The Manhattanization of Toronto
This is a blog I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Its been sitting heavy on my mind for many reasons. Firstly, the term Manhattanization means different things to different people. Not only does it mean densification, but Manhattan is associated with a high level of hustle and “cut-throatedness”. Is this where Toronto is going? What does that mean for Torontonians?
Let me say this, Toronto’s densification is its own. My wish is that Toronto continues to build on its history of cultural acceptance and distinctly Canadian identity. You see.. there is definite common ground between Manhattan and Toronto, but we are not New York, nor should we ever aspire to become New York.
Now with that out of the way… let’s dig in.
Toronto is experiencing a construction boom that is unprecedented in the History of this young city. The vibrancy of Toronto is more evident that ever. There are people from every corner of the world buying every corner of this city. The downtown core has more than doubled its residential dwellings in the decade I’ve practiced real estate. Here are some of my observations of how we’re Manhattanizing…
1. Luxury Branded Condo Buildings:
The Four Seasons, Trump, Ritz-Carlton and Shangri-La have all made their way to Toronto. These luxury brands would have been out of place during the early 2000s. I’m sure its only time before we see the likes of W Hotel and The Plaza. They are reaching new price per square foot benchmarks too. Units are selling well into the $800/sq ft mark.
2. World Class Festivals
Whether its TIFF, Digital Dreams, Toronto Jazz Festival, Pride Week, OVO or any of the other big tickets happening, Toronto is digging deep into landmark events. Toronto’s summer is never a dull moment. In fact, the exact opposite. There is so much to do.
3. Global Culinary Influence
Toronto’s food culture is acquiring a celebrity influxx from major brands. Some of our favourites include Momofuko, Bymark, Fabricca and Enoteca Sociale. I’m going out on a limb, but I think Toronto’s food culture has reached a global contender status. What I love is the fact that cultural authenticity is still so strong!
4. Rooftops and Pool Bars
When Charles Kabouth opened up the doors of Cabana, many laughed. “This is not Miami or Ibiza”. In fact I was one of the people saying it wouldn’t last. Not only is it lasting, but my colleagues from the nightlife industry have muttered sales prices on the weekends to me which could rival major vegas pool bars. This is a big achievement. Along with Cabana day parties, you can find a plethora of rooftops and patios that are overflowing with brunch crowds and day parties. This is a new era for Toronto. One that I welcome with open arms.
5. Going Up… Way Up.
YC condos by Canderel is going to be 63 storeys. Aura at College Park is already 78 Storeys. Ice Condominiums by Lanterra are 2 60+ storey buildings. Let’s not forget about One Bloor which is supposed to be 73 Storeys. Toronto is going up. Way up. If you thought taking the elevator up to the 22nd floor was far, think again. We are getting taller.
6. We’re keeping it cool.
Architecturally speaking we have our hidden pockets of Victorians, Hard Lofts, Edwardians and boutique buildings. We’ve also got a great post-modern movement with clean line finishing that boasts boldness. Toronto is cool. Its not just skyscraper city, and I’m sure anyone who owned a brownstone in New York would appreciate this coolness.
So what does this mean for the future of Toronto real estate? We are going to have more of everything. Except for land, they’re not making any more of that. Long term buy & hold is great for investors. Go out and buy something! Toronto is continuing to become the “it city” its always been destined to become.