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  1. Developers & Chains

    Developers & Chains ABOUT US Developers & Chains deals in business opportunities, not opportunities that you've missed out on. We specialize in futures, not histories. Developers & Chains is a subscription-only publication that focuses on retail and restaurant expansion across Canada. Developers & Chains is a subscription-only publication that concentrates on the growth and expansion aspects of the retail and restaurant industry across Canada, from British Columbia to Newfoundland. Each issue, and there are over 100 each year, includes information on new concepts and existing chains that have stated an interest in expansion and/or are showing signs of growth. And the reports include details on the companies, their needs and requirement along with the appropriate contacts. Developers & Chains issues also identify new shopping projects, malls and centres that are renovating, expanding or that simply have prime spaces that our subscribers may have available. Again, the issues include the leasing contacts, the uses they are seeking and where to contact them. There is more too. The publication keeps the subscribers aware of planned industry events and changes within the business. There are frequent reports on both retail and development sales and acquisitions, what companies are retaining which real estate-related suppliers and much, much more. Developers & Chains provides the type of leads and information that everyone in the business needs to make calculated decisions and it is all presented in a clear, factual, concise and timely manner that you can depend on. More important though, much of the leasing leads and company details are exclusive to the Developers & Chains’ E-News. They are available only in this publication. The information is exclusive in that it comes directly from our personal conversations with the principals or representatives of the featured companies. It’s almost as if you are there, sitting in on the conversation. Take a look through a recent issues of the Developers & Chains’ E-News. You will find details on new concepts seeking their first location and national chains looking for dozens of new units. You will learn, first hand, about planned entries into new markets. Whether it is a 150 square foot kiosk or a 30,000 square foot anchor tenant for your property, this is where you will meet them first. You will read about malls, centres and large format projects that have that ideal space, perfect for your next store. And you will ‘meet’ the people and companies involved. Oh yes, and the ‘editorial’ that ends every issue. Don’t take offence. It is just a tongue-in-cheek, maybe even irreverent, look at the business that we sometimes take a little too seriously. Sent from my SM-T330NU using Tapatalk
  2. YIMBY Movement More Growth Please The "Yes in My Backyard" Movement Builds in Seattle by Heidi Groover "Meditate on this," San Francisco activist Sonja Trauss tells a crowd in a conference room overlooking Lake Union. "What's the difference between being able to afford something that's not available... and not being able to afford something that is available?" The room sits in polite quiet. "Nothing," Trauss says emphatically. "There's no difference. These are both ways that [housing] shortage manifests." Trauss is preaching to the choir: a room of mostly white, mostly male Seattle developers working on plates of steak and green beans. You don't have to tell this group twice about the rules of supply and demand. But in another way, Trauss is screaming into the void. All across Seattle, small fights are playing out over whether new buildings—new housing—should be built. These are fights about the scale and height of new buildings, neighborhood character, and whether Seattle is losing its "soul." They are tedious and they are hurting housing affordability in this city. But for the most part, the only people paying attention to these fights are the people who want to stop the growth. People like the developers in this room, who believe Seattle needs more growth to meet its massive influx of new residents, rarely show up to advocate for new housing unless it's their own project in question. The rest of the city's residents—who, if recent city council election results are any indication, favor new density over parochial NIMBYism—don't often show up, either. Trauss, 34, is trying to change that in San Francisco and encouraging urbanists in Seattle to do the same. Trauss founded the San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation, a blunt, tech-funded, grassroots organization that advocates for more housing in and around San Francisco and was recently profiled in the New York Times as an indication of that city's "cries to build, baby, build." The group is one of many across the country organizing under the banner of YIMBY ("yes in my backyard"). Next month, YIMBYs will convene in Boulder, Colorado, for a conference with discussion topics like "forging healthy alliances between housing advocates and housing developers" and "responding to anti-housing ballot measures." "You guys actually have some non-industry pro-growth people," Trauss tells the Seattle developers. "Seattle has a lot of urbanists. It's just a matter of Laura actually starting a mailing list, and pretty soon you'll have your own pro-development citizen group." In the crowd sits Laura Bernstein, a 40-year-old renter in the University District who recently quit grad school to spend this year studying urbanism on her own and figuring out how to expand the YIMBY movement in Seattle. Before becoming a middle-school teacher, Bernstein studied opera and plant biology. Now she spends her days having coffee with other urbanists, going to community meetings, and running the Twitter account @YIMBYsea. At this time last year, Bernstein wouldn't be showing up in a story about YIMBYs. Then, she was working for a city council candidate who embodies the "not in my backyard" movement—Tony Provine. (By the end of his campaign, Provine was sending out mailers depicting bulldozers threatening to tear down single-family zones across the city. He lost in the primary with just 14 percent of the vote in his district.) Bernstein says when she started working for Provine, she thought he could serve as a bridge between pro-density urbanists and neighborhood advocates afraid of change. With enough reasoning, she thought, anybody could be convinced to welcome growth in their neighborhood. "All of that idealism went right out the window the minute I started knocking on doors and talking to voters," Bernstein tells me over Skype while she's in Vancouver to see an interactive art exhibit about growth there. Knocking on doors is when Bernstein says she began "hearing how cynical of downtown, cynical of politicians, and so put upon [homeowners were], like 'They're doing this to us.'" By "this," the neighbors mean growth. It's a common refrain in Seattle's density debate that developers or city officials are inflicting growth onto neighborhoods. In fact, of course, new people will move to Seattle whether we build for them or not. The only thing we have control over—unless we decide to build a wall—is whether we're prepared for those new residents. But Bernstein is holding on to some of her idealism. She doesn't like to use the term "NIMBY" and is deliberate about trying to meet with people she disagrees with. That sounds cheesy, but it makes her a rarity among the city's hardcore urbanists. On social media, Seattle urbanists can be a condescending, dick-swinging crowd, dismissing the lived experiences of displaced and struggling renters because they're busy shouting about the faultless wisdom of the free market. ("NIMBYs are literally the worst," one tweeted as I was writing this story. "Economic terrorists.") The city's well-meaning pro-tenants movement, meanwhile, peddles tired caricatures of greedy developers and focuses almost exclusively on rent control as the solution to Seattle's housing crisis. It's an exhausting split that accomplishes little, except alienating everyone in the middle. A group like SFBARF, led by renters and fighting for growth, could bridge some of that divide. Trauss is wholly pro-development—all types of it—but she also supports increased protections to keep renters from being "economically evicted" (when landlords dramatically raise rents to push out low-income tenants) and temporary rent control while supply catches up with demand. Some local density advocates are skeptical of the YIMBY movement. "Look at the math," Ben Schiendelman, a Seattle tech worker and outspoken pro-density provocateur, says of Trauss's efforts in San Francisco. "They don't win fights, and when they do, it's like for a handful of units in a building. In the time it takes to win those fights, you lose thousands of people out of the city." Schiendelman, 34, believes the only answer in Seattle and San Francisco alike is to get rid of zoning altogether. (Trauss's group is trying to sue the suburbs for restricting growth; Schiendelman supports that and says he's working on a similar lawsuit against Seattle.) Killing zoning would allow all sorts of building all over the city, he argues, creating a denser, more transit-rich city where poor and rich people live alongside each other. He has little patience for community organizing like Bernstein and others are doing. "People are becoming NIMBYs at a faster rate than you could talk them out of it," Schiendelman says. "The rate at which you could possibly organize [pro-growth] people is slower than the rate at which the city becomes less affordable." But a look at the public reaction to modest moves toward more density in Seattle shows what an unwinnable fight getting rid of zoning altogether could be. Last year, Mayor Ed Murray's housing affordability committee—known as HALA—recommended upzones to make certain parts of the city denser, reductions of expensive parking quotas, and new requirements that developers include affordable units in new apartment buildings or pay fees to help pay for new affordable housing. The neighborhood backlash was immediate, particularly against the recommendation to allow duplexes, triplexes, and backyard cottages in some of the city's single-family zones—which make up 65 percent of land (including parks) in Seattle. Meanwhile, others opposed HALA for different reasons. Developer lobbyist Roger Valdez argued the affordability requirements would make housing more expensive. Jon Grant, the former head of the Tenants Union of Washington State and a member of the HALA committee, criticized the recommendations for not including rent control and not charging enough fees on developers. In the middle, a coalition of developers and housing advocates have joined to form a group called "Seattle for Everyone," which encourages lawmakers and the public to support the HALA recommendations. In response to neighborhood backlash, Murray, joined by Council Members Tim Burgess and Mike O'Brien (who claims to be the council's environmental leader), backed away from the HALA recommendations. It will be up to activists like Bernstein to force that discussion back onto the table. With calls to abandon all zoning set as the extreme, allowing backyard cottages and duplexes becomes the moderate position in this debate. Bernstein says she's focused on what happens after HALA is done. The YIMBY movement "is here," she says. "I think we're a super YIMBY city." Back at the developer dinner, Trauss urges builders to show up at meetings and comment in favor of each other's projects and to do an industry survey of their salaries to try to make the point that they're not all getting rich. In San Francisco, she's looking ahead to May 10, when she's asking YIMBYs to all show up and vote in an election on the same day to show that they're a real constituency. "At the end of the day, some people just hate growth and there's nothing you can do," she tells the room. "You're never going to convince that person, so that's fine. Don't waste your energy. You just have to say, 'See you at the ballot box.'" recommended Sent from my SM-T330NU using Tapatalk
  3. When NIMBYism is warranted, and when it isn’t Of course, the question is whether a proposed development, infill project or new infrastructure build really does pose a risk to these cherished things. Developers and urban planners must always be cognizant of the fact that there is a segment of the population, a fringe element, who will object to just about anything “new” as a matter of principle. I’ve been to many open houses and public consultations for one proposed project or another over the years. There is almost always that contingent of dogged objectors who invariably fixate on the same things: Parking – Will there be enough if the development increases the population density of the neighbourhood or draws more shoppers/workers from elsewhere? Traffic – Will streets become unsafe and congested due to more cars on the road? Transit – Will this mean more busses on the road, increasing the safety hazard on residential streets, or conversely will there be a need for more? Shadowing – is the new build going to leave parts of the neighbourhood stuck in the shade of a skyscraper? These are all legitimate concerns, depending on the nature of the project in question. They are also easy targets for the activist obstructionist. Full and honest disclosure is the best defence Why? Because I see, time and again, some developers and urban planners who should know better fail to be prepared for objections rooted on any of these points. With any new development or infrastructure project, there has to be, as a simple matter of sound public policy, studies that examine and seek to mitigate impacts and effects related to parking, traffic, shadowing, transit and other considerations. It therefore only makes sense, during a public consult or open house, to address the most likely opposition head on by presenting the findings and recommendations of these studies up front in a clear and obvious manner. But too often, this isn’t done. I’ve was at an open house a few years ago where, when asked about traffic impact, the developer said there wouldn’t be any. Excuse me? If your project adds even one car to the street, there’s an impact. I expect he meant there would be only minimal impact, but that’s not what he said. The obstructionists had a field day with that – another greedy developer, trying to pull the wool over the eyes of honest residents. This is a marketing exercise – treat it like one This is ultimately a marketing exercise – you have to sell residents on the value and need of the development. Take another example – a retirement residence. With an aging population, we are obviously going to need more assisted living facilities in the years to come. But in this case, the developer, speaking to an audience full of grey hairs, didn’t even make the point that the new residence would give people a quality assisted-living option, without having to leave their community, when they were no longer able to live on their own. I also hear people who object to infill projects because they think their tax dollars have paid for infrastructure that a developer is now going to take advantage of – they think the developer is somehow getting a free ride. And yet, that developer must pay development charges to the city to proceed with construction. The new build will also pay its full utility costs and property taxes like the rest of the street. City hall gets more revenue for infrastructure that has already been paid for, and these additional development charges fund municipal projects throughout the city. Another point, often overlooked – when you take an underperforming property and redevelop it, its assessed value goes up, and its tax bill goes up. The local assessment base has just grown. City hall isn’t in the business of making a profit, just collecting enough property tax to cover the bills. The more properties there are in your neighbourhood, the further that tax burden is spread. In other words, that infill project will give everyone else a marginal reduction on their tax bill. It likely isn’t much, but still, it’s something. Developers must use the facts to defuse criticism Bottom line, development is necessary and good most of the time. If we didn’t have good regulated development, we would be living in horrid medieval conditions. Over the last century and a bit, ever growing regulation have given us safer communities, with more reliable utilities and key services such as policing and fire. Yes, there are examples of bad development, but if we had none, as some people seem to want, no one would have a decent place to live. It just astonishes me that developers and urban planners don’t make better use of the facts available to them to defuse criticism. It’s so easy to do it in the right way. Proper preparation for new development public information sessions is the proponent’s one opportunity to tell their story, and should not be wasted by failing to get the facts out and explaining why a project is a good idea. To discuss this or any other valuation topic in the context of your property, please contact me at I am also interested in your feedback and suggestions for future articles. The post Why do public planning projects go off the rails? appeared first on Real Estate News Exchange (RENX). sent via Tapatalk
  4. AUSTIN ON YOUR FEET 9 THINGS PEOPLE ALWAYS SAY AT ZONING HEARINGS, ILLUSTRATED BY CATS November 23, 2015Dan Keshet If you watch enough zoning hearings, the testimony begins to sound pretty repetitive. That novel argument you’re making? The Council members have heard it a million times before. Here are 9 of the things we hear most often at zoning hearings, illustrated by cats. 1. I’M NOT OPPOSED TO ALL DEVELOPMENT. JUST THIS DEVELOPMENT. Those 1,000 times you sat on your couch to support developments far away from you surely counterbalance that one time you came out to oppose your neighbor’s development. If you’re opposed, just tell us why; don’t go on about how you’re not a person that opposes things. 2. NOBODY TALKED TO ME! The city notifies neighbors and registered civic organizations about upcoming permits. Developers seek out people they think might be affected. But it’s hard to know who is going to care and notifications are often thrown out. Don’t feel left out! If you’re at the hearing, you’re being heard. Just say what’s on your mind. 3. REALITY IS, EVERYBODY DRIVES A CAR. Usually said while proposing somebody build more parking. If you want that reality to ever change, you have to accept building less car infrastructure. 4. THESE GREEDY DEVELOPERS ONLY THINK ABOUT PROFITS Land development is a business. Like all businesses, sometimes you make money and sometimes you lose money. You just try to make sure that you make enough money on the winners to cancel out the losers. Focusing in on the fact that the developer is hoping to make money makes your testimony sound more like you oppose out of spite than a particular reason. 5. LET ME TELL YOU MY THEORY OF ECONOMICS If council members haven’t learned economics by now, they’re not going to learn it from your three minute testimony. 6.WHAT THIS NEIGHBORHOOD REALLY NEEDS IS A COFFEE SHOP, NOT MORE APARTMENTS For all the mean things people sometimes say about developers, a lot of folks seem to fashion themselves amateur land developers, with a keen eye on exactly what types of businesses will succeed or fail. As it turns out, those things coincide perfectly with the things they personally enjoy. 7. I’M 5TH GENERATION! MY GREAT GREAT GRANDFATHER MOVED HERE BEFORE THIS WAS EVEN ON THE MAP! That entitles you to one vote, just like everybody else. Now tell us what you came up here to say. 8. WE NEED TO RESPECT THE HUNDREDS OF HOURS SPENT CRAFTING THIS NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN Respecting people for volunteering time making plans doesn’t mean those plans should never change. Now tell us your reasons for or against this particular change. 9. THIS HOUSING IS TOO SMALL FOR ME! Different people have different needs and desires! Just because you don’t like a particular thing doesn’t mean nobody would like it. sent via Tapatalk
  5. Interesting video about the new London skyscrapers "London is on the verge of being ruined for all future generations," says Alain de Botton – a Swiss philosopher, notable author and founder of The School of Life and Living Architecture. "With a whopping 260 towers in the pipeline no area is safe, as planners, property developers and the mayor's office commit crimes against beauty to create fun buildings." In a film for The Guardian De Botton explains why he believes we're right to be nervous – and how we can stop this "clear desecration" of the UK's capital city. sent via Tapatalk
  6. Montreal Re-Imagined The Montreal Re-Imagined section is presented by Concordia University Concordia University Montreal Reimagined: Cityscape is more than only a view MONTREAL, QUE.: April 02, 2015 -- Logo staff mugshot / headshot of Luca Barone in Montreal Thursday April 02, 2015. LUCA BARONE, SPECIAL TO MONTREAL GAZETTE Until I graduated, my daily hike up to McGill’s Faculty of Law on the corner of Peel St. and Dr. Penfield Ave. began at the corner of de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., where I would emerge into daylight from the métro station. Ascending into the world from the underground takes a little readjusting: you look around to get your bearings, check the weather, and let your eyes readjust to the sunlight. I was never afforded much to look at until I began walking north up Peel and glimpsed the mountain. The east-west view along de Maisonneuve is disappointing. Look left or right and the view is the same: dark towers pockmarked with windows rise up on the horizon. When a building obstructs a view down a street and becomes the focal point of what you see, it is known as a terminated vista. They can be a blessing and a curse. They also can help create a sense of destination and diversity in a city and can be manipulated to highlight significant landmarks. The view of McGill’s campus against the backdrop of Mount Royal from McGill College Ave. is one of Montreal’s iconic landscapes. Looking south down St. Urbain St., the view of the Art Deco waterfall of the Aldred Building on Place d’Armes is another example of a successful blocked view that beckons rather than repulses, as is the view of the dome of the Hôtel-Dieu looking north along Ste-Famille. These landmarks create a sense of place and they are symbols of our city. But look south down Parc Ave. toward Place du Parc (the Air Transat building) and the view is hardly inspiring. When the view down a street ends in a blank tower, the terminated vista does not help create a more livable city. Not every building should be monumental or iconic, but any urban building should make you want to walk toward it rather than avert your eyes. Downtown towers should be built because they have many virtues, from proximity to public transit to the lower environmental effect of higher population density, but we should not ignore how these buildings relate to their surroundings. Uniformity should not be the goal, either: a building should not have to look exactly like its neighbours, but it should complement them. Without exaggerating the importance of the look and shape of buildings, Montrealers deserve more than what we’re getting from urban planners, architects and real estate developers. We should trudge out of the métro and be delighted by what we see. In a city full of talented architects, much of the blame for uninspired buildings lies with real estate developers who don’t hire local talent, and city councillors and urban planners who give construction permits without paying sufficient attention to buildings’ visual impact. The Louis-Bohème building on the corner of Bleury and de Maisonneuve is an example of a building that succeeds on many levels. Its apartments make the best use of the land by increasing the density of residents in the area. It also has underground parking and shops at ground level, from where you can also access the Place-des-Arts métro station. In many ways, the building represents exactly the kind of development Montreal needs. But it fails as an element of the urban landscape. When you see it rising above Parc or de Maisonneuve, the view of its charcoal concrete panels leaves you unmoved at best and intimidated at worst. In a city that suffers from interminable winters exacerbated by short days and little sunlight, buildings clad in light-absorbing, dark materials are not merely ugly — they should be considered a public health concern. One way to improve urban design would be to develop a sustainable local architecture that is responsive to our climate. Initiatives like the Quartier des Spectacles’ Luminothérapie winter light installations are a great start, but the city should take a more active role in promoting architecture that makes long winters more bearable. For example, Edmonton has issued specific winter design guidelines that promote architectural features that block wind, maximize sunlight, and enliven the cityscape as part of its “WinterCity Strategy.” It is not easy for a building to enrich its surroundings while responding to the demands of a city and its inhabitants, the climate and the economy. But our buildings speak eloquently about who we are and what we value. We have to live with them for decades, if not centuries. It’s worth getting them right sent via Tapatalk
