Thank you so much for engaging with us through the CoUrbanize platform and adding your voice to the 1925 Victoria Park project. We’re grateful to everyone that provided us with feedback. After several months of suggestions and feedback, we’re wrapping up online outreach for this project today. This is the last you’ll hear from us here on our CoUrbanize page. Comments are now closed, but the page will remain up for record-keeping purposes. You can stay in touch with us online at the links below!
Well Grounded Real Estate
Why are most multiresidential buildings built as condos? I pose this question because Toronto has a massive deficit of rental housing with the most recent CMHC market survey showing vacancy rates at 1.9% and an increase in average rent of 6.5% from 2021--2022. Indeed, Toronto needs significantly more housing, and significantly more rental housing specifically. While there are certain code and zoning changes that would result in substantially more housing in general, the focus of this post is on economics of apartment vs. condo development.
So why relatively few purpose built rentals? In short, the economics of purpose built rental is unfavourable. This is especially true for mid market buildings that are not capturing top of the market rents. The economic differences stem from how condos and apartments generate revenue, which dictates how the two models are financed. On one hand, condominiums produce revenue from sales of individual units and at one point in time, while on the other hand apartments produce revenue in small amounts over time. Condominium developers have an exit, meaning their invested capital is recaptured on the condo sales. Apartment developers do not have an exit. Rather, their invested capital is locked in the project as equity. This is not good or bad, these are simply two different models. But these differences result is drastically different financing capacities.
On a condo project, financing is mostly limited by loan to project cost which is approximately 85%, with 15% coming from condo pre-sales and 70% coming from a construction loan. As well, a portion of the developers equity will also come from deferred closing costs, further reducing the equity requirements for the developer. All this combined drastically reduces the equity requirements for a condo developer. On an apartment project, project financing is limited by the cash flow of the apartment building which dictates the size of the long term mortgage. The higher the cash flow, the higher the long term mortgage and the higher the construction loan as a result. The loan to project costs are significantly less than the condo, sometimes as low as 60% loan to project costs with the remaining 40% being equity. People regularly point to CMHC financing for construction loans saying they will lend 95% of the project costs for apartment construction, which is true in theory, but not in practice because the cash flow will likely never support that loan. This means it is almost always more feasible to develop a condo than an apartment.
So what to do? Build smarter and innovate. And one formal recommendation we have posed to the Province is to spread Development Charges and governmental fees over time to be congruent with apartment economics and defer HST to the time of sale.
As a reminder, you can affect change and support this project by sending a letter to council members. You can easily do so by clicking the link here: https://courbanize.com/projects/1925vicpark/Support
Another core design feature of 1925 Victoria Park is the large, central courtyard.
The combination of sun exposure and breeziness through the massing design, combined with tree growth and biodiversity creates a microclimate that supports year-round programming. The courtyard becomes a hub for meeting neighbours, sharing experiences, holding social events, and where family and children will play and spend time.
We strongly believe that different activities are defined not by how the space is characterized top down, but by the actions a given environment can afford (bottom up). Take a dead tree that is strategically placed in an open-air courtyard. The dead tree affords many actions, for instance, a nice place to sit and read a book or a balance beam for children, or a platform for exercise. Maximizing outdoor space by way of a courtyard and open-air single loaded corridors will go a long way for creating interesting and diverse environments.
1925 Victoria Park, as the whole building, is the place you can call home - not just your unit.
One of the challenges of designing a building is providing shelter for the occupants, all the while minimizing the displacement of nature. Shelter and nature do not need to be mutually exclusive, because we can still experience outdoor enjoyment (i.e. fresh air and sunlight) while we are inside.
The single loaded corridors in our building will provide a space between the indoors and outdoors to be enjoyed by all tenants. Imagine being able to go for a walk in the cold, rain, or scorching heat, and still feel comfortable. The corridors and balconies are specifically designed to ensure comfort by combating heavy wind and scorching sunlight.
Indoors, outdoors, or something in between - tenants can feel at home at 1925 Victoria Park.
One of our objectives is to create comfortable outdoor space for year-round use. A key design feature is the inclusion of greenery on the building’s exteriors. There will be trees on the higher floors, planter boxes on the balconies and along corridors, green roofs, and a vertical screen of the west-facing courtyard façade. In combination, they will provide a variety of habitat types to encourage a diverse range of birds, insects, and animals. Additionally, the design actively supports outdoor comfort for tenants by providing shade, protection from wind, rain, and snow. The design affords natural ventilation and natural daylighting for every unit. The combination of sun exposure and breeziness through the massing design combined with tree growth and biodiversity creates a microclimate that supports year-round programming.
