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Find your new condo sanctuary at 260 High Park

Find your new condo sanctuary at 260 High Park

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Find your new condo sanctuary at 260 High Park

High Park may be popular draw in Toronto in spring with the bloom of the cherry blossoms, but just up the street on High Park Ave., 260 High Park Church Lofts & Residences is gaining due attention for a significant condo conversion.

Developer Medallion Capital Group recently released the Church Loft suites as part of this project, which involves the re-envisioning of the Alhambra Church at the southwest corner of Anette St. and High Park Ave. in Toronto’s west end. The design retains and repurposes the elements that are of historical value in the heritage building, while introducing a new addition massed sensitively around the main sanctuary.

Just 15 prized Sanctuary Church Lofts are available in the historic church structure, with another 55 units in a brand new, adjoining four-storey residence.

Retaining much of the original church facade, including large stained-glass windows and 10-ft. ceiling heights, Sanctuary Church Lofts range from 837 to 3,081 sq. ft. in one-bedroom, one-bedroom plus den, two-bedroom and two-bedroom plus den configurations, and priced from $1 million to slightly less than $4 million. Units in the new structure range from one-bedrooms to three-bedrooms plus den, and are priced from the mid $600’s.

Chris Giamou, principal at Medallion Capital Group
Chris Giamou, principal at Medallion Capital Group

“What’s important, and what really appealed to us, is proximity to transportation, Bloor West Village as well as the 400 acres of High Park, an iconic municipal park destination in Toronto,” says Chris Giamou, principal at Medallion Capital. “All of these are part and parcel of the amenities that are built into this project.”

The design team for 260 High Park comprises Boston-based, internationally renowned Finegold Alexander Architects for the heritage conversion of the church; Toronto-based Turner Fleischer for the contemporary residences; Toronto-based ERA Architects for the heritage conservation plan; MEP Design for landscaping; and U31 for interiors.

As is typical with such heritage conversion projects, especially given what the High Park area and the former church means to local residents, consultation with stakeholders leading up to the project was paramount.

“What was most important to heritage, in particular, was the protection of existing elements from street level,” Giamou told Homes Publishing. Based on such feedback, Medallion Capital altered its original design which surrounded the church with glass and window curtain walls.

“We know High Park is born and bred of brick, and the community didn’t like that concept,” Giamou says. “The compromise was that we maintained the north facade of the schoolhouse and the first bay of the west elevation. In addition to that, we replaced the glass with brick pattern that matches the existing brick.”

Though the building contains 70 units in total, it was actually zoned for as many as 77. “We purposely went larger to make these end-user units,” says Giamou, as investors will likely not be part of the buyer profile.

Site preparation is underway, and construction is set to begin this summer.

260 High Park Church Lofts & Residences


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How the Liberals missed the boat on affordable housing

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How the Liberals missed the boat on affordable housing

Now that we’ve had a couple months to digest the most recent federal budget, we can now safely say Ottawa missed the boat on affordable housing.

Indeed, the Liberals had a golden opportunity to make some simple tweaks to the mortgage system in Canada that would have allowed more first-time buyers to get into the housing market and assist second-time buyers to move up, without major changes to the policies implemented over the last two years to cool the market. Industry groups across the country including the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, Ontario Home Builders’ Association, various real estate associations, boards of trade, lenders and housing advocates, have all beseeched the government to take some steps to ease up on the various stress tests and mortgage restrictions. Most of these requests were embodied in a list of recommendations from the Chair of the Federal Liberal Housing Affordability Caucus, Francesco Sorbara. Sadly, only one of the many recommendations was implemented.

Little impact

Instead, the Liberals decided to use taxpayer money to the tune of up to $1.25 billion to assist first-time buyers to purchase homes by advancing up to 10 per cent of the purchase price of new homes and a five per cent of the price of resale homes in conjunction with a CMHC-insured policy. Incomes were capped at $120,000 annually, and the loan portion cannot exceed four times annual income. Effectively, the program by its very capping of the loan portion, excluded major centres such as Vancouver and Toronto, which have suffered significant declines in both sales and prices over two years. Much criticism has already been levelled against the proposed program as having little impact on increasing housing affordability.

