It is – bar none – my favourite street in Downtown Toronto.
The tallest skyscrapers line it. The largest amount of city dollars are traded on it. When the biggest movie stars visit our city, they walk it. It is home to Canada’s Financial District, Toronto’s Entertainment, Design and Fashion Districts, the Old Town of York, countless chic restaurants, theatres, banking headquarters, law firms, advertising agencies, nightclubs and stately hotels. It is the busiest surface transit route in the entire city, and the third busiest route in the TTC’s entire network. Toronto’s first parliament offices, first church, first schoolhouse and first meeting hall all laid their roots on it in the 18th and 19th Centuries. And it is home to every sized, shaped and priced condo/loft you can (and will) ever imagine.
For goodness sakes, the name itself is even stately. “King” was named to honour King George III who was on the throne of England during Toronto’s formative years. Laid out in 1793, it is actually one of the oldest streets in the city. Today it is approximately 11 kilometres long. It starts at the Don Valley River and ends at Roncesvalles Avenue.
King and Yonge, Circa 1912, City of Toronto Archives
But the two ends of the street – the west side and the east side – are very different.
King Street West is, by day, home to creative advertising, marketing and television production types. By night it’s a popular nightlife destination, home to swanky bars, theatres, clubs and restaurants. King Street East, by comparison, is home to contemporary design and furniture showrooms, several large corporate headquarters, cafes, and automotive dealerships by day. By night, it’s significantly quieter than the former. There are a handful of restaurants, but the party dwellers for the most part seem to migrate south (to Distillery District), east (to Leslieville) and west (to King Street West) in the evening.
As a Toronto Realtor and former King Street East resident, I have wondered in awe why Toronto Real Estate hasn’t skyrocketed as fast in the east as in the west. Forget that. Why it hasn’t skyrocketed nearly as fast as further east; further north; and further south. If you’re an after-hours nightlife person, then you’ll have a reason for me. But if you are like a monopoly of the people I work with, a quiet downtown neighbourhood is a win. The condos and lofts situated near the intersection of King Street East and River, are, after all, a mere 2 kilometres from Financial District, walkable to the treasured tourist areas of Distillery District and St Lawrence Market, positioned next to two major streetcar lines (King and Queen), positioned close to the major downtown highway arteries (DVP, Lakeshore Blvd and Gardiner Expressway), and historically significant with treasures to remind us of where we came from.
At long last, King Street East is finally getting noticed.
I watched with awe this spring. Soft loft condos are now seeing 900+ sqf. Factory conversion hard-lofts are seeing higher than 1000 sqf! (Pssst, want to see what the highest price per square foot sale on King Street East was? Hint: I sold it). In one building, I won a bet against whether a 2-bedroom floorplan that sold last year would appreciate and sell by over 200K in a year. It did. 200 thousand dollars+ of appreciation in less than one year!
I’m a big fan of King Street West. But I’m an even bigger fan from an investment perspective of my real estate dollars on King Street East.
Why? Because King Street East still has much room to gentrify and increase in value.
There is dead space waiting to be developed. A giant one-floor Staples superstore with a huge parking lot sits at the corner of King Street East and Berkeley. One can only imagine what a developer would do with such a huge parcel of land there! There are a number of prime-land auto body shops fronting King, ground-level parking lots and blocks of only 2-storey buildings. Canary District to the immediate south promises walkable promenades and retail, being built as we speak. Reported in January by Narcity, Toronto is getting TWO MILLION square feet of retail space in the vacant land space between the Don Valley and Leslieville. That borders the eastern ridge of King Street East. They say this will be larger than Yorkdale and comparable to the Eaton Centre. All of this is speculative, but it’s not hard to see that there is massive room for growth.
Meet the Neighbours
The Globe and Mail headquarters has recently moved in to the neighbourhood. So has the YMCA, Dark Horse Coffee, the Running Room, Sukho Thai, Tabule, Impact Kitchen, Tim Hortons and Gears. Starbucks is next. Trust me.
And so I ask the question, will you be next? For more information about real estate on King Street East, please contact KARYN.