#GTAHomeHunt is a weekly series from the Star that gets into the details of real estate listings in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Have a tip? Email us at email@example.com
Neighbourhood: Regent Park
X-factor: For those living in the brand new rental building at 25 Nicholas Ave., there are several amenities, including co-working spaces, an outdoor terrace and a fitness room. Steps away from the EVOLV building are the Regent Park Athletic Grounds, and the neighbourhood’s aquatic centre is a block away.
Residents here are just south of Dundas Street East, with restaurants, cafes, shops and greenery nearby. Plus, the Distillery District is a 15-minute walk away, and reaching Riverdale Park East will take less than 20 minutes on foot. Streetcars to the north and south of the building make for an easy commute to the rest of the city.
In what was once Canada’s biggest social housing neighbourhood, how did a unit for one reach this red-hot price? We spoke with our expert, realtor Othneil Litchmore, for insight.
Why was it priced this way?
This 360-square-foot studio includes a dishwasher and washing and drying machines, plus a city and park view, according to the listing on rentals.ca. The only utility included in the rent price is heating.
At $2,025, the purpose-built rental unit is more expensive than other similar-sized homes in Regent Park, where studios have been leased for $1,820 on average since May, Litchmore said, and the lowest option that was leased in that time went for $1,675.
But what’s more is that even when compared to Toronto overall, this unit still comes out more expensive. Across the city, the average monthly price to rent a studio is $1,895 as of June — a 25 per cent increase since the same time last year, according to a recent report from a market research firm.
“The rental market is on fire right now,” Litchmore said.
With the building having only opened in 2021, it’s likely that whoever moves in now would be the first or second tenant to live in the unit, he added.
“That’s what they’re trying to get you on — the location and the finishes, the relative newness,” Litchmore said.
Seeing a unit in Regent Park listed so high above market rate could be especially jarring considering the controversy surrounding the revitalization and gentrification of the area.
Since 2005, when the revitalization project commenced to make Regent Park a “mixed-income” neighbourhood, units were expected to be either market-rate, affordable or subsidized.
Before the shiny new builds, Regent Park consisted purely of subsidized housing (in which rent costs 30 per cent of a household’s monthly income). Overtime, it contended with government neglect, a lack of community services and crime. Regardless it was a tight-knit community many called home.
Private developers have replaced the old rent-geared-to-income units with a percentage of new ones so far and erected market-rate condos, rental apartments and townhomes on Toronto Community Housing property. Notably, some residents have spoken out about their personal struggles with temporary relocation throughout the process and the shift of power, as middle-class residents moved into the neighbourhood.
In the EVOLV building, some units have been designated as “affordable” as part of a non-profit partnership, with 34 of the 347 units designated for single mothers and renting at 80 per cent of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s average market rent.
Any other tips for those looking at places like this?
When it comes to pricing, Litchmore recommends that people seeking to rent, simply look in their favourite Toronto neighbourhoods because looking in mixed-income neighbourhoods won’t guarantee a more affordable price, he said.
“I think when they charge you market rent, they’re charging you market rent,” he said.
“I don’t know if there’s any benefit to going into these redeveloped places … because it’s still like a money-making project,” Litchmore added. “You’re not even going to get a deal or anything.”