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Tracking the rise of South Core (before and after photos)

Posted by Derek Flack / October 23, 2012

South Core TorontoI doubt anyone needs reminding of the onslaught of condo development in Toronto, but every once in while the rapid transformation of this city is thrown into relief. Case in point: on a recent stop at the parking garage at Queens Quay and York streets — an old favourite for skyline-hunting photographers — I was almost startled to see how much the area has changed.

Just over two years ago, I wrote a somewhat nostalgic post about the loss of the Royal York's iconic spot on the skyline, then devoured (as it were) by the rise of the Telus and PwC towers. This is something of a follow up, as the condos have now moved in, once again changing the shape of the area. Given that vantage points that allow one to track growth like this are at least somewhat rare, I thought it worth adding the latest iteration to the timeline I started back then.

From a visual standpoint, the scale of change is impressive, especially given the period of time in question. In a span of three years, what was once a swath of parking lots has become something that you might even call a neighbourhood. A similar landscape change happened when CityPlace was built further to the west on old railway lands, but at a much slower rate and without much by way of commercial development (decidedly not the case here).

With South Core, the pace of development has been downright frantic. Follow the changes in the photos below.

South Core Toronto2008

South Core Toronto2009

South Core Toronto2010

South Core Toronto2010 (different angle)

South Core Toronto2012

South Core TorontoAnd it continues...



john / October 23, 2012 at 05:09 pm
better than parking lots.
Todd / October 23, 2012 at 05:26 pm
Try as you might, but this will never be a neighbourhood. It's a collection of investments disguised as poorly conceived homes.
steve / October 23, 2012 at 05:27 pm
Toronto is becoming all grown up. To bad some people feel this is a bad thing.
Rick / October 23, 2012 at 05:35 pm
Why the hell would anyone want to live there?

You know, even if I had to work downtown i'd go-train or subway it in rather than living in a glass shoe box.

Enjoy your poor investment/fish bowl sucka's
Todd / October 23, 2012 at 05:38 pm
Not a bad thing... in North York, Etobicoke, or Scarborough.

Very bad thing for the waterfront and (already stressed) infrastructure, therefore it's terrible for city building.

Who actually looks at "South Core" and thinks, "wow, this is a success"?
hendrix / October 23, 2012 at 05:49 pm
Maple Leaf Square has contributed a great deal to the area. I quite like it. With the restaurants, Longos, bank, LCBO, it's essential to the life of the area.
Bobby / October 23, 2012 at 05:56 pm
These condos are meant for out of town young professionals who get jobs in Toronto, they are not hip, but the sports-loving, club goers who hang out at real sports bar etc, very gino/douche vibe down here.
Jose / October 23, 2012 at 06:01 pm
Toronto is Canada's largest urban city. Why does it always surprise people that it continues to grow and develop more buildings and tall skyscrapers?

It's called progression and moving forward. It's called change -- sometimes, it happens.
Les / October 23, 2012 at 06:34 pm
Because its on its way to becoming home to the two extremes - the ultra affluent and people in sleeping bags across from Dundas Square. Average, middle income earners - even without kids - will never be able to afford these condos. Why does everything have to be topped to the hilt with luxury? There must be demand for nice, but basic, livable spaces downtown that those just starting out, or those not fortunate enough to come from affluence, can afford.

Downtown will suck if its nothing but rich people. The variety of people, from students to corporate types to minimum wagers and everyone else is what makes this a fun and interesting place to live and work. Don't mess with something that's not broken.
lol / October 23, 2012 at 06:52 pm
its to bad.... density is good, this is the right idea, but downtown Toronto is disgusting, the streets are to wide, there are highways, traffic, noise, pretty much completely unwalkable and uninviting. Look at Vancouver and New York on how to actually do density right, you want people hanging out on the street, human scale, instead we have vertical gated communities, a highway and a "prized" maze underground filled with tim hortons and drug stores
Shane / October 23, 2012 at 06:58 pm
'South Core' = Awful. Utterly devoid of character, beside a crumbling highway. This is no urban success story.
P replying to a comment from lol / October 23, 2012 at 07:05 pm
Toronto is unwalkable? I'm confused by that comment. There's noise and traffic? Yes, yes there is. Unsure what you expect?
Jesse / October 23, 2012 at 07:34 pm
I think its awesome. Better than parking lots, and to the people who just loathe these condo's....don't live there. Simple as that. Or move to fucking Guelph you pussies. Toronto obviously has a couple problems but is still one the greatest cities in the world. i think its biggest problems is whiney little bitches
steve replying to a comment from Rick / October 23, 2012 at 08:01 pm
Muy investment has been great, nearly double the value in 10yrs. Love living downtown. Did the suburbia thingy not for me found it to be isolating. Good for you you like the burbs not a bad thing that is your choice. Just because you have a preference and an opinion does not make it definitive.
whiny little bitches / October 23, 2012 at 08:06 pm
Torontos biggest problem is whiney little bitches.
Daniel / October 23, 2012 at 08:26 pm
South Bore: The dullest collection of dreary boxatecture anywhere.

