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Cloverdale Mall

Cloverdale Mall area set for major community development

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Cloverdale Mall area set for major community development

Prospective homebuyers looking for new opportunities in the west end of Toronto might want to keep an eye out for developments around Cloverdale Mall in Etobicoke.

Property owner QuadReal Property Group of Vancouver has big plans for the area that extend well beyond a major redevelopment of the shopping mall itself, which dates back to 1956 when it first opened as an open-air plaza.

Following a year of community consultation, QuadReal plans to submit a rezoning application to the City of Toronto in December, proposing a comprehensive master plan to redevelop the existing 32-acre mall property into an innovative, dynamic and sustainable mixed-use urban community. The plan is to integrate the mall within the surrounding neighbourhoods, providing greenspace, as well as mixed residential, retail and community amenities.

Multi-generational residences

QuadReal says it plans to incorporate feedback from the community, including local residents, business owners and shoppers. To ensure the development is reflective of community values, the company has built a 4,000-sq.-ft. space called the Cloverdale Common within the existing Cloverdale space, which hosts arts and culture programming, events and open houses to discuss the proposed plans. The resulting feedback will be considered in developing the property to include shopping, but also multi-generational residences, all-season parkland, arts and culture programming, fitness and wellness facilities, restaurants and more.

“The new Cloverdale community will offer a diverse mix of residential types, to create housing for all stages of life – from young professionals to seniors, students to families,” Ben Gilbank, director of development at QuadReal, told HOMES Publishing. “A variety of residential types will be provided, including rental, condo and affordable units, enabling cross-generational opportunities for housing. Units will range in size from smaller to larger, family-style units.

Once the proposal is submitted to the City in December, the next few years will be dedicated toward obtaining planning approvals, prior to commencing the first phase of construction, Gilbank adds.

Infrastructure development

Cloverdale is located in the Etobicoke Centre, an area popular for its proximity to the QEW and Hwy 427, the Islington-City Centre West central business district and established neighbourhoods, and which itself is undergoing significant redevelopment. Several new housing developments are in the works along Dundas St. W. between Islington and 427, and more planned for south side of Dundas just west of Kipling subway. New condos are also springing up along the 427 near Burnhamthorpe.

The nearby Six Points intersection, a complicated interchange where Kipling, Bloor and Dundas all intersect, is seeing tens of millions of dollars spent by the City over the next two years to modernize the roads and surrounding infrastructure, to accommodate future development in the area.

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Etobicoke is development central, literally


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Sidewalk Labs

Oct. 31 deadline for Sidewalk Labs transformation a scary proposition

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Oct. 31 deadline for Sidewalk Labs transformation a scary proposition

An Oct. 31 Halloween deadline to resolve major issues with Waterfront Toronto has been set for the game-changing Sidewalk Labs development proposal – a date some consider a scary proposition. If a deal can move forward, another six-month period will be allowed to finalize the biggest and most advanced redevelopment project in North America. If agreement isn’t reached, another partner may be sought.

Sidewalk is the developer and sister company of Google chosen in 2017 by Waterfront Toronto to develop a 12-acre, smart-city site at downtown Toronto’s eastern waterfront called Quayside. The new community would include a mix of housing types (including tall wood construction), financing for light-rail transit and walkable, bicycle-friendly streets.

IDEA district

Part of the proposal is the Innovative Development and Economic Acceleration district (IDEA) district, a 190-acre project on the eastern waterfront that builds on Quayside. It would include a new Canadian headquarters for Google and an $80-million pre-fabricated construction manufacturing hub to build its mass-timber neighbourhood.

According to Sidewalk, its proposal would create an estimated 93,000 jobs and $4 billion in annual tax revenue by 2040.

“But Toronto has had challenges in making big-vision projects a reality to take it to another level, as well as streamlining a clogged development and building approvals process,” says Richard Lyall, president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario. “It’s not surprising that the two big issues in the last Toronto election were transit and housing. We are not developing enough of either to support our population growth.”

Critical innovations

As it stands, the Toronto region is second only to Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington as the fastest growing major metropolitan area in North America, Lyall adds.

Sidewalk can introduce critical innovations in building information modelling, supply chain management and the regulatory approvals process, Lyall says, and it holds the promise for environmentally friendly affordable housing.


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All in the Family – with multi-generational homes

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All in the Family – with multi-generational homes

Photography by Ben Rahn

Multi-generational homes are typically defined as those in which three or more generations live under the same roof; however, the structure of these homes can vary considerably, with some families choosing to renovate and other families deciding to purchase new-builds specifically designed for multi-generational living.

What’s old is new again

Despite the rash of recent media publicity, multi-generational homes are certainly nothing new, and it may be more precise to say that they are experiencing a renaissance. In fact, prior to the second World War, multi-generational living was the norm in many North American households, and it was only in the 1950s and ’60s that young adults began moving out at 19 or 20, never to return. Moreover, in many parts of the world, especially in Southern European and South-Asian countries, multi-generational households are common, if not the norm.

