Keith Marshall
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What’s it like to live in Uptown Waterloo?

living in uptown waterlooWith more than 400 businesses and a busy public square, Uptown Waterloo offers the vibrancy of all of Waterloo condensed into a neighbourhood that is great for both living and finding entertainment. Deemed the bustling downtown core of the city, Uptown Waterloo is the heart of tourism with its many dining and shopping opportunities, as well as its cultural amenities. The area also offers a great place to live with much diversity in Uptown Waterloo real estate.

 

Walkability of the Area

Waterloo Public Square is located at King Street and Willis Way, and offers many modern shopping and dining opportunities. Banks and other financial institutions, as well as coffee shops and clothing stores are plentiful around the public square. The main branch of the Waterloo Public Library is near the square, at the southeastern border of the University of Waterloo campus, where residents and visitors can also enjoy Lions Lagoon Splash Park, The Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, and the large Waterloo Park, which includes Silver Lake.

Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex is also located here, which includes opportunities for ice skating and swimming, and also has meeting and banquet halls for rent. There are also several churches near the Uptown area, including First United Church, Church of the Holy Saviour, Knox Presbyterian and Emmanuel United Church. Grand River Hospital, which is located south on King Street past Union Boulevard, serves the area of Uptown Waterloo.

 

Local Access and Public Transportation

Public transportation in the Uptown Waterloo area is convenient and plentiful.  Grand River Transit operates many bus routes through Waterloo, with a large number of bus stops along King Street as well as Erb Street. These bus routes provide transport through the Uptown area north and south along King Street, as well as east and west on Erb Street, and also provide access to the University campus.

 

Education: Elementary and Secondary Schools

MacGregor Public School, located at the corner of King Street and Central Street, is the nearest school to Uptown Waterloo and offers a rich history. Beginning as a farm owned by Waterloo’s founder Abraham Erb, MacGregor Public School started in 1820 as a log schoolhouse. Today the school educates 400 to 600 Grade 7 and 8 students each year. Students that attend MacGregor Public School come from the surrounding elementary schools including Westmount, Empire, Sandowne, and Keatsway, which are all found outside of Uptown Waterloo in the surrounding areas. Elizabeth Ziegler is the nearest elementary school to the Uptown area, educating children from junior kindergarten through grade 6. Residents’ children in Uptown also attend Empire Public School and Our Lady of Lourdes.

The University of Waterloo, as well as St. Paul’s University, Renison University College, and Conrad Grebel University College are all situated near Uptown Waterloo. The University of Waterloo ranked third in Maclean’s comprehensive university rankings for the 2013 and 2014 academic years, and consistently ranks among the top five universities in Canada.

 

Income Demographics and Local Tax Rates

The residential tax rate for the City of Waterloo is 0.370238 percent, of which there are three main components: education taxes (18 percent), municipal taxes (31 percent), and regional taxes (51 percent). Calculated with a metered system, the water rate in the city of Waterloo is $1.55 per cubic metre, and $1.91 for wastewater per cubic metre. Monthly service charges for water are $2.78 for single-family homes and $5.61 for residential apartments. If you are calculating your potential water expenses in Waterloo, I would recommend $30 per person per month.

As of 2006, Uptown Waterloo was home to 7,745 people, of which 16 percent of the total population were between the ages of 20 to 24. The median household income was $47,006, compared to the rest of Waterloo at $71,322. I live in UpTown Waterloo, so I’m partly responsible for our shortfall relative to the rest of Waterloo.

 

Annual Events and Festivals

Each year, Uptown Waterloo brings plenty of annual events that many residents travel into the downtown area just to watch. The annual Ice Dogs Festival is just one of them. (It has been rebranded this year as “Winterloo”.) Every year in mid-February, this event offers a weekend full of family fun. With indoor and outdoor activities, there is something for everyone, including ice sculpture carving, dogsled rides, Button Factory art activities, complimentary ice-skating at the Waterloo Public Square and complimentary movies. Attendees can also warm their hands – and mouths! – at the chilli cook-off that features some of the finest eateries from around town.

 

Issues Facing the Community

A recent petition with more than 750 signatures of cycling advocates has asked for bike lanes to be built on King Street in Uptown Waterloo. These proposed curbside lanes will change the streetscape of King Street, slimming it down to one lane in each direction. Safety concerns for these proposed lanes have been posed, which – if built – could be of danger to cyclists and commuters alike.

