Neighbourhood Profile: The Bay Street Corridor


#CondoLife is alive and well in Toronto’s Bay Street Corridor.

Spanning Bay Street from Toronto Harbour to Yorkville in the north, University Avenue to Yonge Street in the East; the Corridor is one of the city’s most densely populated neighbourhoods. And one of its oldest, too.

You might not know this, but the Corridor used to be part of St. John’s Ward, AKA The Ward, Toronto’s most notorious historical hood. Beginning in the early-nineteenth century and for the next hundred years or so, it would serve as our city’s first real immigrant community.

Given its proximity to Union Station and the city’s port, The Ward became a point of entry for people searching for a better life. First, it was a community started by former slaves who’d fled the U.S. At one point or another it was our Chinatown, Little Italy, a pocket for Jewish immigrants… Think our very own version of New York’s Lower East Side.

In some respects, it was like the Bay Street Corridor of today—both diverse and dense. In others, it was the complete opposite. It was riddled with poverty and disease, its tenements a far cry from the sleek, modern high-rises that characterize it now.

The Ward’s slow transition began at the turn of the century when the city expropriated land to make space for new civic buildings, like Old City Hall. So began its transformation into the thriving neighbourhood we know so well today.


The Good

The Bay Street Corridor’s greatest strength is also one of its biggest weaknesses. It’s smack dab in the heart of everything. You’re just steps from Union Station, the Financial District, the Discovery District, the University of Toronto, City Hall, Ryerson University, and the busiest stretch of Yonge Street. Plus, it's adjacent to the Bloor-Yorkville shopping district.

Convenient, right?

Students and young professionals seem to think so. Nearly sixty-five percent of the neighbourhood is working age, among the highest in Toronto.

Half the hood is single and of the 32% of married couples that make up the Corridor, most don’t have children. Depending on how you look at it, this could be a perk. That said, it also likely means a higher tenant turnover.

When it comes to condo resale prices, the Bay Street Corridor is one of Toronto’s most sought-after neighbourhoods. If you like a modern community with an urban feel, it’s the perfect spot to embrace city living and all it has to offer.


The Bad

Being central definitely isn’t for everyone. The Corridor is many things but it’s neither quiet nor peaceful. It’s a bustling hub. A tourist destination. Toronto’s urban heart. And its population density is a testament to that reputation. Like I’ve already said, #CondoLife is alive and well in the Corridor. And that doesn’t look like it’ll change any time soon.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means the community hosts plenty of worthwhile investment opportunities. Take two new pre-construction projects, for example—The One Residences and Panda Condos. Both prove that despite the hood’s density, there’s still plenty of room for growth. And its strong demographic base and convenient location will continue to feed it.

High tenant turnover and competition for tenants are some other cons you’ll want to consider if you’re looking to buy in the Corridor. Not that either of these should discourage you. Toronto’s vacancy rate is so low that finding high-quality tenants shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

The Investment

As far as neighbourhood’s go, investing in the Bay Street Corridor is a pretty safe bet. Prices have been consistently trending up. Actually, had you bought into the hood in 2008, by now your investment would have appreciated by $485 per square foot—that’s over 100%. Definitely not chunk change...

Do I anticipate prices increasing as dramatically in the near future? Probably not. But I do believe there’s still plenty of growth left. Its proximity to… well, everything makes it as close to a sure thing as you’re going to get. The flipside: you won’t be buying in low.



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