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Docs Hint at Massive Scarborough Town Centre Redevelopment





There is a growing list of developments across the city that can be directly attributed to the provision of higher-order transit, but if all goes according to plan, one project in the heart of Scarborough may top the list of prime examples of the truly transformative power that transit can bring.

Recently, Oxford Properties, owners of the Scarborough Town Centre mall, submitted Site Plan Approval (SPA) documents to the City for a relatively benign project. The proposal is to demolish the existing Cineplex cinemas at the southeast corner of the mall to make way for the new Scarborough Centre subway station and transit hub, while constructing a new cinema building on the northeast corner of the mall, adjacent to the former Sears space, which will itself be renovated and subdivided to accommodate new retail tenants. Upon further inspection, however, the submitted documents reveal that this small intervention is Phase 1 of a much larger master plan currently in the works for the mall property.

Scarborough Town Centre, Oxford, Quadrangle, ABBARCH, Urban Strategies, TorontoRendering of the Phase 1 Sears and Cineplex development, image courtesy of Oxford Properties.

The Scarborough Town Centre master plan is perhaps one of the most ambitious redevelopment schemes Toronto has ever seen. By our count, the master plan proposes a whopping 36 residential towers ranging in height from 20 storeys up to 65 storeys. Each of the towers sits on a podium typically rising 6 storeys, while 9 other mid-rises at heights of 8 to 15 storeys are also proposed. Included in the plan is a generous amount of parkade structures, a new finer-grained street grid, and a myriad of public and private parks and open spaces. The plan preserves the existing mall in its entirety but will replace all of the surface parking surrounding it.

Scarborough Town Centre, Oxford, Quadrangle, ABBARCH, Urban Strategies, TorontoProposed Scarborough Town centre master plan, image courtesy of Oxford Properties.

The design team for the master plan is comprised of ABBARCH Architecture, Quadrangle, and Urban Strategies. The plan is divided into four main character areas: a retail core centred around the existing mall; an urban core, comprising a high-density residential node around the new subway station; a high-density park-side neighbourhood along the north edge of the site; and a more varied ‘residential village’ along the western edge of the site.

The scheme focuses on creating a more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly environment throughout the hostile vehicle-dominated property. A fine-grained network of streets, pedestrian promenades, and open spaces will facilitate movement between the different elements of the master plan.

Scarborough Town Centre, Oxford, Quadrangle, ABBARCH, Urban Strategies, TorontoClose-up of the northern portion of the Scarborough Town Centre master plan, image courtesy of Oxford Properties.

The greatest density is concentrated in the southeast corner of the site around the new transit hub, with towers of 45-65 storeys in height. To the north of Progress Avenue, a linear public park runs east-west across the site, to the north of which is a row of high-rise residential development in the 40-storey range which will act as a buffer between Highway 401 and the new public park. The western edge of the site is more varied in height, with mid-rise adjacent to the mall and bordering on Brimley Drive, and high-rises ranging from 25-40 storeys in height in between. Smaller parks and POPS are sprinklered throughout the site to provide more neighbourhood-oriented green spaces.

Scarborough Town Centre, Oxford, Quadrangle, ABBARCH, Urban Strategies, TorontoClose-up of the southeast portion of the Scarborough Town Centre master plan, image courtesy of Oxford Properties.

For the parking structures, the design team has placed them at the centre of each block so as to hide them from view and to provide active uses at street level. The property also has significant changes in grade, which will be navigated with the inclusion of below-grade parking where appropriate and where it does not negatively impact the public realm.

Regarding Phase 1, the former Sears space will be chopped up into at least 18 new retail units spread over the three levels, incorporating small, medium, and large-sized retailers, while the separate Cineplex building will measure over 10,400  in area. Between the new Cineplex and the mall, a raised exterior pedestrian walkway will connect the two, representing a small step in the new public realm network of the master plan.

Scarborough Town Centre, Oxford, Quadrangle, ABBARCH, Urban Strategies, TorontoRendering of the Phase 1 Sears and Cineplex development, image courtesy of Oxford Properties.

Phase 1 represents a tiny part of the future redevelopment of Scarborough Town Centre, one which hints at an explosion of density that could potentially crop up in the not-so-distant future. Everything is still very conceptual at this stage, but the ambition to transform the disparate suburban fabric of Scarborough Centre into an urban environment is very much apparent.

We will keep you updated of all developments happening in and around Scarborough Town Centre, but in the meantime, you can tell us what you think by checking out the associated Forum thread, or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.


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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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Real Estate

10 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers





Buying a home for the first time is exciting and a commitment to the future. It’s often challenging, too, and the process requires a lot of steps, many of which can be tricky to navigate as a first-time home buyer.

What are some things you should keep in mind as a first-time home buyer?

First-Time Home Buyer Tips

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey toward homeownership.

1. Have Your Finances in Order

It’s wise to begin saving as early as possible once you’ve made the decision to purchase a house. You’ll need to consider the down payment, closing costs (which often range from 2% to 5% of the down payment), as well as move-in expenses.

You also need to understand the other costs of homeownership, such as mortgage insurance. property taxes, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, and more.

2. How Much Can You Afford?

Knowing how much you can realistically afford in a home is another important financial consideration. Look for the home of your dreams that fits your budget.

One way to avoid future financial stress is to set a price range for your home that fits your budget, and then staying within that range. Going through the preapproval process will help you understand what price range is realistic for your budget.

3. Make Sure Your Credit is Good

Another thing to keep in mind as a first-time home buyer is your credit score because it determines whether you qualify for a mortgage and affects the interest rate that lenders offer. 

You can check your credit score from the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

This is another good reason for getting preapproved before you start your search. Learn more about the preapproval process and your credit score.

4. Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent guides you through the process every step of the way. He or she will help you find a home that fits your needs, help you through the financial processes, and help ease any first-time buyer anxiety you may have.

Interview several agents and request references.

5. Research Mortgage Options

A variety of mortgages are available, including conventional mortgages – which are guaranteed by the government – FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans (for veterans).

You’ll also have options regarding the mortgage term. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is popular among many homebuyers and has an interest rate that doesn’t change over the course of the loan. A 15-year loan usually has a lower interest rate but monthly payments are larger.

6. Talk to Multiple Lenders

It’s worth your time to talk to several lenders and banks before you accept a mortgage offer. The more you shop around, the better deal you’re liable to get – and it may save you thousands of dollars.

7. Get Preapproved First

Getting a mortgage preapproval (in the form of a letter) before you begin hunting for homes is something else to put on your checklist. A lender’s preapproval letter states exactly how much loan money you can get.

Learn more about the preapproval process and how preapproval provides you with a significant competitive advantage in our article How Preapproval Gives You Home Buying Power.

8. Pick the Right House and Neighborhood

Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of the different types of homes based on your budget, lifestyle, etc. Would a condominium or townhome fit your needs better than a house? What type of neighborhood appeals to you?

9. List Your Needs and Must-Haves

The home you purchase should have as many of the features you prefer as possible. List your needs in order of priority; some things may be non-negotiable to you personally.

10. Hire an Inspector

Hiring an inspector is another crucial step in the home buying process. An inspector will tell you about existing or potential problems with the home, and also what’s in good order. You can learn more about home inspections and how to find a home inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors website.

Buying a home for the first time is a challenge, but it’s one you can handle with the right planning and preparation.

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