Living in the downtown area of Waterloo, which is congruently named “Uptown,” has never been more appealing. With a young and friendly atmosphere, and being within steps to all amenities, Uptown Waterloo offers an ideal location for anyone who enjoys a bustling scene with lots of activity and constant entertainment.

What are some popular and growing KW neighbourhoods? Forest Heights, Eastbridge, Uptown.

Spots to Watch: The Fastest Growing KW Neighbourhoods

If you’re relocating, upsizing, or downsizing in the Kitchener Waterloo area, you may be beginning to ask the typical question, “Where are the best KW neighbourhoods to purchase a property?” As with most real estate purchases, widely sought after and growing neighbourhoods are usually the most ideal places for an investment, especially when it’s possible to purchase a home before the property values in the area get too high. If you’re in the market for a property in the Kitchener Waterloo area, whether for you and your family to live in, or for investment purposes, keep your eye on these fast growing KW neighbourhoods for a great opportunity for future gain.

 

Affordable Housing in Growing Forest Heights

forest heightsLocated just a ten minute drive from downtown Kitchener, to the southwest Forest Heights is a recommended neighbourhood to purchase a single detached home. Suitable for first-time homebuyers looking for Kitchener real estate, Forest Heights is an affordable area that has a lot of potential for future growth. The area is home to many parks and green spaces, including Forest Heights Community Trail, and offers very easy access to Conestoga Parkway. The neighbourhood is also very close to the Boardwalk Shopping Plaza and the Sunrise Shopping Centre. Volunteer programs and events in the area are run by Forest Heights Community Association, which is based in the Forest Heights Community Centre. The area also offers a public library, and Forest Heights Collegiate Institute is a large high school that educates 1,600 students from Forest Heights and the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Forest Heights is a nice older KW neighbourhood with mature trees and winding drives and crescents. If you’re looking for a neighbourhood with wide lots and large backyards, with bungalows, side splits and two storeys in a forest like setting, Forest Heights is a great place. It is the kind of neighbourhood that many of us grew up in.

 

Comfortability in Popular Eastbridge

eastbridgeTucked away in the northwest corner of Waterloo is a small but popular pocket community of Eastbridge. About a twelve minute drive from UpTown Waterloo the neighbourhood is one of the best lifestyle choices for young families because of its comfortable housing, great schools and convenient location. This growing neighbourhood is home to Rim Park, which is a large green space with trails and a great spot for sports like soccer, hockey, and baseball. The park also offers a golf course and a recreational facility. Eastbridge is close to shopping at Conestoga Mall and the area offers easy access to Conestoga Parkway for commuters.

 

Westmount/Uptown: A Favourite to Many Locals

Uptown/WestmountAs a favourite in the eyes of homeowners and Realtors alike, the area of Westmount/Uptown offers one of the best walk scores for Kitchener Waterloo real estate. Still offering affordable housing, this area is vibrant in its opportunities for continued growth, and, as it stands today, is a wise decision for your real estate investment. When living in Westmount/Uptown, perhaps in one of the area’s 1000 Square foot bungalows, everything you could need—shopping, nightlife, restaurants, schools, parks, and more—is within walking distance. This notable KW neighbourhood is also adored for its mature trees and historic churches.

 

Luckily for homebuyers in the market for Kitchener Waterloo real estate, there are many different enclaves and neighbourhoods that are unique and specific to different requirements and tastes for daily living. And with many already established and fast growing neighbourhoods in the city, finding a great investment for the future while enjoying a new neighbourhood you can call home is a welcomed feat for many.

 

Where are the best condos in UpTown Waterloo?

It wasn’t that long ago when we didn’t have any condominiums in UpTown Waterloo. Now we have lots and lots more on the way. I thought it was about time to make a list. Where are the best condos in Uptown Waterloo?

 

bauer loftThe Bauer Lofts

The Bauer Lofts are one of the most popular condominiums in UpTown Waterloo, not only due to it’s convenient location, just south of the Waterloo Town Square, but also because it is a small community onto itself with fabulous dining and shopping right next door at the Bauer Kitchen, Vincencos and a host of other great and high-end retailers.

About the building

The Bauer Lofts is located at 191 King Street South, Waterloo, just south of the Waterloo Town Square. The building is a sleek 15 storeys, with 157 units ranging in size from 673 to 2715 square feet. The building was completed in 2009.

Likes

I like the high ceilings and the large master bedrooms in this building. You have to use a security key for the elevator between floors and to get into the underground parking. The party room is nice and opens to a large outdoor terrace with barbecues. The units have large balconies big enough for four people to lounge comfortably. From the upper floors the views are stunning. However with the construction of 144 Park and 155 Carolina the west side of the building will be blocked.

