The Great Residentialization

Without intention, the grid has become an assembly line.

Scaffolding flourishes as snow subsides. With the onset of spring, latticework grows exposed, and economically unapologetic about its booming status. Framework is integrated into the city skyline and encases its high rises, a structural exoskeleton of sorts. The industrialization of Toronto always has been. The residentialization of Toronto however, has only just begun.

The second season of the year has also begun. We’ve just withdrawn a frigid foot from winter only to replace the other into construction.

Streets that I walk blindly are changing. Ever so slightly at first, that it only just catches your eye. Blocks shift and rearrange, until you blink, scattered parking lots have dwindled and in their place, concrete towers have sprouted. The manufacturing process continues.

We do not suffer from an urban sprawl issue downtown. The G.T.A remains self-sufficient, yet it has not hindered urban growth in any way, if anything downtown expansion is a by-product of suburban planning. Although glass, steel, rebar and concrete have kept their distance from older districts such as Cabbage Town, these buildings have unabashedly started inching their way outside of the financial district, alongside the west end and upwards. Like a fog that sweeps from the lake into the city’s core, the density makes it harder to breathe. Le Corbusier would be proud.

The great move downtown has not faltered. Each year there is an overlay of substantial growth in the downtown populace. We are colonizing a well educated, full-time employed, no children family, high income and condo owning people. The layers continue to tier. Newer developments suffer from awkward sightlines and segregated neighborhoods, whereas older developments have concern for security. Despite the push to move within proximity of school and work, dwelling among all cultural aspects of a metropolitan area has its perks.

Lifestyle has changed the intrigue of condos. Conceptually, contemporary living gravitates towards factory spaces, dilapidated warehouses, sky-high timber, exposed brick and ceiling high windows. This illusion of alternative living becomes shattered with the reality of price and undesirable location.

The condominium market has abided by the simple rules of supply and demand. Where there is a commodity, developers will invest. Many properties have yet to be spoken for, but developers are still very much trigger-happy. The possibility of entering a real estate bubble looms atop the skyscrapers, but demand is still increasing. Hundreds of new condos, lofts, townhouses, hotel condominium suites and boutique hotels have begun expansion within the past year alone. The consistent push and pull of the market has yet to destabilize residentialization and in turn, the supply and demand balancing act.

Instead, the sequential mass production reinforces the market stability of Toronto, catapulting it to the forefront of successful Canadian property markets. It’s difficult not to get lost between the lines of marketability let alone the grid. The city, a development fiend, refuses to loosen its cancerous grip. When we feed the concrete monster relentlessly, should we then be surprised when it begins to outgrow its cage?

– R