Photo: Mateen Mahboubi/Flickr

Rapper Real Estate

Back in June, we broke the story of Drake – hip hop star, Degrassi alum, and Toronto-loving local – putting his $4.195 million Yorkville condo on the market. The price tag eventually dropped to $3.895 million and was sold in October for $3.75 million. Maybe Kanye will design a future building he’ll live in?

Drake Condo Toronto

Photo: MLS

Mirvish and the Mega Project

Although David Mirvish and architect Frank Gehry unveiled their plans to build three 80-storey condo towers and an art gallery on the site of the Princess of Wales Theatre back in fall 2012, the ongoing saga of the ambitious project dominated Toronto real estate news through 2013. This week, the city’s planning department released their recommendations for Mirvish+Gehry, which would see the towers topping out at 60, 55 and 50 storeys. The project has OMB Battle written all over it.

The “Ed” of an era

David Mirvish couldn’t stay out of the news. Another Toronto landmark, Honest Ed’s, was put on the market over the summer causing nothing short of an uproar among fans of the kitschy discount retailer (and a resounding “meh” from those who thought its glory days were far over). In late October, Mirvish sold the 1.8 hectare sold to Vancouver-based Westbank Properties, the developer behind the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto and Kensington Gardens and 188 Keefer St. on the west coast. The price tag hasn’t been confirmed, but early estimates put it in the ballpark of $100 million.

World’s Biggest Mystery

While it’s not as iconic as Honest Ed’s, the sale of the World’s Biggest Bookstore, at 20 Edward St. near Yonge and Dundas, caused a commotion as well. Residential and commercial builder Lifetime Developments was named as the buyer in November, though the store will continue operating until February 2014. The tourist attraction covers 64,000 square feet over three levels and has been in operation since 1980. As for what will be built on the site, the developer has kept mum about their plans.

worlds-biggest-bookstore Photo: StevenHarris/Flickr

Commuter pain

In June, Statistics Canada confirmed something Torontonians have long suspected: GTA residents have the longest commute to work in all of Canada. Numbers from the National Household Survey puts the average commute time at 32.8 minutes while the national average sits at 25.4 minutes. What does that have to do with real estate? PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Urban Land Institute released a report in the fall suggesting “challenging infrastructure” was pushing more and more people to city life, a trend that’s boosting demand for urban real estate in all forms.

Dramatic highs and lows 

The enigmatic Toronto housing market saw a number of highs and lows over the year. Reporting on year-to-date sales from January to September, RealNet Canada reported that GTA new home sales had sunk to their lowest level in 10 years. On the other side of the spectrum, the resale market heated up in the colder months, with the city recording double-digit sales and price increases in November. As far as price growth is concerned, it was the East End that saw the biggest gains.

CV Shake-ups 

How many industry insiders made a new year’s resolution to find a new job in 2013? Some of the biggest names scored new titles on their resumes. Fortress Real Developments welcomed Ben Myers, the Executive Vice President of Urbanation, as well as Frank Margani, the mortgage financing expert at MCAP, to their company. And let’s not forget Stephen Poloz stepping into Mark Carney’s shoes at the Bank of Canada and, much like his predecessor holding the 1 per cent overnight target rate.

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