.

While it’s no surprise to see a development of this size at the busy intersection of Bayview & Eglinton, perhaps it might come as a surprise to see quaint Bayview Avenue home to future condos too?

The most notable of these is 1414 Bayview Avenue, which was launched earlier this year and is already over 50% sold.

For those of you that can’t picture the location, check it out:

Think of the southwest corner of Merton/Mcrae (it changes names when you cross Bayview, like every Leaside/Davisville street) and Bayview Avenue.  There’s a white, 3-storey triplex on the corner, then a row of four red-brick townhouses.  To the north are a slew of multi-residential buildings, many of which were built 50-70 years ago.

A couple of years ago, a savvy investor purchased two of them, consisting of four addresses, and nearly 100-feet of frontage on Bayview Avenue, and packaged them for redevelopment.

Then an even savvier developer came along and saw an opportunity to build something in Leaside that’s never been done before.

Gairloch Developments rose to prominence in the development community with the loft at 383 Sorauren Avenue; a 9-storey, 142-unit building completed in 2016.  This seems to be their sweet spot, with an 8-storey, 107-unit building being developed at Dupont and Dundas, and now 1414 Bayview Avenue in Leaside, which is an 8-storey, 44-unit condominium.

Here’s the rendering:

Even I’ll admit, this doesn’t look grossly out-of-place.

More to the point, I believe that much of Bayview Avenue will eventually be multi-residential, whether that means condominium or rental.

Consider the multi-unit dwellings on both the east and west sides of Bayview Avenue, between Eglinton and Parkhurst.  Investors have been land-banking those since before the LRT was ever announced!  Are we really not going to merely assume that these will befall the same fate as the two buildings at the site of 1414 Bayview Ave?

Take a look:

On the left, you’ve got the future site of the LRT, currently under construction.  To the immediate right, you have ten multi-residential buildings that are all on frontages around 50 feet, similar to that of the two on the site of 1414 Bayview Avenue.  Metrolinx owns the first property to the right of the LRT site, but after that, the other nine are owned by corporations and individuals.  Do you want to bet that this whole block, both sides, will be condos and/or townhouses in a decade?

Now up the street from 1414 Bayview Avenue there’s a Valu-Mart where many Leasiders shop.  This was the site of Mr. Grocer back when I was a child, and we still call it “Mister Grocer” to this day.

This is a massive piece of land – 237 feet of frontage on Bayview, making it more than double that of 1414 Bayview Avenue.

Would we be naive in assuming that this is ripe for development?

No.

Because it is going to be developed.

There’s no application in on the property, but there is a proposal.

From the website: www.1500bayview.ca:

Our vision for the site is to continue supporting the commercial and retail corridor along Bayview Avenue while introducing a new housing type to the neighbourhood. The proposed building will include rental units,  allowing young residents to move into this neighbourhood while also giving long-time residents the opportunity to downsize and age in place. At this time, Medallion is interested in bringing back a grocery store as the anchor retailer in the new building. 

At 9 storeys, this mid-rise development supports the need for more rental housing in the city as well as the desire for more mid-rise buildings.

A total of 156 rental units will be available providing a mix of unit types including one, two and three bedrooms.

Now the fun part about this property is: there’s a tiny sliver of that block that’s owned by somebody else:

I remember when that sold years ago.  I thought to myself, “Somebody had better be playing the long game here,” and they certainly were!

Now further up the street we have the building currently under construction at Bayview & Hillsdale, which comprises the entire block, and is yet another example of a successful land assembly!

Here are the original pins:

I wrote a blog about this site two or three years ago, but for the life of me, I can’t find it!

Information on this site is contradictory.  I have seen this listed as both a rental building and a condominium.

730 Hillsdale Avenue east is slated to be a “luxury rental community,” with a 7-storey, 146-unit building on site as well as retail space at grade and two levels of underground parking.

As noted in Monday’s blog, construction is already underway, and they’re up to about five or six levels now.

Here’s the rendering:

It’s a nice-looking building, but does this seem out of place?

I drive by here almost every day, and I notice a shadow cast where I didn’t use to feel one.

But just like with 1414 Bayview Avenue, I don’t think any of these buildings will seem out of place once they’re finished, and I’d take 7-8 storeys today in a heartbeat, rather than 18-20 storeys in a decade or more.

Down on Laird Avenue in east-Leaside, however, is another story.

I don’t have the time, and I don’t think you have the interest, to go through a history lesson on Laird Drive.  But suffice it to say, this was always the rawest area of Leaside.  This was where factories were running full-scale during World War II, and essentially where the industry was that necessitated the construction of houses in Leaside in the first place.

As a result, most of this area was industrial, or at the very least, commercial, until just a few years ago.