  7. Source: London’s costly construction Bodies, bombs and bureaucracy Why building in the world’s most popular city is so difficult and expensive Aug 9th 2014 | From the print edition CROSSRAIL, a new underground railway line, is the main engineering marvel near Tottenham Court Road station in London. Few passers-by realise that another immensely complex construction project is under way nearby. At Rathbone Place, an old postal sorting office is being demolished to make way for a new block of offices and apartments. The entire building must be removed through one narrow exit onto busy Oxford Street. Beneath the site lies a disused underground railway once run by Royal Mail, which must not be disturbed. Even as your correspondent visits, the developer, Great Portland Estates, discovers an ancient electricity cable buried under the foundations. Much of central London is being knocked down and rebuilt. Some 7m square feet of office space is due to be added this year—the most since 2003. Relative to the existing stock, more offices are going up in the capital than in any western European or North American city. Yet building offices (and homes) near the middle of the capital is shockingly expensive. Even before the cost of land is considered, it costs roughly a fifth more than erecting similar stuff in New York or Hong Kong, according to Turner and Townsend, a consultancy firm. The challenges at Rathbone Place help to explain why. London’s history throws up many problems. Unexploded bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe still turn up surprisingly often, as do interesting medieval bodies. The opening of Bloomberg’s new headquarters in the City was held up by the discovery of thousands of Roman artefacts, including a rare phallic good-luck charm. London’s underground networks—including the Tube, but also sewers, various government tunnels and oddities such as the Royal Mail railway—must be negotiated. The city’s medieval street pattern means that buildings cannot always have straightforward 90-degree corners. Narrow streets make moving vehicles and machinery around construction sites far more expensive than in other cities. Typically, construction begins with a small crane, which lifts in vehicles and in turn erects a bigger tower crane. These cranes cannot operate from roads or overhang existing buildings, which explains why so many of the ones in London are elaborate, multi-jointed things. Sometimes they must be custom-built. The planning system then adds all sorts of expensive complexities. In Westminster more than 75% of land is covered by 56 conservation areas protecting the historic appearances of streets, right down to the colour of paint on doors. At another Oxford Street site, Great Portland Estates must lift up an old façade and scoop out the rest of the building from behind it. During this process, neighbouring buildings must be protected—not only structurally but also from noise and dust. Taller buildings are trickier still. They must not block designated views of various landmarks, which explains why some of the skyscrapers in the City of London are oddly shaped. The curious wedge-shaped Leadenhall Building, known as “the cheesegrater”, is intended to protect a view of St Paul’s Cathedral from a pub in Fleet Street. The design also means that the building cannot have a central concrete core, as in most skyscrapers. Instead, the floors are held up by an innovative steel exoskeleton. This makes for a thrilling journey up the building’s glass lifts. But it does add somewhat to the cost. Developers have adapted to these constraints as best they can. Construction is modelled by computers long before the first crane is installed. Each day’s work is planned almost to the minute and materials delivered when they are needed, much like the “just-in-time” methods long used in car factories. Many parts are brought in ready made: fully 85% of the Leadenhall Building was manufactured in the Midlands and Northern Ireland. But the sheer complexity of building in the capital makes for a small, specialised industry with high barriers to entry. Outsiders who try to negotiate London’s planning system often get in trouble, notes Toby Courtauld, Great Portland’s boss. Getting projects approved requires more than mugging up on planning regulations: plenty of rules are unwritten, while political objections can be unpredictable. Incumbent developers know the vagaries of the system. Newcomers do not. All this raises costs, which are passed on to business tenants. And the slowness of building in the capital means that offices are often finished at the wrong time, at the low point in an economic cycle: a slump in construction starts three years ago means supply will crash next year. Putting up buildings is far quicker and easier in other cities, such as Birmingham and Manchester, and also in London suburbs such as Croydon. But developers persist with inner London anyway. Office rents and land values are high enough to support even some outrageously complicated projects. Leasing office space in the West End is twice as expensive as in Madison Avenue in New York. For all that the city’s skyline is dominated by cranes, were developers given free rein much more of central London would be being rebuilt. For firms struggling with high rents, that is frustrating. For Londoners who live and work next to construction sites, it may come as some consolation. From the print edition: Britain
  8. Vision pour Montreal

    Hello everyone, I have a vision to develop Montreal that would revolutionize the face of downtown and give an international touch to it. What I would like to do is to form a small group to develop a few schematics/drawings of my idea and present it to the city developers and some business people. Anybody that has the skills necessary on this forum willing to put some time in it? Let me know
  9. Could the Miami skyline one day resemble Manhattan’s? Apr 5th 2014 | MIAMI | From the print edition A mirror of prosperity ICON BRICKELL, a three-tower complex in Miami’s financial district, was supposed to be a flagship project for the Related Group, the city’s top condominium developer. It would boast 1,646 luxury condos, a 91-metre-long pool, and a hundred 22-foot columns in its entryway. By 2010, however, it had become a symbol of the excesses of the city’s building boom, and Related was forced to hand two of the towers to its banks. Miami condo prices plunged to 60% below their peak. The vacancy rate jumped to 60%. Predictions flew that the market, the epicentre of America’s property crash, would take ten years to come back, or even longer. The speed of the recovery has surprised everyone. Condo prices are already back near peak levels in Miami’s most desirable areas, and at 75-80% elsewhere. The available supply of units has fallen back to within the six-to-nine-months-of-sales range considered normal, from a stomach-churning 40 in 2008. Only 3% of condos are unoccupied. Sales of condos and single-family homes are above pre-crisis levels across Miami-Dade County. Commercial property, too, has rebounded, with demand outstripping supply. Developers are once again relaxed enough to crack jokes. “I call the current expansion the Viagra cycle,” jokes Carlos Rosso, Related’s president of condominium development. “We just want it to last a little longer.” The recovery has been partly driven by low interest rates and bottom-fishing by private equity, which helped to clear excess inventory. But the biggest factor is that the city nicknamed the “Capital of Latin America” has attracted a flood of capital from Latin America. Rich people in turbulent spots such as Venezuela and Argentina are seeking a safe haven for their savings. Estate agents are also seeing capital flight from within the United States. Individuals pay no state or city income tax in Miami, unlike, say, New York, whose mayor wants to hike taxes on the rich further. “Somebody said to me, ‘Give me three reasons why this will continue.’ My answer was: Maduro, Kirchner and De Blasio,” chuckles Marc Sarnoff, a Miami city commissioner, referring to the leaders of the capitalist-bashing regimes in Venezuela, Argentina and New York. Another attraction is the 40% rise in Miami condo rents since 2009, buoying the income of owners who choose not to live in the tropical hurly-burly that Dave Barry, a local author, calls “Insane City”. Brokers report increased business from Eastern Europe and the Middle East (Qatar Airways will fly direct to Miami from June), and an uptick in inquiries from Chinese buyers. Is another bubble forming already? Developers say this time is different, and in some ways it is. In a few years Miami has gone from the most- to the least-leveraged property market in America. Buyers of new condos typically have to put 50% down, half of that before building starts. Banks are loth to extend construction loans unless 60-75% of the units are already sold. In both residential and commercial projects, they require developers to put in much more equity than before. Mr Rosso says Related now puts in three times as much, which limits its ambition. The firm now has 2,000 condos in the works, a tenth of what it was building in 2007. Still, a supply glut is possible. With developers gung-ho again, around 50 towers are under construction or planned in downtown Miami (including the Porsche Design Tower, whose well-heeled inhabitants will be able to take their cars up to the level on which they live in a special lift—this is useful if you really love your car). More were added last month when Oleg Baybakov, a Russian mining-to-property oligarch, bought a trio of condo-development sites for $30m, more than triple their assessed market value in 2013. Miami’s developers are adept at using “smoke and mirrors” to hide the true number of pre-sold units, says Peter Zalewski of Condo Vultures, a property-intelligence firm. Some see the first signs of trouble. The stock of unsold condos and houses has crept up slightly since last summer. A local broker says that Blackstone, a private-equity firm with a taste for bricks and mortar, bought $120m of properties with his firm’s help in 2013 but “won’t do anything like that this year”. Mr Zalewski says banks are competing harder to finance certain projects, but this may not be a sign of unadulterated bullishness. They may simply be betting that many of the 134 towers proposed but not yet under construction in South Florida won’t get built—meaning the 57 that have already broken ground will do better than forecast. Much will depend on whether Latin Americans remain addicted to Miami property and, should their ardour cool, whether Americans and others would take up the slack. Few domestic buyers are comfortable putting 50% down, especially when most of it is at risk if the project fails. One or two developers have begun to accept 30% down, a possible sign of increased reliance on home-grown buyers. The market should get a fillip from the current and planned redevelopment of several chunks of downtown Miami. One of the most ambitious projects is Miami Worldcenter, a 30-acre retail, hotel and convention-centre complex that will feature Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and a giant Marriott hotel. A science museum will soon join the art museum . These projects build on progress made over the past decade towards becoming a world-class city, from the opening of dozens of top-notch restaurants to Art Basel picking Miami as one of the three venues for its shows (“the Super Bowl of the Art World”, as Tom Wolfe called it in his Miami novel, “Back to Blood”). Tourism is at record levels. Miami is the only American city besides New York in the top ten of Knight Frank’s 2014 global-cities index, which ranks cities by their attractiveness to the ultra-wealthy. (It comes seventh, ahead of Paris.) Property is still far cheaper than in most other cities on the list (see chart). Miami’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is dangling the city’s low taxes and lovely weather in front of companies to persuade them to move there. This is starting to bear fruit, especially in finance: Universa, a $6 billion hedge fund in California, recently agreed to relocate, following part of Eddie Lampert’s ESL. SABMiller, a giant brewer, has moved its Latin American head office from Colombia. . “I lived a long time in New York, but here [in Miami] it’s easier to make something from nothing,” enthuses Nitin Motwani, a DDA board member, who talks of the city’s skyline one day resembling Manhattan’s. Mr Zalewski is more cautious. Miami’s property market is “a great game”, he says, but “all it would take to send a chill through the entire market is one big project to go sideways.” Developers who joke about Viagra should keep some aspirin within reach, just in case.
