This week, Toronto Mayor John Tory and other city officials proposed building a 21-acre park over a portion of the rail corridor in the downtown core. This park, called Rail Deck Park, is set to cover the tracks between the Rogers Centre (Blue Jays Way) and Bathurst Street, with the working rail line operating below.
This is a major step forward in building Toronto into a world-class city—an ambiguous but much-sought after designation for the city.
What does this mean for homeowners in the area, particularly condo owners in and around CityPlace, Fort York, Queens Quay Blvd., and others in the immediate area? And how will this change Toronto real estate?
What do we know so far?
In a press release issued by the City of Toronto, this initiative is part of its “TOcore project, a response to the rapid growth and intensification of Toronto’s downtown that is placing pressure on physical and social infrastructure.”
The project is still four or five years from realization so the full cost of the park remains to be seen. And the city still requires air rights to the rail corridor, presently owned by CN Rail and Toronto Terminals Railway, which is owned by both CN and Canadian Pacific Railway. We don’t know the likelihood of these companies selling those rights and what added cost that might bring the ambitious build.
With the city predicting the population of downtown Toronto growing to almost half a million people in the next 25 years, this marquee green space is a step forward to ensure there is much-needed parkland available for the densely populated residential area in the core.
“More and more families are choosing to call downtown home, and they need somewhere to play with their kids, enjoy the outdoors and relax with friends,” says councillor Joe Cressy. “Turning this underutilized part of our city into a beautiful and sustainable public space is truly a win-win, and will complement the transformative work being done with The Bentway and Fort York.”
And yesterday Jennifer Keesmaat supported that sentiment with this data-focused tweet:
— jennifer keesmaat (@jen_keesmaat) August 4, 2016
With families in the area calling for easy access to green spaces and playgrounds, and the availability of recreation activities, we’re sure to see a project like this increase the desirability of living in that area.
What does it mean for homeowners?
One study out of the United States examined 16,400 home sales within 1,500 feet (457 metres) of 193 public parks and found they boosted home values 8% to 20%.
Here’s a short list of the condo buildings currently in the immediate vicinity, not including new construction:
- Fly Condos
- Harbour Terrace
- The Element Condos
- Icon I and II
An average condo in that area is currently priced at around $250,000 to $450,000.
Lauren Haw, CEO of Zoocasa believes this is a major plus for anyone owning a home in the area, or considering one nearby.
“Homeowners and upcoming prospective buyers should definitely should be excited about this new space! Public parks in a city’s downtown core offers a major benefit to the residents’ quality of life,” she says. “Access to green space is a very common reason we hear from clients about why they are moving out of a condo and into a house—for physical activity, accessibility for their dogs, or a space nearby for their kids to enjoy and play in.”
This will allow owners to stay a little longer in their condo homes, as living becomes more enjoyable and more comfortable, adds Haw. It’s also a big step forward in livability and desirability in that area.
“This kind of addition is helpful for a growing community of young families in the core,” she explains. “It allows people to get out of their home and interact with others in the neighbourhood. Plus, there are great events that can take place in public parks: theatre productions, outdoor films, fitness classes, farmer’s markets, and so on.”
Haw suggests that this will benefit homeowners who are looking to sell if the park is built: “This kind of neighbourhood development is absolutely related to your home’s value. Desirability certainly factors into the increase your home’s price when you’re ready to sell.”
There’s a snowball effect to the value this will bring to the surrounding neighbourhoods. Well-maintained neighbourhoods with facilities and features like parks will attract families, and higher-income individuals to the area. Especially because this is in the core, where there are already available jobs. These residents will maintain the businesses in the area, attract new business and will continue to drive the value of homes in the area up.
In addition to this adding value to the properties themselves, it’ll be wise to keep an eye on the park’s price tag. While we wait to find out where funding for this project will come from, it’s important to note that proximity to park spaces can increase property values, which also benefits municipalities. A 2011 Government of Quebec study notes that green spaces such as parks “can generate higher tax revenues for local governments.”
Toronto is one of the hottest real estate markets in Canada right now, with home prices and sales increasing notably each month. Affordability and household debt are huge concerns for our federal government, which is reportedly considering introducing measures to cool the market. An addition like this could compound this problem in an already sought-after area of the city, pushing more people out of the downtown core.
With new development comes construction. Homeowners and potential buyers will have to decide if they’re willing to live within a heavy construction zone for a few years while the park is being built.
A common issue in the condo market in Toronto’s downtown core is the availability of family-sized dwellings. There are more studio and one-bedroom units available than two- or three-bedroom units. Can the area sustain the families it’s hoping to attract?
That said, this announcement has been so positively received by Toronto residents. If the park is built, it’ll surely be an amazing addition to our city.
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