Tag Archives: Transit


In Conversation With… Shamez Virani President, CentreCourt

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In Conversation With… Shamez Virani President, CentreCourt

If affordability is top of mind for today’s condo buyers, transit connectivity might be number two on the list. For CentreCourt, this means providing “ground floor” opportunities near transit infrastructure, where buyers can lay claim to the best locations, and capture maximum value.

President Shamez Virani explains, and offers some insight into where buyers might want look next.

Condo Life: CentreCourt is releasing The Forest Hill, a new project said to be among the few with direct transit access in the lobby, to the upcoming Forest Hill Station on the LRT. How is this project coming along?

Shamez Virani: We’ve recently introduced The Forest Hill Condominiums to the market, the first development with a direct connection to the new Eglinton line. This project is located on the southwest corner of Bathurst and Eglinton, giving prospective homeowners the opportunity to live within one of the most coveted neighbourhoods of the city – Forest Hill. We’re offering an approachable price point starting at the high $300,000s with suites ranging from studios to three-bedrooms. The project launched in October and has already received incredible interest from the community. In today’s market, our purchasers understand the value of direct transit connectivity and “getting in on the ground floor” for a future subway line.

CL: You have another project planned at the intersection of Mercer Street and Blue Jays Way, the former site of Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant… so, a sentimental location for many Torontonians. How, if at all, do you plan to honour the history of this site, say, in design, project name or interior accents?

SV: We are excited about bringing a sophisticated, high-end and energetic project to the already vibrant downtown area. Not only will residents of this building benefit with state-of-the-art amenities such as a high-end gym (featuring Peloton bikes and other cutting-edge technology) and social co-working space, but we are looking into designing the building in a way that amplifies the character of the neighbourhood as an employment, culinary and artistic node. It’s critical that the interior and exterior design captures this energy. The project will be named 55 Mercer – for those who know Toronto real estate, there are few other addresses that evoke the cache and excitement of 55 Mercer.

CL: You have other projects planned for Yonge Wellesley, 201 Church and 319 Jarvis. What’s the status and key characteristics of each?

SV: As you note, we have a number of great downtown sites in the rezoning phase that we hope to bring to market in 2020. This is a very exciting time for us at CentreCourt, as we have more in the development pipeline than we have ever had. As we finalize our zoning on these sites and gear up to launch sales, we will be able to share more information regarding the developments. In the interim, our focus is on the upcoming launch of The Forest Hill and gearing up to go to market for 55 Mercer.

CL: The red light-green light development proposal approval process recently adopted by three Toronto city councillors is not going over too well in the development industry. What are your views on this situation?

SV: Toronto is a fast-growing metropolis – the public and private sectors need to work together to support the city’s growth. Our partnership with Metrolinx at The Forest Hill Condominiums at Bathurst and Eglinton is a great example of how public and private can work together to enhance services for Torontonians and transit users through transit-oriented development that is in sync with great planning. We need to continue to encourage development near major transit areas to meet the current housing needs.

CL: Affordability is a growing concern for homebuyers in the GTA, but much of what determines end costs – land use policy and availability and approvals processes – are out of builders’ control. How does CentreCourt address the affordability challenge?

SV: We are focused on bringing more living options to areas that can support new density. We design our suites to be efficient, and price them in a way that allows a broad range of buyers to gain access to a market they would otherwise be priced out of. No better example of this is The Forest Hill Condominiums, where suites will start in the high $300,000s and exist beside homes in Toronto’s most affluent area, which can be 10 to 20 times more expensive.

CL: Where do you see the next homebuilding – and therefore, for customers, homebuying – opportunities in the GTA, in terms of geographic area? You seem to be focused on downtown, transit-centric locations and projects…

SV: At CentreCourt, we’ve focused on areas that are nearby to major amenities, transit networks and pivotal employment areas. A major decision factor for condo buyers is transit connectivity, fostering an area and the access to live, work and play. When you look at the nodes in Toronto and the GTA that are seeing the largest amount of development, opportunity, and capital appreciation, it’s often because major transit infrastructure has been planned or added to the node. Some of the most exciting opportunities going forward will be those that provide a “ground floor” opportunity to be one of the first projects to be built at or near transit infrastructure. These “first movers” tend to be successful and lay claim to the best locations, and capture the maximum value from the growth and maturation of new transit infrastructure.

CL: What’s next for CentreCourt?

SV: Our 55 Mercer and The Forest Hill Condominiums projects are our primary focuses right now, and we are approaching our 10-year anniversary and will have some exciting projects and initiatives to announce.


If I wasn’t involved in homebuilding, I would: That’s a hard question, seeing as I told my mom I wanted to “build big buildings” when I was 12 years old and have never veered from this dream since. However, if I wasn’t involved in homebuilding, I would likely be an entrepreneur focused on building a technology business. Entrepreneurship is in my blood and technology is the other industry (aside from real estate development) that I am fascinated by and love to learn more about.