Contributing factors and a ‘fun’ fact

In Canada, multi-generational living arrangements are among the fastest growing household type, with the 2016 Census showing a 37.5 per cent increase in the number of multi-generational households since 2001. There are several factors contributing to their increasing popularity including: the rising cost of detached homes and lack of inventory (AKA “the housing crisis”), Canada’s changing ethnocultural composition, the delayed marriage pattern, and longer life expectancy, with seniors 65+ outnumbering children for the first time since Canada began recording such facts.

Not surprisingly, the demand for multi-generational homes is greater in high-priced housing markets such as Vancouver and Toronto. Fun fact: Toronto recently came 12th in a ranking of the world’s most expensive places to live, according to a new report by the CBRE that analyzed housing and rental prices for 35 major cities around the world. Architects and homebuilder associations are taking note of the increased demand for multi-generational homes. According to Calgary’s Smarter Growth Initiative, “The building industry is seeing a trend in multi-generational housing across Canada.” Builders and architects are therefore adapting floor plans and certain design elements have become selling points for this growing market.

An award-winning multi-generational masterpiece

The Toronto-based architect and design firm, Williamson Williamson Inc. has noticed the increased demand for multi-generational houses. Their third multi-generational home was completed in November 2016, and is a stunning home located in Ancaster, Ontario. This contemporary home is situated on a wide lot backing onto Ancaster Creek and was awarded a prestigious Ontario Association of Architects award.

The home was designed to connect with the land and echoes its natural surroundings with a local material palette of wood and stone. The exterior is clad in 3-1/2″ thick locally sourced Algonquin limestone. Plentiful, oversized windows reflect the serenity of the wooded lot and provide abundant natural light and expansive views. The upper parts of the home are clad in milled cedar boards, which contrast beautifully with the clean, linear modern esthetic.

Design for the Ages

The home also incorporates sustainable systems and accommodations for the homeowners’ elderly parents, proving that multi-generational housing and modern luxury are not mutually exclusive.

A fully equipped ground-floor suite

As with most multi-generational homes, this home was conceived as two separate residences. The parents’ suite is situated on the ground floor (so that they don’t have to contend with the stairs), and is fully equipped with a master bedroom, living and dining space, and even an extra bedroom and bathroom should live-in help become necessary at some point in the future.

Safety First

Carefully considered added features include well-placed drains and a master power switch, which were implemented to mitigate the issues that come with memory loss, such as a sink left running or an oven left on. An induction cooktop was selected because the burners don’t generate heat, and the cooktop both cooks and cools faster than conventional burners. Wide corridors benefit from bright lighting so that the parents can easily navigate between rooms with higher lumen counts in the bathroom and kitchen areas.

Shared living spaces

As is common in most multi-generational homes, the spacious ground floor also has shared living spaces. The modern kitchen features a 20-foot-tall pyramidal ceiling, back-painted glass, polished Calacatta slabs, and a large oak island, making it the perfect place for the entire family to convene.

The dining and living room are also communal spaces, with a honed travertine fireplace built into a feature oak wall, and a statement wood-clad spiral staircase that connects the living room to the second floor, where the homeowners have their private suite.

Upper-floor private retreat

The clean, modern esthetic continues upstairs with the master bedroom where the emphasis is on the floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer up the best views of the creek. The serene master bath is clad in grey marble tiles, and a custom oak library doubles as an office. Even better, the homeowners have their own private lounge with a concealed bar, perfect for one-on-one time.

Energy-efficient and eco-conscious design

With multi-generational homes, it’s important to have energy-efficient HVAC systems, and this Ancaster home doesn’t disappoint. The envelope of the house is highly insulated with triple-pane wood-frame windows. A high-efficiency furnace reduces the reliance on floor heating in the colder months, and a 37 module 9.8 kW solar array was installed across two of the flat roofs, offsetting energy consumption. LED lighting is also used throughout the home. Collectively, these measures result in a low-energy, eco-conscious home.

A smart solution with multiple benefits

As lifespans and housing prices continue to rise, multi-generational housing will provide a smart solution for families willing to embrace it. In fact, as long as privacy and autonomy are preserved, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks: close familial relationships, live-in caregivers for the young and the aged, and, of course, the pooling of financial resources. It doesn’t get much better than this – especially when you have the means to customize a beautiful home like this Ancaster Creek stunner.

For those who are considering this lifestyle but are constrained by more restrictive budgets, a great option is the FlezHouz by Marshall Homes, with a base price of $1.6 million. Essentially, the FlezHouz is a large house with a smaller independent house contained inside it. Make no mistake, these homes are well planned and constructed, and have been selling out fast since 2018, when an enterprising GTA builder named Craig Marshall foresaw the need for multi-generational housing in the high-priced Toronto market.


