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Rise of rental

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Last month Oxford Properties submitted a site plan application for the redevelopment of the rundown Cumberland Terrace in Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood. If you’d like to browse the full application (including all the drawings), you can do that here.

The proposal is a departure from previous plans and now includes 3 buildings: a 4.5 storey building, a 2.5 storey building, and a midblock 54 storey residential tower (the lobby is shown above). There will be both retail and residential uses.

For those of you familiar with the mall, it should go without saying that Cumberland Terrace is in desperate need of redevelopment. So I’m not going to talk about that today. Instead, I’d like to mention 2 other points that stood out to me about the application.

The first is the 2 midblock connections on either side of the tower, running from Cumberland Street to Mayfair Mews in the rear (see below). Yorkville has a history of intimate laneways, and so it’s nice to see some of this being carried through in a new development. It also opens up the opportunity for an improved Mayfair Mews.

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Secondly, it’s somewhat surprising to see that the 54 storey residential tower is being proposed as rental. Toronto doesn’t build a lot of purpose-built rental apartment buildings. There are some (from the likes of Morguard and Concert Properties), but we haven’t done it at scale for decades. And that’s largely because the demand for condos has been so great.

But recently I’ve been noticing a renewed interest from the real estate community in multi-family rental assets. Cadillac Fairview also proposed a 65 storey rental building at the north west corner of Yonge Street & Queen Street last year – though they later withdrew their application.

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In the US, rental apartments as a share of all new housing is also at record highs – over 30%. And that’s partly because credit remains tight (certainly compared to pre-2008) and economic growth has been tepid. But also because of demographic changes. People are having fewer children, later in life, and so many are putting off buying.

So I think we’re going to see even more rental apartments being built in Toronto in the coming years.

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