Housing Prices and Developments

With the price of houses in Cobourg steady at about $100K more than in 2016, new housing developments in Cobourg are well under way.   There is the high end Cedar Shores project on King West (14 new detached homes), the West Park Village expansion (72 units) and the Harbour Breeze Condos on the Legion property (53 units) as well as rental units (e.g. on Munroe Street).  Although prices have leveled off, the recent price increases would motivate developers.  Prices for residential homes are steady at an average of around $425K – much like Toronto prices which are now level at around $775K.  That $350K difference means that a lot of GTA residents see Cobourg as a bargain. Averages hide the difference between Condos and fully detached houses – in Toronto it’s almost a factor of 2 (more on this below) – and there are also differences depending on location.  Waterfront properties in Cobourg can be much more than average – although there are no prices yet, the Cedar Shores estates project will no doubt be priced around $1M (see link below).

Harbour Breeze

Harbour Breeze
Harbour Breeze

Otherwise known as the Legion Condo project, there was quite a bit of discussion before this was approved.  Intended to house the Legion Hall on the ground floor with Condos above, it occupies the land that was used as a parking lot on the corner of Hibernia and Orr Streets.  It is adjacent to the Sifton-Cook Museum and there was some concern that the Calcutt brewery formerly occupied this space.  Because of this, initial work on the site was delayed while archeologists explored what might be there.  Although some foundations and minor artifacts were found (see photo below), it was not sufficient to stop the project.  As of May 2018, the foundation has been dug (see photos) and progress has been steady.  Developer TVM says that all but one suite have been sold – no prices given but the units are one to 3 bedrooms at  900 to 1500 sq. ft. and would probably average more than $500K given the current prices in Cobourg.  Move in for both the Legion and Condo owners would likely be early to mid 2019.
Note: The basement floor is below lake level and they are already continuously pumping water out.  This happens in the Third Street Condos and they have massive pumps and a backup diesel.  I hope the architect has already planned something similar.

Cobourg Home Prices

House prices in Cobourg did not change much from 2009 to 2014 but during that period, Toronto prices rose about 50%.  Since then, Cobourg prices rose faster but are still a whole lot less than in the GTA. Below is a graph of average house prices for the GTA and Northumberland Hills which is Port Hope, Cobourg and Hamilton.  Note that “average” hides differences in housing types – there is no data on this split for Cobourg but Toronto prices in April 2018 had this split:

GTA Houses Average price % of Composite
Composite $760K
Apartment Unit $490K 64%
Townhouse $560K 74%
One storey $770K 101%
Two storey $910K 120%

Of course, location and size of units can make a big difference – these are averages.

Most economists seem to think that this trend will continue – that is neither a sudden drop nor a fast increase in prices overall for Canada – but no-one knows whether prices in places like Cobourg will get any closer to Toronto prices. Many prefer Cobourg to the GTA so why is it cheaper? (To buy, not the taxes).


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15 May 2018 10:14 am

Because of tasteless condominiums built by greedy developers, the fabric of our historic neighbourhoods and the heritage value of this town is being seriously eroded. The “Mansions on George” are a perfect example. Central School wasn’t saved. This once-distinguished red brick building, which has special meaning for most people in Cobourg because they or their parents, grandparents or great grandparents were students there, has been decimated and I would rather it had been torn down and we could reference it through photographs than see it in its current pathetic state. You save a heritage building by honouring its exterior and renovating its interior to a high standard. You don’t add on another floor and build on that God-awful extension at the back, the so called “Mansions on James”. Today, it looks like it’s metastasized. If anything the developer should be sued for false advertising since these apartments they’re shifting are anything but ‘mansions’. They’re mediocre apartments in a desecrated former school and a testament to this Town’s propensity for pandering to business interests at all costs. In the advertisement for “Mansions on George” there are a number of pictures of Cobourg, including a couple at the beach. And, there is one comment left by Dean Mandzuk which reads: “I would really like to know how you obtained a picture of my wife and I getting married on the beach in Punta Cana Dominican Republic and who authorized you to use it on your website to represent the Cobourg beach.”

Walter L. Luedtke
14 May 2018 8:45 am

Yeah well, Timmy!
Another rant about our “idiot Council and their idiot plans’.
Since you reheated the Legion Condo Development, here are some FACTS:
The building is not in a heritage district.
The building conforms to the Official Plan.
The Legion is in favour of the development and would have liked to see 6 floors.
“Several times, the board (the OMB Board that is) commented to the effect that citizens seemed not to understand the rules nor what the dispute was about.”
You seem to be one of those citizens.
And btw: so these are not Roman ruins, but just a brewery?