The former site of Canada Wire at Laird Drive and Wicksteed Avenue is now home to a massive plaza, but I can remember when the whole factory was demolished in the late-1990’s.  The very first tenant in Smart Centres’ new project was Home Depot, which I would estimate arrived between 1998 and 2000, just from memory.

All of Laird Drive, at one time, was commercial/industrial, but with the Smart Centres plaza between Wicksteed Avenue and Commercial Road, and the newer plaza with Fortino’s, Five Guys Burgers, Bulk Barn et al located a few hundred feet south at Esander Drive, this area has had a HUGE makeover of late!

So when are the condos coming?

Soon.  Trust me.

The current site of Gyro Mazda on the west side of Laird, sandwiching Stickney Avenue (formerly Lea Avenue, but named after my Grade 13 math teacher, Mr. Stickney, once he passed away) to the north and south, is the proposed site of two buildings by Core Development Group.  This is a smaller developer who seems to specialize in townhouses and midrise buildings, but who now looks to be branching out with some larger towers.

The two applications, submitted in August of 2020, call for an 8-storey, 143-unit building and an 8-storey, 106-unit building respectively.

Here’s the rendering for that project:

Those look nice!

Plain, maybe.  But again they don’t really “feel” out of place.  Especially on Laird Drive.

Tell that to the neighbours, however, on the east side of Randolph Road, some of whom own $2.5 Million homes, and will now have a massive brick building in their backyard, not to mention years of construction one hundred feet from their bedroom.

That certainly won’t be the last proposal for a condominium on Laird Drive!  In fact, I believe that the entire strip will be midrise buildings within fifteen years.  I think it’s going to happen a lot faster than anybody thinks.

Growing up in Leaside in the 1980’s and 1990’s, there were no condos in the neighbourhood.  Maybe a couple of old-folks homes on Millwood, or Mcrae, or Randolph, but the condos didn’t really start coming until 25 Malcolm Road, aka “The Upper House,” in 2018, which was followed by Shane Baghai’s building at 3 Southvale Avenue shortly thereafter.  “Leaside Manor,” as it’s called, will be a 7-storey, 38-unit “luxury” building.  And I guess with only 38-units over 7-storeys, this is going to be luxury.

There’s a lot of development going on at Eglinton & Brentcliffe, but I don’t really consider this “Leaside.”  I’m sorry.

Within Leaside proper, Malcolm and Southvale were the first two new condominium developments, and now the floodgates are open.

Stay tuned for an epic Friday blog, loosely associated with “development,” where I will let loose like no time in recent memory.

Yes, a solid Friday Rant is on tap for Friday.  And this blog, I do believe, will have consequences…

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9 Comments

  1. Bob Poster

    at 8:43 am

    Is your Friday blog about a certain developer/real estate agent who has been blasting his rather strong views on a certain healthcare crisis to his subscriber base that echos the misguided concerns of a certain BBQ proprietor?

    1. David Fleming

      at 9:23 am

      @ Bob Poster

      LOL, no. Not that one.

      But I do wonder what the hell he’s thinking, as does everybody else in real estate. I’ve read every newsletter he’s put out, and I don’t understand his motives. I really don’t.

  2. Condodweller

    at 4:27 pm

    I’m curious about the future of condo developments downtown. I just heard recently that a big project downtown was canceled. But perhaps it’s one of those “cancel” deals to null and void existing sales to resell for a higher price.

  3. Debra Macdonald

    at 7:47 pm

    I Lived at 1414 Bayview and only 2 owners before Gairlock both Private owners we all just had to move

  4. Christina McLain

    at 8:32 pm

    To me its all revolting. Toronto has just become a completely over developed nightmare. Leaside used to have a sort of 40’s/50’s suburban feel like something you’d see in old movies now it’s almost completely under seige. It looks and feels like its being squeezed to death with all the monster homes and condo developments. The inhabitants are afraid to let their kids cross the streets ffor heaven sakes. I used to love this part of town but now I hope to leave this blighted gun-ridden car crash city and move on. Akso, Yonge and Eglinton is virtually unrecognizable.

  5. SUSAN

    at 10:06 am

    Hi
    Just wondering what your opinion is about unpermitted major renovations on residences by construction renovation realtor groups tgen re selli g the properties at double the price .
    Arent under tge radar renovations illegal now and agaibt RECO rules for Realtors to not disclose latent defects,
    The sonewhat affirdable original fixer properties are beibg gobbled up it seems by these ongoing contruction entities wgere very few people reap the rewards and limited housing stock continues to ge gobbled up,
    Digging out basements without permits.
    Should the city be more proactive and do spot checks on hones with dumpsters full of renovation debris trash in front and no permits in windows ?

  6. wendy

    at 11:23 am

    Lea Avenue is still Lea Avenue. Markham Ave was renamed Stickney Avenue in 2019

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