Gateway to downtown taking shape
August 1, 2012 | Terry Pender | The Record | LINK
Quote:KITCHENER — The long-awaited redevelopment of a critical gateway into the downtown took a major step forward Wednesday when Momentum Developments bought a strategically located piece of land at King and Victoria streets.
Condo project ‘fits right in’ with city’s vision
Jan 26, 2013 | Terry Pender | The Record | Link
Mike Maxwell, president of the Waterloo-based company, said a mixed-use development with commercial and retail space on the ground floor and condominiums above will be constructed on the southeast corner.
“We have been looking in Kitchener for a few years, very positive on what’s been happening,” Maxwell said in an interview.
The Region of Waterloo’s decision to build a light-rail train through the area with a central station on the northwest corner of the intersection is one of the main reasons Momentum bought the land.
“Obviously the LRT is one of the catalysts for this particular site,” Maxwell said. “We have been optimistic on Kitchener for a long time and this was the right site and the right time for us as well.”
Momentum Developments is currently building the Red Condominiums at 186-188 King St. South across the street from the Bauer Lofts. Momentum also did the BPR Lofts at 36 Regina St. N. and the42 at 42 Bridgeport Rd. E.
It paid slightly more than $3 million for one-quarter of a hectare of land that currently has a one-storey building that contains Carbon Computing.
During the past seven years, the intersection has seen the University of Waterloo school of pharmacy built on the southwest corner for $52 million. More than $40 million was spent on redeveloping a historic shoe and boot factory into the trendy Kaufman Lofts on the northeast corner. Another $25 million was spent renovating and restoring the old factories on Breithaupt Street a few minutes walk to the west.
The central transit terminal will house the light-rail trains, GO trains, GO buses, Grand River Transit buses and intercity bus lines as well. The trains and buses moving in and out of the area will make for a complex project, but that also makes the site attractive.
“This site is the crème-de-la-crème of the downtown,” Maxwell said. “We are thrilled. There is a lot of potential there.”
Denny Cybalski of the Setman Group saw that potential when be bought the site seven and a half years ago, before any investments and redevelopment at King and Victoria streets.
At that time the intersection included a former industrial site that was being cleaned up, an old factory that was closed down, a litter-strewn parking lot and the small, underutilized property with a one-storey building and a parking lot.
“It was a good corner seven years ago,” Cybalski said. “It is the gateway to the downtown.”
News of Momentum Developments’ purchase of the land was welcomed by city officials, who are branding the area within a 15-minute walk of the central transit station as Innovation City. The city wants a walkable, high-density, mixed-use, transit-supported urban landscape dotted with high-tech firms and startups.
“This is probably one of the most important pieces of property in Waterloo Region,” said Rod Regier, the city’s director of economic development.
“We are really excited to see Momentum coming downtown,” Regier said. “I think it all bodes very well for the future of the Innovation District.”
Coun. Frank Etherington, who represents that area on city council, hopes the redevelopment brings more people to live downtown.
“One of the top priorities for people when we survey in the downtown is a substantial grocery store,” Etherington said. “One of the reasons we don’t have one to date is grocery store operators want a large number of people within a certain distance”
Peter Benninger, a veteran realtor with extensive experience in the city core, said the coming light-rail trains and the city’s move to rezone the properties along King Street West to allow high-density, mixed-use developments are attracting major investment.
“When you look at that cross at King and Victoria, for right now in Kitchener, that is the bull’s-eye because of the LRT,” Benninger, of Coldwell Banker Peter Benninger Realty, said. “I know there was a lot of interest in that corner.”
Momentum Developments proved itself with attractive condos in Waterloo and there will be high expectations for its next project at King and Victoria, he said.
About seven years ago, downtown land was selling for about $1 million an acre. The sale of this parcel translates into $5.1 million an acre.
“It’s all about the number of doors you can put on that property, that’s exactly what it’s about,” Benninger said. “They have fully judged it as a high-quality, high-density development if they paid that kind of money.”
Quote:KITCHENER — While wearing 3-D glasses with infrared antennae, Mayor Carl Zehr is talking about the past and marvelling at the future.
Zehr stood inside a small room called the Reality Cave and projected onto the three walls around him are views from the 17th floor balcony of a $65-million condominium that will be built at the corner of King and Victoria streets.
“Clearly from the top of this building you have great vistas,” Zehr said at the event Thursday hosted by the developer.
The project is called One Victoria and Waterloo-based Momentum Developments will have a sales office open on Feb. 7 at 17 Victoria St. N. The market research and pre-sales registration are so strong the company believes it will start construction this summer on the 195-unit building.
“This fits right in with the intensification of the core,” Zehr said.
For 10 years the mayor championed a special fund that was used to attract the University of Waterloo school of pharmacy and medical school to the same intersection. That fund was also used to bring the Wilfrid Laurier University graduate school of social work to the former St. Jerome’s High School building on Duke Street.
