Thursday, 2 June 2011

Combining Old and New: Keeping the Neighbourhood and Community Thriving

Architecture: Combining Old with New in the Junction area Toronto, by wobuiltPhoto-collage: Architecture: Combining Old with New
Keeping the Neighbourhood and Community Thriving
2011 @

We are continuing our series about old and new, a topic that is very dear to our heart. We believe strongly that marrying old with new can revitalize buildings and in extension communities. As a company we would love to be involved in their revitalization.
As the Junction area is close to home I have seen the area transform over the last few years. We got more art galleries; recently I bought a painting from The Telephone Booth gallery, more new and exciting restaurants, coffee shops; Starbucks and Crema to name a few and many more interesting shops. The Junction has become much more up market than before.

There are also changes in the architecture. Several corner buildings had a third floor added. A sign that the area is well on its way to gentrification, people invest in it. The buildings all had a commercial unit on the 1st floor and two residential floors above. The third storey design, simple and uncomplicated, blends in well with existing building. Old and new are complementary to each other.

As a business case the additional floor has to provide value in excess of the costs of construction. They all had the following in common: the building footprint is already large enough to give some economy of scale and it is providing enough space for several individual units. But the amazing fact is that the buildings are not enormous and not substantially larger than other buildings in the Junction, yet still they seem to be commercially viable.

The Junction is only one area in Toronto which is undergoing change and it took a long time for the turn around. The building extensions happened when the Junction was on the cusp of turning, meaning that the property values increased, making the initial capital costs viable. Many other buildings in the Junction are likely candidates for adding a third storey. Other areas in Toronto which are on the cusp of turning also might have buildings that are suitable.

Any building owner with a commercial 2-storey unit might find it beneficial to undertake a business case study to see if an addition is feasible. Viability can be measured in return of investment and break even points. We can help building owners make an informed decision as we have the necessary management and consulting expertise in our company.

Building investments in areas like the Junction will keep the neighbourhood and community thriving.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build

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