  10. Même le Wall Street Journal en parle : Developers Brace for End of Montreal's Condo Boom Sales Are Well off the Pace of Previous Years By DAVID GEORGE-COSH Nov. 5, 2013 6:12 p.m. ET With signs that Montreal's more than decadelong condominium boom could be fading, some local developers are repositioning or even pulling projects due to waning demand. In the downtown core, quarterly presales of new condos have averaged nine units per project this year, according to Altus Group Ltd. AIF.T -0.07% , a real-estate consultancy. That is well below the pace of such sales in both 2012 and 2011, when the average was 16 units. Meanwhile, only 10 new condo projects were announced in Canada's second-largest city in the first half of 2013, compared with 14 such projects in the first half of 2012. At the current pace, Montreal isn't likely to match the 25 project launches announced last year, and could fall below the 2011 total of 14 projects, Altus Group says. Developers have noticed. "There's starting to be a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace," said Sam Scalia, chief executive of Samcon Inc., one of the city's biggest developers with 13 projects in the works. Nearly 1,500 people signed up for information on Samcon's 190-unit Drummond Condominiums project when the developer began presales in January, Mr. Scalia said. But sales were slow, and Samcon pulled the project from the market in May for a full redesign with a new architect. "When we came out on the market, there was a glut of units that were launched in our district downtown," Mr. Scalia said. When Samcon puts the Drummond project back on the market in January, units will be roughly 10% smaller and one-bedroom units will be priced nearly 33,000 Canadian dollars ($31,578) less than the initial C$275,000, Mr. Scalia said. The project is slated for completion by the end of 2016, one year later than first planned. Montreal's condo boom, like those in Toronto and Vancouver, was fueled by ultralow interest rates that put homeownership within the reach of more Canadians. The resilience of Canada's housing sector was a key factor in helping the country weather the global financial crisis better than many of its industrialized peers. But it also led to record household-debt accumulation, a concern for Canadian policy makers. Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty singled out the overheated condo markets in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal as areas of particular concern when he tightened mortgage-financing rules to put the brakes on the sector. A slowdown appears to be under way. "While overall sales are good, [the condo market is] moving at a more muted pace," said Colin Johnston, president of Altus Group's Canadian research, valuation and advisory department. Montreal's condo-resale market also is showing strain. Listings have soared 24% in the past 12 months, according to the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board. Sales, though, have fallen by 15%. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., a government-owned housing agency, forecasts 10,000 new condo units will be built in the Greater Montreal area in 2013, down 16% from last year and the second annual decline in a row. CMHC attributes the slowdown to a surplus of new condos and a rise in resale listings. "It feels like everyone who had to consider buying a condo has already done so," said Stéphane Côté, president of DevMcGill, a developer with four projects under construction. "Right now, we're on the tail end of the market." Mr. Côté said DevMcGill has positioned its projects to withstand a slowdown. Development of the condos is structured in several phases, and if sales begin to trickle, DevMcGill can redesign units to adjust to lower demand. Mitchell Abrahams, owner of Benvenuto Group, a Toronto-based developer, said sales of condos he is developing in Montreal are mixed. Le Peterson, a 31-story tower in the heart of Montreal, has had "slow but steady" sales with 53% of the development sold. Meanwhile, the Belvedere, a luxury development in Montreal's tony Hampstead neighborhood, closed its sales center earlier this year due to poor sales, Mr. Abrahams said, declining to elaborate. "Montreal's a hard market for people to make a decision," he said. "But fundamentally, it's still a great condo market." The slowdown has a silver lining. Samcon's Mr. Scalia said he is in talks with at least three developers to take on projects that haven't sold well, though he declined to identify them. Some developers predict it will take several years for the market to absorb the excess inventory. Michael Engels, vice president of sales at Inca Development, said the slowdown isn't much of a surprise. After a rush of product coming to the market, developments still need some time to be digested by home buyers. Montreal's condo sector has become a buyer's market. Mr. Engels expects his current project, a development along the city's trendy Crescent Street downtown, to begin construction next year after selling over 40% of his inventory so far. "Competition is always subjective, even in this tough environment," he said.
  11. Oops, I forgot to build an elevator!

    LOL. How stupid can these people be? The building grew from 20 to 47 stories tall but they forgot to design the extra space for more elevators up to the 47th floor! The Builders of This Spanish Skyscraper Forgot the Elevator The Intempo skyscraper in Benidorm, Spain—standing proud in this image—was designed to be a striking symbol of hope and prosperity, to signal to the rest of the world that the city was escaping the financial crisis. Sadly, the builders forgot to include a working elevator. In fairness, the entire construction process has been plagued with problems, reports Ecnonomia. Initially funded by a bank called Caixa Galicia, the finances were recently taken over by Sareb – Spain’s so-called "bad bank" – when the mortgage was massively written down. In part, that was a function of the greed surrounding the project. Initially designed to be a mere 20 storeys tall, the developers got over-excited and pushed the height way up: now it boasts 47 storeys, and will include 269 homes. But that push for more accommodation came at a cost. The original design obviously included specifications for an elevator big enough for a 20-storey building. In the process of scaling things up, however, nobody thought to redesign the elevator system—and, naturally, a 47-storey building requires more space for its lifts and motor equipment. Sadly, that space doesn't exist. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the architects working on the project have resigned, and it remains unclear exactly how the developers will solve the problem. Can we recommend the stairs? [Kinja—Thanks Igor Neumann!]
