The Flip Side of Gentrification

We live in a converted storefront. One that sat empty, without a store for 40+ years. One whose windows were spray painted over, in a neighborhood with an incredibly high crime rate. A bounty of drug deals and prostitutes at the next corner. Hell, that’s what it was like even when we moved into our loft apartment a block north, 10 years ago.

Then gentrification rolled in. People bought up houses at a great rate. The flipping started, the young people moved in, and conversions turned neighborhood warehouses into fancy lofts. Four years ago, we got on the bandwagon and bought into our neighborhood just as the tables were turning. As we started working on our home, the neighborhood continued chugging on. Cafés, restaurants, brunch spots, and huge video game companies moved in. We have hip bars, fantastic food spots, good nightlife, easy subway access, close green space and an authentic neighborhood feel. Not to mention our property values have skyrocketed. It was rocking our socks off.

Then we came home to find for sale signs up on the front of TWO commercial buildings beside our house.

10693665_1550683841822208_697277039_nYep you heard right. In one week, both neighboring buildings to the south of us decided to list. That makes almost 80 feet of prime street frontage up for sale at the same time. Both of which are touting “Development Potential” on the listings. If this was a block or two away, I would probably think “oh that will be good for property values”. But it’s not a few blocks away. It’s in my backyard.

You know our fab ivy wall in the backyard? Well that’s one of the properties for sale. That actual wall. In our backyard. For Sale. “Development Potential”. Uh Oh.

Gentrification isn’t feeling so good when we’re on the other end. When there is a good chance a condo could end up 6″ from your house, ruining your private urban courtyard of a backyard. Our quiet serene escape…

So what do we do? We can’t afford to buy the properties. We’re at the mercy of the new buyers.

We’re hoping a small scale developer buys them. Someone who wants to build some high-end row houses. Or convert the existing buildings into lofts. Artist studios, or a brewery (seriously the building next door would be perfect for a brewery!) What we’re hoping doesn’t happen is a big condo building. Overlooking our yard. A construction pit at our foundation…

So send us your good vibes, and we will keep you posted. Oh and hey, do any of you want to be my neighbor?

Author: Kristen

Kristen & her husband El Granto & their Vizsla Odin live in a converted Storefront in downtown Toronto.

8 thoughts on “The Flip Side of Gentrification”

  1. I guess that’s the price you pay for living in an urban environment, right? You’ve got to take the good with the bad and expect that this sort of thing has the potential to happen.

  2. There already is a new brewery on Lansdowne, between College and Dundas.

    Construction issues aside, in the long term if you’re hoping for privacy and quiet, a residential or office space might be far better than a restaurant or bar.

    Hopefully the new owners will be good neighbours no matter what moves in beside you.

    1. I didn’t know about Lansdowne brewery! Sounds fab!
      I am just hoping for someone to not tear down my ivy wall. Residential condo or office will tear that wall down, and have windows in my backyard.

  3. Well, I wish you luck with that! A friend of mine bought a small building in Bed-Stuy, here in Brooklyn, years ago. A little 3-story on a corner lot. A few years later, developers bought the land next to and behind her building, and now there are enormous condo buildings surrounding her little brick one. It’s kind of funny to see, but I think those months of construction noise and dust were pretty awful!

    1. I cant even imagine how horrible construction would be! To be honest, if a condo went up, I think we might have to either fight tooth and nail, or consider moving. Living through a construction pit right in your backyard would be horrible.

  4. Oh God. Nightmare. Fingers crossed for you that someone sensible buys the building…. I wish I could afford a home right now but it is just not in the cards. I have watched so many neighbourhoods ‘transform’ – and good and bad. I grew up beside Ossington when it was most definitely not cool…. and the GENTRIFICATION keeps pushing further West and further North.

    1. The gentrification push is crazy. I don’t how know this city can sustain it, much less the breadth of condos at the waterfront (with no/little transit access). I am hoping my neighbourhood will constrain any development, and keep it a smaller scale.

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