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Can Toronto Handle Three More Massive Condo Towers?

6 October 2012

A year ago, another condo going up in the city of Toronto probably wouldn’t have garnered much attention. But with the obvious overstock that’s on the market, and the softening already starting to be seen in the city, it certainly makes news when a developer has plans on building not just one more condo tower – but three of them. And when they are all massive to boot, people certainly sit up and take notice for sure.

That’s just what happened when David Mirvish decided that he wanted to become part of the condo boom in Toronto – even if he’s one of the last developers in on it. Mirvish, along with another developer, Frank Gehry, want to build three more units in Toronto. Each of them would have over 700 units. That’s a lot, and to put it in perspective for you, that will total up to about 9 – 15 per cent of the total new units going on sale in Toronto.

“If we wait for the market to do the planning, then we’ll have to slow down,” said Mirvish when speaking about the project, and how the market might not be ready for such a massive undertaking right now. “Frank Gehry is 83 right now and I’m 68…time is not our friend.”

That may be the case, but is it right for a builder to add onto an oversupply problem, simply because they have a dream of building? That in their words, will be “sculptures for people” to admire. Perhaps that’s because all three towers would stand higher than any one building currently in Toronto.

But other developers on the project say they are planning around the market on some level. Peter Kofman, president of Projectcore Inc., project manager for the development, said that one tower will go up first to see how eager Torontonians and investors are to get in.

“If the market’s not there, then we can wait,” said Mr. Kofman. “We’re not pressured.”

Kofman also made it clear that if response is good for the first tower, only then will the team decide how to go ahead on the second and third towers.

Sounds like two different stories from two different people working on the same project, doesn’t it? One is saying that the time is ticking, while the other is saying that there’s no rush.

Add to that the fact that Gehry says that he doesn’t really care about the response the development receives.

“I’m 83 years old,” he said. “I’ve heard everything, I’ve been beaten up for everything. I’ve been called everything. So I’m kind of used to it.”

But does Mr. Gehry’s thick skin make it okay for him to proceed with these units? Only time will tell.

We’ll also have to wait and see what the Toronto mortgages are going to be on this development. Due to “special privileges” that residents will be receiving, Mirvish does admit that not only will these towers be higher than most condos, they’ll also be more expensive, too. But, he also says that because of the uniqueness of the space and the small size of many of the units, price won’t “preclude people.”

Another point that’s hard to agree with. The more prices go up, the more people are limited in what they can buy. Especially with the new rules that have all but pushed most first-time buyers out of the market. And those sizes that Mirvish is talking about? They range from a sprawling 3,500 square feet to more cramped spaces only 420 square feet. Construction’s set to begin in the next 18 – 24 months. Right around the time economists have predicted that the softening will start, too.

What do you think? Should Mirvish and Gehry push ahead with this massive development? Or should they wait until the market is better ready for them – no matter when their next birthday falls? Let us know in the comment section below, or by liking us on Facebook!

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