  12. Read more:
  13. By Brian Ker, Special to The Gazette The Gazette's panel of experts answer your questions on real estate. To ask a question, please email There has been a lot of discussion recently regarding the bonanza of construction taking place in Montreal and certainly on these pages an inquisitive analysis of the quantity of condominium construction. We also hear about “the hot land market” and there are lots of questions as to its sustainability. I recently attended the Land and Development Conference in Toronto to determine the optimism in North America’s largest condominium market and compare that with what we have been witnessing here in Montreal as land values have rapidly increased over the past five years. In a hot market, land is not an asset but is priced more like a commodity: a raw material that is just one part of a final constructed product, including concrete, steel and labour. In a weak market, land values are more likely tied to its short-term income-producing potential, such as parking revenues less off-setting taxes. The rapidly diminishing land supply and a cultural shift toward urban living have lead to changes in the commercial land market. First, commercial land sales are principally divided between high- and low-density sites. High-density sites intended for office, hotel, mixed-use and multi-unit residential projects, while low-density sites incorporate retail, industrial and single-family home developments. The value of land is based on the total amount of density permitted on its property – a site permitting an office tower is considerably greater than a walkup row-house or an industrial facility – and the total volume of potential sales in a given year, which allow for larger projects. Restrictive zoning can adversely affect the site’s value, as can social-housing inclusions and lengthy, complicated and sometimes “out-of-control” zoning application processes that jeopardize a project’s economic vitality. On Montreal Island, the prevailing trend is that high-density sites are taking a larger market share of total land transaction sales volumes because of the increasing prominence of sales of larger development sites permitting significantly greater density, and higher pricing for each unit of density, also referred to as the price per square foot Buildable. Over the past five years, the value for each unit of density has doubled to an average price of approximately $30 per square foot buildable. This is primarily based upon the rapid increase (up to 50%) in values for condominiums during the same time period, and as such, sales of sites for residential projects have outpaced all other sectors. Developers will be happy to note that Montreal was the third-largest condominium market in North America in 2010, albeit in an aberration year for the U.S. housing market, and only trailing Toronto and Houston in overall condo starts. This buoyancy has been growing for some time as major developers have acquired land holdings to fuel future projects. Since October of 2008, there have been a 11 high-density development land transactions in the greater Montreal area that have traded above $5 million, with a total value of $148 million in high-density land sales. Major sales included the land for the Project Griffintown project, Angus Development in the Quartier des Spectacles, the Marianopolis site, the site for the Altoria project and most recently Prevel and Conceptions Rachel-Juilien acquiring the rights from Canada Lands to develop Les Bassins du Nouveau Havre for $20 million. These major land transactions were purchased by well-known, well-respected and well-capitalized condo developers, with the exception of the Angus Assembly and Altoria, both of which will feature a mix of office and condominium use. Mixed-use projects are becoming the new normal, as developers put forth projects that feature greater overall site density to decrease the effects of higher land prices or kick start existing larger projects with an exclusively residential component. For land values to continue their ascent, Montreal developers and buyers need to develop an attitude shift with regard to larger projects. The traditional condo developer logic is that it is nearly impossible to sell more than 150 units for a project in one sales year. The rationale for this is, typically, that Montrealers will not pay a deposit for a condo unit until substantial pre-sales have been achieved or it is under construction, as they are not willing to wait two to three years for delivery. Recent project launches, though, are challenging this traditional thinking, with buyers (or their agents) waiting in line overnight and first-day sell-outs occurring with regularity, or buyers are asked to place a “deposit” to reserve a unit without seeing final plans. Buyers can no longer sit back and cherry-pick the best unit, as it will probably be reserved before they arrive on the scene. In addition, unless condominiums continue to experience strong price increases, Montreal condo developers will be facing increasing pressure for prime sites from alternative uses, such as office towers, hotels, or institutional (Healthcare, Educational, Student Residence) projects, where demand is steadily growing. Finally, our municipal government needs to develop a more flexible zoning application process with regard to major urban projects and the need for public consultations. Politicians should rely on the counsel of independent experts, but are elected to make decisions, and voters should judge them on these decisions, good or bad, at the ballot-box. Montreal home and condo owners have benefited from the rapidly rising values of their residential real estate over the past five years. Although rising interest rates are on the horizon and will clearly dampen demand for condos for home ownership and as an investment vehicle, demand is increasing for alternate site uses. Land values have also seen a rapid ascent, particularly for high density sites, and the economic fundamentals support continued growth and greater liquidity in this particular market. Brian Ker is associate vice-president, National Investment Team, at CB Richard Ellis Limited. He can be reached at 514 905-2141 or by email at Read more:
  14. There are an article in The Gazette (which I shall put after this post) that speaks about Montreal embracing open data. Also, anybody every been to Ottawa, Quebec? lol How Open Data Initiatives Can Improve City Life by Aliza Sherman Major city governments across North America are looking for ways to share civic data — which normally resides behind secure firewalls — with private developers who can leverage it to serve city residents via web and mobile apps. Cities can spend on average between $20,000 and $50,000 — even as much as $100,000 — to cover the costs of opening data, but that’s a small price to pay when you consider how much is needed to develop a custom application that might not be nearly as useful. Here are a few examples of initiatives that are striving to make city governments more efficient and transparent through open data. 1. Apps4Ottawa – Ottawa, Quebec Careful to adhere to security and privacy regulations for their open data program, the City of Ottawa started sharing data in several areas: geo-spatial (roadways, parks, runways, rivers, and ward boundaries); recreation facilities; event planning; civic elections data; and transit, including schedules. Other data the city is pursuing includes tree inventory, collections schedules for garbage, recycling and compost, and bike and foot paths. Ottawa aligned their first open data contest, Apps4Ottawa, with the school year (September 2010 to January 2011 ) to involve colleges and universities as well as residents and local industry. Categories for the contest included “Having Fun in Ottawa,” “Getting Around,” “Green Environment/Sustainability,” “Community Building,” and “Economic Development.” The winner is scheduled to be announced later this evening. Guy Michaud, chief information officer for the City of Ottawa, said their open data efforts have already spurred economic development and is meant to be good for local entrepreneurs. The city receives no revenue through the apps, and the developers can sell what they create. In turn, Ottawa residents get improved services from applications that are created, with better access to city data and more user-friendly formats and platforms. 2. – Portland, Oregon After tracking Vivek Kundra’s efforts at the federal level with, Portland, Oregon launched, a project initiated out of the mayor’s office to bring a more localized approach to the open data movement. Skip Newberry, economic policy advisor to the mayor, say that the project’s main objective is to improve connections and the flow of information between local government and its constituents, as well as between city bureaus. To call attention to the release of public data, they also launched an app design contest, highlighting the tech talent in Portland’s software community. According to Rick Nixon, program manager for the Bureau of Technology’s Open Data Initiative for the city of Portland, took a more regional approach to cover the multiple layers of local government: County, Metro, TriMet, and the City of Portland, all of which collect and maintain various kinds of public data. Data sets released include regional crime, transit, infrastructure (i.e. public works), and economic development programs. Additional projects, such as the PDX API, have been launched in order to make the raw data from CivicApps more useful to developers. In addition to developer-specific apps, a number of transit related apps — bike, train, bus, mixed modes — were also developed. A very popular and established transit app, PDXBus, was re-released as open source under the rules of the CivicApps contest. Other popular apps helped provide residents greater awareness of their surroundings such as where to find heritage trees, where to find urban edibles, and where to locate each other during disaster relief efforts. 3. CityWide Data Warehouse – Washington, DC For years, the District of Columbia provided public access to city operational data via the Internet. In keeping with the mayor’s promise to be transparent, the program CityWide Data Warehouse was launched, and provides citizens with access to over 450 datasets from multiple agencies. The first two datasets released were service requests from the mayor’s call center, including trash pickup, pot hole repair, street light repair, snow removal, parking meter issues and crime data. According to David Stirgel, program manager for Citywide Data Warehouse, the project looks for data that be of interest to the widest possible audience and which will remain reusable over time. Some of the applications that have come out of the program include Track DC, which tracks the performance of individual District agencies, and summary reports that provide public access to city operational data. Some of the applications built by companies and individuals using the data include Crime Reports and Every Block. In 2008, the District Mayor’s office, the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, and digital agency iStrategyLabs launched Apps for Democracy, an open code app development contest tapping into District data that cost $50,000 and generated 47 apps. The contest was repeated in 2009. Over 200 ideas and applications were submitted, and the winner was an iPhone and Facebook app called Social DC 311. It could be used to submit service requests, such as reporting potholes and trash problems. An honorable mention was given to FixMyCityDC. Unfortunately, neither app is maintained today. 4. NYC Data Mine – New York, NY NYC BigApps 2.0 is part of an initiative to improve the accessibility, transparency, and accountability of city government. According to Brandon Kessler, CEO of ChallengePost, the company and technology powering the NYC BigApps 2.0 Software Challenge, Mayor Bloomberg challenged software developers to use city data from the Data Mine to create apps to improve NYC, offering a $20,000 in cash awards to the winners. The second annual challenge closed its call for submissions at the end of January 2011 and opened the vote to the public. Voting ends on March 9. Requirements included that the software applications be original and solely owned by the entrants, that they use at least one of the datasets from the Data Mine, and be free to the public throughout the competition and for at least one year after the challenge. The panel of judges reads like a “who’s who” of New York tech luminaries, and includes Esther Dyson of EDVenture, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, Jack Dorsey of Square and Twitter, and Kara Swisher of All Things Digital. One of the first year’s winning apps was WayFinder, an augmented reality Android app which allows users to point their phone in a direction and see which subways and Path trains are in front of them. 5. DataSF – San Francisco, California Like other city governments, San Francisco’s goal for their DataSF program was to improve transparency and community engagement as well as accountability. Ron Vinson, director of media for the city’s Department of Technology also stated potential for innovation in how residents interact with government and their community. With an emphasis on adhering to privacy and security policies, the city can stimulate the creation of useful civic tools at no cost to the government. Before launching, they reached out to Washington, DC to identify the most popular datasets, and learned that 20% of the datasets represented over 80% of the downloads. With this information, they went out first with crime, 311, and GIS data. They also allowed the public to request data through a submissions mechanism on the website where others could vote on their suggestions. This input is now required reading for the city administrator thanks to an executive directive and open data legislation. Since launching in August 2009, DataSF has accumulated over 60 applications in its showcase. According to Vinson, the city stays engaged with their tech community by participating in local unconferences and meetups.