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Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch back on the market – again

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Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch back on the market – again

Photo credit: Compass

Michael Jackson died 10 years ago on June 25, 2009, and many people around the world commemorated his death by listening to his hit songs and watching his iconic music videos. They celebrated his astronomical career by remembering his early performances as part of The Jackson 5, replaying interviews, and watching documentaries like This Is It that shows the work that went into organizing his last concert, which sadly he never got the chance to perform.

Also remembered is his beloved Neverland Ranch, where he lived from 1987 until 2006. This was where he was finally able to experience childhood, having never had that luxury as part of the hard-working, family-singing group The Jackson 5.

Two years after his death, Neverland was put on the market for $100 million, but never sold. Today, restored at great expense to resemble the original ranch it was when Michael purchased it, the estate is back on the market and reduced to $31 million.

In 1977, developer William Bone bought the bare acreage in Santa Barbara County in Los Olivos, California. Bone engaged an architect to design all the main structures on the property, dig the lake and landscape formal gardens. It was his own fantasy land of sorts, as he was able to design it his way rather than at the direction of his clients. It took him two years working with architect Robert Altevers to get the design to his liking. He named it the Zaca Laderas Ranch and lived there until selling it to Michael in 1987.

Michael bought the 2,700-acre ranch for about $25 million and then spent millions more to develop it into a child’s fantasy land, which he appropriately named Neverland, in reference to the Peter Pan fairy tale. The 13,000-sq.-ft. main house, formal gardens, four-acre lake with fountains and a five-foot waterfall, along with an attractive stone bridge, had already been built by Bone when Michael purchased the property.

Michael added three railroads, a petting zoo, and a full amusement park complete with nine major rides and an arcade. He also installed an electric railroad with 100-feet of track behind the house for his own children.

Neverland was Michael’s beloved home until 2006 when he was charged with child molestation, which supposedly took place at the ranch. Although he was acquitted, the association of so much negativity with the ranch made it difficult for him to continue living there. Except for caretakers, the ranch was closed.

By 2007, Michael was behind in payments on his loan by about $23 million and the ranch was due to go on the auction block; however, investment group Colony Capital stepped in and bought the loan, making them co-owners. In 2009, Colony began restoring the ranch by removing the zoo and amusement park and replacing them with a Zen garden. The amusement park rides are now part of Sacramento’s California State Fair.

Now, on the 10th anniversary of Michael’s death, his beloved Neverland Ranch, renamed the Sycamore Valley Ranch, has had a massive price reduction from the original $100 million to $31 million. The listing agent is Suzanne Perkins of Compass Realty, Montecito, California.


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Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind mansion going, going… but not gone just yet

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Gone with the Wind mansion going, going… but not gone just yet

When Margaret Mitchell wrote her fictional novel about the Civil War-era Deep South, Gone with the Wind, in 1936, it didn’t occur to her that it would end up being a classic bestseller that would endure for generations.

And when Selznick International Pictures purchased the film rights to the book in 1939, Mitchell had no interest in being involved in the production except for doing one thing: She came across a photograph in the Atlanta Journal of a Covington, Ga. 1836 plantation-style house, cut it out and mailed it to David Selznick with notations that it was identical to the house that she envisioned for the book’s character Ashley Wilkes.

Since then, Twelve Oaks was purchased by the current owners in rundown condition and underwent a US$2-million restoration in 2017. With the owners looking to begin a new project, Twelve Oaks is now up for auction, ending July 25, with a starting bid of US$1 million.

Today’s Twelve Oaks is even more stunning than when Mitchell found it, with the restoration and addition of 21st-century amenities. At 10,000 sq. ft., it has 11-ft. ceilings and hardwood floors throughout, chandeliers and period lighting, 12 bedrooms, 13 baths and 12 fireplaces routed into five eye-catching, brick chimneys, now with fires remotely controlled. With decor kept within the period, there is the formal parlor, large dining room, new kitchen and elegant bathrooms with two tubs that cost more than $14,000 each, and one with a rare antique shower shaped in a circle with sprays from shoulders to feet.

The master suite with personal library is rich with built-in wood bookcases flanking a fireplace with room for seating and a library table. In addition, there are three laundry rooms, fire-sprinkler system and intercom. The rooftop captain’s walk affords lovely views. Outside is a swimming pool with historic pergola, covered porches, a large deck and more than three acres of gardens with a four-car carriage house that has Tesla and Copper Creek charging stations for both cars and golf carts.

The mansion is located only three blocks from the Covington town square with a wide range of restaurants and shops, 30 miles east of downtown Atlanta. As a bed and breakfast and event venue, Twelve Oaks was named Best of the South by Southern Living in 2018, with frequent appearances in movies and television. It is listed in Trip Advisor’s Hall of Fame and as a wedding venue has won Best of the Knot and WeddingWire Couples Choice Award.


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