Here's what the area looks like currently:
And here's what the area will look like with our building:
Looking at the neighbourhood, there is a significant amount of parks and greenery. Rather than building an apartment building with a more traditional design, we wanted to design something that could blend into the surrounding area. Our hope is that the addition of this greenery will create a sustainable, functional, and beautiful space, to be enjoyed by tenants and community members!
A feature we recently added to our forum on CoUrbanize is the “Share your support” tab. If you like this project and want an easy way to support it, we encourage you to check it out! You will be able to send a personal letter of support for 1925 Victoria Park by filling out your name and email address. The letter is already written for you, so it would take no longer than 1 minute to support this project.
Send a letter to Members of Council here: https://courbanize.com/projects/1925vicpark/Support
Passive strategies can be used to design better buildings by taking advantage of natural processes and resources to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of the building. For example, passive strategies can include designing the building to maximize natural light and ventilation, using insulation and thermal mass to regulate temperature, and incorporating features such as green roofs and rainwater harvesting systems. By using these strategies, buildings can reduce their reliance on mechanical systems such as air conditioning and heating, and can minimize their environmental impact. Additionally, passive design strategies can improve the overall quality of the building, create a more comfortable and healthy environment for occupants. Overall, the use of passive strategies can help to create better buildings that are more sustainable, efficient, and enjoyable to live and work in.
Thank you for all of your thoughtful feedback and votes of support!
We’re proud of the recognition we’ve received from the Globe & Mail and we’re excited to have the support of the community. You can read the full story HERE.
Thank you again for engaging with us online, and for your support!
Thank you for all of the great ideas and dialogue we have been generating on our feedback tab! We are looking forward to hearing more of your opinions, and understanding how to best serve the future residents of 1925 Victoria Park and the surrounding community.
Our initial plan for the amenity and retail spaces includes:
- Level 2 (South) - Gym + Kids Playroom
- Level 2 (North) - Co-Working Space + Party Room/Kitchen
- Courtyard - Mix of paths & trees for sitting/playing/exercise
- Level 6 Outdoor (North) - BBQ and Seating
- Level 6 Outdoor (South) Outdoor Garden + Dog Run
Other ideas we would love to incorporate are adding a boutique grocer or convenience store and a coffee shop! This will be modified as we receive feedback from the public as well as from the City.
If you would like to share other ideas for our amenity and retail spaces, you can do so at our Feedback tab HERE.
On November 3, 2022, this project was presented to the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel (DRP).
The DRP is comprised of 3rd party private sector professionals – architects, engineers, and urban designers – who provide independent, objective advice to city staff aimed at improving matters of design that affect the public realm. This includes ensuring that new development is compatible with its surroundings and maintains comfort and safety for its inhabitants. Advice is based on professional judgment, understanding of good design principles, conformance with the Official Plan, and the design quality of the project. At the end of the presentation, there is a vote to determine whether panel members provide support, provide support with conditions, or do not provide support.
We are thrilled to announce that 1925 Victoria Park received unanimous support without conditions!
The whole presentation can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98nBbeFs25M
It was critical to design this building in such a way that it added much needed housing, while complimenting the community and mitigating the impact on its neighbours.
To achieve this, we took several steps:
1. Light massing composed of hybrid mass timber
2. Reduced the height of the building on the east side - it steps down to 6 levels at the rear of the building
3. Included extensive plantings on the east side of the property so neighbours will not look at glass/concrete, but rather a biodiverse selection of plant life
4. Added a large, pedestrian buffer zone to the east that adds additional separation
5. Carried out an array of studies including shadow, wind, and thermal comfort
For a wonderful view from the neighbours perspective, we encourage you to visit 1925vicpark.com.
Thank you for your feedback and support for our project! We are excited to learn more about community needs so that we can build a more thoughtful project.
Recently, 1925 Victoria Park has been featured in two national publications as a result of its unique design and sustainability targets. We look forward to hearing more of your feedback!
Here is a link to the Globe and Mail.
Here is a link to Tree Hugger.
Thank you for visiting our new website. We're using this interface to help you follow and participate in the planning process for 1925 Victoria Park - Toronto's most sustainable multi-family building.
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