Georgina, Ontario is the northernmost part of the Greater Toronto Area. Located along the eastern shores of Lake Simcoe, Georgina is approximately 1 hour north of The City of Toronto, perched atop the Highway 404 Extension.
Georgina’s real estate market has been frequented by retail, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and residential end users, as well as speculative investors, all seeking to get safe, stable returns and strong long-term value and equity growth. Georgina residents are attracted to its historic lakefront communities, rural and cottage country charm, and traditionally affordable property values.
As Georgina has gradually become a larger stakeholder in the regional and provincial economy, its population and property values demonstrate growth for the future.
With the arrival of Highway 404 (Don Valley Parkway) to Keswick’s doorstep, a large number of new homes have been relieved of their –hold- status, which was enacted to protect local infrastructure from development pressures.
The major increases in residential development have been accompanied by small amounts of retail development within the short-term timeline, namely the expansion of the RioCan plaza on the Woodbine Corridor and addition to the Dalton Road Corridor.
Over the next 5 years, Georgina can expect to see an increase of retail and commercial services catalyzed by the increasing residential development and household income. Furthermore, with the increasing knowledge-based economy, small business ecosystem, and local and foreign direct investment reaching the Georgina Economy, both employment-area growth and commuter activity is expected to increase.
Georgina’s commercial real estate market has seen a large increase in development around existing nodes, but little creation of new commercial or retail nodes within the trade area.
The Woodbine Avenue Corridor, home of RioCan’s Keswick Marketplace, has fully experienced the benefits of ownership by Canada’s largest Real Estate Investment Trust since its trade in 2010. The power center’s front pads traded in 2014 at a rate of $433 per square foot, directing the eyes of developers and investors about the value creation possibilities in the Keswick retail market along the Woodbine Corridor.
With RioCan’s acquisition came a number of a number of new AAA and National-level tenants. The increased rental activity has decreased overall retail vacancy rates within the corridor, attracting small local businesses and eateries to the personally tailored pad spaces available. Consequence to this development, vacancy in other neighboring plazas has become more commonplace during the period of market adjustment.
With the arrival of the highway, it would not be far-off to expect a gravitation of the commercial corridor towards the interchange, especially adjacent to Simcoe Landing, Keswick’s highest-demand subdivision for new and resale homes. The challenge in visualizing this future for the corridor lies in the structure of the official plan, although some hope exists for speculative investors and land owners situated in the Official Plan Study Area, on the northwest corner at the intersection of Woodbine and Ravenshoe road.
With the increase in population expected as a result of housing starts and new home sales, it is expected that overall commercial vacancy will decrease in Keswick throughout 2016. Scheduled future additions to the Woodbine Avenue Corridor could play a large role in extending the aforementioned adjustment period as tenants gravitate towards more premium space.
Expected northward retail growth of the Woodbine Avenue Corridor will catalyze the establishment of a longer, more synergistic and connected retail corridor could mitigate long-term vacancy risks for retail centers on Woodbine, but increase risk for retail centers outside of this corridor.
Finally, it is expected that as the retail and commercial market along the Woodbine Avenue Corridor reaches critical mass, an increased interest in the adjacent employment lands will be expected from investors within that space in the medium-term, especially when considering the massive increase in residential development of adjacent parcels.
Old Downtown (Simcoe Ave & The Queensway North), Keswick
Interest from commercial and retail service has seemingly been resurrected the increased residential development and densification present in the Old Downtown area. Many presume this interest comes as a result of the construction of the 97-unit Lakeside Residences project by York Housing, but another perspective adds to the story. The increased popularity of Keswick’s beaches from out-of-town visitors and the increase in building lot sales in the Keswick North and Historic Lakefront Communities both play a role in the revitalization of Keswick North’s retail potential. The area services a vast and diverse spectrum of residents from neighboring affordable housing to surrounding middle class neighbourhoods, while still capitalizing on close proximity to leading local household incomes along Cook’s Bay Dr, Metropolitan, and Lake Drive North.
The Queensway South, Keswick
On the southern portion of The Queensway, steady residential densification and retail infill have become commonplace. Rapid duplex conversion of the traditional front-, backsplit, and sidesplit residences fronting on the arterial road has occurred as a result of excess rental demand. Liberal municipal registration and permitting programs present investors with the perfect circumstance to capitalize on the densification, earning strong returns and sustainable equity growth.
This densification has led to walkability, increased population settlement in the trade area, and the creation of an interesting small-town mixed-use node within the market. The area features a handful of national anchor tenants and supporting local commercial and retail services within retail space at major intersections. Municipal receptiveness towards conversion of residential structures to live/work or home-business will play a major role in establishing the long-term potential of the corridor.
Within the short- and medium- term, walkability is a clear competitive advantage for The Queensway, and with will remain so as long as the pipeline is filled with denser projects, such as The South Shore (formerly Crate’s Landing) by Fortress Real Developments.
Dalton Road is a unique and dynamic retail corridor that connects Sutton and Jackson’s point, dotted with grocers, local tenants, and dining establishments. A number row of dated residential structures occupies the western frontage of the street, presenting opportunity for owner-operator commercial service establishments. Addition of the LCBO pad site on the north end of the corridor offers support to the long-term growth sustainability and outlook from commercial buyers and developers.
The neighbouring High Street corridor, once a charming downtown, seems to fall victim to the big box development along Dalton Road, with High Street vacancy rates negatively correlated to Dalton Road occupancy rates. Commuter and visitor traffic in Sutton is split relatively evenly between the arteries of Highway 48 and Baseline Road (to Woodbine and HWY 404). Residential development seems to follow a similar pattern, with large scale developments fronting on both arterial roads.
Dalton Road continues to maintain the majority of national and AAA tenancies, and is experiencing a slow and steady infill through pad sites on existing plazas. The greatest opportunities for landlords, investors, and commercial tenants lie in the outstanding residential structures along the corridor, and the future potential for Georgina’s Economic Development Demartment to create a tax-incremental grant program for retail development façade revitalization. With residential development sprawling away from Dalton Road, a gradual balancing of retail traffic and downtown revitalization seems to be in the future for High Street Sutton, while Highway 48 seems ripe with speculative investment and tenants eager to capitalize on highway exposure and adjacent residential development. A gradual buildup of Baseline Road can be seen moving westward from Dalton Road in a similar fashion, featuring mostly local commercial services, retail, and franchise tenants.
In the mixed-use space, the potential future creation of a mixed-use node along the High Street Corridor can be seen in the long-term, with proper zoning present along the entire corridor. A potential future exists for dense residential structures on downtown riverfront lots and the walkable retail demanded by the aging population that would fill said structures.
If you’d like to learn more about the opportunities for retail investment in Georgina, or what these trends mean in terms of home ownership and home value in the area, don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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