14 May 2018 8:36 am

Does anyone know what’s going on with Mansions on James? The signs says occupancy 2017, but clearly that didn’t happen. Has the project been cancelled?

Reply to  Stan
14 May 2018 4:37 pm

No Stalled

13 May 2018 11:41 pm

It’s a shame that our veterans don’t merit a free-standing building of their own but have to be located on the ground floor in a five-story building of condominiums. They’ve teamed with TVM group, the same group that owns a sorry-looking building of rental apartments at Division on the corner of Swayne St. Why the council of this town (the deciding vote was cast by our distinguished mayor) decided to allow this building to be built in a heritage zone that only allows three-story buildings is no mystery, it’s just another example of their blatant disregard of our heritage laws that have been put in place to protect the historic sections of town. In truth, they don’t give a damn about heritage. They also don’t give a damn about lowering the property values of the home owners in this historical area. These developments usually come with a price tag for the taxpayers of Cobourg. What have we given away now? More waived property taxes for condominiums buyers? How many grants?
Developers, enabled by the Town Council, are slowly ruining this town and we taxpayers are paying for it in more ways than one. There are too many over-sized condominiums crammed into small streets, they destroy the fabric of a neighbourhood and the motivation is greed. As an example, Central School has been ruined. The town is growing too quickly and I’d be cautious about celebrating the rise in property values. We’re close to Toronto and the general trend is up, but there can always be reversals.

Reply to  Tim
14 May 2018 9:27 am

Considering that this is not a heritage area, I see nothing wrong with the size of the building. In fact, I welcome it. The more people we can get living near the downtown, the more likely it is that stores on King remain in business and empty stores get rented out.

To me, the key to successfully revitalizing the downtown is to get people to both live and visit there. You do that by providing housing, by providing attractions, by providing enjoyable surroundings. Building multi-story condos very near to downtown is a nice step towards that goal.

Reply to  Tim
14 May 2018 10:06 am

Tim…you say more waived property taxes for condominium buyers….?
Please explain your logic here…..

Reply to  Pierre
14 May 2018 10:24 am

When the condominiums behind Kelly’s first came on the market, I went to look at them. The realtor handed me a brochure with detailed information about them and on this brochure it was stated that, if you bought one of these condominiums, you would not have to pay property taxes for a number of years. I can’t remember if it was two years or five years but as a homeowner and taxpayer, I remember being shocked that the Town was waiving property taxes as a part of a package of perks for prospective condo owners. Since it happened then, I’m assuming that a similar arrangement might exist for other condos.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Tim
14 May 2018 10:27 am

Fewer assumptions and more facts might help here.

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
14 May 2018 10:45 am

I kept the brochure and have it on file. And, I should add, the practice of a Town waiving property taxes in order to help a developer shift condominiums is not only unethical but very likely illegal.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Tim
14 May 2018 11:06 am

So how many years did the waiver cover?
And what is the wording on the brochure about the waiver?

Reply to  Tim
14 May 2018 5:26 pm

Are you suggesting a Town like Cobourg has a By-Law that is UNETHICAL OR ILLEGAL?
You should report your concerns to the Police.
Incidentally, condo developers in Cobourg are in desperate need. There are no new units available now that Cobourg Council have blocked Mansions on James and Heritage Harbour. There are more buyers than sellers.
This is a fast developing town hence the price increases that this blog is about. DEMAND EXCEEDS SUPPLY!
If it was the other way round prices would be going down.
Cobourg needs more downtown Condos to support re-vitalization.
We all want a vibrant Cobourg surely?

Reply to  Laurel
14 May 2018 11:42 pm

I’m not sure I agree with the “demand exceeds supply” comment. I have been watching the Cobourg market carefully and can honestly say that I don’t see that condos are selling quickly. When you add in the high maintenance fees as well as property taxes, many may look elsewhere. Also, with regard to the detatched housing market in town, I don’t see that a level of high demand is there either. I have seen many properties stay on the market for months and the asking prices drop to entice buyers.
The market in the GTA and Toronto have noticed a substantial change in the selling of properties. The implementation of the foreign buyers tax, interest rate increases as well as the introduction of the stress test has altered the market considerably. I truly believe that Cobourg is also feeling the effects.

You imply that it is a fast developing town? Even if it is, be careful what you wish for. I agree with Tim about the greed component. Greed changes charming communities forever. In my opinion, most developers are only interested in making their money and leaving. It’s about lining their pockets. I can only wish that the local government doesn’t cave to pressure that will change this charming community.

