A quick search of the online Multiple Listing Service gives clear evidence that in Roncesvalles Village you aren’t likely to break into the housing market for much under $700,000.
The value of property in the west end Toronto neighbourhood has no doubt changed the demographic, but what kind of impact has it had on property taxes, affordable housing, surrounding neighbourhoods and businesses? Roncesvalles Village residents recently had an opportunity to pose these questions to a panel of area real estate agents.
At its January meeting the Roncesvalles Macdonell Residents’ Association (RMRA) assembled a panel of local Realtors – Chander Chaddah of Sutton Group-Associates, Kim Kehoe of Bosley Real Estate and Mark Campbell of Keller Williams Neighbourhood Realty – to discuss and share their thoughts on the changing neighbourhood, trends and demographics.
“The creative people and artists that used to live here have moved out because they no longer can afford it,” said Kehoe, who has been working in the Parkdale, Roncesvalles, and High Park market since 1997. “We have a lot of double-income families, doctors and lawyers, coming in, fixing up the houses and changing the neighbourhood.”
The increase in housing costs in Roncesvalles Village, which is a neighbourhood centred around Roncesvalles Avenue, has spilled over into surrounding neighbourhoods and increasing the cost of homes there as well, Chaddah said.
“The rising tide lifts all boats,” he said.
Chaddah, a veteran agent with 26 years experience, explained he has seen the neighbourhood transition to a more “upscale” neighbourhood.
“Frankly, a lot of that has to do with branding,” he said, explaining that even the neighbourhood’s name, Roncesvalles Village, was coined by the real estate industry to get around the stigma that was at one time attached to the Parkdale neighbourhood. Most of the Roncevalles Village neighbourhood is in an area which was formerly considered to be within the boundaries of Parkdale and Brockton villages.
“By jettisoning Parkdale for Roncesvalles Village the value has grown by leaps and bounds,” Chaddah said.
EFFECT ON BUSINESS
Once considered a Polish business district, Roncesvalles has recently seen a change to the kinds of shops seen there.
RMRA member and Roncesvalles resident Meghan Edmonds told the panel she felt as though the area was losing some of its original neighbourhood feeling, becoming more generic, and asked the agents if they thought that trend would continue.
Kehoe said she felt it was an asset that many of the shop owners live in the area, while Chaddah said he felt the fact that the west side of Roncesvalles Avenue is currently largely residential had prevented the strip from attracting big corporations to set up shop.
The city is currently evaluating the need for amendments to the Zoning By-law to permit small-scale retail, service and office uses on those lands on the west side of Roncesvalles Avenue currently designated as “neighbourhoods”. According to Ward 14 Councillor Gord Perks’ office the next community meeting on this study will likely be in early March.
The owner of A Good Read book store on Roncesvalles, Gary Kirk, said he feels increasing property taxes for independent businesses will have the greatest impact on the character of the street. He explained his property taxes have doubled since 2007.
“I don’t know if the character of the street will survive the property tax increases,” Kirk said.
RMRA Chair Brian Torry, who also works in real estate, said these property tax increases are being passed on to tenants of the local stores. He said storefronts on Roncesvalles currently rent for roughly $40 a square foot and smaller retailers are being priced out of the neighbourhood.
THE CONDO QUESTION
Several of the buildings along Sorauren Avenue have been converted into loft-style condominiums and there are condos at various stages of development on Roncesvalles and Howard Park avenues – so when talk turned to condo developments the three agents explained they believe these condos are important to maintaining a diverse population in the area. Without them many would be priced out of the neighbourhood, they said.
“People are coming in here and there is nowhere to house them, there is no new single-family home being built so there has to be condos built,” said Campbell who has a background in architecture.
He went on to explain intensification is particularly important in areas that are well served by public transit like Roncesvalles.
“If not, how much farmland are we going to eat up building single family homes and asking people to drive 50 miles to get to work,” Campbell said.
A few of the residents in attendance spoke up about their objections to the condo buildings being built in the area, saying they are too tall and there isn’t appropriate infrastructure to support the increased population.
Chaddah said it was important for residents to consider how society has evolved from one where beautiful buildings like those once found on Jameson Avenue were torn down and replaced by towering apartment buildings to one where the community has some say in development through community consultation.
Torry went on to encourage the people in attendance to get involved in community consultations about local developments and studies by the city when given the opportunity.
The RMRA hosts monthly meetings on different topics relevant to the neighbourhood on the last Tuesday of every month and all are welcome to attend.