My greatest inspiration in this business is: My mother. She immigrated from Tanzania in the mid-1970s without any formal secondary education or money in the bank, but she never let her circumstances define the amazing life that she built for our family. She has taught me the value of hard and honest work and I am constantly inspired by her. To this day, she remains my primary sounding board on all things business and career related.

When I’m not at the office, I: Love to immerse myself in anything Raptors related. I am a die-hard fan who is still celebrating our championship!



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Toronto fall web

Higher Toronto Development Charges kick in Nov. 1

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Higher Toronto Development Charges kick in Nov. 1

Toronto fall web

By Wayne Karl

It’s Nov. 1, prospective homebuyers in Toronto, and if you’re looking to buy a new home, the price of your property just went up – thanks to the City’s new Development Charges.

And trust us, homeowners and buyers, the numbers are frightening. Increasingly so.

Just what are Development Charges (DCs)? Those are the fees, levies and other costs municipalities add to development projects. Amounting to tens of thousands of dollars per condo unit or lowrise home, these fees go towards paying for transit and road infrastructure, community services such as parks and recreation and police and fire services, and other items.

And most of those costs, dear homebuyer, are passed on to you. Meaning, they impact the amount of income you have available to pay your mortgage.

Not just that, many believe that new-home buyers end up paying a disproportionate amount for new amenities and services that are enjoyed by the wider community.

Just how much are we talking about here?

(The explanation is kind of complicated and even a bit of an eye-glazer, but stay with us – it’s worth it.)

DCs comprise from 23 to 45 per cent (the largest component) of the government charges on new homes, according to a recent study by Altus Group, commissioned by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Since 2004, development charges have increased between 236 and 878 per cent.

  • The average government charges for each new single‐detached home are roughly $186,300, or roughly 21.7 per cent of the average price for a new home. Charges per home range from $120,000 in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury to $232,500 in the Town of Oakville.
  • For a new condominium, the average government charges per apartment are approximately $122,800, or roughly 23.9 per cent of the average price for a new condominium apartment. Charges per condominium range from $68,800 in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury to $164,500 in the City of Toronto.


Further impacting costs for homebuyers is rising home prices, driven by economic and market factors. Over the 2009‐17 period, the average price of lowrise homes in the GTA increased 167 per cent, while for highrise units the figure grew by 80 per cent, according to Altus Group.

DCs by municipality, per single-detached home

  • Town of Ajax/Durham Region: $44,447
  • Town of Oakville/Halton Region: $73,965
  • City of Brampton/Peel Region: $81,825
  • City of Markham/York Region: $82,017
  • Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury/Simcoe County: $34,08
  • City of Toronto: Currently $41,251

For Toronto, the City is in the midst of a DC increase to $80,227 per unit, to take full effect in November 2020. Fifty per cent of the increase takes place in November 2018, and by November 2019 80 per cent of the increase is to be implemented.

Here’s what’s happening for Toronto, select property types, per unit

Property Type                            As of May 1, 2018           Effective Nov. 1, 2018
Singles and semis                              $41,251                                    $60,73
Multiples, 2-plus bedrooms              $34,742                                    $50,528
Condos, 2-plus bedrooms                 $25,366.                                   $36,165
Condos, 1-bedroom & bachelors     $17,644                                    $24,150

So, Torontonians, get used to Nov. 1 being a day not exactly worth celebrating.


Government should develop a better plan for Development Charges

Understanding Development Charges

Seven steps to housing affordability in Ontario

New residential development brings new amenities to GTA communities



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Love new home development Web

One reason to LOVE new home development

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One reason to LOVE new home development

Love new home development Web

by Wayne Karl

Sure, everyone understands the need for new home development – homes, condos, infrastructure and other neighbourhood amenities.

They just don’t want it too close to them – the so-called “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) syndrome.

The latest indication comes from a joint poll from The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). Last week, the bodies issued the results of a poll – as the Oct. 22 municipal election nears – to shed some light on voters’ priorities.


“(The) poll data clearly showed that housing affordability and supply are key issues for GTA residents,” says Garry Bhaura, TRREB president. “Residents expect municipal politicians to tackle these issues in the upcoming election.”

Poll results show that building more new homes is seen, overwhelmingly, as a critical part of the solution to housing affordability in the GTA. However, overcoming resistance to change and “not in my backyard” sentiment in existing neighbourhoods is a huge barrier that municipal leaders can help overcome by taking a leadership role.


  • 87 per cent of respondents indicated that it is important to build new homes in the GTA as a means toward addressing the issue of housing affordability
  • GTA residents across all areas expressed this importance, including those living in York Region (87 per cent), Toronto (88 per cent), Peel Region (87 per cent), Durham Region (88 per cent) and Halton Region (81 per cent)
  • Those living in the 416 (88 per cent) feel slightly more strongly about the importance of new builds versus those in the 905 (86 per cent)

Opposition to new home construction is show to increase with proximity and density.