  15. Find out how these new developments managed to surviveBy KATHERINE DYKSTRA January 12, 2011 The developers of the 95-unit Griffin Court, on 10th Avenue between 53rd and 54th streets, have made no secret of the fact that they are giving the first 15 percent of their buyers a 15 percent discount. The reason? Let’s just say it’s no coincidence that getting contracts signed on 15 percent of the units is exactly what it will take in order to make the condo plan effective. “People would come in and ask how many we’ve sold,” says Ken Horn, president of Alchemy Properties, which is developing Griffin Court. The building came “softly” on the market in March of last year. “People would say, ‘When you have the plan effective, we’d be interested in buying.’ We realized that once we hit that 15 percent level, it [would be] amazing what happened with sales,” Horn adds. And so, after not moving a single unit in that first six months, Alchemy re-launched the sales of Griffin Court in September, initiating the 15 percent-off perk. Today, Alchemy has 15 contracts that are either signed or out for signature. “[Developers] who cut prices to get the pre-sales requirements are smart and will survive,” says Jonathan Miller, president of real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Nothing is easy in today’s tough real estate market, a very different one than, say, four years ago — especially for new developments. To wit, in the second quarter of 2006, 57 percent of all Manhattan closings were on listings in new developments, according to Miller. Compare that to the most recently completed quarter, where only 21.6 percent of closings were in new development. This figure does, however, represent a stabilizing of new development sales, which have hovered in the low 20s for the last six quarters. The low point of 16.4 percent came at the beginning of 2010. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s harder than ever to sell buyers on new development. That’s largely because buyers fear buildings might never be finished (slow sales can lead to reneged financing, which in turn can lead to the dreaded “going rental” or remaining vacant). “Buyers are skeptical still that developers will finish their product. Buyers are really looking for things they can move into in six months,” says Steve Kliegerman, executive director of development marketing at Halstead Property. So, rather than attempt to unload units as soon as a floor plan has been settled on, many developers are waiting to launch sales until the building is nearly finished. That way, buyers can at least walk through a completed model unit. “Most developers are holding product off the market until it is more finished,” says Kliegerman, who launched sales at Gramercy 19 in October. At the time, the project was 55 percent finished in terms of construction; including the on-site sales office. The building’s studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments range from $500,000 to $2.4 million and average $1,400 a square foot. Though 12 contracts have been signed at Gramercy 19, Kliegerman decided to pull four units off the market to wait for their construction to be complete; he wants to show finished products, which he believes can fetch higher prices. Love Lane Mews, a 38-unit conversion in Brooklyn Heights, priced from $1.05 million for a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom to $4.25 million for a 2,400-square-foot three-bedroom, launched sales in November. “We had planned to come to market earlier,” says Laurie Zucker, principal of Manhattan Skyline, which is developing the condo along with Sterling Equities. “It was a difficult construction . . . we thought we’d be on the market during the summer and early fall.” But rather than launch early and attempt to sell off of a floor plan, they held out until there was something for buyers to see. Zucker estimates construction will be complete within the next three to six months. “People aren’t buying from paper anymore, they want to see what they’re getting,” says Corcoran Sunshine Marketing’s Henry Hershkowitz, sales director for 123 Third Ave., a 47-unit condo building at 14th Street and Third Avenue, which came on the market just after Labor Day. “You don’t want to wait until it’s totally done; you just want the tools to sell it.” At 123 Third Ave., Hershkowitz has been able to put more than 80 percent of the units into contract. Condos start as low as $600,000 and go up to $4.525 million. “More than 50 percent [of the building is made up of] one-bedrooms,” Hershkowitz says. “They sold quickly. They’re all sold out.” “There has been some traction in the sense that there has been sales activity,” Miller says of the market overall. “A lot of it was circling around sub-million-dollar properties because that amount could go through Fannie or Freddie in conforming loans.” Of Griffin Court’s 95 units, 46 are below $1 million. Studios start at $625,000 and 681 square feet. “Three, four years ago, the units would go for 25 percent more, [but] our objective has been to price our units to be able to sell,” Horn says. Read more:
  16. Sieur Du Lhut - 4 étages (2013)

    Corner of Duluth & Laval. Floor plans & other details at the developer's site.
  17. Marina Bay Sands Resort (Singapore)

    Infinity pool 55 storeys up. EAT your heart out Article Someone please pitch this to the City of Montreal to allow developers to build to the sky is the limit or at least turn the tower at the olympic stadium into a huge water slide lol
  18. Condo buffet

    Les projects Altoria et Waldorf Astoria Hotel sont mentionne dans cette article,que j'ai trouver tres interessante. MONTREAL – On the gutted eighth storey of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Andrew Torriani walks across white marble floors turned grey from dust. But despite the renovations under way, Torriani, president and CEO of the historic Ritz-Carlton Montreal, can imagine the hardwood floors, glass walls and marble finishes to come. After being delayed a year, and suffering $30 million in extra costs, he says, the Ritz's über-luxury residence and 130-room hotel project - when complete - will stand above the city's array of existing high-end condominiums. "It's the details - details you wouldn't have believed existed," Torriani said while touting the benefits of Ritz ownership to a reporter this week. The Ritz's 46-unit residence - to open about winter 2011 - follows the injection of nearly 280 other high-end condo units into the city since 2007. Plus, Monit Investments insists its plans for a $200-million downtown Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Residence, with 100 condos and 225 hotel rooms, will go ahead near the corner of Sherbrooke and Guy Sts. These condos, which can cost millions of dollars per apartment, are developers' response to a robust market, aging demographics and rock-bottom interest rates that have incited buyers to upgrade their homes. Some hail the trend as a boon for Montreal as it lures the elite back to the city. Former SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. CEO Guy Saint-Pierre bought one downtown, while Bombardier Inc. Chairman Laurent Beaudoin was considering a condo at the posh Sir George Simpson. But several real estate agents, brokers and developers interviewed by The Gazette question how many luxury condos Montreal can sustain above the key $500 a square foot price point. "We really believe there is a limit in Montreal to the sale of condos over $500,000," said Richard Hylands, president of Kevric Real Estate Corp. which is building the more modest 115-condo Altoria project near Old Montreal. "Basically we're offering a very good product. We're not selling indoor golf or an indoor theatre. The people we are selling to want quality but not high condo fees." Real estate observers say the proof is in the for-sale signs. Despite offering striking views, private terrasses and hotel-style amenities, half of the 10 penthouses at Le Roc Fleuri on Drummond St. are empty - even though most of the 140-unit building is sold out. Meanwhile, five of the 31 condos at the Sir George Simpson building are for sale. Since late 2008, the Ritz project has sold 17 of its 46 units. "I think there is an over-supply of high-end condos in Montreal," said Pierre Laliberté, a specialist in condos with the real estate consulting firm Altus Group Ltd. "When you try to sell a condo for $1 million for more, there aren't a lot of buyers." Veteran real estate agent, JJ Jacobs, president of JJ Jacobs Realty Inc., agreed: "The $1,000 a square foot market is a high market for Montreal," she said. "There have been some very big sales, but it's only so deep. "Personally I don't know how many more the city can hold." Condo prices haven't dropped, however, because Montreal developers tend to have deep enough pockets to absorb the cost of the empty units, Laliberté said. Recently, Montreal's high-end condo market has exploded with a handful of new buildings going up between 2006 and last year. Many were bought by aging empty nesters eager to exchange their houses for the convenience of a condo. "There's going to be a portion of those buyers who are going to enjoy the downtown and they have the resources to do it," said Alan Marcovitz, president and chairman of the Westcliff Group of Companies, which built the sold-out Beaux arts condominiums on Sherbrooke St. Even during a time of economic crisis, Montreal's resilient real estate market coupled with low interest rates, also motivated third and fourth time buyers to upgrade, Marcovitz said. And with the economy improving, demand hasn't dwindled despite plans to slowly raise interest rates, he said. "Your typical buyer is in a significantly better position today than a year ago." But most developers agree that few buyers of ultra high-end condos worry about interest rates. "The challenge is finding the right buyers," said Daniel Lalonde, sales and marketing director for Le Roc Fleuri. "We have a limited pool." In Montreal, wealthy buyers have a wide choice of homes - either condos or houses. "They (high-end condos) sell, but you must really satisfy the buyers and this is a very discriminating clientèle," said Normand Lépine, vice-president of Groupe Lépine, which built Sir George Simpson, among other high-end buildings. "The developer shouldn't under-estimate the amount of effort required. You must really have the right project." Among the basics, high-end condo buildings feature a 24-hour doorman, indoor pool, and spa or massage room. Residents of the Ritz, the Crystal de la Montagne, and the Roc Fleuri's penthouses, have the added option of ordering in room service, getting their dry cleaning delivered, or even having a light bulb changed. The Ritz project - which will cost up to $150 million including key indirect expenses - offers residents a private concierge. It also has a back-up power system able to run the building at virtually full capacity in the event of a electricity failure, said Torriani, whose Monaco Luxury Hotel Management Co. is a risk-sharing partner in the Ritz project. But sales at the Ritz - which closed as a hotel in 2008 - started slowly as the recession discouraged prospective customers. Both the Roc Fleuri and the Ritz have attracted a significant number of foreigners - and these buyers feared for their stock portfolios and the future of Montreal's real estate market. "They postponed their plans," said the Roc Fleuri's Lalonde. "It reduced the amount of visits I got from out of town buyers." Faced with the recession and unexpected construction problems - workers discovered asbestos deep within the Ritz's walls - Torriani decided to revamp his plans on a more grandiose scale. To boost sales he brought in Liza Kaufman, a star real estate agent and managing director of Sotheby's International Realty Québec. While 2009 started off slowly, Kaufman said business at the Ritz has picked up. "If the building was already constructed I would have sold out yesterday," she said. Kaufman, who has sold countless multi-million dollar homes said Montreal is more attractive to foreign buyers than locals realize. "I think the market is evolving," she said. "We have to understand that our city has a lot to offer." Torriani said he isn't worried about a lack of local buyers with the financial means to live at the Ritz, which has an 8,000 square foot penthouse listed for $12 million. Indeed, Torriani left his job as Air Canada's director of human resources, to run the Ritz, where he once worked summer jobs as a dishwasher and waiter. His family, including veteran hotelier Marco Torriani, has a vast stake in the project's success. Before leaving the Ritz's construction site this week, Torriani passes by a swathe of blue and cream brocade wallpaper and wood panelling outside the 98-year-old hotel's former boardroom. The room, along with the hotel's façade will be preserved - vestiges of the Ritz's opening in 1912, when the city was booming and its status as "the Paris of North America" wasn't yet a cliché. Torriani insists that today's economic climate - including the success of the Cirque du Soleil and "Quebec Inc." companies - is equally ripe for the Ritz's reopening, both as a high-end hotel and as a residence. "I think we've seen a resurgence in the last five years or so," he said. "Montreal has a lot more wealthy people than you would expect." alampert@ Join Allison Lampert at our blog Inc. Ink for a tour of the Roc Fleuri's most expensive condo and see what $9.5 million will buy.
