Greater Toronto Area homebuyers affected by diminishing purchasing power close to the city may find relief a bit further to the west in Milton.
“(We’re) making sure we hit a good price point to help people get into the market,” said Mike Vernooy, principal of Neatt Communities, a hometown company which is developing the twin-tower Stationside condos. “That’s what we’ve tried to capitalize on.”
Stationside will comprise 612 suites across 19- and 23-storey towers connected by a six-floor podium. It will be located at 145 Nipissing Rd.
While not traditionally a high-rise market, the Town of Milton is on the cusp of a new era.
It’s creating the Future Mobility Hub which, when is all said and done, will have added 25,000 new residents and around 4,000 new jobs to the town. It will additionally intensify the town by connecting residential developments, offices, entertainment and transit.
Transit a key to Milton's growth
Milton’s transit infrastructure includes the forthcoming Milton GO expansion, which will offer quarter-hour rush-hour train service directly to Union Station in downtown Toronto. The transit expansion will add 3,000 new seats for commuters.
The addition of more extensive mixed-use residential and office space, cross-regional transportation, affordable housing, bicycle routes and pedestrian-friendly areas will add a whole new dimension to the town.
It will also invariably attract real estate investors — the majority of units are either one-bedrooms or one-and-dens, while two-bedroom units also feature prominently — abetted by the fact these properties should offer positive cash flow.
However, Vernooy added that homebuyers in the GTA who are priced out of some markets could find value at Stationside, where units start at $487,990 and top out at just over $700,000. Sales are to start this month, with construction to follow and occupancy set for early 2027.
“The market research we did lent itself to one- and two-bedroom units, and we designed a very efficient floor plate for those two types of units,” he said.
And if Toronto can’t keep them, all the better that Milton provides an affordable option where people can work and raise families.
“If the price point we’re at in Milton is able to get somebody into a unit, I think that’s a great consequence. If affordability here creates that opportunity for people, I think that’s great,” he added.
Flurry of high-density development planned
Milton had long been overlooked as a growth centre, but that all changed in the early 2000s.
Now, a critical mass of low-rise housing, which isn’t conducive to the kind of growth that will make it an employment centre, has impelled the town to change tracks and embrace 21st-century building principles, namely intensification.
It has become a hotbed for developers proposing high-density projects, with five other major proposals on the books in what the town calls its “uptown” district. Among them are:
- three high-rise condo towers with a total of 802 units at 130 Thompson Rd. S.;
- three towers of 15, 17 and 22 storeys, linked by a podium and containing 726 units, at 101 Nipissing Rd. (in the same area as Stationside);
- a third project in the same area, 19 storeys with 263 apartments plus underground parking, retail and commercial space, at 155 Nipissing;
- two residential towers, of 17 and 19 storeys sharing a six-storey podium, with 588 units and commercial at grade, at 560 Main St. E.;
- and a three-tower development of 23, 25, 27 storeys, individual podiums, a total of 1,009 housing units, and an internal courtyard, at 700 and 706 Main St. E. This project also features about 5,000 square feet of retail.
According to a 2022 report from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), Milton had the fastest average approval times in the region.
Andy Scott, director of strategic initiatives and business development at the Town of Milton, said that’s no accident and the result is that developers are flocking to the municipality.
“Our average time to process development applications was around 10 months,” he said. “We already have a number of developers that are active in the community, but there are always other developers who are looking at what opportunities exist in the communities such as Milton.”
Milton outpacing growth projections
Scott added the town’s strong vision is attractive to developers from a planning perspective.
Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, was legislated to ensure 1.5 million new homes are built in Ontario by 2031. The Town of Milton, currently at about 150,000 residents, was expected to grow by 21,000, but Scott said projections have ballooned to 32,000 to 37,000 new residents during the period.
In addition to robust transit connectivity throughout the region, the reason is economic development.
About 19 per cent of jobs in Milton are in the professional, scientific and technical services sector, while 14 per cent are in the fledging green innovation sector and 12 per cent are in advanced manufacturing – showing Milton is not simply a town of commuters.
“By 2051, we’re actually planning to see 350,000 residents,” Scott said. “You're starting to really see, at scale, a balanced economy with different sectors coming to the market because of the introduction of our post-secondary partners, with more transit options and a transit-oriented community.”
Neatt and its development pipeline
Neatt spent two years working with the Town of Milton on Stationside, which Vernooy called a pleasant process.
“There’s a lot of trust with the town and that works both ways, it works in a collaborative way,” Vernooy said. “You hear a lot of very negative stories about fine lines for designing buildings that take a long time and we had such a positive experience here.”
Neatt has a 30-year history of developing housing in the Greater Toronto Area, having introduced over 25,000 new homes across the region.
Co-founded by Vernooy and Grant Hood, Neatt sees Stationside as the “beginning of our vision to create a vibrant urban centre.” The company has 7,000 residential units and five projects across Halton Region in its development pipeline.
“From townhouses to high-rise condos, Neatt Communities has acquired enough land to bring projects to life over the next 20 years," Vernooy said. "We believe that there are significant residential growth opportunities in Milton, and are excited for the work that is to come.”