The Daniels Corporation and Diamond Corp. will make at least a small dent in Toronto’s affordable housing problem for first-time buyers with their Daniels FirstHome Markham Sheppard condominium community, which recently broke ground.
The two developers were equal partners in the purchase of land from Build Toronto. The site was tendered for sale with a mandate to provide 30 per cent affordable ownership housing within the community of 328 contemporary mid-rise condo suites and townhouses.
Build Toronto is an independent real estate and development investment corporation established by the City of Toronto to create value from the city’s underutilized real estate assets.
“It was a collaboration between Diamond and Daniels, and the City of Toronto’s Affordable Housing Office and Build Toronto, to together create this program,” said Daniels executive vice-president Niall Haggart.
“Affordable housing is in Daniels’ DNA. We’ve always been active in the affordable housing area and this was a really great opportunity.”
First Home BOOST program
The First Home BOOST program will be available to first-time buyers with a household income below $90,500 for 30 per cent of the units on the 3.6-acre property at 5131 Sheppard Ave. E. in Scarborough. The site is close to Highway 401 and the planned Sheppard light rail transit line, as well as Centennial College, parks, shopping and dining.
Buyers will pay an initial $3,500 deposit when they sign their agreement of purchase and sale, a further $3,500 10 days from when they sign their agreement, then $1,000 monthly installments until they reach five per cent of their purchase price before moving in.
The First Home BOOST program provides an interest-free, payment-free second mortgage held by the City of Toronto for an additional 10 per cent of the purchase price. Eligible buyers will also qualify for an additional $25,000 to further bolster their down payment.
When BOOST homeowners sell their home or no longer use it as their principal residence, they must repay the original second mortgage plus the amount of capital appreciation equal to the percentage of the second mortgage.
The funds for the program come from the federal and provincial governments and are administered through the City of Toronto’s Affordable Housing Office.
Daniels will host fall seminars to inform people of the First Home BOOST program. A select number of homes will be released for sale in Phase One next summer to first-time buyers who qualify for the program.
“The program is specifically targeted toward renters, and we can ideally get people into home ownership to free up more rental housing,” said Haggart.
Six-storey, wood-frame construction
Three six-storey mid-rise condo buildings with a total of 228 suites, ranging in size from 443-square-foot studios to 1,053-square-foot three-bedroom layouts, will be the first residences of their size in the Greater Toronto Area to use more affordable wood-frame construction.
Haggart said there’s another site in Toronto where Daniels has partnered with Diamond Corp. and another developer which could potentially accommodate six-storey wood-frame construction.
There will be 100 one- and two-storey townhomes with one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts ranging in size from 528 to 1,172 square feet at Daniels FirstHome Markham Sheppard.
“There are townhomes immediately across the street, so it’s a nice fit,” said Haggart.
Homes will be built and sold in two phases
The homes will be built and sold in two phases. The first includes 121 condo suites and townhomes with prices beginning in the $290,000s. First occupancies are slated for the summer of 2019.
Phase Two will include the remaining 207 Quadrangle-designed homes and should be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2020.
Half of the suites will have two or three bedrooms to target families, and the affordable 30 per cent will be scattered throughout the community.
Another way of keeping the homes financially attainable is by building them before the launch of sales. This approach has been successful with Daniels’ previous 15 FirstHome communities, which Haggart said have almost always sold out within hours of going on sale.
“We save all of the costs of an expensive sales and marketing program. We’re able to channel those savings into better savings for purchasers. It also provides purchasers with an opportunity to experience the actual community.”
Owners can also move in to their new homes in as early as 60 to 120 days.
Interior and exterior amenities
There will be more than 3,500 square feet of indoor amenities at Daniels FirstHome Markham Sheppard, including: a multi-purpose room offering opportunities for fitness and other programmed activities; a kitchenette; and a lounge space.
Daniels’ Decor Team will be responsible for the interiors.
“It will have nice, but not over-the-top, finishes,” said Haggart.
The property will include a design by Wilk Associates Landscape Architecture that will incorporate community gardens and a greenhouse where urban gardening workshops can be held in the months surrounding the growing season, as well as two barbecues and picnic areas, a children’s play zone, a parkette, benches and chess tables.