There are certain amenities considered to be staples for the urban dweller. At the top of the amenity list are essentials like having a great coffee shop steps from your door, being within walking distance of a purveyor of fitness and well-being (or a great park), and having a Metropass.
The penultimate thing that people wish to live near is efficient public transport. When taking into account how quickly real estate prices in Toronto are climbing, rising gas prices, and the surprisingly harmful financial, emotional, and health-related implications of commuting by car, it’s easy to see why homebuyers will fork over extra cash to be close to transit. (We touched on the impact of transit on real estate values in our piece, "The Value of Public Transit In Toronto".) After all, the difference between a two minute walk and a twenty minute walk becomes torturously more apparent during an Ontario winter!
If you live near the downtown core - and it's famous subway horseshoe - you have the best of it when it comes to Toronto transit; the core has an average of 34 TTC stops per square kilometer. But your luck in catching a bus, streetcar or subway dwindles as you move outward from Yonge Street, and access becomes more threadbare. GO Stations, however, are more far-reaching and run on a more punctual schedule. The experience of riding is also much better, with brighter interiors, plusher seats, more room, and - of course - a better view!
A division of Metrolinx, GO Transit serves the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, with routes extending to communities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe. They have 7 train lines (and counting), with handy connections to the Union-Pearson Express and the TTC (including a pilot project to allow TTC riders unlimited travel between Exhibition, Union and Danforth GO Stations.) Go Transit is celebrating its 50th anniversary in Toronto this year - check out this neat archival footage!
With its many upgrades and extensions of late, GO has become a favorite of those who commute from bedroom communities, or simply opted to settle in a neighbourhood that's a bit quieter than the chaotic core. This is demonstrated by the 271,000 passengers (and quickly rising!) that ride GO transit daily, making access stations - and real estate in close proximity to stations - more and more coveted. Pundits predict major shifts in the value and composition of Toronto neighbourhoods as GO moves into becoming Toronto's express surface rail transit system.
One planned GO expansion is the SmartTrack plan - a collaboration between Mayor John Tory and Metrolinx. It would run frequent commuter trains along new and existing lines to create a subway-like surface rail service that would link Markham and Mississauga with downtown Toronto and points in between. Already approved in its current form, the SmartTrack plan will see will see 6 new GO stations created by 2031. The three proposed stops that would be closest to the downtown core are Liberty Village, Gerrard St. East and Pape Ave., and the Unilever site - just east of the Don Valley. All had positive ridership projections; the Gerrard location alone is expected to attract 74.4 million new riders to the GO network over the next 60 years.
The mayor’s office responded to those that oppose the SmartTrack plan - for reasons related to cost and risks of more congestion – by explaining that this new “network approach” will connect people to opportunity by creating “regional express rail service”. It is about getting Toronto residents where they're going faster, on the rail corridors that already run through the city and were, until this plan, underutilized. The sticking point that remains to be resolved is the cost to riders, likely falling somewhere between the current fares for GO and the TTC. - TorStar
All the SmartTrack stations would be built as part of provincial transit agency Metrolinx’s $13.5-billion initiative to implement regional express rail, or RER, along five GO rail corridors in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The project will involve electrifying the rail lines to allow more frequent, two-way service. Check out the new trains!
The more integrated GO transit becomes with the TTC infrastructure, the more riders it will attract, as the lines become more and more convenient to use. And, as mentioned before, real estate surrounding GO stations will escalate in value, and the surrounding neighbourhoods will likely boom. This is already happening around two of the three downtown GO stations - Danforth & Main and Exhibition & Lakeshore - but the third - Union Station - has always been an amenity-laden hub of the city.
Photo courtesy of Neptis.org
Danforth GO Station
213 Main St., Toronto, ON
Main St. & Danforth Ave. (south of Danforth Ave.; east side of Main St.; below overpass)
Take the Danforth GO Station for example, where work has just been completed on a third track, as well as platform refurbishment. It currently sits just 250 meters from the Main St TTC station (a distance that may be navigated in the future using a new pedestrian tunnel). For those commuters from outside the GTA, the Danforth is valued as the first connection point to the TTC subway lines on the Lakeshore East line. On the flip side, it’s also the first GO stop when heading East from Union, meaning that, without all the extra stops in between that the TTC subway makes, the trip from Union to Main is much faster. (It even avoids that time-consuming transfer between TTC Line 1 and Line 2.)
Both of these facts make the Danforth Station very appealing to commuters in the Danforth neighbourhood, but also in outlying town to the east. Recent data points to increased interest in the Main and Danforth neighbourhood, by homebuyers, commercial employers, and business/service owners, especially since it is already a TTC hub (Main Street Station). There has already been a marked increase in new businesses in the area. - UrbanToronto
After all, the push to be close to transit doesn't apply to residential real estate alone. Commercial real estate company Avison Young looked at buildings sold in Toronto’s downtown core from 2012 to 2015 and compared their sale price, slotting them into two categories: commercial buildings less than 500 metres from a subway station and commercial buildings outside that range. The result? Avison Young found that the towers closer to the subway station sold, on average, for $475 per square foot - a full 30 per cent - more than buildings further away.
The demand to be close to transit routes starts with workers, specifically young professionals, who want to be near transit because they often don’t have cars. Then companies responding to that demand, seek office space near transit, which drives higher rents and ultimately a higher valuation for the properties. So while taking the GO train or TTC is already convenient because you avoid grid-locked streets, it's that much more convenient, if your workplace is near a transit station.
In the near future, the Main and Danforth community – affectionately nicknamed “Main n’ Danny” - may resemble the urban 'village-within-a-city' that surrounds, for example, Yonge & Eglinton. In the early days of the Old City of Toronto, neighbourhoods were centred around a commercial street that served all of the community’s needs. Today, the city’s urban fabric still contains remnants of these village life streetscapes, each having their own particular amenities or services. Many are gentrifying with cafes, coffee stops and cool urban shops. Locating your property within a five-minute walk of modern-day amenities - especially transit - is a sure way to increase value. For these reasons and more, expect real estate in that Danforth neighbourhood to take a major hike in the coming years. If you’ve been toying with the idea of living in the already amenity-rich ‘hood, the smart move would be to buy now and then watch your investment quickly gain building equity!
How lucky are the new owners of this fab property that we sold in 2018? Check it out here: Yes To This Detached Opportunity With Income At Main And Danforth.
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