Bordered by Gerrard on the south and Bloor on the north, the Church-Wellesley Village is home to some of the most colourful (literally) restaurants, businesses, and people in Toronto. It’s a bustling LGBT-oriented neighbourhood defined by its people, parties, politics and pride.
Its boundaries were first defined by the Gay Toronto Tourism Guide decades ago. Since then, it’s become ground zero for Pride Toronto, one of the largest Pride festivals in the world and Toronto’s biggest summer festival celebrating LGBT diversity and inclusion. Church-Wellesley is better known to residents and Torontonians alike as the Village. And while it’s not well-known for its real estate investment prospects, it should be.
The Village is home to community centres, parks, bars, restaurants, and stores that cater directly to the LGBT community. It has a gorgeous mix of Victorian architecture as well as some newer apartments and houses. Many of the local businesses have taken root in updated Victorian housing, and the esthetic result is charming.
Pride Month (and the official Pride Week) is the largest event of its kind in Canada. It features a three-day series of parades with over ninety floats and mobile exhibits celebrating queer culture. Toronto also hosted its first World Pride event in the Village in 2015, a landmark event and pivotal historical moment.
The 519 Church Street Community Centre hosts a number of social and political groups, and is well known as a local LGBT-friendly space. The area and centre are continuously developing - new wings and upgrades were added throughout the 2000s. Condos, however, have only begun construction in the last few years, so it’s not an entirely saturated neighbourhood either.
The Village is not a neighbourhood for those who want a quiet, less community-oriented space. Pride Week means every hotel, inn, and AirBnB in the area is booked weeks to months in advance. Its thriving bar scene hosts thousands of party-goers nightly, and continues late into the night on weekends and weekdays alike.
From a numbers perspective, the openly pro-queer neighbourhood culture may discourage some populations from living there. Namely, those who are politically, socially, or religiously averse to gay members of the community. While Toronto and Canada have made great strides in their efforts for inclusivity, there are still people who aren’t supportive of the LGBT movement.
You’ll find a large population of people who feel an affinity with the neighbourhood - it’s an enclave, a safe space, and home to a community that celebrates love and inclusion. This speaks to many people; there’s a large tenant pool who desperately want to live in the Village, and only in the Village.
The neighbourhood is also host to many young people and professionals. There are more renters than property owners by population density. The market for rental space is vast. Since the neighbourhood’s popularity isn’t based on trend, and rather on a growing community, it’s a smart investment area.
For good or for bad, rental rates for both commercial and residential property have risen significantly in the last decade. Some privately-owned businesses have been forced to shut down, and this may translate into higher purchase prices for condos and housing. This also means that condos can rent out for a higher price, though. And if purchased for a good price, a Village condo is a fantastic buy.
For a Village condo to be worth the investor’s dollars, the price needs to be below market and the incentives need to be valuable. If you’d like to know more about investing in the area, I’m always available for a coffee and a chat. Feel free to drop me a line!