ed, May 10, 2006
By NORMAN DE BONO, FREE PRESS BUSINESS REPORTER
A new apartment tower rising in downtown London will have little trouble attracting tenants because demand for core living remains high, according to Ken Sumnall, Canada Mortgage Housing Corp. senior analyst.
Auburn Developments broke ground yesterday on a 23-storey, $35-million apartment building at Ridout Street and Dufferin Avenue.
It is just one of several downtown residential developments under construction or recently opened.
"They are renting, there is no question about that. There has been a real demand downtown," Sumnall said yesterday.
Auburn believes other rental properties that have opened downtown in recent years have done well and there is a pent-up demand they are looking to meet, said Jamie Crich, Auburn president.
Recent rental studies by a Toronto firm have pointed to a residential vacancy rate downtown of about four per cent -- a solid figure given the number of units that have come on the market, Crich added.
- Two apartment towers built by Drewlo at Colborne and Dundas streets, with 400 units altogether.
- An 80-unit luxury condominium on Pall Mall Street built by Tricar.
- A 15-storey, $25-million building constructed by Old Oak Properties on Talbot Street.
- Another Auburn development of 137 units for students on Ann Street, just outside the downtown.
- 25 units of affordable housing being built on Dundas Street by Market Lane.
- Time Condominiums on King Street, near the Covent Garden Market, offering more than 150 units next year.
- A 40-unit condominium under construction on Colborne Street, north of Dundas, by the Prespa Group.
"There is a real synergy they have created downtown and that is a big part of this," said Crich. "The (John Labatt Centre) has been a great success and there is a vibrant feel to downtown. It is a great climate."
The city's waiving of development fees saved Auburn more than $1 million on its new development and the company will also get a tax break on the building for about seven years.
The addition of downtown apartments may help feed the demand for other residential spaces, said Sumnall.
"If there are a range of products and choices, then more people will look to downtown. It is a positive," he said.
However, any developers planning future apartment towers may want to pause, said Sumnall. It will take about three years for the impact of these latest projects to be felt and anything more could have trouble filling up.
Janette MacDonald, manager of MainStreet London, still wants to see more homes built downtown.
"I do not think we should slow down. There is definitely a market for different groups, from empty-nesters to graduate students," she said.
There are about 5,000 people living downtown and with 30,000 working there. She would like to see just as many living in the core.
- A 23-storey, $35-million apartment building to be built at Ridout Street and Dufferin Avenue by Auburn Developments.
- Will contain more than 200 units.
- Work to begin in about two weeks and be complete by September 2007
- Will offer one- and two- bedroom apartments with a den, ranging in price from about $1,000 to $1,500 a month.
- Apartments will range from about 700 square feet to 1,500 square feet.
There is a rendering on today's (May 10) Free Press. For now, you can see it here, if you have Adobe Acrobat Reader: