Movin' On Up: How Transit Plans are Shaping the Toronto Loft Market

Movin' On Up: How Transit Plans are Shaping the Toronto Loft Market

Feb 3, 2015
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It’s easy to see why public transit is in higher demand than ever before. Downtown gridlock has now become city-wide congestion so fierce that many drivers opt to leave their cars at home and take the TTC and/or GO for their weekly commute. Others chose public transit for its convenience (a relative term) or because it’s a greener choice and others still simply can’t afford a car with the high cost of city-living.

But public transit isn’t always a satisfying alternative. It has its problems, topping many Torontonians lists of requirements for making Toronto a more liveable city. This is particularly true for owners of Toronto lofts as loft and condo buildings tend to have a high percentage of transit users.

Transit is changing though and it’s affecting the Toronto loft market. A must for many buyers looking at lofts for sale Toronto is being steps to public transit, particularly the subway or the pending light rail transit systems. But not all pockets of the City are well-connected. We’re thrilled that, after years of debate and delays, Metrolinx was finally green-carded in 2012 and work is now well underway on their provincially-funded $11.5 billion Big Move plan.

If you’re considering buying a Toronto loft this year and are open to various neighbourhoods, take a close look at Metrolinx’s Big Move masterplan as part of your research. Metrolinx is leading the way on various transit expansions and infrastructure overhauls across the GTA. This includes new transit services in a number of neighbourhoods that have great Toronto lofts.

For Torontonians, the two biggest changes (read: Toronto real estate opportunities) are in the new light rail rapid transit links between Mount Denis in the west and Kennedy in the east known as The Crosstown and the Union to Pearson airport express. These new LRT’s can significantly reduce transit times for commuters versus the current TTC options. And it’s opening up all sorts of new neighbourhood options for professionals looking to be within a reasonable commute time to downtown.

The Crosstown: Connecting East and West

Ah, the debate has been raging for decades amongst die-hards on either side of the Yonge street divide and those predicting the next Toronto real estate hot spots. East side versus West side. With Metrolinx’s new Eglinton-Crosstown subway under construction, connecting the two sides north of Bloor, perhaps we can finally agree that both sides have their merits.

Stretching across Eglinton from Mount Dennis (Weston Road) all the way east to Kennedy Road, The Crosstown is estimated for completion in 2020. Those living near one of the many Crosstown stations will not only benefit from a new, convenient transit option but will likely see property values rise – in some cases, significantly. We have our eye on a few neighbourhoods in particular within walking distance of The Crosstown line for those interested in Toronto lofts. These are great neighbourhoods for buyers but they’re also great for people looking for Toronto lofts for rent who want to be well-connected by public transit.

Yonge and Eglinton Gets a Boost

The Yonge and Eglinton area is a no brainer for those who love midtown. And properties here only going to appreciate further in value with the sleek Eglinton station and new commercial offerings in the works. But it’s mostly made up of Toronto condos. If you’re interested specifically in lofts, take a look at the Soho Lofts in Mount Pleasant West. Together with Mount Pleasant East, this area makes up the neighbourhood known as Davisville Village which offers incredible value for the proximity to downtown and area amenities.

Consider York-Crosstown Lofts and Starter Bungalows

York-Crosstown isn’t top of the list for most looking to buy Toronto lofts. It lacks the trendy image and loft inventory of areas further south. But we think this region is on the rise. The Crosstown LRT is bound to light a realty fire in the quiet, mature neighbourhoods that make up mid-west Toronto.

Loft buildings are scarce in this region but there are a few. Check out the Forest Hill Lofts and the West Village Lofts in Briar Hill-Belgravia which will be near both the new Dufferin and Eglinton West stations. If you’re focused on growing your investments through Toronto real estate, we recommend speaking with a member of our MrLOFT Team about this area.

Union-Pearson Express: A Benefit to Local Commuters?

*Graphic illustrating the new Union to Pearson Express route with two stops in between.

The new Union-Pearson Express will run every 15 minutes and take just 25 minutes to get from Union to the airport and vice versa. There are new stations at both Bloor-Dundas (serving residents in and around The Junction Triangle) and Weston in development. Metrolinx plans to have construction completed for the Pan Am games this summer.

*Artist’s rendering of the new Bloor-Dundas station in the Junction Triangle

The downside for local commuters is the cost. Metrolinx’s fare structure, which you can see here, is too steep for the average daily commuter. For frequent users, the best option is to get the new Presto Card which will make a one-way trip from the Bloor-Dundas station to Union $11.40. But even with the $5.10 Presto card-holder discount, it’s still steep. We’d expect that to cover a round-trip if the service is to be used widely by commuters in addition to business travellers and tourists.

That said, the time saved and promised greater reliability of service versus traditional transit options may be worth it for affluent, busy professionals. Regardless, being located near one of the two stations is bound to have a positive impact on local real estate. For loft lovers, you’ll want to give some serious consideration to buying in the Junction Triangle. And quickly.

A Loft Renaissance in The Junction Triangle

We don’t anticipate the UP Express to be used by the average professional for local, non-Pearson travel because of the costs. However, we still recommend that buyers considering west-end Toronto lofts take a serious look at the Junction Triangle. There’s so much development happening here right now that the UP Express is just the tip of the iceberg.

Hands-down one of the best areas to grow your Toronto real estate investment is the Junction Triangle. Developers are floating plans to transform this area into the next Distillery District or Liberty Village and it all starts with residential builds. There’s been a spike in the development of lofts and urban towns in recent years here including the Sterling Lofts and the sold-out Wallace Walk Towns.

Many of the new residential developments in the Junction Triangle are coming to completion in 2015 and 2016 and once doors open and the UP Express service is active, we’re sure to see a spike in property prices. If you’re interested in buying a loft in the Junction Triangle or Wallace Emersen, get in now. Re-sale lofts tend to offer better values than pre-construction. Be sure to check out the Foundry Lofts, the Wallace Station Lofts and the Bloor West Lofts which all offer exceptional value in this transitioning area.

For further information about Metrolinx’s transit plans, please visit the Crosstown Project and Union-Pearson Express Project websites.

All images © Metrolinx.