Front Page- Toronto Star: New in Homes & Condos- Scarborough's Taste of Downtown- ME Living Condos

SCARBOROUGH, ON – February 22, 2014 – A shot of rejuvenation is coming to Scarborough’s Markham and Ellesmere intersection with a master-planned community aptly named ME Living Condos.
Scarborough gets taste of downtown with ME Living Condos
Markham and Ellesmere will get downtown style
By: Neil Sharma Special to the Star
A shot of rejuvenation is coming to Scarborough’s Markham Rd. and Ellesmere intersection with a master-planned community aptly named ME Living Condos.
To be built in four phases, the first will offer 287 condo units and 146 rental units, with a spring 2016 target for occupancy. In all, there will four buildings that also include 32 stacked townhouses.
The Lash Group, builders of the ME Condos, has played significant roles in gentrifying neighbourhoods — think King and Bathurst, St. Clair and Bathurst — and intends to do it again in Scarborough.
“We realized in conjunction with councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre), that this site was under-utilized,” said Larry Blankenstein, president of Lash Group of Companies. “So for over five years now we’ve been in discussions about what’s the best use for this neighbourhood — especially with the LRT/subway coming to Scarborough. We feel Scarborough is going to be the next big area to erupt. We’re trying to bring downtown Toronto out to the suburbs.”
Two rental buildings on the site that were built by Lash more than 50 years ago will be torn down and replaced by the new rentals. A podium is also planned and will feature a rooftop with swimming pool, outdoor fireplace and barbecue area. Lash also plans a $1-million public park with fitness equipment and a picnic area, and which will connect to the Finch hydro corridor trail — known locally as the butterfly trail — that leads to downtown Toronto.
After consulting with area residents, plans for a midrise condo building evolved into 32 stacked townhouses, to be built in the third phase.
“We want to give you downtown amenities in Scarborough,” Blankenstein said about ME Living Condos. “They’re going to have a sports lounge with gaming, a TV lounge, guest suites — these are all amenities you see in downtown Toronto, but usually don’t see in the suburbs.”
“They’re planning the LRT and that’s another major factor that made us decide to buy a unit at ME.”
He also believes future transit to Scarborough could be spurred on by the success of ME.
“One, it will help the residents; it will improve their property values and spur new development in the neighbourhood. Two, it will attract new life into the neighbourhood. And, three, it will bring in taxes for the city.”
Cristel Capatan, a Brampton-area nurse who intends to resume her studies, bought a one-bedroom + den at ME. With her parents coming from the Phillipines to join the family, another home was needed. , And with several hospitals close to Markham and Ellesmere, as well better access to post-secondary institutions, ME Living Condos was a good choice.
“I wanted a second property closer to the city (Toronto), and I saw the potential of the location of ME,” said Capatan. “When we checked around the area, we noticed it’s close to the universities and colleges, and it’s close to two or three hospitals.”
The Capatans like the condominium’s planned amenities, including a swimming pool, gym and recreations room. But the nearby park was also a major draw. Additionally, ME is closer to the hospital where Capatan works than her Brampton house. “We’ve been in Brampton for eight years but most of our friends and family live in Toronto,” said Capatan.
“They’re planning the LRT and that’s another major factor that made us decide to buy a unit at ME.
“You always take a chance when you move into a neighbourhood — Will we have good neighbours? Will we like our neighbourhood? — but we felt comfortable there when we checked it out.”
Local councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker said it was a good experience working with the builder since they were attuned to the needs of the neighbourhood in developing ME. He said Lash attended all the community consultations and co-operated by making modifications to the master-planned community.
A revitalization study found that, because the neighbourhood hadn’t changed in over half a century, major changes for green space and pedestrian-friendly movement were needed. Strict stipulations were implemented and Lash met each requirement.
“Another concern is how many children will be in the development and where will they play?” said De Baeremaeker. “So the developer built a $1-million park. Not only are we getting a new park but we’re getting the Taj Mahal of parks with no cost to the taxpayer. Everyone in the community will use park.”
De Baeremaeker is certain more development — and transit — will follow Lash’s ME project.
He notes that approximately 600 families will move into the community once construction is complete, and anticipates property value increases as a result.
“The Lash development is the catalyst that will prove to other land owners that you can build a vibrant and funky urban village where lots of people will want to live and buy, and that will snowball,” De Baeremaeker said.
“Lash is being the catalyst, getting this revitalization in motion and that’s a great credit to them.”

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