News   Apr 03, 2020
 7.7K     3 
News   Apr 02, 2020
 8.5K     0 
News   Apr 02, 2020
 2.8K     0 

Downtown Real Estate

The reality is there is no opportunity with the current circumstances, when the situation improves there may be much opportunity, so incentives may not even be needed then
 
Honestly wood frame proposals downtown aren't bad. If there's like 2 or 3 more proposals like the Westrich proposal on 108 St on the Rileys site in the downtown area then it's not the end of the world. Residents over aesthetic at this point.

I do believe rents are going to keep surging upwards here over the course of the year. The in-migration numbers are substantial enough to warrant that.
 
There's no doubt we're seeing rental prices in the suburbs and desirable areas starting to climb, but when that might trickle to downtown remains yet to be seen. I agree though, that providing grants to help get projects going is a significantly better alternative than waiting for the market to reach unaffordable levels would be the right move. I just have absolutely zero faith in this council to think of what should be good and sensible policy. There's a reason why Montreal continues to provide the best urban experience in Canada. For a long time, that city was able to maintain affordability in and around its core while providing citizens with a downtown that has an abundance to see/do, remained safe and a retained a very strong employment sector all clustered together. Montreal is also currently undergoing an affordability crisis (who isn't these days) so I do worry what impact that might have in a few years.

I will echo what some have already said however that downtown is not really an attractive place for most to live right now. That primarily ties into safety, lack of amenities as well as lack of things to really do. I think I've said this countless times on this forum already, but I will always be perplexed as to why council won't explore options (in a serious manner) to try and attract businesses/corporations to set up shop or relocate to downtown. Employment in the core would attract young professionals to want to be close to work and would instantly have a domino effect for local businesses like restaurants/cafes/bars and maybe even provide opportunity for retail (clothing stores) to maybe take a chance downtown.

I worry a bit that if we don't seize this amazing opportunity the city is undergoing right now (with the amount of folks moving here) that we will just continue to be lucky if even 1 major project goes ahead in the core. I think most of us are tired of that and would love to witness a true transformation of our downtown so that it may finally live up to its potential we all know is there deep down.
 
It could trickle in sooner than later. Vacancy rates in the suburbs are now extremely low, from both that Urban Affairs article and from CMHC's own data.


It's extremely interesting to see downtown and downtown adjacent areas just drop in their vacancy rates from (except for Wihkwentowin). Central McDougall dropping from 9.4% to 3.4% Y/Y is wild. This is also Oct 23 data too, so it's already quite outdated.

Like I've said before, at this point downtown will attract people, because the core has the largest amount of rental stock in the city, and the options in the suburbs are starting to just run out. Whether there's stuff to do or not, other areas of the city in the suburbs don't seem to have the same capacity to absorb this like downtown can at this point in time anymore. That's not saying that we can't work and advocate for more amenities or retail downtown, but it's not 2020-2021 anymore.
 
There's no doubt we're seeing rental prices in the suburbs and desirable areas starting to climb, but when that might trickle to downtown remains yet to be seen. I agree though, that providing grants to help get projects going is a significantly better alternative than waiting for the market to reach unaffordable levels would be the right move. I just have absolutely zero faith in this council to think of what should be good and sensible policy. There's a reason why Montreal continues to provide the best urban experience in Canada. For a long time, that city was able to maintain affordability in and around its core while providing citizens with a downtown that has an abundance to see/do, remained safe and a retained a very strong employment sector all clustered together. Montreal is also currently undergoing an affordability crisis (who isn't these days) so I do worry what impact that might have in a few years.

I will echo what some have already said however that downtown is not really an attractive place for most to live right now. That primarily ties into safety, lack of amenities as well as lack of things to really do. I think I've said this countless times on this forum already, but I will always be perplexed as to why council won't explore options (in a serious manner) to try and attract businesses/corporations to set up shop or relocate to downtown. Employment in the core would attract young professionals to want to be close to work and would instantly have a domino effect for local businesses like restaurants/cafes/bars and maybe even provide opportunity for retail (clothing stores) to maybe take a chance downtown.

I worry a bit that if we don't seize this amazing opportunity the city is undergoing right now (with the amount of folks moving here) that we will just continue to be lucky if even 1 major project goes ahead in the core. I think most of us are tired of that and would love to witness a true transformation of our downtown so that it may finally live up to its potential we all know is there deep down.
I am also very disappointed in the current council. The previous several were proactive about encouraging downtown development, but the current one is reactive just responding to the problems and a bit slowly at that.

