We talked yesterday about coffee and condos as catalysts for gentrification. There really is value as an investor in watching for these early indicators of a neighbourhood in transition.
There are so many great pockets of Toronto that are undergoing massive change right now – Wallace Emerson, the Junction Triangle and the West Don Lands to name just a few. These are neighbourhoods that we’ve all heard of. They already have clear, if still emerging, brand images.
But there’s an emerging neighbourhood centred around Gerrard East that most people haven’t even heard of. And it’s a ‘hood that investors and buyers looking at growing their equity through Toronto real estate should keep a close eye on. Welcome to Bricktown.
The Latest Toronto Condo Community That’s One To Watch: Bricktown
Bricktowne or Bricktown (some aren’t loving the “e”) – its unofficial name but one that local champions hope will stick – is a pocket concentrated around Gerrard East near Greenwood Park that stretches from Leslie Street east to Highfield Road.
There’s some debate over the north/south borders but some would like to see the neighbourhood defined as running from the railway tracks south of the Danforth all the way south to Queen East. That’s bound to be a little contentious as Little India – another unofficial neighbourhood that’s gained a lot of ground in the popular mindset and vernacular – is part of that zone. So if this moves ahead, we’ll see what the final area boundaries end up being.
It’s a neighbourhood that has traditionally been called Greenwood-Coxwell or even Upper Leslieville as it’s been rather nondescript in and of itself (outside of the small pocket of vibrant Little India). That is until the last few years.
There have been so many gut-job reno’s happening on the single-family homes in Bricktowne coupled with an influx of new businesses and a swank new condo townhome development that the area is transforming quickly and becoming quite distinct from its neighbours. It sort of feels like what Leslieville did 10-15 years ago – it’s a very different vibe here but the sense of momentum with a little dash of mystery is similar, like you’ve stumbled across a well-kept secret and you’re a little cooler for it.
Coffee Is King
Whereas yesterday’s post looked at neighbourhoods where condos were really leading the charge in transforming neighbourhoods, this is a case where coffee is literally a catalyst.
The area’s main coffee shop and local hotspot The Brickyard Grounds (currently closed for renovations after a small fire but re-opening soon) is owned and operated by Lefteris Karagiannis of Mane Construction, a BILD member who’s been working to shine a light on the potential of his ‘hood to attract new businesses, buyers and developers to the area.
From their website: “…welcome to Bricktown! Drawing upon the rich history of our neighbourhood, we’re proud to be a catalyst for positive change.”
As quoted in the Toronto Star, Karagiannis plans to approach the City to have the area officially re-named: “I came up with the name Bricktowne to promote an identity for the community. In Toronto, we have Corktown, in Vancouver they have Gastown, Hamilton is Steeltown. So why not Bricktowne? We’re paying homage to the history of the area.”
History of Bricktown
Brickyards were once the largest source of employment for residents in this east-end neighbourhood and an important economic player in York (Old Toronto). And let’s face it, Bricktown has a whole lot more meaning and charm than naming a place after major streets as in Greenwood-Coxwell or dubbing it a poor cousin of its big-time neighbour as in Upper Leslieville or East Leslieville.
From the 1860s to the early 1900s, the Greenwood Brickyards gave the now more well-known Don Valley Brickworks some steep competition. The Don Valley Brickworks is now of course an historic site and popular tourist attraction known as the Evergreen Brickworks.
The Greenwood Brickyards were just one of many in the area; there were about ten in total including the Logan Brickworks, pictured above circa 1917. You can read more about the history of brick making in the east-end in this Beach Metro article and see some great historic photos in this piece juxtaposed with recent shots by Toronto history-buff and blogger Bob Georgiou.
The Bricktown Condo That May Just Be The First Of Many
The East Village Leslieville condo townhomes by Aykler Developments and Urban Fabric Development is a welcome addition to an area primed for transition. Currently in construction at 1321 Gerrard St E, this 31-unit modern, stacked townhouse development is scheduled for completion in 2016 with units for sale ranging in price from $274,900 to $619,900.
The interiors are small but sleek and price points are reasonable by current pre-con Toronto townhome standards. Like most of the recent stacked townhouse developments, outdoor space is lacking but you do get a rooftop patio or a terrace in some units.
Karagiannis isn’t affiliated with this project but he’s renovated four commercial and residential buildings in the area. As quoted in the aforementioned Toronto Star article, Karagiannis said he’s created “upscale rental suites exceeding building codes” no doubt to further the sea change sweeping the area.
We think this is an area that condo developers will be eyeing closely for further development in the coming years.
Artist’s renderings of the East Village Leslieville townhomes © Aykler & Co. Ltd, 2013. Brickyard Ground window photo courtesy of the Brickyard Grounds. Historic photo of Logan Brickworks courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives.