Top Challenges in Urban Real Estate

Derek Ballantyne, former chief operating officer of Build Toronto, discusses the top challenges facing the real estate sector in major cities.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012 10:40 EST | 5
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11/7/2012 4:40:55 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Life during wartime
I am reminded of this: "Lived in a brownstone, I lived in the ghetto I've lived all over this town" from the Talking Heads.

My experiences in NYC cover the 5 boroughs at one time or another including many places in Manhattan. My most, er, 'exciting' address was 238 E 14th st during the late 80's when NYC's drug problem was out of control and the area was awash with dealers and the like. Real estate in that area now seems to be dominated by the vast dwellings NYU has built that have turned the local bars and restaurants into a sort of extended frat house. Of course in the 80's the opposite situation was not much better, if at all. How do you find a balance..?

11/6/2012 7:04:30 PM
User Rank Blogger
Toronto real estate can be extremely volatile. In a rare stroke of good luck, I sold my condo apartment for just over twice what I paid for it – in three years! That was the 80s.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
11/6/2012 3:41:08 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Conundrum
I should have been clearer, Nicole. I was thinking of the UES in the Madison and 75th area, where every store seems dedicated to one designer, and the Marche Madison sells green beans for $5 a lb. ;>

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
11/6/2012 3:23:29 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Conundrum
I live on the Upper East Side, and it's an interesting example of a mixed neighborhood. It's definitely expensive to live up there in certain areas -- like anywhere between Madison and 5th Avenue. I live on the UES between 1st and 2nd Avenue, which is actually one of the cheaper places to live in Manhattan. So on the one hand you have the area of the UES that is closer to transportation and to the park, where it's expensive to live; and on the other hand you have the spots further east where it's cheap to live in larger spaces than you're likely to find elsewhere in the city, largely because transit is a good 10 minute walk. In between, you have a lot of great businesses.

In that way, I think the UES succeeds in maintaining itself as a mixed neighborhood. However, I wonder if that will change when the 2nd Avenue Subway is completed, because I suspect this will drive up real estate prices east of 2nd Ave.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
11/6/2012 2:22:09 PM
User Rank Staff
So the more popular an area becomes, the more difficult it is to find affordable housing there, and of course, the more difficult it is to preserve diversity and vibrant businesses.

Perhaps there are upsides here. I am reminded of New York's Upper East Side, where it's expensive to live, but where very high-end businesses have found a niche. Does this wealth help support the rest of the city, including the lower-rent, more diverse districts? In many ways, yes.

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