Very little effort seems to be made to attract businesses to locate downtown. I feel there is no real advocate for downtown on the current city council anymore, which is different than in the past.
 
I am also very disappointed in the current council. The previous several were proactive about encouraging downtown development, but the current one is reactive just responding to the problems and a bit slowly at that.

Very little effort seems to be made to attract businesses to locate downtown. I feel there is no real advocate for downtown on the current city council anymore, which is different than in the past.
I agree, I feel like Anne Stevenson has taken a very passive approach to her role. You can see Councillors Michael Janz and Ashley Salvador very active in their roles, pitching ideas and trying to drive conversations, even Andrew Knack and Aaron Paquette. I'm not saying she is bad, she only seems to have a very passive approach which is disappointing in the current state of DT and the current opportunities.
 
I am also very disappointed in the current council. The previous several were proactive about encouraging downtown development, but the current one is reactive just responding to the problems and a bit slowly at that.

Very little effort seems to be made to attract businesses to locate downtown. I feel there is no real advocate for downtown on the current city council anymore, which is different than in the past.

I also feel the province, given it's in their mandate, is also instrumental in bringing business/start ups/head offices to Alberta's cities. And they do, just not this one so much - again we haven't had an effective or influential government minister for a while.
 
"City council unanimously voted without debate on Wednesday on a plan to regulate more than 100 illegal surface parking lots in and around Downtown and increase enforcement with the hope landowners will either redevelop their properties or make them safer and more attractive. Of 113 surface lots owned by 96 property owners in the city’s core, just 16 have permits, said a report by staff.

Those who don’t follow the new rules face fines of $500 to $10,000 for violating business licence or zoning bylaws. If the city is forced to intervene and improve the lots itself, the cost of necessary upgrades will be billed to the property owners directly through their tax accounts."

 
"City council unanimously voted without debate on Wednesday on a plan to regulate more than 100 illegal surface parking lots in and around Downtown and increase enforcement with the hope landowners will either redevelop their properties or make them safer and more attractive. Of 113 surface lots owned by 96 property owners in the city’s core, just 16 have permits, said a report by staff.

Those who don’t follow the new rules face fines of $500 to $10,000 for violating business licence or zoning bylaws. If the city is forced to intervene and improve the lots itself, the cost of necessary upgrades will be billed to the property owners directly through their tax accounts."


That title isn't really being fair to the Katz group considering the article itself clearly states they're following the current permitting process for surface parking. Title is designed to draw outrage at the local billionaire, when they're actually playing by the rules while others just let their lots go to hell.
 
It could trickle in sooner than later. Vacancy rates in the suburbs are now extremely low, from both that Urban Affairs article and from CMHC's own data.


It's extremely interesting to see downtown and downtown adjacent areas just drop in their vacancy rates from (except for Wihkwentowin). Central McDougall dropping from 9.4% to 3.4% Y/Y is wild. This is also Oct 23 data too, so it's already quite outdated.

Like I've said before, at this point downtown will attract people, because the core has the largest amount of rental stock in the city, and the options in the suburbs are starting to just run out. Whether there's stuff to do or not, other areas of the city in the suburbs don't seem to have the same capacity to absorb this like downtown can at this point in time anymore. That's not saying that we can't work and advocate for more amenities or retail downtown, but it's not 2020-2021 anymore.
So, like....should I stop trying to sell my place downtown? lol
 
So, like....should I stop trying to sell my place downtown? lol
Lemme check my crystal ball. It says “SELL BABY SELL, get that $$” lol

But for real I’m just looking at this from big number trend perspective, there’s some trends that are positive but I’m not there on the ground or talking to developers/real estate groups. So I probably have a different perspective than some!
 
There’s 2 different conversations happening here. Development ability vs demand for downtown.

I don’t think demand is actually a big issue. Especially for newer projects and rentals. The glut of old condos or super high end ones are tough sells. But filling Falcon for example I don’t think will be terribly hard.

The true challenge is development of new projects. Which is why I think we need incentives.

When I help friends looking to rent or buy who are moving to the city, the contrast is clear. In areas like rosenthal and secord, there’s are tons of new, beautiful apartments, townhomes, large SFHs, basements suites etc. just so much supply and variety and it’s good.

