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By the numbers: CityPlace condos

Posted by Chris Bateman / July 25, 2013

cityplace condoDepending on how you look at it, Toronto's CityPlace condo development is either a ghetto in the making or a trendy urban playground, rising from the waterfront's post-industrial ashes to revitalize an area once dominated by rail sidings, soot-blackened workshops, and roundhouses.

Most criticism tends to centre around the neighbourhood's lack of services and its relatively isolated location south of the rail corridor, north of the Gardiner Expressway. The heavily trafficked southern portions of Bathurst and Spadina bookend the area to the west and east.

toronto cityplace towersAnother concern centres around the high number of investors buying and leasing out units, a fear echoed by Cllr. Adam Vaughan in The Grid in 2011. He says low ownership numbers could result in a transient population and lack of upkeep. Few restaurants, bars, and independent stores give outsiders little reason to venture inside.

Fears and predictions aside, the largest development ever built in Toronto is approaching completion almost 8 years after construction work began in earnest. 20 new low- to mid-rise residential towers are in various stages of completion and habitation, including two - Harbourview Estate B and West One - that top out at a substantial 49 storeys.

toronto cityplaceAccording to the latest statistics, 22 CityPlace and four Park Place buildings are occupied, giving the development a total population of 13,500. The average unit size at CityPlace is around 708 square feet. The separate Park Place development has slightly larger units, averaging 759 sq. ft.

For these first residents there are officially 31 retail outlets.

One of the most visible features of the development is the elevated bridge that connects the PARADE 1 and PARADE 2 towers. Officially the Concord SkyBridge, it's 40 metres long and stands about 7 metres (around 2 storeys) tall between the 28th and 30th floors of the two buildings.

It took 14 hours to raise from the ground and secure in to position last June. Fully loaded, it can support the weight of about 100 people.

toronto cityplace bridgeThe bright yellow pedestrian bridge that spans the Union Station rail corridor also stands out against the relatively colourless backdrop of condominiums. The Puente de Luz, or Bridge of Light, weighs 270 metric tons (600,000 lbs) and is 125 metres long. During construction it was subject to numerous approvals by Metrolinx, the owner of the tracks, and was delayed by several months.

It was closed for around a month shortly after opening due to minor problems with the expansion joints and mesh walls.

What do you think about CityPlace? Have you had a chance to visit and check out what the area has to offer? Would you consider buying a condo there?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: George Socka/blogTO Flickr pool.



Rich / July 25, 2013 at 11:32 am
You're missing an important number: number of suicides. Apparently there are is a high number of unreported jumpers in these buildings.
Sacha replying to a comment from Rich / July 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm
You make it seems as though there's a particularly higher number of suicides in this area compared to others. Why would that be? And why is it important?
Rich replying to a comment from Sacha / July 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm
I didn't say I had the answers, just information leading to questions. Personally I think its important to know if one section of Toronto has any type of pattern-able issue(s), eg. gun violence, poverty, or suicide for example. A lot can be garnered from that information.
Cornish / July 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm
Ghetto in the making! Ghetto in the Making! These buildings are not gonna age well. Just look at the buildings on Navy Wharf Court. They're about 10 years old and they look disgusting. Brick ages well, masonry ages well ... glass and cheap badly fitted siding does not.
jameson / July 25, 2013 at 12:31 pm
Rich you are a nut case.

