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Baby, we got a bubble!?

WislaHD

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Answer to what question? We can't continue with the 1970s-90s scouring of farm and forest land to build SFHs.

Whenever I fly to Germany I note from the plane how much green space there is between towns and cities. Somehow Germany fits over 83 million people into a country with half the area of Saskatchewan but keeps its rural and agricultural areas. They do it through density. That's the answer you seek. Alternatively, we have a huge country that is sparsely populated - we don't all need to live in the Golden Horseshoe.
The question is generally about where to house people, I guess.

I applaud the development taking place along arterial road corridors and in the downtown area, but eventually all that low-density single-detached residential areas in the City need to be addressed. They aren't there for market reasons, they are there because of government intervention via zoning.

Yes, density is the answer, but more specifically, we need to change our built-form, because you can't build density with this typical inner-city Toronto built form. We need to allow those neighbourhoods to transform themselves into something more like this typical built form found elsewhere in the world.
 

Admiral Beez

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We need to allow those neighbourhoods to transform themselves into something more like this typical built form found elsewhere in the world.
I like that. In Nuremberg, Germany last year I walked from my hotel to the Nazi museum and walked through a lot of tight residential streets that looked exactly like this. I suppose it helped expedite development when the area's original housing was flattened in the war.

I like low rise residential flats, but my real estate contacts tell me that it is too expensive to develop low rise. For example, the Rexall site at Wincester and Parliament is zoned for five stories, but the owner says he needs at least ten to make any money. I suppose a lot of that is BS greed, but we shouldn't have fees and construction costs so high that only high rises are feasible.

Mind you, I live in Cabbagetown and I love the protected designation of the neighbourhood. I wouldn't want any 10 storey mid-rises here. So, I suppose that's NIMBY, but I'd support it on Parliament St. nearby .
 

Neutrino

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What I think is going to happen: downtown will "sprawl" east toward the DVP. It's already happening. In the longer term, the entire area between Bloor, DVP, Front and Yonge will be redeveloped with towers. What I'd like to see: all SFH within a ten minute walk of all subway, LRT and 2WAD GO redeveloped into walkable high density.
 

Admiral Beez

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What I think is going to happen: downtown will "sprawl" east toward the DVP. It's already happening. In the longer term, the entire area between Bloor, DVP, Front and Yonge will be redeveloped with towers. What I'd like to see: all SFH within a ten minute walk of all subway, LRT and 2WAD GO redeveloped into walkable high density.
The only way to do that is to expropriate and then establish a plan, and only then resell all the land to developers. If you leave it to developers you’ll get St. Jamestown, wherein developers bought up a few houses, filled them with scum to drive out everyone else.

But with SFH going for over a million in Toronto, can the city really afford to expropriate thousands of houses?
 

junctionist

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I like low rise residential flats, but my real estate contacts tell me that it is too expensive to develop low rise. For example, the Rexall site at Wincester and Parliament is zoned for five stories, but the owner says he needs at least ten to make any money. I suppose a lot of that is BS greed, but we shouldn't have fees and construction costs so high that only high rises are feasible
With so much of the city off-limits to development due to zoning laws protecting entire neighbourhoods of detached houses, the price of land that can be developed into higher-density housing like the Rexall site has been skyrocketing. Less restrictive zoning on the neighbourhoods of detached houses would ease the pressure. I think there's a balance that needs to be struck between heritage preservation and densification. Cabbagetown is so intact as a Victorian neighbourhood that I'd be opposed to redeveloping it.
 

Memph

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With so much of the city off-limits to development due to zoning laws protecting entire neighbourhoods of detached houses, the price of land that can be developed into higher-density housing like the Rexall site has been skyrocketing. Less restrictive zoning on the neighbourhoods of detached houses would ease the pressure. I think there's a balance that needs to be struck between heritage preservation and densification. Cabbagetown is so intact as a Victorian neighbourhood that I'd be opposed to redeveloping it.
Yeah, I'm not sure. If the land was zoned for highrise, then I'd agree it would make sense for it to only be profitable to build highrise given the lack of highrise zoned land in the pre-WWII area of Toronto, but you'd think the midrise zoning would be factored into the land costs. Maybe the market has an expectation that the land can get rezoned to highrise?

If it's viable to demolish a 1 storey bungalow for a 2 storey house, you'd think it would be viable to demolish a 1 storey building for a 5 storey one. Granted, the 2 storey house will likely have a bigger footprint, so it might represent a 3-fold increase in square footage, whereas the 5 storey building would have to have setbacks from the adjacent townhouses while the Rexall building has essentially 100% ground coverage, so building a 5 storey building there might also represent a 3-fold increase in density.

As a general rule, I'd say you need very high housing costs to warrant a 2 fold increase in density, moderate ones to warrant a 3-fold increase, and 4-5 fold increases can be done with relatively affordable housing prices, assuming demolition of the old structure is necessary (so laneway/backyard cottages are different) and the new structure uses wood frame construction.

I think a lot of the potential for making Toronto more affordable is in the more inner ring suburbs because of this. In Old Toronto, you'd have to be pushing up against the 6 storey limit for woodframe construction to achieve a 3 fold increase in density, and you'd have some challenges with building very close to other existing structures and fitting underground parking into small sites. So I think changing the zoning in Old Toronto isn't going to bring housing prices below $500/sf or so, which is maybe still a bit less than it is currently and would allow the city to avoid further increases, so it's still something, and it would create housing in areas where commutes are short and close to subways, and neighbourhoods are very walkable, so it's still a good thing, but building 4-6 storey buildings in the core will probably be barely more affordable than building highrises even if large areas of the core are opened up.

Where it gets more interesting is moving into the 1920s-1960s vintage suburbs. Already in places like Bedford Park, Humewood and Old East York, lots are typically deeper and you have more bungalows rather than 2-3 storey rowhouses, so I think increasing the density 3-4 fold with 4-6 storey buildings is more manageable. Lots get even bigger in Willowdale, Glen Park, Clairlea, Bathurst Manor, Maple Leaf, Sunnylea, Eatonville, Alderwood, Birch Cliff, etc and there's a lot more bungalows remaining in those areas to work with (as opposed to 2 storey mini-mansions).

I'd be curious to see what the redevelopment potential is like in areas like Rexdale too. Right now there's little teardown activity of the bungalows there, but it's not the kind of place where the $200-300k/year income households that buy up those kinds of 3500-5000 sf homes would want to live. Aside from the existing working class demographics that might turn wealthy households away, it's pretty poorly connected to the downtown Toronto jobs, and a lot of the major suburban office clusters are kind of far from there too (DVD/404 corridor, QEW in Halton, Meadowvale). It is fairly well located for jobs at the airport and industrial/warehouse areas however.
 

Neutrino

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But with SFH going for over a million in Toronto, can the city really afford to expropriate thousands of houses?
Probably and that's why I mentioned "what I would like to see." But who knows. Things may get so bad that we have no choice. And that may not be so far off.

Cabbagetown is so intact as a Victorian neighbourhood that I'd be opposed to redeveloping it.
Yes. I think priority for redevelopment should go to the most run down of the post-war suburbs.
 

Memph

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The only way to do that is to expropriate and then establish a plan, and only then resell all the land to developers. If you leave it to developers you’ll get St. Jamestown, wherein developers bought up a few houses, filled them with scum to drive out everyone else.

But with SFH going for over a million in Toronto, can the city really afford to expropriate thousands of houses?
I think it's possible to assemble small parcels of land without trying to run down the neighbourhood. You can build towers on small plots of land like Theatre Park and Massey Tower, it's not like you need to assemble an entire city block's worth of houses.
 

Admiral Beez

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