September 2011 Home Of The Month – South Cabbagetown


For years South Cabbagetown has suffered a bad reputation. Located east of Sherbourne and south Of Gerrard all the way down to the other revitalizing neighbourhood called ‘Corktown’, this pocket of Victorian and infill housing have long been wrapped by the social housing ‘projects’ of Moss Park and Regent Park to the east, and served as cheap housing and the service area for the city’s prostitution and the drug trade. For years it’s suffered a bleak existence which has kept property prices low while imbuing a feeling of discomfort for prospective residents otherwise attracted by the affordable prices.

But things are a-changing. Along with the direct community efforts to resolve the social ills, Regent Park, a 69-acre site containing 2087 social housing units once lauded as a new model of community living in the 1950s, has been undergoing a substantial transformation into a new mixed social and market housing redevelopment that restores the original street patterns, provides commerical and retail services, and a recreation-centric green space to serve the community. Originally built 60 years ago as Canada’s first and largest social housing project, Regent Park, owned and managed by Toronto Community Housing (TCH), has been demolishing and rebuilding the entire community since 2005 in six phases over a 12-year, $1-billion plan.


This change in the built environment and form should help combat the cycle of poverty which has inflicted this concentrated marginalized population. It also remedies and corrects the lack of ‘Defensible Space’ that can fuel crime. The theory of ‘Defensible Space’, developed by architect and city planner Oscar Newman in the 1970s, purports an area is safer and more livable when people feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for that piece of a community. Newman believed if an intruder can sense a watchful community, he will feel less secure in committing his crime. The idea is that crime and delinquency can be controlled and mitigated through environmental design. One of the criticisms of the original Regent Park plan is that it had few streets for police patrol cars to actively monitor crime, and residents had limited direct access to outdoor space that they could actively control.

The new ‘Regent Park’ is a series of glass point towers on podiums of street level townhouses that keep ‘eyes of the streets’. These contemporary residences have a price point of around $500 per square feet which is a typical price point for a downtown Toronto condo. Right out of the starting gate, these units have been getting snapped up, and Regent Park and the surrounding areas are gentrifying with new vim and vigour. Wow!


Which brings me to my September ‘Home Of The Month’.

This two storey semi-detached Victorian mini-manse on an avenue of vintage character homes in South Cabbagetown boasts a compact 29.29X32.16 foot lot. Having one car parking pad and a darling courtyard garden, this property fits the bill as an ideal low-maintenance condo-alternative that will never be as overwhelming to maintain as a traditional dwelling. That’s extremely attractive to a busy professional single or couple. Mechanically tired and cosmetically dated, the early 80s vibe showcased the necessity for a substantial overhaul, while the open plan configuration made the place seem smaller than in reality. In fact, the property sat on the market for six weeks and experienced a $25,000 price reduction to $499,000 before my buyer made the purchase.  But for my buyer, the ability to customize to suit and bring the property into the new millennium offered enormous appeal.

The house has an L-shaped configuration which faces into the courtyard garden. The current configuration includes an open concept entertainment zone with a two storey lightwell which brings natural light down from the double skylit second level, plus a separate kitchen with walk-out to the garden. On the second level, a spacious open concept bedroom and home office, plus a private second bedroom and full washroom, completed the second floor.

Along with a new furnace, windows, and exterior work, the interior is currently being renovated with a new kitchen, refinished floors, paint & lighting, plus a reconfiguration of the upper level. The upper level will be divided into two private bedrooms and an open concept den, with the existing drywall kneewall overlooking the living room being updated with floating glass panels to enhance the airy space plan. The transformation of this property promises to be remarkable.

Listed for $499,000 and purchased for slightly below list, this exceptional vintage townhouse will soon be a contemporary ez-care renovated residence for less than $600,000. With parking, courtyard garden and plenty of storage in the basement, this 1200 square foot residence rivals any of the new condominium product being promoted just steps away. This promises to be a superb investment in a location that is revitalizing in leaps and bounds!

If you, or someone you know, is looking for this kind of opportunity, please know I welcome assisting! The pleasure would be mine!

~ Steven 

Home Of The Month
Real Estate

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