This article would've been good 2 years ago when this odd bit of City Place ghettoization was hotly trending. I don't think it matters anymore. With the downturn in condo development due to dropping foreign investment, we can take a breather from the massive surge upwards.
LesleyParlafitt / July 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm
St. James Town was a trendy urban playground...
no replying to a comment from Rich / July 25, 2013 at 01:26 pm
Dude, get a life. You're just spreading Dave-like absurdity with no backing facts.
milo / July 25, 2013 at 01:27 pm
i don't know why all the sheep bitch so much about cityplace. it's not king west or Yorkville -- but i'd rather live in 800 sq feet of cityplace than some slummy 905 area like Milton
Wok / July 25, 2013 at 01:31 pm
I wish there were more restaurants and bars to cater to foot-traffic. The park is popular, thanks to the pedestrian bridge, and I love the farmers market. The area's going to be a mess when Fort York Blvd opens to Bathurst
YorgonStein / July 25, 2013 at 02:30 pm
I am trying to understand what the author's definition of ghetto-ization is. From my reading of his past hyper-left-leaning-right-out-the-pot-stained-window is that ghetto-ization=
a) anything not Ossington/ queen W/ leslieville/ and its ilk - because hey it doesn't matter that the income level, unemployment level, car-ownership level, and community-transient levels are so comparably poor and are certainly not Toronto-revenue-supportive, except that they're so interesting and walkable that they must be not-ghetto (unless ghetto is hip this week, of course);
b) anything where there is a grouping of towers where you may possibly see another building in at least 90-degrees (half) of your view and there may not be an old-50+-year-old row of oak, etc., trees nearby - because those slimy pre-war rowhouses that make up 75% of housing south of Bloor have fabulous unobstructed views and there are never undesirables or angry-druggy poor people in those picturesque little tree-strewn streets which could be construed as ghetto - never;
c) anything where vehicular traffic is how 50% of people get around a neighborhood and there is more underground parking space than adjacent green/pedestrian space, which would make almost all of bloor, especially the annex, and central st.clair and young&eg and parliament/wellesley and that ilk all ghetto. Too bad - so much character and vitality - but hey ghetto.
So please, drop the failed-out-architecture student/- visual/community artist wannabe/- stuck being a hippy 32-year-old teenager-until-i-can-afford-to get-out-of-my-parents-light-filled-attic 'routine' value system. Urban design and assessment of nowadays is not about character or activity intensity or neighborhood cohesiveness- its about demographics, city-integration, and access to 24hr/7day transportation-and-food/drink choice. The only real ghetto-ization is that sad pathetic time before we can root out the under-achievers before gentrification has set in and resolved it.
Jane / July 25, 2013 at 03:06 pm
I'm tired of these articles on Cityplace. They've been talking about it becoming a ghetto for 10 years now. In the meantime those of us who live here have noticed a great increase in community feel. Farmers markets, concerts, community sports teams, etc have all come in the last couple of years. True there's a lack of stores, but a) stop being so damn lazy (we're only a couple blocks from Queen W) and the new pedestrian friendly Queens Quay should help that out.
Hobo / July 25, 2013 at 03:30 pm
Embrace the hate and speculation City Place dwellers. At least you don't think it's a human right to drink alcohol in Bellwoods Park, and then pee all over the place and say it's the police who are the problem. You do have that going for you.
VadimM / July 25, 2013 at 03:30 pm
I love it how the buildings light up at night :) Very cool.
kn / July 25, 2013 at 03:35 pm
YorgonStein, There are typologies that exist between tower after tower of condo boxes and the brutality of row houses. Yes we need densification but why does it have to be so monolithic? A development like city place is completely unnecessary. It ignores the intimacy that good architecture and good planning could create. It ignores the need for diversity in every community. Where are the local restaurants? Where are the local cafes? Where are the local flower shop or independent grocers? Is the future all about massive business chains? That's all I see at city place. What about families, who want more than 500-900sq ft box? What about people who simply do not want to pay a corporation to take care of their property?

To me this is a ghetto. A narrow minded solution to building a community. It's a wind tunnel. A short sited cash grab by the city. It is a ghetto because it makes no effort to present a creative, intimate solution to urban living.
Me replying to a comment from YorgonStein / July 25, 2013 at 03:42 pm
Pretty much true of 97% of BlogTO "writers"
Proud Citizen / July 25, 2013 at 03:45 pm
Anyone who's visited CityPlace this summer will have found it a more bustling place. The pedestrian bridge has brought the canoe park a lot more patrons. The Fox & Fiddle's patio is always full before/after Jays games.

I live in CityPlace and I love it.

