City Snapshot #3: Leaside
We didn’t plan on purchasing a home in Leaside. I wonder how many other residents would say they went for a dog walk, and ended up buying a house?
I’ve heard it said many times in my industry that “open houses don’t sell houses”, but we are the exception! We saw the sign, popped into the open house, and fell instantly in love with the gumwood trim, leaded windows, and character that are so common in Leaside homes.
Leaside is typically considered a very family-friendly neighbourhood, with plenty of green space and above-average lot sizes. However, it’s also home to a large number of industrial and business enterprises that were beginning to look tired and dated…until recently. Then “boom”, in every sense of the word. The opportunities for both living and investing in Leaside are simply exploding!
The building boom kicked into high gear even before the recent start of the Metrolinx Crosstown LRT (light rail transit) project on Eglinton, which has sent development activity into the stratosphere. It’s also resulted in some interim pain with construction and road closures, which will continue into 2021 (which we all know likely means 2022).
Transit service was always pretty good: bus stops are sprinkled throughout the area, and can get you to the St. Clair subway station in less than 15 minutes. Soon, a short walk to Eglinton will get you to the LRT.
Many century homes, commercial, and light industrial buildings have been razed to make way for new builds, taking into account the city’s goal of densification. Plenty of monster homes are being constructed (often hotly contested by residents), however many lots have also been subdivided to allow for semis, townhouses, and condo projects (the height of which is restricted and consistently debated with the city).
The former industrial wasteland on Laird Drive underwent a complete redesign, adding some alternatives to the tonier shopping area on Bayview. First came the massive Smart Centre shopping plaza with a Home Depot, Sobey’s, and LCBO, among other businesses. Soon two more plazas popped up further south, offering medical buildings, coffee shops, a Longo’s, and more. Even the community centre got a facelift and a new hockey rink. Residents are now walking distance to pretty much everything they could need!
Despite the development boom, Leaside’s charm and appeal continues to be the variety of housing stock, the sense of community, the proximity to downtown, and the incredible green spaces. This is not a neighbourhood filled with all multi-million dollar detached homes. There are a surprising number of rental apartments in low- and mid-rise buildings, seniors residences (with more underway), townhouses, semi-detached homes, and condos (and more condos), all surrounded by trees and parks.
Despite the influx of big box stores (including a new Costco on Overlea, opening in June), small privately-owned businesses continue to flourish in the neighbourhood, and we are very happy customers of many of them! If you need an honest, reliable mechanic, then you need to see the guys at Laird Automotive. If you’re looking for marinated meats, bbq supplies, assorted cottage packs, or a freshly grilled lunch, you need to see Andy and his team at Grilltime. And if you want to eat the best fish and chips in the city, head over to Olde Yorke at Laird and Lea (named for John Lea, who settled in Leaside in 1819)!
What’s new and exciting in the neighbourhood are all the condo projects being developed along Eglinton Avenue. The sales centre for what they are calling the Upper East Village development at Eglinton and Brentcliffe has just opened, and they’ve released this video with renderings.
They are offering VIP/early-bird pricing now for new investors, with a range of condo designs that include family-sized suites. There will be major condominium construction projects all along Eglinton over the next few years, just steps from the new LRT stations. I think this end of the city has long been overlooked for both what it has to offer residents and what your money can buy. For people who have grown tired of living in small units in the congested concrete jungle…new opportunities abound.