Back in 2004, when I was in my late 20s, my husband and I bought a condo in Toronto for all the reasons young people typically buy condos: we wanted to be right downtown, close to the things we enjoyed, and we couldn’t afford a house in any of our favourite neighbourhoods. Plus, the ease of condo life appealed to us. With no kids and little furniture, we had modest space requirements, and we certainly didn’t want to spend our weekends doing home repairs. Still, it took us a while to find a condo we wanted to live in. Even though many of the buildings we saw were just a few years old, they already looked timeworn, with cracking drywall and battered fixtures. If the finishes were shoddy, I worried there might be structural deficiencies, too. We ended up buying a one-bedroom-plus-den in a 1980s building—ancient by Toronto condo standards. Nothing about the common areas looked cool (in fact, the hallways had dated pink carpets), but the structure was reassuringly solid. In the few happy years we lived there, no infrastructure problems were revealed, the building was well maintained, and the monthly fees never went up.
Since then, hundreds of new condos have risen in the city. The pace of development has been frenetic—and that’s mainly a good thing. For decades, the downtown core was under-built and the city’s skyline remained unchanged. The new skyscrapers are populating formerly empty areas of the city, spawning new restaurants and retail, and creating vibrant new neighbourhoods. Condos can largely be credited with revitalizing Toronto’s core. The vast majority of the 160 or so condos now in development are within a kilometre or two of Union Station, which means we can expect Toronto to get even more dense and interesting in the next few years.
Read the rest of this entry »