Stop recycling the same tired story. This article is 3 years old at least.
Jake / July 25, 2013 at 03:45 pm
How many people wanna guess the writer either lives (rents) in what he deems a trendy none ghettoized neighborhood? Yes their are investors just like the ones that buy and rent homes in Leslieville, Ossington, Trinity Bell because all the young hipster could not afford to pay the $1.5 million dollar homes there so they either all rent from "investors" or live in there parents basement. Sorry the area should have shops and restaurants to not become ghettoized......sorry walk for 5 mins and we have access to front, king, queen, college, queens quay without having to get on a train or needing a car. So please tell me why of all the condo developments in the city this one seems to get shit on the most.....why isn't liberty village a ghetto based on your definition? Hell it's close to Parkdale which is an actual ghetto. Sorry maybe that area should have been all town homes. The average sq is 708sp ft, sorry is your townhouse in the city much larger...townhouses in Oakville are 1100sq including the 400 sq terrace.
Leo / July 25, 2013 at 04:39 pm
.....in the potential ghetto there is a Whole Foods being built to the north, a new Loblaws being built to the south, a Sobeys in the middle and Longos 5mins walk down Bremner. the area has an average household income of around $80K - $250k. Plus the corner of front and spadina will be a future high end mall that was purchased by RioCan and Allied Investment so I don't know I'm conflicted....I guess this must be an upscale ghetto!! I guess Hunters Landing opening in cityplace must make the place more ghetto like its sister location in Oakville, Harpers Landing or Williams Landing in Liberty Village. Probably no need to mention the farmers market in the area or the regular soccer, rugby, yoga and bootcamps that takes place in the area and then there is CityFest where yes you are welcome to come and party with us.
McRib replying to a comment from Jake / July 25, 2013 at 04:43 pm
Liberty Village gets shit on just as much, though mainly about the bad architecture and awful traffic.

I'd like to see where the people who complain about areas such as City Place and Liberty Village live. While the planning certainly could be done better (which is true of just about everywhere in Toronto), density is the key and all the people who live in these highrise neighbourhoods are doing their bit by living close to where they work and play.
Simon Tarses / July 25, 2013 at 05:39 pm
Oh my. The teenagers that "write" for BlogTO are going to get so pissy now.
steve / July 25, 2013 at 05:51 pm
A number I never see when this dooms day scenario is written about is what is the percentage of renters to owner occupied? I will let the doomsayers figure out why this is important, start with learning how a condo is run.
Steve replying to a comment from YorgonStein / July 25, 2013 at 05:58 pm
+1 couldn't agree more
Let's remember who writes these things. Not even real journalists, but rather aspiring journalists. I hope daddy set up a trust fund for them because when they're a 40 year old loser without a real job still they'll have an opportunity to get well acquainted with the real ghetto.
mark / July 25, 2013 at 08:59 pm
The Puente de Luz bridge is one of the most poorly designed bridge I've ever seen. Takes forever to cross.
MrsPotato / July 25, 2013 at 10:53 pm
Hey everyone,

Remember this?

"Toronto Community Housing Bringing Affordable Rental to CityPlace"


..this will be interesting.
Mike / July 26, 2013 at 12:37 am
MrsPotato: That building is open and if anything it seems to have helped bring more life and diversity to the park. Apparently there are a lot of false fire alarms because of kids pulling the fire pull, but I'm sure they will sort that out :)

Mark: PDL is wheelchair accessible so that makes it a bit longer to walk up/down but less steep. I would have liked stairs as a shortcut as an option though.

kn: We have a local cafe. Spot is great and only has a handful of locations (1 in Toronto). Hunters Landing will be a little more local - unfortunately the rents probably aren't conducive to an up-start but with the volume of residents hopefully that will change... but a short walk away we have Wellington and then Queen with tons of options.

I live in 10 Navy Wharf (HVE A) and things in the community have gotten much better in the last 1-2 years. We have a great board, an awesome update of our gym with a great patio and kids playground, and family activities forming. We have all the banks on our doorstep and Longo's has awesome food a short walk away. I can't imagine living in a house with a 60 minute commute each way for a bit more space. The HVE A corner units (1100 sqft) were very well designed and fantastic value @ $300k. You'll pay double today anywhere in the city.
B / July 26, 2013 at 08:16 am
The rationale behind the "ghetto-in-the-making" theory is that when you have a development without sufficient diversity of uses within (ie. residential, commercial, retail, institutional etc) or which is not overly accessible to a diversity of uses, then more often than not, that area will become marginalized over the long term.

Of course City Place is not a ghetto right now and that is because it is still new. As the buildings age and fall apart however (noting much of the construction in these units, just like most other condos period is sub-par) the highly transient population (ie. young renters that don't intend to stay) move on to buildings that are in better shape and that are more convenient to other types of things like bars, restaurants, shops, schools etc.

When this happens, who is going to want to live in City Place? The fear is that there won't be as many people that want to live there, so rents will steadily drop and the area will slowly become poorer and poorer, which I should add is not inherently bad, as there can be poor but safe neighbourhoods that are very vibrant; the concern however is that City Place instead becomes the kind of poor and dangerous neighbourhood that you wouldn't want on the doorstep of the city core.

