September 2013 Home Of The Month – Wallace Emerson

Wallace/Emerson & Brockton Village

Welcome to’s Home Of The Month feature, which showcases what our Buyers have recently purchased in the City of Toronto.

This month we feature the story of a Buyer and her brother.

For the better part of eight months our client, an effervescent early 30s single professional female who had climbed the property ladder buying new condos pre-construction one at a time in the King and Portland area, was on the search for a freehold house for less than $600,000. Her objective? To finally leap out of the condominium market into the housing market where she could better utilize her capital and her talents. She wanted to find an entry-priced house in the downtown market which had a solid upside, where she could build equity through upgrades and renovation (she has an incredible eye for good design and clever solutions), and potentially create an income suite to help carry the costs of what would inevitably be a more expensive venture. During this time we vetted several properties, looking for those which needed some work, offered the best return on investment, and were situated in a solid up-and-coming location. Unfortunately, the overwhelming demand for housing in this price point kept pushing values up. On more than one occasion she was bumped in competition. And like most any buyer limited by an entry level budget for a downtown freehold house, she was getting frustrated.

About six months into her search, our Buyer’s brother – who lives overseas – began corresponding with his sister on the prospect of purchasing an investment property in Toronto. He was well-versed in the solidity of the Toronto real estate market, and felt placing some capital in real estate would serve his retirement portfolio well. Identifying a desire to buy a downtown income property for around $600,000, his sister and I already knew he would be facing a similar challenge as she – if not greater given his desire for an income property that would carry – given the lack of good product and borderline returns.

So made a recommendation.

Why not buy something together?

We suggested this for a couple of reasons. First, they could effectively double their budget and target larger properties which had a better potential upside. Second, it would allow them to explore a segment of the property market which many other buyers, bound by their own financial limitations, couldn’t compete. And given our Buyer had a great design eye, superb organizational skills, and a real love for renovation, we could secure a property that other investors might consider too challenging to embark on.

Fortuitously, just as this brother and sister duo decided to combine forces, this Vintage Grocery Store in the Wallace Emerson District came back on the market after its conditional sale collapsed. Apparently the previous Buyers had discovered they just couldn’t swing financing.

This property is massive with almost 2500 square feet above grade. With a full leaking basement, a main level which has those soaring ceilings only a vintage corner store can have, and an enormous dilapidated second-level three-bedroom ‘owner’s suite’, this weather-beaten building with four car parking (including garage) just steps to the Lansdowne subway and Bloor Street represented incredible value for those ready to tackle a substantial renovation. At a list price of $690,000, this property required a significant renovation to become multiple units. But it also featured an upside. The units would each have their own separate entrance, high ceilings and ample storage. Better still, they’d have that hard-to-find private outdoor space, at least one car parking, and be in a demand location that would only become more desirable over time.

Here’s the floor plan at the point of sale:



Here are some photos of the main level and basement of this wreck of a property, though there remains a hint of the magic that frequently comes with a former corner storefront (little did we know until demolition that the ceiling heights would be another 36″ high on the main floor!)



Here’s the second level ‘Owner’s Suite’ at closing:



Needless to say, this property required mostly new everything. At the moment it has been gutted to the studs, underpinned with a new 8′ high basement, and through the Committee of Adjustments with its minor variances approved. This property is well on its way to being a luxury income dwelling, providing housing for one sibling and an income for the other.

We love this Wallace-Emerson district, which is the quadrant north of Bloor and west of Dufferin through Lansdowne to Symington. This neighbourhood pocket is in the early stages of gentrification and quickly transforming. Bloor Street is rapidly transitioning with entrepreneurial boutiques, art galleries and cafes. To the north on Dupont is a large shopping centre that has all the sundry needs a tenant could want. And, down the street from this property is direct access to the Lansdowne subway station. In fact, this pocket is one of the last inexpensive central west end neighbourhoods in proximity to the downtown core right on the speedy Bloor subway line.

We’ve been selling a lot of property in this area as of late – ranging from investors looking to capitalize on the proximity to the subway, to first time buyers seeking a toehold in the market, to the move-out-of-the-condo-into-the-freehold-housing-market segment. We’ve sold some stacked townes and cute row houses in the low to high $400,000s, and other gorgeous vintage former corner grocers which are now multi-unit dwellings with soaring ceilings, acres of space and drenched in light.

So it made sense to place these fab clients here too, for they together they anchor and reflect the neighbourhood both socially, demographically and economically. In fact, we were recently having a culinary orgasm over the spectacular food at The Whippoorwell Tavern and Restaurant when we duly noted that most every sub-culture since the arrival of the Portuguese and Italians in the 1950s and 1960s was present including The Students, The Artists, The Gays, The Hipsters & The Urban Professionals!

This is a neighbourhood to watch.

In fact, urbaneer has embarked on a new venture thanks to the generosity of this client and her renovation crew. We’re videotaping this project from start to finish of this project, both to share the challenges of a property retrofit of this magnitude, as well as show how Wallace Emerson is transitioning from its decline as an Italian and Portuguese working class area dating from the 1950s and 1960s into its rebirth as a vibrant multi-culturally Canadian neighbourhood.

The working title of our Documentary?

It’s called “Seven Stops To Tiffanys” (below is the new location which just opened up on Bloor at Avenue Road! – Gorgeous!)



If you, or someone you love, is interested in purchasing a property in the City Of Toronto which needs some TLC, or represents great value, please know this is one of our fortes. With a multi-disciplinary education in housing, over twenty-two years of real estate sales, marketing and development including a sterling reputation as one of Bosley Real Estate’s Top Producers, we make it our mandate to guide buyers and sellers through all their real estate needs.

~ Steven and the urbaneer team

we’re here to earn your trust, then your business

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