Amid booming vacation-property sales, developers are finding ways to make urban condos feel like getaways by the lake
Adam Bisby, Special to National Post Publishing date:May 05, 2021
Residents of the Queen & Ashbridge Condos won’t have to brave a packed Ontario highway if it’s cottage-country vibes they’re after.
Slated for completion in 2024, the 17-storey Leslieville project by Context Development and Riocan Living will be home to a central courtyard dubbed the Urban Forest, surrounded by a Cottage Collection of one- and two-bedroom suites. “As COVID began to take effect, and as more people started talking about getting away, we pivoted to bring a little Muskoka to the big city,” Context principal Howard Cohen explains.
That woodsy aesthetic will extend to the 103 Cottage Collection suites surrounding the Urban Forest, which according to Cohen are 95 percent sold. Designed by Toronto’s Mason Studios, they include an upgrade package featuring custom millwork and electric fireplaces and wood-inspired tile feature walls.
“Combine that [aesthetic] with all the nearby recreational opportunities at Ashbridges Bay [and] Woodbine Park,” says Cohen, “and this is a great option for people who love the outdoorsy cottage lifestyle and want to keep it going even when they’re in the city.”
As rising prices and bidding wars in cottage country put vacation properties out of many buyers’ reach, it isn’t surprising that developers are importing a dockside atmosphere to urban sites. While average GTA housing prices in March jumped 16.5 percent year-over-year, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association, those increases were even higher in cottage country: 33.3 percent in Grey Bruce Owen Sound, 42.2 percent in the Lakelands region comprising Muskoka, Halliburton, Parry Sound and Orillia, and a whopping 44.9 percent in Kawartha Lakes.
Among urban properties, those “where you can walk or bike down to a beach or lakefront park are really in high demand,” says RE/MAX Realtron general manager and broker Cameron Forbes. “COVID-19 has really reinforced a live-at-home, work-at-home, play-at-home mentality, so we are definitely selling more properties that are closer to the water, green spaces, golf courses and things that people can do with their families in a safe way.”
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