Liberty Village on the other hand, while still full of crappy condos, at least has a very diverse set of uses (partly because it was planted in a neighbourhood with pre-existing structures ie. warehouses that are well suited to a variety of functions) and on the whole is propably less likely to become a slum.

I will also say however that it is still too early to fully judge City Place as it is not yet finished, and there have been a lot more commercial/retail options added, and the new pedestrian bridge is at least making it more accessible to the surrounding city.

Also, let's call a spade a spade, when people call out City Place, there is often a bit of snobbery towards the primarily "905" population that resides there. This will probably change in time, and we can't remember that in a rapidly growing city like Toronto, many of the residents will not have grown up here, it's not fair to hate on a person or a place for that reason.
Troll lover / July 26, 2013 at 09:36 am
I love trolls. Does Cityplace have good trolls? Under the bridge maybe?
Blocked Hobo / July 26, 2013 at 10:13 am
John Labatt's comment above raises some very pertinent questions. The answers to those may explain why there are so many 905ers committing suicide at Cityplace.
Harry replying to a comment from B / July 26, 2013 at 01:41 pm
@B Go do some more research my friend

"As the buildings age and fall apart however (noting much of the construction in these units, just like most other condos period is sub-par)" The millions of dollars in our reserve fund is maintained to fix and repair any structural issues and those funds are audited twice a year with structural reviews done by an engineering firm every 3 years for most buildings. That's how condos are calculated!!

"the highly transient population (ie. young renters that don't intend to stay) move on to buildings that are in better shape and that are more convenient to other types of things like bars, restaurants, shops, schools etc." it take a few years for buildings to settle.
Move on to where? Land and location are scarce commodities, there is only so much of it. Most condos start off with renters because investors are trying to turn a profit so they rent to pay there mortgages. People who actually want to live there buy and move in so the demographic of the building changes over time. There are no renters on my floor or the floor immediately above or below.

Block 31 in cityplace is designated to be a K12 school my friend...so go back and do your research you will most likely be sending your kid to Cityplace for school. Did I forget to mention there is a public library going into the area.

"Liberty Village on the other hand, while still full of crappy condos, at least has a very diverse set of uses (partly because it was planted in a neighbourhood with pre-existing structures ie. warehouses that are well suited to a variety of functions) and on the whole is propably less likely to become a slum." You probably don't live in liberty village do you because you would know that that pride an joy warehouse with all the stores will be torn down and turned into a condo. Go a check the development sign on the side of the building. Liberty village is also significantly more isolated than city place could every be.
kn replying to a comment from Mike / July 26, 2013 at 04:51 pm
Mike, 1 cafe? 1 restaurant? For 20,000 people? any other boutiques? independent businesses? This is why we see lineups at every good restaurant on king or queen because they can't keep up with the influx of residents in the downtown core. The city should have built a subway when the whole area was a field. They should have built a commercial strip or a St Lawrence market/Hawker's market type building in the area. They could have built stacked townhomes or much smaller boutique style 5/6 story freehold buildings for families. Have you ever wondered where you will move to once you have a family mike?

Spadina is total grid lock most of the time because people drive up to college or queen or to their work from city place. I agree, live close to where you work. I live downtown. I own a house. I understand that this is becoming an unobtainable option for most people but the city needs to commit to other typology other than just 30-50 story buildings. The area is awful when the wind picks up or it's winter time. City place represents a very weak solution to city planning and community building. If in fact the majority of people living in these buildings are very transient, i.e. renters this area is going to struggle not to become the next St James town. As, someone pointed out before, St James town wasn't intended to be a ghetto. It was just the cheapest place for the poor to move in to. Sound familiar?
CPguy / July 26, 2013 at 10:57 pm
It is human nature that to get a point across (or to gain publicity), you choose the example in the topic that is the biggest/most famous/richest, etc. Just like the media on Justin Bieber; accusations on Michael Jackson; etc. Cityplace is always targeted because it is the biggest and most populous condo development in the city/country. Even though, other developments can also be used as examples, as one person mentioned. We should get used to it; it is never going to stop unless CP turns out good and proves all critics wrong.

It appears that a popular argument why CP is a "dead-zone" (yeah, I don't see where that comes from either), is because of a lack of retail/stores. Give it time, as retail will open only if they when they see that it is profitable. And that won't happen until they see that the area is built up, and enough people has moved in. If you're a business owner, it is logical for you to think likewise. I think CP is approaching the stage where business is feeling comfortable establishing their footings here (Fox & Fiddle, Hunter's Landing, Liberty Shawarma, Social Pet Shop, medical clinic/pharmacy, plus many of the smaller live/work businesses). Once Spectra, Quartz, Lumen are built, CP will be complete and united from east to west, officially establishing their footprint. Even more retail will pop up, especially at the western Bathurst border.

