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And when he heard about plans to create a downtown in his city, the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) at Hwys. 407 and 400, he was excited.
Set on 179 hectares, the transit-oriented new downtown core will have office and condo towers, shops, restaurants and entertainment. With track work complete on the Toronto-York Spadina Extension and stations almost finished, the subway will soon extend from Downsview Station to two stops at the VMC. York University will be one stop away; a trip downtown will take 40 minutes.
Compagnone convinced his sister, Jordana, 23, and brother Anthony, 19, both university students, to be a part of Vaughan’s new downtown and buy a pre-construction two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite with him at Liberty Development Corp.’s Cosmos condos. Cosmos will be a mixed-used development with four condo towers, a 12-storey office building, a landscaped park and retail space.
“Living in Toronto was not a consideration,” says Compagnone. “All of our lives are tied to Woodbridge. This is best of both worlds. It’s easy to go downtown, we will be close to our parents. All of our friends, all of our lives are here.”
Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua says the new downtown centre is “the future of the city.” With 12,000 new residential units planned, there will soon be 25,000 people living in the VMC. Another target is to attract 11,500 jobs, including 5,000 new office jobs.
Bevilacqua says the city of Vaughan and partners engaged in “sensory-based planning” for the VMC to include the elements that people will see and feel, and to immediately create a sense of belonging.
“Buyers realize they . . . can walk outside their condo and the subway is right there. There has never been an opportunity like this in the 905 — they literally don’t need a car,” says Marco Filice, senior vice-president of Liberty Development Corp. “You are 15 minutes from the McMichael Art Collection, 10 minutes from golf courses, one stop from York University …”
The VMC is also the site of downtown condo developer Plaza’s first 905 project, The Met, a 35-storey tower in partnership with Berkley Developments. More than 500 of its 573 units sold in just a few weeks earlier this year.
Plaza’s senior vice-president Scott McLellan admits his company was surprised by the response but it makes sense, he says, when one considers what The Met has in common with Plaza’s downtown Toronto sites — proximity to the subway and a university.
“Downtown amenities are important. When people see the subway coming to Vaughan and are looking at the plans for the VMC, they believe it’s going to happen,” says McLellan. “The subway will create the lifestyle part of the vision.”
Future VMC resident Compagnone appreciates that his Cosmos condo will be steps from the subway. “It’s going to feel like downtown, but north of the city.”
He hopes to work downtown in the future, and his sister attends Ryerson University and plans to continue her studies at medical school. She and Stefano plan to live in the condo and even if their younger brother doesn’t choose live with them, it will be a good investment for him.
Location: 2951 Hwy. 7 W., Vaughan
Developer: Liberty Development Corp.
Architect: Kirkor Architects (David Butterworth)
Sizes: Tower A: 35 storeys, 396 units from 500 to 1,298 sq. ft.; from mid-$ 200,000 to $ 600,000s
Tower B: 36 storeys, 400 units from 500 to 1,904 sq. ft.; from mid-$ 200,000s to $ 938,900
Cosmos III: 35 storeys, 361 units frin 490 to 1,540 sq. ft.; from low $ 300,000s to low $ 900,000s
Amenities: Concierge, indoor swimming pool, hot tub, steam rooms, exercise and yoga rooms, golf simulator, party room, cyber lounge, private dining room, outdoor terrace and barbecues, dog wash, guest suites, observatory lounge
Tentative Occupancy: Tower A, September 2019; Tower B, January 2020
Location: Hwy. 7 and Jane St.
Developer: Plaza and Berkley Developments
Architect: Quadrangle Architects
Suite sizes: Condos 510 to 875 square feet, starting from $ 286,000. Townhouses 1,250 to 1,490 square feet.
Amenities: Concierge, fitness centre, whirlpool and spa, party room, dining room, catering kitchen, outdoor lounge with barbecues.
Ajax will soon add a downtown core to its list of assets
Matthew Petrovic, 25, has grown up just as his hometown of Ajax has also grown since his family moved there 20 years ago.
“Even though it has more than 100,000 people now, it still feels like a small town and the same place I grew up in,” he says. “If I go to the library, the same ladies are working there. And everything, like shopping, grocery stores, are close.
“And it has a good balance with nature — I enjoy rollerblading on the Waterfront Trail,” he says of the paved path along the town’s six-kilometre stretch of protected lakefront and southern border of 150-acre Rotary Park. In all, Ajax boasts 600 hectares of parkland and green spaces.
Though Petrovic works in downtown Toronto, his family and friends are in Ajax. He considered buying a condo in Toronto, but when he heard about Central Park Ajax, a mixed-used development helping create a new downtown along Harwood Ave., he felt it was right. He bought a 740-square-foot, one-bedroom-with-den unit for $ 259,000 in the master-planned community’s first condo building, where 380 of its 410 units quickly sold out in late spring.
“This is the first time there have been new condos in Ajax (in 25 years) and I see it as a good investment,” Petrovic says. “I’m not sure whether I will live there, but I’ve been saving for a long time and it’s a good place to put my money.”
Developer Thomas Liu, 34, CEO of the Lemine Investment Group, knew little about the town — even though it’s just 15 minutes east from where he and his wife studied at U of T’s Scarborough campus. When Liu heard about the development opportunity for a downtown on land owned by Ajax, he was astonished by what his research uncovered.
“When we looked at the data, it was staggering,” he says. “The population growth (current population is 130,000), the average income, the strength of the rental market . . . It was tremendous.” The town is the fastest growing in the GTA; its population has doubled in the past 20 years and the average age of residents is 36.
Central Park Ajax, at the site of 1950s-era Ajax Plaza, will be a game-changer, bringing 1,300 new office units, 200 retail spaces and 3,000 residential units to the 18-acre site. It’s adjacent to city hall and the commercial core, surrounded by medical offices, stores, restaurants and entertainment venues. The GTA’s largest GO Train station (with 1,200 parking spots) and Hwys. 401 and 407 are close. It’s also minutes from the waterfront.
Councillor Pat Brown has purchased a two-bedroom, two-bathroom corner unit in the first condo building at Central Park Ajax where she will move when it’s built in 2019. When Brown and her British parents moved to Ajax in 1958, the town had just 6,000 people. Today, it has 161,000.
“We need something like this for our seniors who have had to move out of town, away from their family and friends, to downsize,” says Brown. “It will be good for young people too, who are looking to buy their first home or others who don’t want to worry about looking after a big yard and garden.”
Brown says the town and the developer worked in close collaboration to develop a plan.
“The town’s priority was to maintain the retail . . . we want to maintain the doctors and dentists, and hopefully the additional new office space will attract new business to town.”
Ajax Plaza is one and two storeys and the new buildings will be 15 to 20 storeys. All current retail tenants have the opportunity to move back into the new space, says Liu.
CENTRAL PARK AJAX
Location: Harwood Ave. and Bayly St. W.
Developer: Lemine Investment Group
Description: Project to include 14 to 17 mixed-use buildings on 7.3 hectares when completed. First condo building was released in spring and most units sold within first month.
Landscape architects: MBTW Group/W Architect Inc.
Amenities: State-of-the-art fitness centre with rock-climbing wall, yoga room, billiards and games room, bar and lounge, home theatre facility, party room, children’s play room, library, conference room, rooftop terrace, outdoor barbecue and dining area, mini golf zone