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Duly Quoted: Brad Lamb

“If you want to live in central Toronto, you’re going to have to live in a condo. Families will be forced to buy into high-density living. It’s the natural evolution of a city.”

—If you missed it over the long weekend, this was major real estate developer Brad Lamb, speaking to the CBC about the growing pressures on Toronto’s housing market. He calls it “Manhattanization” and explained: “In New York City, even if you’re an investment banker making $1 million a year, you still can’t afford to buy a house in Manhattan, so you’re buying a condo.” Here’s one thing that might help: moving beyond a dichotomy of single-family homes vs. condo towers. There are all manner of inventive, mid-scale buildings that have been devised over the years, and while Toronto bylaws make constructing them a bad investment in some cases and zoning regulations prohibit constructing them in others, it is in fact possible for us to revisit said bylaws. It would certainly be more productive than the blinkered versions of densification we tend to discuss most often.


  • Anonymous

    What’s meant by “mid-scale homes”?

    • Anonymous

      Sorry, that should be ‘buildings’ as the things I mean comprise several homes. Will update. But essentially: everything bigger than a triplex or mansion that’s been split into units, and small than a large tower. Toronto does midrise buildings, specifically, very much less often and much less well than we should.

      • Anonymous

        In that case, what’s the difference? Does it matter if the single bedroom condo boom takes the form of 40+ storey buildings or 4-8 storey buildings? They’re still condos, they’re still under-serving families, they still don’t have back yards, etc.

    • Eric S. Smith

      Non-shoebox apartments in mid-rise condominium buildings, maybe? Whether that’s what Hamutal means or not, it’s basically what lines both sides of every street of the canonical European city that we’re so often told to take inspiration from (hint: actually Paris).

  • Andrew LaFleur

    The problem with this argument is that a family sized condo of say 1200 sq ft (average by Manhattan standards) will still cost you about $600K today in resale, and about $700K if you buy new. You can still get an excellent house in the core for those prices.

    The other thing is that maintenance fees on a 1200 sq ft condo will run you about $700/month on average ($8400/year). tough pill to swallow just so you can live downtown where the schools are mostly not great and green space is limited.

    We may become a mini Manhattan in appearance but in lifestyle I think families will by and large still choose freehold homes over condos for at least the next decade or two.

  • OgtheDim

    Except nobody is making 3 bedroom family friendly condos.

    • Chris Dart

      Right? I know a ton of people who WOULD buy such a unit if they didn’t cost as much or more than a house, and that’s before you even start paying maintenance fees.

  • OgtheDim

    And of course the whole “people who live in apartments” is being completely ignored here.

  • Anonymous

    Folks like Brad Lamb are flogging investment products, and that underscores everything they have to say about it. One day that bubble will burst, and guess who will be left holding the bag: not Brad Lamb.

    • PlantinMoretus

      Exactly. My first thought was “Of course BRAD LAMB is going to say that.” Doesn’t make it true.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry I must’ve missed the construction of a new school(s) to handle all the children living beside the skydome. Could someone tell me where it/they is/are? Thanks.

    • Nick Setacci

      Both a Catholic and public elementary school are part of the plans for Fort York Blvd between Bathurst and Spadina, as well as a Toronto daycare facility, recreation centre, and a library. One Montessori school already exists at Bremner and Spadina.

  • frobisher grove

    “Manhatttanization” is a stolen term. Brad Lamb doesn’t even know what it means.

    • Vidhya Kumar

      You mean he used a term that someone else coined? Like we all do 99.9% of the time? Brad Lamb has been in the property business a long time. I’m willing to bet he knows what he’s talking about, even if his angle will likely be one that supports his business interests.

  • Anonymous

    I personally much prefer living in mid rise apartment buildings. They’re large enough to have maintenance staff but small enough I can use the stairs to get in or out. They don’t overwhelm an area and fit nicely into the sections of Toronto that were laid out before cars dominated and where people can still walk to do shopping and they provide enough density in an area for there to be half decent transit available.

    I never understood why there weren’t more mid rise buildings but I’ve been hearing lately that building regulations make them unprofitable for developers. If so that’s something we need to change to promote more mid rise buildings, and apartments/condos of a decent size with at least 3 bedrooms for families or to be shared among room mates to create more affordable housing.

  • Anonymous

    I have to wonder if Lamb expects a family of four to live in a broom closet, or fork over high 6-digits for something smaller than the two car garage their house in Bolton would come with at half the price. Where are the family condos, Brad?

    • Anonymous

      I think he’s saying that they will have no other choice – except move to Bolton.

  • lucyloo

    If this is to happen, developers need to build units larger than 450 sq. ft.