Toronto Tops Continent in Highrises
Toronto’s condo boom is not slowing down anytime soon as the latest statistics show the city is building more high rises than anywhere else in North America.
The September 2011 data from German research company Emporis — the world’s largest source of information on multi-storey buildings — is included in a presentation to be discussed by the city’s economic development committee on Friday.
There are currently 132 highrise buildings under construction in Toronto, according to the figures. Mexico City ranks a distant second with 88 and New York City is in third with 86. The field drops off dramatically after that: fourth-ranking Chicago is building 17 highrises, while Miami rounds out the top five with 16.
Emporis defines a highrise building as between 35 and 100 metres high, or 12 to 40 floors. Buildings taller than that are considered skyscrapers.
Toronto already has the second-highest number of completed highrises and skyscrapers in North America, with 1,875 — just ahead of Mexico City and Chicago — according to Emporis. They all trail runaway leader New York City by more than 4,000, however.
Provincial and municipal land intensification policies, such as Ontario’s Greenbelt, have led to a shift away from low-rise development in the city, said Matthew Slutsky, founder and president of BuzzBuzzHome, which catalogues new residential projects in Canada.
“If you combine the construction with low-rises, the overall building is about average for Toronto,” he said, calling the growth of high-density development along transit lines a “fantastic” alternative to suburban sprawl.
“What we’re seeing is actually a tale of two housing markets, with low-rise in a substantial decline and highrise in steady increase,” George Carras, president of RealNet Canada Inc., wrote in the Star earlier this year.
Highrise units now make up 60 per cent of new home sales in the GTA, compared with only 25 per cent in 2000, according to Carras.
Emporis’s statistics do not distinguish between residential and office development, so the numbers include more than just condos.
But “you could probably count on your hand” the number of rental highrises and office buildings going up in the city, said Ben Myers, executive vice-president of market research firm Urbanation, which tracks condo development in the city.
There is little fear among industry experts that Toronto construction is outstripping demand, despite Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney’s warning about a national condo price bubble back in June. In fact, some are worried about the opposite.
There are more than 39,000 condo units under construction in the region, according to Myers — “and 88 per cent of those are already sold.”
A further 118 buildings are in pre-construction, he said, and three-quarters of those are sold. “We’re just continually getting larger and larger and larger.”