Reply to  Susie-Q
15 May 2018 7:45 am

There are many condo’s thruout Cobourg and I see them sell within a few weeks.. This is not the market it was in 2017, but there is not a lot of inventory.

Reply to  Laurel
15 May 2018 6:51 am

I am sure that the Town hasn’t blocked the expansion of the condos at George and James. Listen to John Lee and he will tell you it is a dispute between the present owners and himself that is holding up the move.

Reply to  Tim
15 May 2018 3:04 am

Tim if you have brochure on file, please post or send to Mr. Draper, so he can post and get the real facts.

Reply to  Pierre
15 May 2018 10:37 am

I kept the brochure, but I’ll have to find it and, when I do, I will either post it or send it to John. In the meantime, what I say can’t be too difficult to verify. Any of the original owners of the condominiums behind Kelly’s know that the fact that they didn’t have to pay property for a certain number of years was part of the sales package. I can’t remember who the realtor was but they’d probably remember it, too.

Reply to  Tim
17 May 2018 11:36 am

Well Tim, I am not about to do your detective work..
You brought it up….show us the facts or don’t mention it again.

John Draper
Reply to  Tim
14 May 2018 1:08 pm

Do you have any evidence that the Town waived the taxes? Or did the developer pay the taxes on behalf of the owner? Or were the first few years in an unregistered Condo where occupiers paid rent that included the tax? Many retailers say “no tax” but they mean they offer a discount that covers the taxes. It’s not legal to not pay HST and I’ve not seen evidence that Cobourg Council has ever waived property taxes.

Reply to  John Draper
14 May 2018 1:27 pm

When I read the brochure, it specifically said that if you purchased one of the condominiums, you would not have to pay property taxes for a specific number of years. I kept the brochure but I will have to find it to read the exact wording. There was no mention that the developer would be paying the property taxes on the purchaser’s behalf but I suppose that would be a possibility.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Tim
14 May 2018 3:25 pm

So let’s hold it with the accusations, until you do, no?

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
14 May 2018 4:35 pm

Even if the developer assumes responsibility for the payment of those taxes for a certain number of years, there is still some arrangement made with the Town for that to happen. One way or the other, the Town is aware that the promise of no property taxes for a certain period of time is used by the developer to sell condominiums and this is highly unethical.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Tim
14 May 2018 5:07 pm

So there is no brochure and you made the whole thing up.

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
14 May 2018 10:55 pm

If I read the Cobourg Heritage Incentives Guide correctly, the developer can apply to the Town for a tax increment finance program which provides a credit for up to 10 years towards the increase in assessed property value directly attributed to the improvements made to the building, thus the owner pays their taxes based on the original value of the property, not the re-assessed value post-construction. It seems ludicrous that someone could avoid paying property taxes entirely. The brochure, of course, is not law.

Reply to  John Draper
15 May 2018 10:30 am

“Heritage Tax Incentive Program (Commercial Core Only)
The Heritage Tax Incentive Program grants money to building owners in the Commercial Core
Heritage District for restoration or redevelopment projects that receive heritage approval. The grant
is equal to the annual increase in the town portion of the property taxes resulting from an increase
in assessment as a direct result of the project.
This is credited against the property taxes annually
for a maximum period of ten consecutive years. Projects eligible for this program MUST be
consistent with both the Town’s Heritage District Guidelines and with Parks Canada Standards and
Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Sites.”
End Quote:


NOTE: Every year when these rebates are credited and references 79 King Street (KG Mews) there would be a cacophony of noise from Frenchy & others because of “more give aways to John Lee Properties”.
ACTUALLY THEY WERE THESE HERITAGE TAX INCENTIVES REBATED TO THE ACTUAL REGISTERED OWNER OF THE PROPERTY. Not John Lee & Associates. I have been wanting to correct the record for a long time. FRENCHY please note:

Reply to  Tim
14 May 2018 5:00 pm

The Gilbard Central school in Cobourg would have been demolished like the one in Brighton without the developer. There was no Municipal funds to turn the Central School into a Community Centre no matter what people thought.
It is my understanding that the project is delayed but not canceled. 36 new Condos could have been sold, built & occupied but for the Mayor.
Apparently it is uninhabitable judging by Lawsuit filed in Cobourg Superior Court. It is public knowledge.
One wonders why people are allowed by the Town of Cobourg to actually live there.
When finished it will provide additional tax Revenue of over $200,000 p.a. to municipalities at no cost. Probably $600,000 of free income and beautified neighborhood by now. See Patrick Bonneville’s presentation to Council on behalf of Phoenix Genesis Group.