It’s will be on the LRT line about equidistant between the Grand River Hospital stop and the Uptown stop.

Neutrals

Some people like the exposed ductwork and unpainted concrete walls. Those features give it an urban feel.

Dislikes

I find that there are cramped entranceways to some units. The units are small and with large bedrooms, bathrooms and balconies, the living room and kitchens tend to be a little cramped. The building’s fitness room is quite small and does not have a lot of equipment for a building of it’s size. Of course parking for guests is an issue.

 

144 park144 Park Uptown Waterloo

Located at 144 Park Street, Waterloo, this is a great looking building towering above UpTown Waterloo with 19 Storeys. 144 Park has 142 units ranging in size from about 660 to 2500 square feet. There are standard and penthouse units  as well as street level town homes. Currently, still under construction it is scheduled to be completed before the end of 2014.

About the building

144 Park is the only building in Waterloo to have an on site concierge, guest suites for overnight visitors and a theatre! This building will be the home to the urban chic looking for cool comfort in a luxurious cosmopolitain lifestyle. Besides being just south of UpTown Waterloo, and on the future LRT line, the shops at the Bauer Marketplace are just steps away.

The underground parking has a car wash bay. The large outdoor terrace is a few levels above street level and will connect with 155 Caroline when completed. Of course, there will be barbecues, patio furniture.

 

155One Fifty Five Uptown Waterloo

Much like it’s sister building at 144 Park, One Fifty Five Uptown Waterloo located at 155 Caroline Street, Waterloo will be 19 storeys high. Currently under construction, this second phase of the development is slated to complete in 2016. The building will have 184 Units. Because of popular demand, the units in this building are more expensive than 144 Park.

If you have money to burn, go for the brownstone townhouse units at the base of these buildings. They are going to be awesome.

 

Red Condominium

There was a lot of excitement when the Red Condominium project was announced. Like many other projects in UpTown Waterloo, it’s pre-construction phase sold out virtually overnight. In the same neighbourhood as the Bauer Lofts and 144 Park and 155 Carolina, it’s location is excellent for shopping, the LRT and UpTown amenities.

redAbout the building

The Red Condominiums are located at 188 King Street South in Waterloo. The building is a comfortable 6 storeys high with 63 Units ranging in size from 524 to 1640 square feet. The building is currently just finishing up construction and will be completed later this year (2014).

Observations

Last week I visited a bright and sunny unit on the third floor. It was southern facing and had a wall of windows letting in lots and lots of sunlight. The kitchen was very large, but the bedrooms were puny and the main living area would be tough to furnish. The overall finish was not as good as expected – we noticed the drywall taping wasn’t done very well.

The party room overlooks backyards and roof tops of the Mary Alan neighbourhood, which is interesting but the fitness room is accessed through party room, which means that if you are hosting a party, there may be people wandering in to have a look on the way to their work out.

The Red Condominium has a very different feel than it’s neighbouring buildings. It’s quieter and less trendy.

 

seagramThe Seagram Lofts

Ever since they were completed in 1999, the Seagram Lofts are the place to be in UpTown Waterloo. With floor to ceiling windows, exposed brick and the best location in terms of proximity to shopping, the future LRT, nightlife and other amenities such as the Waterloo Public Library and Waterloo Park, this project is a once in a lifetime, one of a kind lifestyle experience.

Located at #3 and #5 Father David Bauer Drive, Waterloo both buildings comprise a number of two-level spaces with live/work options on the ground floor level. In all, there are 103 units in the two buildings of five storeys each.

The Seagram Lofts are the buildings that kicked off our condo craze. They represent true loft living.  The units are much larger than the average condo unit in UpTown ranging from 1115 to 2435 square feet.

About the buildings

The buildings have a real urban factory feel. The hallways are tall and stark and wide. The doors are heavy. The units open up to 17 feet high ceilings, windows all the way. The kitchens tend to be quite large – great for entertaining.

Unlike most of the other buildings in UpTown Waterloo, the garages are individual ground level units.

 

the @lexThe Alex

Like the Seagram Lofts, the Alex was completed in 1999. And also like the Seagram Lofts the Alex features high ceilings and big windows and a fabulous location in the heart of UpTown Waterloo. This converted school has lots of personality with wide hallways and stairs. It even has the old chalkboards!

The Alex is a three storey all brick building housing 22 units, ranging in size from 608 to 1400 square feet.