There is no question that these proposals will assist first-time buyers of homes in less expensive areas with the biggest beneficiaries being places like Montreal and western provinces. However, the government will have t0 advance significant sums of taxpayer monies by way of repayable loans plus significant cost to administer the program.

This is not to say there isn’t some merit to this program. However, there are many private, non-profit institutions such as Trillium and Options for Homes which offer similar second mortgage loans and share in the equity upside with purchasers. The government has not totally revealed how the sharing will work, but has indicated that there would be no interest costs during the term of the loan.

On the other hand, the recommendations of the Liberal Housing Affordability Caucus would not cost the government a single dime, and would have allowed a broader section of the marketplace, including those in Vancouver and Toronto, to gain access to housing markets which have now been closed to them because of the new and tightened mortgage rules.

Some of these proposals included:

  1.  Exempting mortgage renewals from the stress test. Currently, institutions, whether those refinancing existing loans with the same borrower or new institutions, are
    applying the new stress test to existing loans. This can put a homeowner in danger of having to pay down his loan in order to qualify even though he has been fully complied with all of the obligations;
  2. Extending the amortization period for blended payment mortgages from 25 years to 30 years. Although this seems like a small adjustment, it would lower overall carrying costs for buyers and materially expand the number of eligible purchasers for financing. Again, 30-year amortization is fairly standard in most countries and in Canada it was raised to 35 years at the height of the financial crisis in 2009;
  3. Modify the current stress test. Requiring purchasers to be able to carry a mortgage which is two per cent above the quoted rate or meet the posted five-year rate (which is usually higher than the real five-year rate) has done enough damage, particularly in the Toronto and Vancouver housing markets, but more so, has impacted on other markets that were not overheated. Some minor adjustments would have made a big difference. The suggestion was to have a declining rate stress test such that the percentage over the proposed mortgage rate (now two per cent) would decline the longer the term of the mortgage that was being obtained. For five- or seven-year mortgages, purchasers are locked in and protected from having to face significant interest rate increases for many years and did not need such a stringent stress test to protect them from increased rates.
  4. Increase the Home Buyers’ Plan which allows purchasers to borrow from their RRSPs. This proposal was in fact partially implemented with the limit of $25,000 being increased to $35,000; and
  5. Increase the GST/HST rebate thresholds of $400,000 to reflect today’s current marketplaces, as proposed by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. When GST came out in 1991, the level of $400,000 was supposed to be adjusted periodically for inflation. There has not been one adjustment since 1991 and there is no recognition of variations between regions of average prices. Again, this recommendation was ignored.

Markets on ice

In reality, the Liberals were looking for flashy, vote getting, news catching type of proposals that would show that the government is putting its money behind first-time buyers. Making adjustments to the stress test and amortization period really isn’t sexy, but would have had a far greater beneficial impact with no cost to the government. The Liberals have responded to this criticism that the prior changes in the stress test are doing their job in cooling the markets and should not be changed at this time. In fact, many markets have not only cooled, but have been put on ice – such as the lowrise market in GTA for instance.

Leor Margulies is a partner at Robins Appleby LLP and a member of the board of directors of BILD.

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A shocking video by the Electrical Safety Authority

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A shocking video by the Electrical Safety Authority

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The Electrical Safety Authority is trying to promote safety around powerlines, and created these graphic videos demonstrating why it’s so important to be aware of what’s overhead. There were more than 1,200 powerline contacts reported in the past decade, leading to 19 jobsite fatalities. Here are the ESA’s five tips for jobsite safety.

Five Tips to #RespectThePower at Work

  1. Look up, look out! Identify all powerlines on site and make sure people and equipment stay at least three metres away to prevent an incident. Electricity can jump to you or your equipment if you’re too close to a powerline.
  1. Drivers of dump trucks and other high-reach vehicles must get a signaller to ensure equipment doesn’t come within three metres of overhead powerlines. This is outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  1. Ensure that dump trucks on site drop their box after dumping the load. It’s good practice to have a raised box indicator installed in the truck to remind the driver the box is raised.
  1. Stay alert! Many incidents happen at the end of the day when workers are tired or rushing to finish a job.
  1. If wires fall down on the truck or the ground, always assume they are still energized. Stay in the vehicle, call 911 and keep everyone back at least 10 metres – the length of a school bus. Only the local utility worker on-site can confirm when the power is off and tell you when it’s safe to exit the vehicle.

