About a decade and a half ago, a single condominium project near King and Portland Sts. catalyzed a building boom that would transform Toronto’s west end into a trendy hotspot replete with tens of thousands new condo units.
And now Queen St. E. is poised for that same transformative residential boom. Before developers could even think about entering a neighbourhood, crucial fundamentals that drive demand must first be present, and Queen East has them in spades.
East Harbour, a 60-acre modern melange of office and retail sites that will create over 70,000 jobs, public space and more amenities than one can count, will be the lynchpin of the new east end. In fact, what East harbour will have that the west end doesn’t is a multimodal transit hub slated to become the region’s busiest after Union Station. Running through East Harbour will be the long-awaited downtown relief line, dubbed the Ontario Line, the Queen’s Quay LRT, Regional Express Rail, SmartTrack, and the Broadview LRT.
The Places to Grow Act has, for 15 years, mandated that kind of intensification for Ontario, however, it scarcely occurred to such an extent in the GTA. Now that it’s in the works, Torontonians, from young professionals to young families and empty nesters, will flock to the area once the imminent condo boom begins producing completions.
The Queen East condo boom is also being catalyzed by development of the GM Mobility Campus—the seven-acre site will be home to 2,000 new jobs comprised of research, development, and automotive sales. The area, which will brim with yet more green space, has received a $100,000 contribution towards the Bruce Public School yard, doubtless boosting surrounding values in the process, while General Motors itself will inject nearly $1 million into the local arts community—everyone from design, digital, and screen firms to fashion incubators and musicians—which it will host on the site’s commodious northwestern quadrant.
The Port Lands is also getting a makeover: a nine-acre redevelopment zone will see Cinespace Film Studios expand by 165,000 sq ft, thereby cementing the Port Lands as the epicentre of Hollywood North, while the Basin Media Hub will allocate 500,000 sq ft for creative spaces, half of which will become a Netflix production hub.
Among the Queen East condo boom’s first developments is Queen & Ashbridge Condos, a 17-storey, 360-unit project by Context Development and RioCan Living located smack in the middle of Leslieville and the Beaches. The end user-driven project has already attracted much attention from savvy investors who know they won’t have much competition to contend with when they cash out their equity. In the interim, there will be no shortage of renters wanting to live in the building to be closer to work.
Queen East is overwhelmingly composed of detached houses, which average $1.5 million in Toronto while the mean price of a condo is around $630,000, says Ryan Coyle, real estate broker and co-founder of Connect.ca Realty. He added that Q&A is an affordable opportunity to move into the area for people who have previously been priced out of it.
“People who want to move into desirable neighbourhoods like Leslieville and the Beaches now have a really good option to move into the area and have a beautiful condo with incredible amenities and parks,” he said. “You’re going to have a lot of people—young families and young professionals—moving into the area because they can now. It’s a desirable neighbourhood and it’s becoming more affordable.”
Coyle noted all the jobs coming into the area as a demand driver for new home construction.
“The jobs will be on Queen. St. E. along the DVP to Woodbine, and you’re going to have a lot of young professionals and young families who are going to want to live close to where they work, close to the waterfront, parks, restaurants, and this is the perfect option. You’re going to have a mix of people.”
Q&A Condos is also offering 6% annualized interest on deposits, however, the annual appreciation of units in the building is already being augmented by the astronomical detached housing prices in the Beaches. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Q&A’s frontage has a streetcar stop.
In addition to the east end’s propitious economic horizon, the nearby downtown core added 100,000 jobs between 2014 and 2020, and it’s expected to add more in the coming years with 8.7 million sq ft of office space under construction, and 27.5 million more in the development pipeline. It isn’t surprising, then, to learn that 37% of jobs in Toronto are located in the city’s downtown. And in a congested city like Toronto, it isn’t difficult to understand why people prefer living close to work. The Queen East condo boom will invariably facilitate that.
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