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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Grocery store closing, thinking of moving

Amenities close to your home are awesome.

Take my place, it has 5 pharmacies (I admit there is an unusually high number of pharmacies near my place), schools, a grocery store, subway, restaurants, pubs, convenience stores all within a 5 minute walk of my apartment.

Evidently the things I use the most is the grocery store (no frills) and the subway.

So imagine my distress when I learn the grocery store is going to close this Friday (so soon!) so they can tear the building down (and the apartment building next to it) so they can build condos.

Which is funny, because there is some very horrible land closer to the subway with derelict boarded up old buildings that are waiting to be rezoned that would make a much better location for a condo.

And doubly funny because whoever is investing in building a condo here is likely to lose their shirts... Starting a condo project now means they wouldn't be done until 2017 or so - and well after what myself and many other economists / real estate pundits are predicting a collapse in Toronto condo prices in 2015-2016.

So evidently they aren't predicting the same thing. Or maybe they don't care. Maybe if the market goes belly up they will just stash the money and run. Who knows.

I am not the only person predicting a collapse in Toronto condo prices during that time period. The precise reckoning of the time period varies from person to person. Some say 2014. Some say 2017. Some even say 2020. Whatever.

One reason (asides from projected profit) for tearing down the buildings and the grocery store is because the buildings are unsightly and it is time to revitalize the neighbourhood because its fallen into disrepair over the years. But what happens when they are only partly done construction and the prices drop out? Construction will be halted because the money dried up. The half finished new buildings will just sit there, an even bigger eyesore than the old buildings. It will go from 3 old by usable buildings with a highly useful amenity (grocery store) to a derelict construction site... which has no usefulness at all.

Anyway, back to the issue of amenities.

Who is going to buy a condo in an area that doesn't have a grocery store? The whole purpose of a condo downtown is convenience. No need for a car, you have the subway. Grocery store mere minutes away. Everything you want is nearby. If you are lucky you might not even have to walk outside to go to the grocery store because its literally attached to the building.

So unless the new condo building has a grocery store on ground level then it won't really be that attractive of a building. Amenities are important!

A week ago I walked off the beaten track into a section of Toronto I've never been to before. Turned out to be the worst neighbourhood I have ever seen in Toronto. Every building was old and damaged. An ambulance was there outside the poorest looking home for the aged I have ever seen. Young men and women were loafing around, looking like they had little prospects and missing a few teeth (frankly, if you're missing teeth it is hard to find work).

Looking back at that short walk through a derelict part of Toronto - and this was really downtown, not even that far from the Eaton's Centre - it made me realize that the street itself had nothing on it. Not even a convenience store.

It did have a school. And it too looked pretty old and rundown.

People had garbage laying on their lawns and they didn't seem to care whatsoever. They certainly weren't trying to impress their neighbours - who also had garbage on their lawns (and lots of weeds).

The street I am speaking of is George Street, in-between Gerrard and Shuter. It is just one street over from the Ryerson campus. My apologies to the people who live there for pointing this out, but I would be ashamed of the squalor you live in.

And if there is one place, close to downtown with prime real estate, that should be ripped up, revitalized and put in new condos and low income housing - then that would be a good spot. But to get people to move there in droves you also need amenities.

Back to my plight.

Why should I stay in my current place when there won't be a grocery store nearby any more? Plus my rent is going up too, although the quality of the building has not improved. Basically there is nothing left here for me in terms of convenience.

I would be better off finding a nicer place, some place with all the amenities, and then moving there. So we shall see.

Expect more posts from me in the future as I start checking out rentals in a variety of locations. Its funny because I don't really talk about apartment rentals that often. Should be interesting.

I am even considering locations outside of Toronto. If the rent is reasonable and I like the amenities, why not eh?


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