Hitting bottom

It is easy to find the "troubled" condo corporations. All you need to do is open realtor.ca on your computer and look at the lowest-priced apartments and townhouses that pop up on your screen.

The condo complex at 4645, 4673 & 4689 Jane Street

For all its faults, capitalist markets do a good job in determining prices and the price reflects value. The apartments at 4645–4673 Jane Street are now up for sale for as low as $52,900 (autumn 2012). CMHC will not insure mortgages on this property.

Only the apartments at YCC # 42, 320, 330 and 340 Dixon Road are listed cheaper making these units almost the cheapest priced condos in the City of Toronto.

Equivalent condos at 1615 & 1625 Bloor Street in Mississauga, that were build at the same time and priced the same are listed at $172,000. (September 2012.)
Update—Feb 2015

It looks like prices have dropped a further 20% in the last two years while the prices at 1615-1625 Bloor St East in Mississauga have reached $200,000.

Can this downward spirel be halted. It is possible; if unlikely. Prices at 320-340 Dixon Road have risen 40% in 2014.

Update—Dec 2015

This must be the cheapest that a single bedroom condo in Toronto sold for in several years. It went for less than half the asking price.

Here is an article written about this condo corporation a few years ago.

Jane/Finch rehab faces uncertain future
Toronto Star
By Christopher Hume
24 October 2009

It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when areas like Jane/Finch pointed the way to the future. Even now, the idea seems so appealing, even Utopian; quiet dead-end streets lined with houses and apartment buildings all set in fields of green space.

Needless to say, nothing turned out as expected. The reasons are complex and only partially connected to built form, though that certainly didn't help. Today, this neighbourhood has as bad a reputation as any in Toronto. While not entirely deserved, Jane/Finch would not top many people's list of the city's most desirable areas.

Still, walking these streets it's hard not to be struck by the heroism, however misguided, of urban planning and architecture in the post-war era. Though
now it's obvious that the very basis of both – a place for every purpose and purpose for every place – was profoundly wrong. That's not how people live.
It simply doesn't make sense, and never less than now when density is the order of the day.

Add to that layers of low-income immigration and social isolation and you have the makings of Jane/Finch. In the years and decades ahead, the question of how to rehabilitate this sort of neighbourhood will occupy the best minds we have. Initiatives such as the mayor's Tower Renewal are a good start, but much remains undone.

4645 Jane St.: In its own awful way, this condo complex sums up how it all went wrong.

                          Ground floor patio. A home-made shed.

When it was built in the early 1970s, this was almost the countryside. Even today, with Black Creek Pioneer Village around the corner and Black Creek Urban Farm directly north, there's no shortage of open space and greenery.

On the other hand, it is a precinct of enormous blocks divided by busy highways. It may be true that no man is an island, but it doesn't feel that way around here. The sense is one of overwhelming disconnection. And if, as we have been told, poverty is being forced out of the inner city and into these post-war suburbs, this is the very face of isolation. Though there is a sort of bare-bones public transit system, one would hate to have to rely on it.

The first thing one notices about the complex itself is its enormous size. Running up the east side of Jane, it combines midrise slabs and small street-level townhouses with tiny front yards. Entrances are also small and remarkably shabby. They set the tone for what follows which, despite new cladding on the front facade, is rundown and depressing.

A series of vertical stairwells, also clad in corrugated steel, divide the site into a number of discrete elements. Their monumentality hearkens back to an approach to architecture in which bigger was better. Though there are no highrises here, the sheer volume of the project has the effect of dwarfing its occupants. It looks like some post-apocalyptic fortress more than a place where people live.

                    One of many shabby balconies on the east side.

The other, east-facing, side of the complex could have been lifted out of Castro's Cuba. Hundreds of balconies are stacked on the back of a vast structure that appears to be desperately in need of refurbishment. The sins of the yesterday have been compounded by the omissions of today.

Grade: C

Down the road, will your condo be successful like the twin buildings on Bloor Street in Mississauga or will it be a disappointment like 4645 Jane? That answer will depend on the owners themselves.

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