It is located at 35 Alexander Avenue, Waterloo. There is lots of parking for residents.

 

keatswayKeats Way on the Park

Keats Way on the Park is located at 255 Keats Way, Waterloo. This 13 Storey building was completed in 2003. There are 104 Units.

Not really in UpTown, it’s location in Beechwood and proximity to University of Waterloo make it a favourite to those who want to be in this neighbourhood.

Keats Way on the Park is an upscale building with bright airy units featuring open concept design. There are spectacular views from the upper floor balconies. There is a party/games room, a fitness room and indoor parking.

The units range in size from one bedroom 1259 square feet to three bedrooms at about 2500 square feet.

There is a special assessment pending. There is a problem with the stucco and perhaps the balconies.

42

 

THE 42 – Eco Chic Loft Living

THE 42 is a six storey condominium building conveniently located near the heart of UpTown Waterloo. This building, completed in 2011 has a stylish modern design, with big windows and glass balconies. It is really unique for its attention to sustainability and eco-friendliness. The 42 has a real upscale and luxurious feel and features a really nice fitness room, lounge and lobby.

The 42 is located at 42 Bridgeport Road East, Waterloo. It has 6 storeys and 54 units ranging from 630 to 1605 square feet. The 10 foot ceilings and large windows give the units a nice airy feel.

The parking is underground. I hope you have a small car or are a much better parker than I am.

 

bprBPR Lofts at Bridgeport and Regina

If you thought The Alex is quaint with four storeys and 18 units, you’ll love the BPR Lofts at 36 Regina Street South, Waterloo. It is a boutique condo loft building with 4 storeys and only 18 units, ranging in size from 672 to 857 square feet. The units are small but comprise either one bedroom and a den or two bedrooms. Again, like most of our condos, the 10 foot ceilings and large windows give the units a warm, comfortable feel.

Completed in 2010, it is really in the core of urban UpTown Waterloo.

This building feels a lot like the 42, but smaller.

silver thread

 

Silver Thread Lofts

Tucked away at 15 Devitt Avenue South, Waterloo, the Silver Thread Lofts is another boutique loft project within an easy walking distance to UpTown Waterloo. The former Silver Thread Sauerkraut factory has 15 Units of 653 to 1135 square feet over three floors. It fits in snugly and nicely on the fringes of the very popular Mary Allan neighbourhood.

Completed in 2011, the units have an industrial chic feel with exposed ceilings and ductwork. There are bachelor, one bedroom, one bedroom plus den and two bedroom units in the building.

Silver Thread Lofts has a fitness room with a rock climbing wall. The parking is underground.

 

waterpark placeWaterpark Place

Build in 1990, Waterpark Place is one of the oldest condominiums in UpTown Waterloo. It is located at 4 & 6 Willow Street, Waterloo, just a short walk from UpTown.

The building has 176 Units ranging in size from 940 to 2815 square feet in 23 Stories.

Waterpark Place amenities include an indoor pool with skylights, sauna, a party room with library, an exercise room, billiards, workshop, guest suite all situated on gorgeous grounds with water features

Observations

How do I say this politely? There are a lot of really old people living in this building. It is a really nice building in a great location and perhaps 20 years ago many of them downsized, moved in and have not left since.

I really like the large room sizes including the balconies.

The condo fees are a little on the high side.

 

westmount grandWestmount Grand

Located on the corner of Westmount and Erb at 233 Erb Street West, Waterloo the Westmount Grand is a beauty. It offers stylish luxury with nine foot ceilings, engineered wood floors, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

The Westmount Grand towers over the neighbourhood with 11 Storeys providing commanding views of the Westmount Golf and Country Club, to the south, UpTown Waterloo to the east and the University of Waterloo to the north.

There are 72 Units ranging in size from 946 to 2491 square feet, a library, a roof top study, a party room and roof top patio. The small fitness centre has a steam room!

Completed in 2011, there is everything from one bedroom to three bedrooms with den units. The building has underground parking.

I wrote about the Westmount Grand here.

 

k2K2

Wilfred Laurier is just a five minute walk away. University of Waterloo is a five minute bus ride.  Located at 158 King Street North, K2 is just north of UpTown Waterloo.

When completed, K2 will have 185 units in two towers – a 21 storey tower and an 11 storey tower.

 

IvyTowns

ivy townsJust announced, IvyTowns is a four storey boutique townhouse project comprising 68 units. Like the K2 project, this development focuses on the university student housing investment market. But unlike K2, Ivytowns is aimed at University of Waterloo students. There is higher demand for UW student housing as the University of Waterloo is not near a lot of student housing opportunities, at least not near as many as WLU.