Reply to  Sam
15 May 2018 6:55 am

Sam please explain how the Mayor is holding things up? The dispute is between the CondoBoard and the developer!

Reply to  ben
15 May 2018 9:16 am

Should I say egging the Condo Boards on. The Condo Corporation is suing everyone and their brother including the Town of Cobourg itself.
If the town wanted it could be squashing the lawsuit. Some of the claims are wild. In several places they allege “uninhabitable units”, no fire breaks, losses on resale and most seriously, Door closers, electrical box covers missing etc. REALLY when was the Condo built?
I have several friends who live there and love their condos. More than anything it seems a “few” owners on the Board.The dispute will just end up in Court and take years and the Lawyers will win, the taxpayers will lose and an eyesore remain on James St.
Really the town should encourage the development. As it is the downtown merchants are missing residents who who will spend money downtown and help the revitalization programme.
John Lee has said, in Council, there is no love between him and the Mayor which goes way back. Talk to business owners about the Mayor. Talk to business owners on King St. who want to expand their business and meet problems from the Building department over minor issues.
My sense is that if this this was the Mayor’s niece it might be a different story. Ask Emily the local resident who made a valid point on the College street re-zoning. She was a very smart, passionate woman who had a valid point. That Collage Street property has already looked at expansion contrary to the Mayors Niece’s Architect’s assertion. Mr. Andrew Smith knows.
Wait a year or two. That re-zoning was a slippery slope.
Yes the Mayor does have an integrity issue.

Merry Mary
Reply to  Tim
15 May 2018 9:05 am

Waived Property Taxes?! Condominium buyers pay taxes as do Condominium Owners!

Reply to  Tim
15 May 2018 10:36 am

You do not have to be a veteran to join the Canadian Legion Clubs these days. I would encourage everyone to join though to support the Armed forces and not for cheap beer!
The Military deserve all the support they can get even if indirectly..

Reply to  Sam
15 May 2018 11:05 am

The military certainly do deserve all the support they can get but since the Legion is teaming with developers like TVM group, I’m sorry to say that I will never set foot in their new building. I’m very sorry for the Legion and I think this alliance is a mistake. They’re being used.

Reply to  Tim
16 May 2018 4:00 pm

Tim you are right and a lot of members think that as well.
I believe if this could be undone a lot of people would vote against the project.
The existing building needs a bit of fixing particularly the roof but probably not as bad, by a long way, on what they were sold.
Spilt milk at this stage unfortunately. Lets hope it doesn’t run into financial problems during construction.

13 May 2018 11:28 pm

TVM has a history of teaming with emotive institutions. Their 254-260 Division Street property was a former office building that they converted to apartments in order to house, for one year, women and children fleeing domestic violence. They teamed with the women’s shelter on Swayne Street for this project. The place is a fright and unsuitable for families. Passersby were often knocked on the head when the windows overlooking Swayne Street were suddenly opened. Baby carriages did not fit in the apartments and were in a row outside of the building in all weather. There was no place to sit, no playground for the children, just a small parking lot at the back of the building. This connection with the women’s shelter didn’t last long and today it is rented to families. The communal garbage bin is usually wide open, even in summer. A metal fence, which was built with government grants and donations from the public, is warped and unused. Weeds, which are never trimmed, grow along the fences. Wooden boards have been torn off the wooden fence which separates this property from the property next door and it has not been repaired. It looks like a slum. And this is the developer who has teamed with the Legion.

Reply to  Tim
15 May 2018 8:35 am

TVM bought and renovated the old Macgregors Building and the old Liquidation World with large Government Grants/loans for low income renters. Seems to be TVM business model apart from Legion.
Nothing wrong as it is a Provincial/Federal Program but you are right the properties could be better maintained.
Maybe there is not enough income or it is the tenants maybe both. Have to ask TVM.
Legion development should be better as a condominium and Legion has an interest.
Although not in a Heritage district it is right next door and could have been sympathetic in my opinion but it is what it is. We will see.

Reply to  Laurel
15 May 2018 11:42 am

Low income housing is extremely lucrative and developers like TVM are always there to scoop up whatever is being handed to them on a platter. I suggest people take the time to make a tour of the buildings you’ve mentioned above and see for themselves the state they’re kept in. And this is the same group that is teaming with the Legion. It doesn’t take an accountant to figure who is going to benefit more.