Downshifting: The Commotion Surrounding Toronto’s New Luxury Car Condo
Car enthusiasts in the Greater Toronto Area are rejoicing at news that the city is receiving its very first car condo.
“We’re pretty confident that there’s a market for this in a city like Toronto, the biggest in Canada and one of the biggest in North America, and we think we can easily sell out 240 units very quickly just based on the response we’re getting from people inquiring for registrations,” Ming Zee, Metropolitan Commercial Realty Inc.’s Principal and Broker of Record, and Partner at Toybx in Etobicoke, said.
So far, Toybx will be a three-storey, 195-unit — there’s a possibility for an additional penthouse floor with 43 more units — commercial building with individual garages, which can be customized, to store cars. With 60,000 sq. ft per floor, drive lanes 20-feet wide and ceilings 20-feet high, Zee says there’s room for a lot of cars at Toybx, including inside individual units where they can be placed on stackers.
However, there are critics, namely affordable housing advocates who think the development is superfluous in light of the city’s housing crisis, and the Toronto Star, which provided two critical stories of Toybx in the last week.
In a statement provided to STOREYS from Monique Gordon of Etobicoke Acorn — which its website describes as, “a membership-based community union of low- and moderate-income people. We believe that social and economic justice can best be achieved by building community power for change.” — Toronto has a housing crisis, not a parking crisis.
“We need affordable housing everywhere in Toronto, period. People are having to live on the streets or in encampments because there just isn’t enough housing that we can afford. Building a condo solely for cars in the middle of a housing crisis is not right. This city is for the people. We don’t have a parking crisis, we have a housing crisis. Big developers can’t keep driving up the price of land. Or using our city to make massive profit while displacing working class people.”
But Ming says critics neither understand how zoning works nor that the city’s official plan precludes residential development in the area, especially since an egg factory and steel plant are nearby.
“It’s an employment area and it’s out of the required distance from major rail lines,” he rebutted. “There are no amenities or green space in this area. It’s difficult to get public transportation there, too; it’s nowhere near a major transportation hub like a subway station or a GO line, and it’s nowhere near a grocery store.”
The head of the Sunny Sharma Commercial Team, and co-owner of Century 21 Leading Edge VIP Realty, agrees.
“I’m a true advocate of affordable housing but this is the city’s official plan, which dates way back,” Sunny Sharma said. “You also can’t limit industrial and employment lands because then you’re reducing employment. Also, it doesn’t make sense to build affordable housing around an area surrounded by factories.”
Toybx, slated for occupancy in late spring or early summer 2023, hasn’t launched sales yet but Zee is confident it will sell out, and not just because his brokerage already receives a lot of calls about Toybx. Noting the relative paucity of storage centres in the region, Toybx will be presented as a viable option with day and night access every day of the year.
Toybx, which is also the name of its development company, will have two large car elevators on the building’s exterior to access the second and third floors (and penthouse units if the developer gets city approval).
“A lot of families in the area Toybx is being developed have two-car garages and their kids are growing up, likely getting cars too, but that won’t leave anywhere for mom and dad to park their vintage car or sports car,” Zee said. “We think it’s a very logical and practical idea to go out and find a car condo for storage. You’re not in a condominium parking lot out in the open where you cover your $200,000 or $300,000 sports car; you have a self-contained, climate-controlled, if you want, unit in a fortified building, so there’s a lot of security and you have access to your unit 24/7, whereas a lot of car rental storage facilities just jam cars in a warehouse where you have to make an appointment to get your car out or to see it because they have them on stackers that are tucked away, and it takes them time to get the vehicles out. Here you have free access to your unit whenever you want.”
While car condo exist in Alberta, they’re more popular in the US, particularly Florida and California. Core Development Group, however, has plans to build a luxury car condominium in Leaside, although Zee says Toybx will nevertheless service the entire region by virtue of its location at the intersection of the Gardiner Expressway and Highway 427.
“When we were looking around, we talked to car club groups and that’s exactly what they wanted to do, find locations off two major highways,” he said. “We’re 15 minutes from downtown Toronto and we’re targeting condominium owners who don’t want to store their prized possessions out in the open or who have a desire to buy more vehicles, and even people who are concerned about the storage of their vehicles. It doesn’t have to be exotic cars that are stored at Toybx; they could be keepsakes, too. Car enthusiasts, come wintertime, are all looking for storage facilities, so we think there will be competitive market for this product. If presales happen quickly, we will ramp up our second location.”