Observations

I’m a little suspicious of the math in this video. 

 

Reflections at Laurelwood 

Not really in UpTown Waterloo, I wrote about Reflections at Laurelwood here. Personally, it is too remote for me. If I’m going to live out in the boonies, I at least need a townhouse. Reflections at Laurelwood has all of the disadvantages of condominium living without any of the advantages. When I was speaking with the marketing guy, he stressed a couple of times that this was the cheapest per square foot condo purchase on the market. He didn’t mention that the furnace-A/C unit is rented adding monthly expense on top of condo fee to the bills.

 

The Barrel Yards

I wrote about the Barrel Yards here. It is coming soon, not soon enough for a lot of people. I get an inquiry weekly asking about floor plans and prices.

 

Call to action

I’ve lived and worked in UpTown Waterloo for more than a decade. I love it here. If you want to chat about your options, please contact me. I know the prices and the condo fees, the amenities and the outlook for the condos in UpTown Waterloo. I will help you find the best home in your price range.

Waterloo Police Station to become luxury hotel

Old Waterloo Police Station to become luxury hotelIt has housed several insurance companies, a bank and the Waterloo Police Station. Now it is going to become a luxury hotel.

 

The History

The oldest part of 14 Erb Street West in UpTown Waterloo was built around 1886 as an early office for Ontario Mutual Life Assurance Company.

Molson’s Bank also shared this building.

In 1912 Dominion Life Assurance Company moved into the building.

The building was later used by the Canada Health and Accident Assurance Company and by Waterloo’s first insurance company – Waterloo Mutual Fire Insurance Company.

In 1991, he building underwent extensive renovations and became a division of the Waterloo Regional Police Department.

The building is a designated landmark for the City of Waterloo. The building’s facades are designated under the Ontario Heritage Act for architectural and cultural purposes. To alter the heritage aspects or demolish the building would require city approval.

 

The Future

Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis (Blackberry) are hoping to bring a luxury, boutique hotel to uptown Waterloo. Ophelia Lazaridis purchased the old Waterloo police station at 14 Erb Street West and is exploring the construction of a new luxury boutique hotel on that site.

Region of Waterloo councillors approved the sale for $3.1 million on Wednesday. It is expected to be finalized in June when the buyers have completed investigations of the property.

 

The Reason

In 2006, a Waterloo uptown vision committee said a top-of-the-line hotel with conference space was a must. “A high-quality hotel would be a great amenity for the uptown,” its report said. “We cannot afford to accept a lower-quality hotel just to get it built sooner.”

 

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Picture credit

 

215 Dick Street, Waterloo

215 Dick Street, WaterlooLive in wonderful Westmount at 215 Dick Street, Waterloo. This exceptional bungalow features a loft master bedroom! Thousands of dollars recently spent on major system updates including: roof, most windows, doors, furnace and electrical system. 215 Dick Street is situated on a mature lot in one of Waterloo Region’s favourite neighbourhoods – lovely Westmount! The two elementary schools are always ranked among the best in Waterloo Region.

Important Facts:

MLS#: 123707

Bedrooms: 3+1

Bathrooms: 2

Price: $329,900

Taxes: $3229/2012

Age: up to 60 years

Days on Market: 57

Westmount is one of Waterloo’s favourite old neighourhoods. It started out 100 years ago as a dream and desire for a “garden suburb”. The neighbourhood had the initial help of the landscape architect who had designed New York’s Central Park and Montreal’s Mount Royal neighborhood. But it wasn’t until after 1930 and the construction of the Westmount Golf and Country Club that things really got rolling. By the 1960’s almost all the lots had been built upon and Westmount had established itself as Kitchener Waterloo’s premier neighbourhood.

When my family first moved to Waterloo Region, we spent about half a year getting the lay of the land, checking out different neighborhoods. We were researching to find great schools, and proximity to pools and libraries. These were our two main criteria. We eventually bought a home in Westmount, not old Westmount, but in Westmount/UpTown. 215 Dick Street is just around the corner from where we bought our home. Our kids went to Empire School – always one of the top ranked schools in Waterloo Region, then Centennial School for 7&8 and then to WCI – all great schools!

What I like about this neighborhood is an easy walk into UpTown Waterloo, and all the shops, the library and nightlife. Once we got a dog, Waterloo Park, about a five minute walk away became a daily destination. It’s really a great location!

 

Open House:  Sunday November 4, 2:00-4:00pm