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.

Conversion 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 itself.

It is tried and proved

This old four-story condo has had its street level units converted into small commercial units

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.

The Chinese model
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 larger crops.

Situated 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 world.

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 commercial business.

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 in.

Motorbike 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.

New condo towers
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 establishments.

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