A residential highrise building boom in downtown London shows no signs of slowing, and industry observers believe demand for towers in the core will stay strong.
Work has begun on four new highrise buildings downtown, and news this week GWL Realty is looking to add another 400-unit development at 556 Wellington St. across from Victoria Park to a list of about another half-dozen applications for core towers waiting in the wings, begs the question: Will there be too many towers in the city’s centre if thousands of units come on the market during the next three years?
Not by a long shot, say those who work in the sector.
“There is huge demand. We see it every day. We are in this market,” said Vito Frijia, chief executive of Southside Group, a busy, established builder in London.
Frijia would like to build a tower at 183 King St. but it is in limbo because he wants to tear down an existing structure the city wants to save. If he was allowed to build, he would start tomorrow, he said.
“There is all sorts of demand. People are relocating from Toronto in busloads.”
Old Oak Properties is building a 32-storey, 175-unit tower at 515 Richmond St. and has begun site preparation for the former Camden Terrace site, a 652-unit twin-tower project at Talbot, Fullarton and Dufferin Streets.
The Tricar Group is building a 24-storey, 212-unit tower at 40 York Street, and York Developments is doing site preparation at 131 King St. for a 31-storey, 266-unit building.
There are applications for a half-dozen other highrise projects for the downtown on hold for for various planning reasons.
Toby Stolee, president of the London Home Builders’ Association, points to building outside the city as a sign there is demand that is not being met, and London has missed out.
“A lot of research goes into it. Developers do their due diligence, they feel the demand is there and that is a good thing,” he said.
“There has to be a choice in the market to keep housing affordable.”
In addition to towers, more lots for single-family homes have come on stream in recent months which could ease the shortage of single-family homes, he said.
“There is an appetite out there for rentals and buying,” said Stolee.
There are about 7,500 people living in the city’s downtown, a population that has been slow to increase, growing at about five per cent during the last five years, said Gerald Gallacher, president of the Downtown London board of directors.
That suggests there may be pent-up demand for towers, and he wants to see developers keep on building.
“There is not overbuilding, there is shortage, there is demand,” he said.
“People are busy buying in subdivisions outside the city, and they are full. They do not build without knowing the market.”
Downtown is not the only place towers are being built. The Masonville area has several highrise developments proposed and approved, as does south London, including a massive six-tower, 900-unit proposal for the Bostwick Road area by York Developments.
According to city building figures, in 2018 there were 2,927 apartment or condominium units under construction, compared with 448 in 2017.
Population growth is contributing to the demand for more homes is the city and region. The population rose by 8,600 in 2017 and more than 7,000 the year before, higher than the previous average growth of more than 4,000 annually.
Home building activity also can be seen in Komoka, Ilderton, St. Thomas, Strathroy, Thorndale, Thamesford and Woodstock.
“Those communities are booming because there are no lots available here,” said Frijia.
“We have sprawl outside the community over a great distance and leapfrogging over residents in this community.”
- 515 Richmond St.: Old Oak Properties, 32-storeys, 175-units. Under construction.
- 40 York St.: The Tricar Group, 24 storeys, 212 units. Under construction
- 131 King St.: York Developments, 31-storeys, 266 units. Under construction.
- 479-489 Talbot St.: Old Oak, two towers 652-units. On the site of the former Camden Terrace
Building applications submitted
- 809 Dundas St.: Paramount Inc. twin, 24-storey towers, 480 units.
- 147-149 Wellington St.: Jam Properties Inc., 18-storeys
- 195 Dundas St.: Ayerswood Development $300-million, three-tower development. 700 units. A 25-storey, 140-unit tower at 195 Dundas St. is the first of the three planned highrises.
- 661 and 667 Talbot St.: Drewlo Holdings, 16-storeys, 236-units, former Locust Mount site.
- 560-562 Wellington St.: Auburn Developments, 17-storey tower
- 183 King St.: Southside Group, 25-storey, 200-units