You'd think that at least one iconic building would have emerged from this now-ending boom. But no, the 'Well it's better than a parking lot' mentality has resulted in 100's of poorly built investoboxes in poorly planned instahoods like South Bore, City Place, Liberty Village..

Mediocrity rules in Toronto and these charmless POS lost opportunities are the result.
Ford4ever / October 23, 2012 at 09:00 pm
It is the product of a historic debt binge fuelled by emergency low interest rates and a very short collective memory.

I wonder how long before the corners cut during this construction become apparent.
A / October 23, 2012 at 09:11 pm
Where are the parks?

High-rise towers in close proximity need ample walkable spaces and parkland surrounding them. Greenery eases congestion (physical & mental) and allows people to come together in their neighbourhood and develop a sense of community.

One day we will look back and regret not putting more thought into the layout of these neighbourhoods as congestion and crime become rampant.
Jake / October 23, 2012 at 09:38 pm
hipsters do nothing but whine, don't like the condo's don't live in them. hate looking at them then move. simple. Me it doesn't bother me at all, but then again I am not a hipster.
Matt / October 23, 2012 at 10:03 pm
These condos are really desirable to the young jetset just graduated from Schulich and Rotman's, et al. I don't personally like them, nor would I ever step foot in the area if I had to, but don't knock them just because you personally aren't a fan.
Jason / October 23, 2012 at 10:15 pm
Wow. Why do people hate these buildings so much? So much negativity. Don't write these off as bad investments. They're smarter than you think. You'll see. I love that Toronto is growing up. Bring it on.
Um replying to a comment from Jake / October 23, 2012 at 10:36 pm
I'm sorry, but if you're going to start a comment with "hipster", you lose all credibility. Might want to expand your vocabulary there, kid.
Gul Jassad replying to a comment from Todd / October 23, 2012 at 11:30 pm
My thinking exactly-and what I've been saying for a while here at BlogTO!

WHY aren't these things being built in suburban Toronto, instead of here? And why can't people slog through public transit to get to downtown like everybody else? Why is what makes the the ONLY good part of Toronto that people want to visit being destroyed for buildings that can't house enough people to live in, and that, in many cases, have no windows in the bedroom or no space to store anything other than a small pair of shoes?
Katrusia / October 24, 2012 at 12:45 am
My favourite is how the area is referred to as the "South Core" instead of "south of the core." It's a real estate term to make this area more appealing. It's similar to how the top floor of my condo is called the "upper penthouse," with the floor underneath being called the "penthouse", and floor under that being the "lower penthouse."
Dave replying to a comment from Les / October 24, 2012 at 04:44 am
Speak for yourself, I am 23 years old and I bought a penthouse condo in Toronto and I am not married without kids loving life. Work hard and you can get whatever you want in life, from a nice condo downtown to a house in the burbs hard work pays off people.
Balance / October 24, 2012 at 08:29 am
I have found that the people who complain about the proliferation of condos downtown are the same people who whine about sprawl and all of its problems. Can't reduce sprawl without density.
marg / October 24, 2012 at 08:32 am
wonder if anybody has thought about this:
Al replying to a comment from A / October 24, 2012 at 08:56 am
Harbour Square Park, HTO, Sugar Beach, Music Garden. There is plenty of parkland down there.
alan / October 24, 2012 at 09:13 am
so when did this area become a neighborhood = southcore ? sorry i just woke up after my long nap...
Alex / October 24, 2012 at 09:42 am
Cool, Toronto's downtown is growing! I love walking through that area (Union to Harbourfront), it's so alive. Right now is a very exciting time to live in TO with all the change happening.
TDotRome replying to a comment from Gul Jassad / October 24, 2012 at 10:12 am
Umm...why build towers in the core and not the suburbs? (And they do build them in the burbs.) Hmmm, let's see....downtown, you can build 45 storeys and sell from $350K to $2M. In the burbs, you can build 25 storeys and charge $200K to $500K.