“In time we won’t recognize the core in terms of having a critical mass of people living, working and playing here,” Zehr said. “That critical mass is something we have always talked about and we are starting to see it now.”
That special fund saw more than $100 million spent in and around the downtown core, and it was tapped to help set up the technology hub in the former Lang tannery. That’s where the Reality Cave is located and where Zehr is getting a virtual look from the condominium building’s upper floors.
“I am impressed with the technology, being able to visualize what you are in from different angles,” Zehr said.
Michael Maxwell, president of Momentum Developments, said the city’s investments in the core and the coming of light rail transit attracted his company to the gateway intersection.
“This is going to connect this region, with this intersection as the central hub, like it’s never been connected before,” Maxwell said of light rail transit.
The region’s central transit station — which will include light rail, Grand River Transit, VIA, GO and intercity buses — will be built kitty corner from One Victoria. And that allowed the developer to make parking optional for condo buyers.
“If you choose to live downtown and work around the corner, why spend $25,000 on a parking spot?” Maxwell said.
The ground floor of the building will feature three to five commercial units with a total of 5,000 sq. ft. of space.
The units will range in size from 450 to 1,100 sq. ft. The penthouses will be about 2,000 sq. ft.
The land needs to be rezoned. Currently, the Official Plan allows for a four-storey building on the property, but the developer is planning for 19 floors. The project has the support of city councillors and city officials so there is little doubt the rezoning will be approved.
The height of he building is not an issue, said Jeff Wilmer, the city’s chief administrative officer, because the city wants lots of people living and working downtown.
“Some might even say there should be no limits on residential downtown buildings — that there is not such thing as too much density,” Wilmer said.
“This is going to be the peak intersection of the whole region. This is where rapid transit intersects with GO and VIA, so if you are ever going to have a lot of density, this is the place.”
Less than 10 years ago, this intersection needed a lot of help. The old Kaufman factory was empty. The site of the One Victoria building was a parking lot and a single-storey commercial building. The site of the pharmacy and medical schools was a parking lot.
Wilmer said the city’s move to provide $31 million and the land for the pharmacy school kick-started the investments at King and Victoria. After that a developer bought the Kaufman factory and decided to build condos inside it.
“I think the catalyst for this was the universities,” Wilmer said.
That’s why Bud Walker was on hand for the event Thursday. Walker is a special adviser to the University of Waterloo’s provost, and he is impressed with what will be built directly across the street from the university’s health-sciences campus.
“To see a big, high-end residential development on our doorstep is good news because everybody wants to get critical mass down here,” Walker said.
“It is an impressive development. It is nice to see what was once the challenged end of Kitchener becoming the desired end of town.”
Happy to see this one making progress above ground.
I'm curious to see if it can replicate some of the construction speeds that we see in Toronto or Ottawa. A friend of mine is an engineer for a company that does high rise construction in Toronto and he said you should be getting about a storey per week.
Residential Facade - up to 5th Floor
Rear Facade - Parking Areas up to 6th level
BrianT great shots, can't wait to see this one make an impact on the Downtown skyline.
(11-01-2014, 09:11 PM)rangersfan Wrote: BrianT great shots, can't wait to see this one make an impact on the Downtown skyline.
I'll be on the 14th floor when it's done. I estimate about a year yet to completion.
I look forward to your pictures from the 14th floor.
I used to be the mayor of sim city. I know what I am talking about.
(11-02-2014, 07:53 PM)Drake Wrote: I look forward to your pictures from the 14th floor.
I'll try to get pictures of the LRT construction.
Im anxious to see the next few floors go up to get a feel for the separation between the tower and podium
I wonder how much of this building was bought by investors for the purchase of renting out vs the amount of people who bought to live there
I hope for the sake of the buyers, zero! I bought and moved into the Kaufman lofts in phase 1 right at the start and people who bought and then rented out their units absolutely ruined atmosphere of the place with loud parties. When I left a few years ago it was something like over 60% were renters.
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
11-16-2014, 11:26 AM
(This post was last modified: 11-16-2014, 11:27 AM by panamaniac.)
I don't know, but have been assuming that this condo will be occupied largely by renters. I suspect that 100 Victoria may be similar in that regard. In both cases, there may be a number of young first-time owner/occupants as well.
Are there any condos left in the city that are not at least a good 25% renters?
11-16-2014, 11:39 AM
(This post was last modified: 11-16-2014, 11:40 AM by panamaniac.)
I've been told by the property manager that Arrow Lofts is below that, but it is hard to know. The building demographic is interesting, with a substantial number of working/retired boomers (some of whom rent) and a surprising number of young owners/occupants. I sometimes incorrectly assume that the young folks I meet in the building are renters rather than buyers.