Converting old condos into mixed-use bldgs
There is a concern that some older high rise condominiums that were
built in the isolated suburbs of Toronto are at risk of failure. The
buildings are in need of expensive repairs and the existing fees are
high so property values are low.
There is no way the corporation can tax its owners sufficiently to make
up for years of neglect and/or underfunding.
to mixed use
The idea is to allow the conversion of the ground floor and possibly
the second floor residential suites in existing older condominium
buildings into retail and commercial units.
Is this a solution as some health and social planning specialists are
saying it is?
Perhaps for some condos, especially if their buildings
are close to main streets so they can easily seen by drivers and are a
convenient walk from a bus stop.
They will also need sufficient land to build parking lots in the front
and sides of the buildings for the customers to make it viable.
It will also take imagination by the owners and the developers and a
lot of tolerance from the city to give this idea a chance to prove
is tried and proved
four-story condo has had its street level units converted into small
Ground floor residential units have been converted into retail and
commercial units in many Asian countries with great success. They
provide small scale businesses with inexpensive space and gives local
communities the shops and services they need.
Under Chairman Mao, small business was suppressed. Most of the urban
population lived in state-owned walk-up apartment buildings and in a
way it did not matter that there was a lack of retail businesses as the
people had no money to spare.
This condo building
is on a side street so the bottom floor remains residential.
After Mao died in 1976, the new Chinese leadership opened up the
economy. Farmers had their own plots of land so they started producing
on a busy four-lane street, all the street level apartments in this
building have been converted into various small businesses.
Small business was now encouraged and the urban population was given
title to the apartments they occupied. In effect, all at once, the
Chinese government created the largest number of condo owners in the
There was no retail space for the hundreds of thousands of new small
business to set up store and there was no restrictive bylaws
restricting the use of apartment units either so the private sector
went to work.
A new mixed-use condo
is being built next to an older one
Almost every ground floor residential apartment, in every city, that
faced a busy street was converted into some kind of retail or
Along with the to be expected convenience stores, barber shops, dry
cleaners, restaurants, clothing stores, pharmacies, print shops,
dentists, book stores and medical clinics; more unusual business moved
repair shop, a convenience store, a restaurant & other services
underneath condo residences
Motorbike repair shops, large-scale grocery stores, car washes, courier
companies, small wholesale warehouses, vinyl window manufacturers,
banks, electronic stores, fast food outlets, music stores and
automobile repair shops established themselves under the three to four
floors of existing residential apartments.
Many of these establishments have been converted with such skill, you
would never know they were originally apartment units identical to the
ones sitting above them.
This concept is encouraged in Toronto as it has been adopted by most
builders in the last several years. Even condos boasting million dollar
units have them sitting on top of two levels of commercial and retail
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