In central areas it’s mostly older, run down apartments, older/cheaper bungalows, or newer and expensive infills. Few townhomes for sale. Few apartments for rent that are newer and safe.

And so where do people go? Where the supply is.

Hence, we get a ton of great supply going downtown and suddenly the people looking in mature areas might consider downtown. Those looking outside the henday, start to look in mature areas. It’s worth the money. Unless there are insane vacancies starting to happen downtown, why would we not be pushing for 3-5 new high density residential starts per year?
 
There’s 2 different conversations happening here. Development ability vs demand for downtown.

I don’t think demand is actually a big issue. Especially for newer projects and rentals. The glut of old condos or super high end ones are tough sells. But filling Falcon for example I don’t think will be terribly hard.

The true challenge is development of new projects. Which is why I think we need incentives.

When I help friends looking to rent or buy who are moving to the city, the contrast is clear. In areas like rosenthal and secord, there’s are tons of new, beautiful apartments, townhomes, large SFHs, basements suites etc. just so much supply and variety and it’s good.

In central areas it’s mostly older, run down apartments, older/cheaper bungalows, or newer and expensive infills. Few townhomes for sale. Few apartments for rent that are newer and safe.

And so where do people go? Where the supply is.

Hence, we get a ton of great supply going downtown and suddenly the people looking in mature areas might consider downtown. Those looking outside the henday, start to look in mature areas. It’s worth the money. Unless there are insane vacancies starting to happen downtown, why would we not be pushing for 3-5 new high density residential starts per year?
I've been saying it for years. Accessibility and amenities. You give burbanites the ability to park on streets they will come explore downtown more often, they won't pay and that's a fact of life that the city shouldn't try to fight. You invest in things that are fun: parks, bowling alleys, aquariums, landmarks, etc etc, and people will come from beyond the 'burbs.

And following into what you're saying, having the ability for people's friends and family to come downtown easily with things to do might just encourage them to rent an older place to GET those amenities.

Takes time, and it's not everything, downtown as social issues too that were startling when I came back to do renos, those need to be invested in too.
 
I've been saying it for years. Accessibility and amenities. You give burbanites the ability to park on streets they will come explore downtown more often, they won't pay and that's a fact of life that the city shouldn't try to fight. You invest in things that are fun: parks, bowling alleys, aquariums, landmarks, etc etc, and people will come from beyond the 'burbs.

And following into what you're saying, having the ability for people's friends and family to come downtown easily with things to do might just encourage them to rent an older place to GET those amenities.

Takes time, and it's not everything, downtown as social issues too that were startling when I came back to do renos, those need to be invested in too.

I'm feeling somewhat more like this - having people come downtown from outside communities is not as much of an issue right now as having people living downtown and building a downtown that prioritizes a downtown lifestyle. And that means to me more walkable streets building towards more pedestrianization with less space and priority for street parking and cars overall.

Downtown is drawing good crowds a lot of weeknights and weekends with continual events at the arena and the Ice District space and old Baccarat site. We've also got an expanded Winspear coming and the Citadel Theatre and museums and Churchill Square event space, unique, quality restaurants that you can't experience anywhere else but downtown.

It's getting more people living downtown that's the priority and what attracted me to that? It wasn't easy parking. It's walkable spaces, lots of amenities, being able to easily attend events all summer long in Churchill Square. And of course close proximity to River Valley. I think one of downtown's weaknesses is the priority on cars and its subsequent infrastructure such as parking. It makes it less pleasant to walk around and hang out in. It's the number one reason why I would leave dt but I'm hoping that better quality pedestrian experience is going to happen. I'm really looking forward to 104 st farmers market back. I like that I have a decent bike experience too but would also prefer to see that improve, but it can't as long as priority is how easy and convenient it is to drive downtown.

I'm just describing my experience and preferences though and I know that's different from many.
 
That title isn't really being fair to the Katz group considering the article itself clearly states they're following the current permitting process for surface parking. Title is designed to draw outrage at the local billionaire, when they're actually playing by the rules while others just let their lots go to hell.
Agree with this. I'm actually really happy that council passed this and glad to see concrete action taking place to tackle the countless derelict parking lots scattered in and around downtown. But I also dont get the attack on Katz group here. Were it not for Ice District, downtown would be in a FAR worse off position then its in right now and I'll always say the development of Ice District Phase 1 is the best thing to happen in downtown since the 80's.
 

Back
Top