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Travelling solo has never been easier

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Travelling solo has never been easier

There are so many reasons people to choose to travel solo, and for more than 10 years, we’ve loved creating incredible adventures around the globe for our travellers. We know that travelling solo is a liberating experience and we believe what makes your journey so memorable is the people you meet along the way. Just You gives you the freedom to explore, meet new people and see new places. Overseas transfers, accommodation in a room of your own, breakfast on all tours and amazing Tour Managers are a given. We also include excursions to fascinating must see sights as well as fabulous hidden gems, to ensure you enjoy the very best of a touring vacation. There’s also the flexibility to tailor your trip to suit you, with a selection of unforgettable additional excursions. What’s more, you can secure your tour for as little as $350. We now offer even more award-winning adventures across the globe and the selection of brand new tours means we can now take you to six continents. From incredible getaways in Italy and Croatia, adventures in Nepal, hiking in New Zealand, or relaxing in the sun in St. Lucia, Just You can fulfill your travel dreams. We’re even offering protected deposits when you book a Just You tour, so if you are unable to take your Just You trip, rather than lose your deposit, we’ll keep it safe for you to use against a future tour. We love to share our passion for travel and take you on unforgettable journeys. Whether it’s the new friends you make or the places you visit, we know a Just You tour leaves a lasting impression.

Contact one of our travel experts at Merit Travel’s toll-free number 1.866.341.1777 to learn more!

https://merittravel.com/just-you-travelling-solo/

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Brickawood Buildings

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Brickawood Buildings

Most of us got our start in construction by playing with Lego bricks as kids. It seems that some of us don’t want to grow up. French company, Brickawood International, has developed wood-framed housing kits with interior and exterior walls that are assembled without nails, screws, or glue. Each piece fits together with dovetail-like precision, and the only tool used on site is a rubber mallet.

For insulation, they fill the wall cavities with sawdust. That certainly wouldn’t fly for a year-round home in our climate, but it could be a great option for a seasonal bunkie at the cottage.

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From the archives: Copper Eavestroughing

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From the archives: Copper Eavestroughing

This item is one of twelve products featured in “The Durable Dozen,” a feature written by Martin Zibauer for our June/July 2016 Great Outdoors issue.

As building materials go, there isn’t much that beats copper for durability. It’s been used on roofs since ancient times, wherever long-lasting protection was needed. These days, it’s rare to find a client who can afford a full copper roof, but copper eavestroughs are a much more affordable touch of distinction on many projects. They require no maintenance, other than removing leaf litter, and copper naturally suppresses moss, lichen, and mould growth, a benefit in wet climates. In a climate with extremes of hot and cold, the metal’s low expansion and contraction means you won’t be dealing with cracking or buckling problems. In most cases, copper eavestroughs are a one-time investment; their expected service life is 100 years or more. And unlike other eavestrough materials, they only get better looking with the patina of age; clients are unlikely to want to replace them early for cosmetic reasons. A century of service with little maintenance and no replacement costs? If you’re trying to upgrade a client to copper eavestroughs, just do the math.

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Sandra Bullock's sweet Georgia home for sale

Sandra Bullock’s sweet Georgia home for sale for $6.5M

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Sandra Bullock’s sweet Georgia home for sale for $6.5M

Oscar winner Sandra Bullock is not only diversified when it comes to the roles she plays. Her highly successful film career has also given her the wealth to own almost any home she chooses, and she doesn’t choose like other celebrities who vie with each other to own the latest and greatest Hollywood pad.

In fact, Bullock has quietly been building a diversified real estate empire. She owns, rents out, sells and lives in homes and vacation homes from coast to coast. What many would say is one of the best is a secluded beach estate on Tybee Island, Georgia which she has owned for 18 years. A busy schedule has prevented Bullock and her two children from spending vacation time there, and she has decided to put it on the market, priced at US$6.5 million.

This property has an architecturally stunning main house and guest house on almost three acres made up of nine parcels, but also has private access to one of the prettiest white-sand beaches in the country. The estate has the capacity to sleep 12 in luxury and fun, with the large pool, games room, gym, a basketball court and private beach entrance.