I wonder which to choose?
JackSmith replying to a comment from Rick / October 24, 2012 at 10:23 am
One would wonder why you're so concerned about how other people choose to live their lives given the superiority of your chosen lifestyle choice? Insecurity? You're planning on selling your 3-4 bedroom house to people who only need 2?
2gtbt replying to a comment from Dave / October 24, 2012 at 10:29 am
I call BS. Unless you started up RIM or Telus at 19 or have a trust fund you don't buy a "penthouse" at 23 through "hard work".
A replying to a comment from Al / October 24, 2012 at 10:30 am
I meant greenery around the buildings themselves, not further away. And I would hardly consider Sugar Beach a park.
ladyface replying to a comment from Bobby / October 24, 2012 at 10:57 am
amen dude. you're totally spot on.
FYI / October 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm
I think deciding to make the investment of purchasing a condo can be a very exciting time in a person's life after they've completed school and started a new job. But I think people need to be more vigilant with the long term head aches that are starting to surface from developers cutting costs on building materials for earning themselves maximum profit. The glass windows of glass walled condos have a life span of only 5 to 15 years so that will be a definite problem in the winter. Developers want condo owners to pay for window replacements on top of their already high maintenance fees so naturally lawsuits have already been filed.
Have a read:
Mikey / October 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm
Worth noting that these aren't just condos. Office buildings and a hotel are in the mix as well. As for people concerned about the "character," can we at least wait until the construction is finished and people have actually had a chance to move in before we start complaining?
Billy Baseboard / October 24, 2012 at 01:03 pm
The comments about Toronto whiners are spot on. I love this city, but the level of whining (usually from Toronto Star readers) is unreal.

I don't care if you don't like condo living. I don't like suburban living, but I don't feel the need to sit at a PC whining about it. There are pros and cons to both.

Toronto is a booming success story. It has it's problems, but Rome wasn't built in a day. So quit complaining! You're boring me!
jen / October 24, 2012 at 01:13 pm
I spent 45 minutes trapped in an elevator in a brand new condo building in South Core last spring. Good times.

The condo I was visiting was nicely finished and such, but teeny tiny and not soundproof. Much like every other condo out there, I guess. I wish developers would build more 50s style rental buildings (solid as a rock and with more square footage and storage space, not to mention cheaper to live in).
mike / October 24, 2012 at 01:20 pm
Ummm...this is the same angle. Use as a reference:
- the Telus building
- the angle of the Gardiner
- the sign on the Gardiner

That building just exploded out of nowhere!
Aaron replying to a comment from A / October 24, 2012 at 01:42 pm
The tower-in-a-park approach to building highrises is a proven failure. The green space is always underused and becomes neglected, and the lack of activity damages the nearby street life. In a successful urban environment, parks should be parks and buildings should be buildings. Trying to mix the two together just doesn't work.
A replying to a comment from Aaron / October 24, 2012 at 02:13 pm
I respectfully disagree. I'm not suggesting all four sides of a building should be nothing but grass, but there should be ample parkland nearby. There are many apartment complexes designed like this (in Toronto and elsewhere) and they do work. It ensures that kids don't have to go far from home to play outside as well as enhancing the wellbeing of the neighbourhood as a whole.
Alex replying to a comment from A / October 24, 2012 at 03:19 pm
I agree it's nice, but I live in an apartment like this and I never see anyone on the green space except dogs and dog owners. If I lived downtown near parks then I wouldn't want to pay the increased condo fees required to maintain that much green space. I'm always surprised kids aren't out there on weekends, but I guess in highrises most people don't have kids.
Greg replying to a comment from A / October 24, 2012 at 07:16 pm
There is a Huge dowtown Park - it is called Centre Island - the crown jewel of Toronto
Gul Jassad replying to a comment from Billy Baseboard / October 24, 2012 at 08:36 pm
Rome may have not been built in a day, but it sure as hell didn't fall apart in one, either, like these crappy things will one day. Take a look at the article posted by FYI again and really READ it this time.
Downtown RYan replying to a comment from Greg / October 25, 2012 at 01:17 am
and it's seperated from most of us by a stretch of water only traversable by paid ferry rides. It's a prohibitive enough cost to discourage regular visits for most families in the city. Centre Island won't be a real downtown park until there is a bridge connecting it to the rest of Toronto.
Dave replying to a comment from 2gtbt / October 25, 2012 at 04:11 am
Come over sometime for a drink and take in the view. Work hard kids and anything can happen. I started saving at the age of 13, 10 years later had a good down payment and I have a good job so it all tied together easily.
Mike R replying to a comment from Dave / August 19, 2014 at 11:49 am
Cool story, Dave.
Nash / September 15, 2014 at 03:42 pm
Someone stated that TO is all grown up... Ha ha, more like a child who is throwing a tantrum, especially when compared to more mature cities like London or Paris who have dealt with their fair share of mishaps and learn from their past experiences, which we are just going through now in the infancy stages.
Other Cities: Montreal