And what I don't understand is why does CP or downtown really, have to have condos for families? I think there should be a small percentage of the units built that fits families, but I don't think it should be a high percentage. Each area of the city is tailored to a different demographic and needs. If you have a family, downtown shouldn't be for you. Move uptown. I am not discriminating (I have a family), but that's the truth. Downtown should be what it is, for the younger starters.
Eric replying to a comment from YorgonStein / July 28, 2013 at 12:47 am
it's always easy to win an argument when you make a whole bunch of unfounded assumptions about the other person's opinion. Keep fighting the intellectually rigorous fight.
Vernon Wells replying to a comment from CPguy / July 28, 2013 at 11:52 am
CP Guy - Nice subtle trolling. Don't hate on families downtown. Be more concerned about the rampant suiciders at Cityplace. That shit can disturb singles and families.
Monesha replying to a comment from Vernon Wells / July 28, 2013 at 01:25 pm
Losers can't find the Bloor Viaduct?
Monesha replying to a comment from CPguy / July 28, 2013 at 01:26 pm
Just be thankful the children of BlogTO haven't used their oh so loved "Deadpool" term about it.
kn / July 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm
Besides offering almost no opportunities for commercial endeavours, no places for families, and being one of the biggest wind tunnels in the city, city planners should have forced city place to build a proper. That empty field and ramp of leftover dirt to the big ugly red canoe is a joke. That's why Trinity Bellwoods look like Times square every weekend.
Me replying to a comment from kn / July 28, 2013 at 11:29 pm
Build a proper....what?
B replying to a comment from Harry / July 29, 2013 at 06:39 pm
Harry, I know how condo fees are calculated and it's all well and good that you have an appropriately sized reserve fund, but don't kind yourself, your condo fees will continue to go up over the mid-term time horizon and if your building is not well constructed (and I'm not saying it isn't) then they will go up at an even faster rate. So in 20 years when a potential CP investor is looking to buy a unit, sees that the inside of the units haven't aged well and that condo fees are quite high for looming common area maintenance, they may very well pass and move on to newer developments.

That said, I think you have correctly nailed the main thing that CP has going for it - it's proximity to the downtown core at a time when land is becoming increasingly scarce. This more than anything is why I'm not sure that it is a certainty that the neighbourhood will become a slum in the future. That said, if a neighbourhood is moderately successful in spite of its bad planning, it doesn't mean we that the bad planning should not be criticized as CP could have (and still can be) so much more than it is so far.

Also as some other posters have mentioned, St. Jamestown is an interesting point of comparison (it too was once a modern development) though CP's proximity to the financial district and increasing connectivity to surrounding neighbourhoods, retail space etc. will possibly help to keep it from suffering a similar fate.

Re: Liberty Village, of course some of the warehouses are being knocked down to make way for condos, but LV is wayyy more mixed use than CP, it's not even close.
Interested Torontonian / July 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm
I'm still upset with the suicide thing. Why isn't this talked about more. We need awareness to prevent in the future. I'd rather just keep Cityplace as a ghetto, and not a suicide hot-spot as well.
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Toronto lover / April 22, 2014 at 03:52 pm
City place is great! It has improved a lot in the past 2 years! The bridge made a lot of difference. The new restaurant is very nice and always packed! Iiving there for 3 years now, I never had an issue with any of the neighbours! everybody is young and professional! Yes, it is for kids! but condo is not good for kids anyways! go live in the suburb if you have kids!
I don't know why people complain about stores not being around! like what do you need? sobeys is right there, there are so many restaurants on Bremner, king and Queen are in walking distance. Like where do you live that you think there is nothing around city place? I lived in pinnacle centre for 2 years and I think that's definitely worst! There is not even a grocery store as close as sobeys to city place!
john / June 16, 2015 at 11:16 pm
Why doesn't that yellow bridge have the additional option of stairs immediately at the exit on the other side? Instead..all walkers have to go an additional 70 FEET west of the bridge just to get off of it! So annoying... who built that thing?!! Such poor planning. I get the need for a ramp, but let's get some stairs at the end for those who want to head over Spadina way.
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