  19. In past recessions, city's developers learned the effects of overbuilding the hard way. Caution is paying off this time around ELEANOR BEATON Globe and Mail Update Two years ago, Yves-André Godon was scouring Montreal for an anchor tenant for his company's proposed 400,000-square-foot downtown office tower. At the time, Montreal's office market was looking rosy. The vacancy rate was a healthy 9.3 per cent and 6 per cent of the city's available office space was being leased each quarter – a record absorption rate, Mr. Godon says. The time looked ripe for the managing director of SITQ Canada, an international real estate investment company based in Montreal, to forge ahead with the development. But Mr. Godon hesitated. Even though it had been years since the city had seen new Class A office space built, he says many large-scale tenants seemed content to stay put; SITQ was having trouble attracting an anchor tenant quickly enough. “We didn't want to do anything on a speculative basis,” he says. Given the economy's subsequent downturn, Mr. Godon's instincts appear to have been right. It's a cautionary stance that was learned the hard way. During past recessions, overbuilding caused Montreal's office market to suffer more than in other parts of the country. But today, as other major cities contend with rising vacancy rates and the simultaneous delivery of millions of square feet of new office space, the kind of discipline that Mr. Godon displayed is helping to shield Montreal from the same drastic effects of the downturn. Montreal developers “lived through a lot of pain,” says Jean Laurin, president and chief executive officer of real estate advisory Devencore Ltd. “Few developers are going ahead until they find tenants.” As a result, “we have not had any exposure to overbuilding,” adds Robert Mercier, president of real estate services firm DTZ Barnicke (Quebec). The dearth of new developments is not the only factor. Also contributing is continued strong demand from tenants who are not players in the industries hit hardest by the downturn, such as energy, experts say. The combination means that Montreal now has one of the most stable office markets in the country. Even though at 9.7 per cent, Montreal's vacancy rate is higher than Toronto's (8.4 per cent) or Vancouver's (7.8 per cent), according to second-quarter figures from real estate firm CB Richard Ellis, downtown office vacancy rates in Montreal have risen less than in other major Canadian cities. Montreal's sublet space as a percentage of overall vacancy – a leading indicator of the health of the office leasing market – is, at 11 per cent, far lower than in other major cities, a sign that most tenants are holding onto their space, rather than putting it back on the market. The city is contending with a much smaller rise in sublet space than other cities. Insiders estimate that 10,000 to 15,000 square feet of sublease space comes back on the market each week. Unlike Calgary and Toronto, what little sublet space Montreal does put back into the market isn't competing for tenants with a glut of brand-new supply. Other than a recently constructed 840,000-square-foot Bell Canada Campus, the city has seen virtually no new office construction in recent years. In contrast, Toronto's central business district is facing the delivery of up to 3.1 million square feet of new office space, according to CB Richard Ellis. With little new development in the downtown in recent years, large-scale tenants in Montreal have few rental options, and therefore tend to stay put, further stabilizing the market. “Leasing is very strong on the renewal front,” Mr. Laurin says. Montreal also benefits from a diverse user base, says Brett Miller, executive vice-president of CB Richard Ellis in Quebec. He points out that the city's major employers represent solidly performing industries from the engineering, IT and video gaming industries. While Montreal may be performing well in comparison to other major cities, industry veterans aren't forgetting the lessons learned from the past. Developers such as Mr. Godon aren't planning any new developments until the economy recovers. “We're back to Real Estate 101,” he says. “That means focusing on serving the tenants we have, rather than looking for new projects.”
  20. Vancouver: Electric Cars

    Salut la gagne! Etant à Vancouver, je vais en profiter pour poster des choses qui pourraient être d'intérêt pour Montréal. Vancouver council considers mandatory installation of electric car chargers City could require 10 per cent of new condo parking spots to include electric car chargers BY JOANNE LEE-YOUNG, VANCOUVER SUNJULY 8, 2009 Vancouver city council will soon decide whether to force developers to install electric car-charging stations in at least 10 per cent of all new condo parking lots -- a proposal that's creating a chicken-or-the-egg debate. If the vote goes through Thursday, Vancouver would be the first city in Canada with such a mandate for residential buildings. In addition to the 10-per-cent requirement for condo parking spaces, it would also see the city install a limited number of public charging stations at its EasyPark lots, eventually expand this to include on-street locations, and develop a strategy for retrofitting existing buildings. "Electric cars are coming. They are in Europe and in Japan," said Mayor Gregor Robertson, echoing observers who see that while Vancouver might lead Canada, it would be playing catch up to many cities elsewhere, such as San Francisco and Paris, which already each have hundreds of charging stations and growing culture for electric car use. "We need to be prepared." City staff estimate that the cost of installing chargers for 10 per cent of parking spaces, with allowance for future upgrades, would cost less than 0.5 per cent of the building cost. They believe that, while this would be a new cost to developers, it would "enable early adoption of EVs [electric vehicles] in our community, allow for later expansion as the market demands, allow the development industry to test the market take-up and introduce limited new costs that are not likely to adversely affect land values." The proposal would include an 18-month grace period for these requirements and support "developers to find possible strategies to offset the new incremental costs associated with this infrastructure." This, however, seems to be of little comfort to developers, who would like to see the ratio for charging stations reduced from 10 per cent to five per cent of parking stalls. In April, city staff made a proposal to the Urban Development Institute, which represents developers, that charging infrastructure would be required for 20 per cent of parking stalls. UDI responded that this ratio was too high, "given the cost of providing the infrastructure, the lack of widespread market penetration of the vehicle technology, and BC Hydro's capacity to deliver the additional power required to charge these vehicles." On Tuesday, Jeff Fisher, deputy executive director of UDI, said the organization is working with the city, but has some specific concerns. "We are always supportive of going green and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but we want to make sure that this is the right green-car technology. There are a number out there. We have had hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and concepts like the 'hydrogen highway' for some time. We feel it might be premature to mandate this." He added that while 0.5 per cent of the cost of the building is small, "when you look at the cost of other fees that the industry is facing, in aggregate, it is more significant." Fisher said that, for now, UDI would prefer to see a voluntarily or incentive-based approach to making charging stations available. Part of the conundrum is that there are currently fewer than 10 such electric vehicles in the city. A few months ago, the City of Vancouver and BC Hydro signed an agreement with Mitsubishi Motors to use its newly-launched iMiev electric vehicle as test run models for their fleets. It's not clear yet exactly how many vehicles this will involve and exactly when they would arrive, but the hope is that orders would quickly increase. Don Chander, past president of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association, which supports the proposal, said that providing infrastructure for charging electric vehicles in all new multi-family residential buildings is increasingly important as density increases. He added that some 18 major automakers have announced electric vehicle models, making it "urgent to start building this infrastructure." The VEVA estimates that the average cost of implementing EV infrastructure at the time of construction is around $1,500 per parking stall. - - - Read Joanne lee -young's blog at © Copyright © The Vancouver Sun
  21. Downturn Ends Building Boom in New York

    Downturn Ends Building Boom in New York Charles Blaichman, at an unfinished tower at West 14th Street, is struggling to finance three proposed hotels by the High Line. NYtimes By CHRISTINE HAUGHNEY Published: January 07, 2009 Nearly $5 billion in development projects in New York City have been delayed or canceled because of the economic crisis, an extraordinary body blow to an industry that last year provided 130,000 unionized jobs, according to numbers tracked by a local trade group. The setbacks for development — perhaps the single greatest economic force in the city over the last two decades — are likely to mean, in the words of one researcher, that the landscape of New York will be virtually unchanged for two years. “There’s no way to finance a project,” said the researcher, Stephen R. Blank of the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit group. Charles Blaichman is not about to argue with that assessment. Looking south from the eighth floor of a half-finished office tower on 14th Street on a recent day, Mr. Blaichman pointed to buildings he had developed in the meatpacking district. But when he turned north to the blocks along the High Line, once among the most sought-after areas for development, he surveyed a landscape of frustration: the planned sites of three luxury hotels, all stalled by recession. Several indicators show that developers nationwide have also been affected by the tighter lending markets. The growth rate for construction and land development loans shrunk drastically this year — to 0.08 percent through September, compared with 11.3 percent for all of 2007 and 25.7 percent in 2006, according to data tracked by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. And developers who have loans are missing payments. The percentage of loans in default nationwide jumped to 7.3 percent through September 2008, compared with 1 percent in 2007, according to data tracked by Reis Inc., a New York-based real estate research company. New York’s development world is rife with such stories as developers who have been busy for years are killing projects or scrambling to avoid default because of the credit crunch. Mr. Blaichman, who has built two dozen projects in the past 20 years, is struggling to borrow money: $370 million for the three hotels, which include a venture with Jay-Z, the hip-hop mogul. A year ago, it would have seemed a reasonable amount for Mr. Blaichman. Not now. “Even the banks who want to give us money can’t,” he said. The long-term impact is potentially immense, experts said. Construction generated more than $30 billion in