Corktown is a neighbourhood that is constantly earning, and then evading, labels. Originally named for the surge of Irish immigrants from County Cork - or maybe for the many breweries in the area more than a hundred years ago - Corktown has been on real estate radars for over a decade as a hot neighbourhood to watch.
It might be undeserved. Very little had changed in the neighbourhood between 2000-2010 despite expectations. Queen East is still littered with empty storefronts and, at first glance, the area itself seems a little drab.
But it’s a fantastic place to buy.
What you can’t see from a quick walk through the area is the buzz in the neighbourhood itself. Local, artisanal shops are popping up next to the second, third, and fourth satellites of smaller, Toronto-based chains. Even international chains are making it their home; Coca-Cola and the Globe and Mail have moved their head offices to Corktown in the last two years. The Corktown Residents and Business Association, however, hopes to keep Corktown quirky despite gentrification.
The best part of the neighbourhood is the rare experience of living in the city without the feel of city-living. Corktown is home to some beautiful parks, libraries and playgrounds. Even a second upcoming heritage conservation district - a new neighbour for the Distillery District - is in the works, and earning some accolades along the way.
But Corktown’s only a fifteen minute walk to downtown. The DVP, the Gardiner, and 24-hour streetcar service mean it’s one of the most accessible neighbourhoods in Toronto.
It’s exciting to see the changes after years of expectation. Now that the update is starting to take shape, prices are expected to change along with the neighbourhood.
Condo prices are still very low, especially in comparison to other downtown neighbourhoods. There’s lots of renter interest, and more property options are popping up as developments continue. The area itself is quirky and trendy, with lots of interesting discoverables and hidden gems - including an establishment with one of the best Yelp reviews on the planet http://www.yelp.ca/biz/alfies-bar-and-grill-toronto
Prices are going to inflate, especially as interest in the neighbourhood grows. Speedy gentrification can often cause residential unrest, although nothing of the sort has cropped up so far. Some renters may not like the reputation of Moss Park and Regent Park.
Corktown is an almost sure thing. The location alone warrants a good search for a smart purchase, but the expected changes and rapid development might pose a challenge for first-time investors. As more and more companies make their homes in less commercial areas of Toronto, renter interest and property values are going to explode. You might not see changes right away, but as projects are finished and occupied, we’ll see what really comes of all of the development.