Structures include the 3,360-sq.-ft. plantation-style main house with multiple screened verandas, double-height living room ceiling with beachy decor and a 2,848-sq.-ft. guest house with living room fireplace, a crow’s nest and an outdoor grill. Overall, there are seven bedrooms and six baths between the two buildings. The home is decorated with emphasis on white linen and wicker with a contemporary airy, beachy vibe and all furnishings, except for a few personal items, are included in the sale. Bullock has rented the estate as a vacation rental at US$1,400 a night with a minimum of a three-night stay.

Only 20 minutes to Savannah’s gourmet restaurants and unique shops, Bullock is selling her beach vacation compound on nearby Tybee Island, priced at $6.5 million. Co-listing agents are Ruthie Lynah Whitlow and Rachel Umreit of Celia Dunn Sotheby’s, West Charlton Street Office, Savannah.

Photos: Tybee Vacation Rentals

See the listing.


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First-time homebuyers catch a break with slowing home price growth

First-time homebuyers catch a break with slowing home price growth

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First-time homebuyers catch a break with slowing home price growth

We have some good news and we have some bad news, prospective homebuyers in Canada.

First, the bad news: According to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey, home price growth in many of Canada’s real estate markets is slowing. This means, if you’re looking to buy a home, its value may not grow as much as it has recently. The good news, however, is that this same slowing price growth presents a window of opportunity for first-time homebuyers to get while you can.

The price of a home in Canada increased just 2.7 per cent year-over-year to $621,575 in the first quarter of 2019, Royal LePage says, well below the long-term norm of approximately five per cent. When broken out by housing type, the median price of a two-storey home rose 2.6 per cent year-over-year to $729,553, while the median price of a bungalow rose 1.1 per cent to $513,497. Condominiums remained the fastest growing housing type, rising 5.4 per cent year-over-year to $447,260.

Looking ahead to the second quarter, Royal LePage expects national home prices to stay relatively flat throughout the 2019 spring market, with the national aggregate price of a home increasing just one per cent over the next three months. Meanwhile, the housing markets in several larger Canadian cities have shown noticeable signs of slowing, with nearly half of the regions in Royal LePage’s Quarterly Forecast anticipating quarter-over-quarter price declines.

But these are national numbers, and as we’ve written before, there really is no such thing as a Canadian housing market.

But more on this later.

Silver lining

Early in 2018, Canada experienced the most significant housing correction since the 2008 financial crisis. Markets showed signs of recovery late in the year, yet the figures for early 2019 suggest that the market has once again slowed.

We are expecting this to be a sluggish year overall in Canada’s residential real estate market, with the hangover from the 2018 market correction and weaker economic growth acting as a drag on home price appreciation, balanced by lower for longer interest rates,” says Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. “There is a silver lining here. This slowdown gives buyers, and first-time buyers in particular, an opportunity to buy real estate in our country’s largest cities.”

In the federal budget tabled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau in March, the Canadian government announced three new or enhanced housing programs. The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive is a three-year, $1.25-billion shared equity mortgage program whereby  Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) will co-invest up to five per cent of the purchase price of an existing home. Further, for the first time in a decade, there was an increase in the registered retirement savings plan withdrawal limits in the Home Buyers Plan. The increase, from $25,000 to $35,000, was the largest since the program’s inception in 1992. Finally, an additional $10 billion in financing over nine years was earmarked for the construction of purpose-built rental housing.

Real estate is local

Illustrating our point that real estate is local and not national, the GTA housing market is still showing healthy growth.

“The city of Toronto is still one of Canada’s fastest appreciating real estate markets,” says Soper. “Detached home prices are rising in line with inflation, but condominium prices are increasing at near double-digit levels as vertical living has become the primary new-build option in this growing, world-class city.”

Median home prices in Toronto rose 5.8 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2019. Two-storey home prices and bungalow home prices rose 4.8 per cent and 2.5 per cent year-over-year, respectively, while condo prices rose 9.3 per cent year-over-year. The overall GTA’s aggregate home price rose 3.4 per cent over the same period.

Real estate values in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe region continued to appreciate at a brisk clip, as local economies grew and workers from the GTA looked to trade commuting time for lower house prices. Niagara-St. Catharines, Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge aggregate prices were up by 6.9 per cent, 6.3 per cent and 8.9 per cent, respectively.


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