economic activity in New York last year, said Louis J. Coletti, the chief executive of the Building Trades Employers’ Association. The $5 billion in canceled or delayed projects tracked by Mr. Coletti’s association include all types of construction: luxury high-rise buildings, office renovations for major banks and new hospital wings. Mr. Coletti’s association, which represents 27 contractor groups, is talking to the trade unions about accepting wage cuts or freezes. So far there is no deal. Not surprisingly, unemployment in the construction industry is soaring: in October, it was up by more than 50 percent from the same period last year, labor statistics show. Experience does not seem to matter. Over the past 15 years, Josh Guberman, 48, developed 28 condo buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan, many of them purchased by well-paid bankers. He is cutting back to one project in 2009. Donald Capoccia, 53, who has built roughly 4,500 condos and moderate-income housing units in all five boroughs, took the day after Thanksgiving off, for the first time in 20 years, because business was so slow. He is shifting his attention to projects like housing for the elderly on Staten Island, which the government seems willing to finance. Some of their better known and even wealthier counterparts are facing the same problems. In August, Deutsche Bank started foreclosure proceedings against William S. Macklowe over his planned project at the former Drake Hotel on Park Avenue. Kent M. Swig, Mr. Macklowe’s brother-in-law, recently shut down the sales office for a condo tower planned for 25 Broad Street after his lender, Lehman Brothers, declared bankruptcy in September. Several commercial and residential brokers said they were spending nearly half their days advising developers who are trying to find new uses for sites they fear will not be profitable. “That rug has been pulled out from under their feet,” said David Johnson, a real estate broker with Eastern Consolidated who was involved with selling the site for the proposed hotel to Mr. Blaichman, Jay-Z and their business partners for $66 million, which included the property and adjoining air rights. Mr. Johnson said that because many banks are not lending, the only option for many developers is to take on debt from less traditional lenders like foreign investors or private equity firms that charge interest rates as high as 20 percent. That doesn’t mean that all construction in New York will grind to a halt immediately. Mr. Guberman is moving forward with one condo tower at 87th Street and Broadway that awaits approval for a loan; he expects it will attract buyers even in a slowing economy. Mr. Capoccia is trying to finish selling units at a Downtown Brooklyn condominium project, and is slowly moving ahead on applying for permits for an East Village project. Mr. Blaichman, 54, is keeping busy with four buildings financed before the slowdown. He has found fashion and advertising firms to rent space in his tower at 450 West 14th Street and buyers for two downtown condo buildings. He recently rented a Lower East Side building to the School of Visual Arts as a dorm. Mr. Blaichman had success in Greenwich Village and the meatpacking district, where he developed the private club SoHo House, the restaurant Spice Market and the Theory store. He had similar hopes for the area along the High Line, where he bought properties last year when they were fetching record prices. An art collector, he considered the area destined for growth because of its many galleries and its proximity to the park being built on elevated railroad tracks that have given the area its name. The park, which extends 1.45 miles from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street, is expected to be completed in the spring. Other developers have shown that buyers will pay high prices to be in the area. Condo projects designed by well-known architects like Jean Nouvel and Annabelle Selldorf have been eagerly anticipated. In recent months, buyers have paid $2 million for a two-bedroom unit and $3 million for a three-bedroom at Ms. Selldorf’s project, according to, a real estate Web site. “It’s one of the greatest stretches of undeveloped areas,” Mr. Blaichman said. “I still think it’s going to take off.” In August 2007, Mr. Blaichman bought the site and air rights of a former Time Warner Cable warehouse. He thought the neighborhood needed its first full-service five-star hotel, in contrast to the many boutique hotels sprouting up downtown. So with his partners, Jay-Z and Abram and Scott Shnay, he envisioned a hotel with a pool, gym, spa and multiple restaurants under a brand called J Hotels. But since his mortgage brokers started shopping in late summer for roughly $200 million in financing, they have only one serious prospect for a lender. For now, he is seeking an extension on the mortgage — monthly payments are to begin in the coming months — and trying to rent the warehouse. (He currently has no income from the property.) It is perhaps small comfort that his fellow developers are having as many problems getting loans. Shaya Boymelgreen had banks “pull back” recently on financing for a 107-unit rental tower the developer is building at 500 West 23rd Street, according to Sara Mirski, managing director of development for Boymelgreen Developers. The half-finished project looked abandoned on two recent visits, but Ms. Mirski said that construction will continue. Banks have “invited” the developer to reapply for a loan next year and have offered interim bridge loans for up to $30 million. Mr. Blaichman cuts a more mellow figure than many other developers do. He avoids the real estate social scene, tries to turn his cellphone off after 6 p.m. and plays folk guitar in his spare time. For now, Mr. Blaichman seems stoic about his plight. At a diner, he polished off a Swiss-cheese omelet and calmly noted that he had no near-term way to pay off his debts. He exercises several times a week and tells his three children to curb their shopping even as he regularly presses his mortgage bankers for answers. “I sleep pretty well,” Mr. Blaichman said. “There’s nothing you can do in the middle of the night that will help your projects.” But even when the lending market improves — in months, or years — restarting large-scale projects will not be a quick process. A freeze in development, in fact, could continue well after the recession ends. Mr. Blank of the Urban Land Institute said he has taken to giving the following advice to real estate executives: “We told them to take up golf.” Correction: An article on Saturday about the end of the building boom in New York City referred incorrectly to the family relationship between the developers William S. Macklowe, whose planned project at the former Drake Hotel is in foreclosure, and Kent M. Swig, who shut down the sales office for a condominium tower on Broad Street after his lender, Lehman Brothers, declared bankruptcy. Mr. Swig is Mr. Macklowe’s brother-in-law, not his son-in-law.
  22. Builders face financing squeeze

    Builders face financing squeeze 'We can expect a solid demand for condominiums well into the future' TERRENCE BELFORD From Friday's Globe and Mail September 5, 2008 at 12:00 AM EDT Remember how A Tale of Two Cities starts? Charles Dickens writes, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Stretch that theme a bit and you might be describing what is about to happen in the Toronto-area condominium market. First, the best of times. According to Urbanation Inc., which tracks condos from the Burlington border to Ajax and Whitby, there were a record 295 projects for sale at the end of June. Of these, 147 were under construction and another 38 new ones were ready to break ground. Behind those projects stood 151 different developers, and for many of them it was their first shot at building a condo. Those first-timers were mainly house builders who could no longer find building lots. Their choice was either to move into condos or fold their tents. So on the plus side, prospective buyers have never had greater choice. Now on to the worst of times. That impressive number of projects may prove to be the Greater Toronto Area's version of a Potemkin Village by the end of the year. Veteran market watchers say that up to a third of them are likely to be pulled from the market. Along with them, up to 50 developers may bite the dust. The reason? They are unlikely to find financing, says Barry Lyon. He is a 40-year veteran of the Toronto area real estate market. His company, N. Barry Lyon Consulting Ltd., provides research, marketing and project management to the condo and commercial sectors. "The U.S. credit crunch means the money to build just is not there," he says. "The tap has run dry." So, what determines who gets the money to build? In large part, GTA condo buyers. Developers need to presell about 60 per cent of the units in any project before lenders will take a look at providing the money to build. Equally important, they have to do it within reasonable time frames. As their marketing and sales teams scurry to sell suites, construction and carrying costs for high-priced land are ticking upwards. Mr. Lyon says he would not be surprised to see some developers pulling projects out of the market because those costs have risen to such an extent that they simply can't make a buck going ahead. "In some cases, even with 60 per cent sold, some developers are still going to have a hard time finding financing," he says. It is not that there is any lack of demand. It remains strong, says Jane Renwick, executive vice-president of Urbanation. But it is nowhere near the levels seen in 2007, which was a banner year for the industry. Thanks to record sales in 2007, 76 per cent of the 66,310 suites on the market at the end of June had already been snapped up. "I think a lot of last year's sales went to first-time buyers," she says. "I also think that most of them have now been absorbed so we are looking at a return to a more stable market — less of a gold-rush mentality." Again on the plus side of demand is the lure the GTA holds for immigrants. Ms. Renwick points out that of the 150,000 people who immigrate to Ontario in any given year, 100,000 of them make their way to the Toronto area. "If that trend continues, if we continue with high employment and if the economy continues to expand, we can expect a solid demand for condominiums well into the future," she says. That demand will continue to be strongest within the old city of Toronto. That is where 70 per cent of today's projects sit, says Mr. Lyon. It is also where prices are highest — an average $461 a square foot, versus $418 a year ago, according to Urbanation. Compare that with $294 in Scarborough, $254 in Pickering, $287 in Ajax and $313 in Aurora. Much of the difference is simply the cost of land to build on. But in that area Mr. Lyon suggests the coming shakeout may bring positive benefits to buyers. He says the loss of about a third of the developers today jockeying for land and bidding against each other to arrange construction crews likely means less competition for available resources. Less competition means lower demand and lower demand usually leads to, if not lower prices, then at least a much slower rise in prices. "It is going to be an interesting year," Mr. Lyon says. "By the end of 2008, the GTA's condo market may be a quite different place." Terrence Belford is a veteran journalist covering the Toronto real estate market.