May 2016

Central Park Ajax: A New Core for a Growing Community

—— Lemine and Town of Ajax’s Central Park Ajax phase I launches its public release, after selling out presale units in April

Urban Toronto, May 6, 2016 --- While much of the GTA's recent development boom has been concentrated across Toronto's new high-rise towers, many of the region's surrounding communities are also enjoying unprecedented growth. In the eastern GTA, the town of Ajax has experienced an astounding "48% population growth over 10 years,"LeMine's Thomas Liu tells us, highlighting a population that rose from just over 73,000 in 2001 to almost 110,000 residents in 2011.

Thomas Liu with the scale model for phase one of Central Park Ajax, image by Jack Landau

35 minutes away from Toronto's Union Station by GO train, Liu sees Downtown Ajax as an increasingly attractive community for new residents. Boasting "a young and high-income population"—compared to national averages—Liu describes LeMine's upcoming Central Park Ajax community as a vital step in creating a more urban heart for the growing town.

An aerial view of the Central Park Ajax community, with Phase One highlighted, image courtesy of LeMine

Set to rise directly across from Ajax's town hall on Harwood Avenue, the master-planned Central Park development will eventually add some "3,000 residential units, 200 retailers, and 1,300 office spaces to the Downtown," Liu tells us. With sales for the first phase now underway, Central Park Ajax kicks off with two Kirkor Architects-designed buildings, which will add 410 residential units to the community.

A closer look at the phase one buildings, image courtesy of LeMine

A "2-3 minute drive to the Ajax GO station, which has 1,300 free parking spaces," Liu underscores Central Park's proximity to transit, which makes commuting to Downtown Toronto a viable option. However, Liu also stresses that the development will contribute to creating "a more complete community" in central Ajax.

A woonerf-style street is planned as the heart of the community, image courtesy of LeMine

While the project site already features a walkscore of 82—with grocery stores, restaurants, and a public library within walking distance—onsite retail and office space will contribute to a more vibrant public realm. A central north-south woonerf is also set to span the length of the Central Park community, fostering a more "pedestrian-friendly, urban experience.”

Ample street-level retail is planned for the community, enlivening the public realm, image courtesy of LeMine

The phase one buildings will feature amenities including a "conference & meeting room, library, children's play centre, and a yoga studio." The amenities corridor overlooks a rooftop terrace, which will provide residents with a relaxing multi-purpose space outfitted with barbecues, cabanas, and landscaping. The Central Park community's first phase will feature landscaping by The MBTW Group / Watchorn Architect, and interiors by DKStudio.

The rooftop amenity area, image courtesy of LeMine


Where Do You Begin When Designing A Master-Planned Community?

Attempting to build a vision of an entirely new community can be seen as a daunting challenge. This task needs to be embraced as a rare opportunity in setting forth a neighbourhood of life and activity for the generations who will live there and call it home.

Thomas Liu, President and CEO of Lemine Investment Group, is just such a man that embraced this challenge. This real estate expert has envisioned, designed and created a new master planned community, destined to be a transformational development in the heart of an entire community.

Lemine is in charge of developing a true mixed-use community, to be built on an 18 acre site in Toronto’s east end. Statistics indicated that this area ax is now the fastest growing area in Ontario and those demographics played a large part in how the entire concept was approached. It begins with demographics, says Liu. You need to fully understand who lives in the area and what type of development are they seeking.

In this specific example, Ajax now has a population of 130,000, which has risen in the last 20 years by 48.6 per cent, versus just 13.2 per cent for the rest of Ontario. Most importantly, the average age in Ajax is just 36 years old, with a 57.5 per cent rise in the 20-29 age group in just the last five years, and a younger population growth of 71 per cent in the last ten years.

Furthermore, this thriving community also boasts household incomes which are 30 to 40 per cent higher than Toronto. Local homes sold more than 33 per cent faster than in the rest of the GTA, on average in just 13 days, realizing 99 per cent of their asking price with rental incomes from residential properties an average of 36 per cent higher than the rest of the GTA.

“We were quite amazed when we looked at the statistics, but we certainly understood what they were telling us,” said Liu. “It was clear that we needed to create a dynamic, exciting, urban lifestyle, something that has not previously existed. We realized that this was a community that was poised to accept a completely different way of living and working. And our job was to introduce something creative, fresh and original. One of the things we did was to make all of the first floor spaces into retail stores. That, in itself, is something new for this area.”

“We decided to bring in bistros and cafes, high end food shops, restaurants and retail, which is exactly what this young, vibrant population wants and has been missing. In any master planned community, you have to address the wants and needs of those who live there now and will be drawn there in the future. A dynamic and pedestrian-friendly urban environment, will bring a certain style and sophistication and that’s the mark of any successful community.” Liu added.

As time goes on and development progresses, some of the thinking in any master planned community may change. To be fluid and flexible is key.

“Any good, experienced developer is always ready to react to changing market conditions or demographics,” says Liu. “We may find as we move through our process that we need more commercial space as it is in such huge demand in the Durham Region, or perhaps the popularity of our condominiums means we build more residential. We will always be cognisant to the marketplace, which is so young, vibrant and evolving.”

Central Park Ajax will certainly be a testament to the reputation of Thomas Liu and his award-winning Lemine Investment Group.