  • 30 per cent say they oppose the building of a new single family detached home within a half kilometre of their home
  • 37 per cent say they oppose the building of a new townhouse development within a half kilometre of their home
  • 44 per cent say they oppose the building of a stacked townhouse development (defined as middle-density housing) within a half kilometre of their home
  • 49 per cent say they oppose the building of a small condo apartment building (defined as middle-density housing) within a half kilometre of their home
  • 52 per cent say they oppose the building of a mid-rise condo apartment building (defined as middle-density housing) within a half kilometre of their home
  • 59 per cent say they oppose the building of a highrise condo apartment within a half kilometre of their home


This is not exactly a new sentiment. BILD and others in the industry have been speaking out on this issue, literally for years.


One factor homeowners might overlook, however, is the potential positive impact such developments can have, particularly on the value of their homes.

“The construction of new homes can have several impacts on the average home price,” says Ben Myers, president of Bullpen Research & Consulting Inc., Toronto. “It often replaces older retail, commercial space or single-family residential units, which can improve the quality and perception of a neighbourhood, driving up values.

Studies also show that development of new transit and highway infrastructure – often accomplished in concert with new home development – can also boost property values.

The more attractive an area becomes in terms of location, the higher the value of nearby homes. As the demand for homes in that area expands, value appreciation is often a natural result.

Research shows that properties located within 500 to 800 metres of stations of new transportation lines can experience a 10- to 20-per-cent enhancement of real estate values.

Wayne Karl is Senior Digital Editor at Homes Publishing Group. wayne.karl@homesmag.com


THE LAWYER: NIMBYism and politics: a bad combination



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Condo Market: Teaming Up with Transit

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Condo Market: Teaming Up with Transit

It’s a sign of the times

There is a famous old saying that endures forever; ‘time is money’. Perhaps because time is one of the things that money can’t buy And there’s simply not enough time in the day for us to keep up in the 24/7 world we work and live in.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the world seemed to move more deliberately, distinctively more slowly. I remember my first position in the corporate world. Messages on pink pieces of paper on your desk. Regular mail would suffice for most of the business correspondence, a courier or taxi if something was really urgent. Gave us more time to think and correspond more accurately in some ways. No computers or internet; cell phones were only for the privileged and few. Rush hour was actually that; an hour at the beginning and one at the end of the work day.

Fast forward to today, and little remains the same. The expectation in business, for example, is much different; urgency prevails. The moment someone sends an email, it is a given that it has been accepted immediately. Time begins to tick. Everything is time sensitive – even if it isn’t. Texting while driving is a bad answer; highly irresponsible and expensive. And getting to meetings on time; that is always important; among other things, respect for others and their time.

If you drive in this town, you inevitably develop an understanding of timeliness. Rush hour has no boundaries. Construction (yeah) is everywhere. Parking lots have become scarce. Parking is often an adventure, a costly one at that. While better than many cities of our size in this hemisphere, we have our share of pot holes. speed bumps and closures. It never seems to end.

A new generation of city travellers, young and old alike, have become transit only travellers. Subways, buses, GO trains, streetcars; anything beats driving. Not to mention, there are few assets anywhere that depreciate as quickly as a brand new car the minute you drive if off the lot.

It’s no coincidence that public transit has a huge effect on home values in and around the GTA. Expect this to continue where the new subway stations, GO stops and LRT’s appear. This past December, the subway station at York University opened, satisfying the thousands of people who bought new condos and homes that aligned with this important stop. Similarly, thousands of new homes have been sold recently in Vaughan in anticipation of the expansion of the subway to Highway 7 and eventually beyond. GO expansion is active on both sides of Lakeshore to the south, and ongoing in northern locales like Barrie, Stouffville, and Richmond Hill. Watch Grimsby; it’s on its way.

I remember reading an article in the Financial Post. Avison Young’s study showed that condos downtown on the subway were worth 30 per cent more than others 500 metres away; that being the line where the walk to the station is outside of many’s comfort zone. Expect that trend to follow in neighbourhoods everywhere. Another reading I perused some time ago referenced the number of transit stops in different neighbourhoods of Toronto; this came out last year when Toronto’s system was noted as the best in North America by the American Public Transport Association. The best serviced neighbourhoods had upwards of 45 transit stops per square kilometre; areas to the east and west and north were in the mid upper teens. The cost of housing similarly decreases for every minute one travels away from core areas and away from public transit in many cases.

As the city and its outskirts continue to grow, expect this to continue. Access to public transit will help define what makes a location valuable and marketable. Expect that now and going forward. Very much a sign of the times!

MARK COHEN is a founding partner of The Condo Store Marketing Systems, a firm specializing in the design, marketing and sales of condo and new home communities in and outside of the GTA.




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