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Toronto leading the western world in high highrise development

According to a new study by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, tall building construction in Toronto is outpacing every other city in the entire Western Hemisphere. There are currently 15 skyscrapers under construction which will exceed 45 storeys. That means that there will a total of 44 high rise buildings of over 150 metres in height by 2015. That’s more than triple the amount that existed in 2005 when there were only 13 high rise buildings in this category. Of course, virtually all of this dramatic surge in high rise development has been fuelled by the construction of new high rise condos.

The face of the city is surely changing and the increased population density in the downtown core is helping to create a more vibrant urban centre. But why such a boom in tall buildings in the past decade? Of course, there are a plethora of reasons such as improved construction techniques, ever-growing dissatisfaction with traffic congestion, dearth of available land sites for building, ongoing high levels of immigration and population growth in general, and so on.

Another key factor has been the clear preference for downtown living among the younger portion of the work force. This has prompted many large employers (e.g., Corus Entertainment) to re-locate to the downtown core in order to attract the best young talent available. In the coming years, it’s very likely that we will see many other corporations doing the same thing.

The question is how far will the “uber tall building” trend take us and how prepared are we as a city for all of the potential side effects? That question is open to debate since there do not seem to be many definitive studies on the long term environmental and social impacts of this phenomenon. But, speaking purely as a real estate pragmatist, you just have to love it!

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