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Developers Are Buying Old Churches And Turning Them Into Condos

In an era when church attendance has been falling and demand for development properties soars.

The health of Vaughan’s communities is critical to the future health of our city as a whole. Every empty piece of land is being purchased by developers and turned into housing, condos, and more.

A new trend that is happening across the GTA is developers are buying up old churches and turning many of them into high-end residences and condos. The combination of two trends – rising property prices and falling church attendance – has produced a whole new real estate category: the church conversion.

In Toronto, for example, Deer Park United is becoming part of the Blue Diamond Condominiums at Imperial Plaza. Builders have already torn down most of the 1913 church at St. Clair Avenue West and Avenue Road. All that's left is the church tower and the empty front end of the building.

Parts of Deer Park United Church are being incorporated into the new Blue Diamond Condos on St. Clair Avenue West in Toronto. Photo Credit: CAMROST FELCORP

When churches go condo, developers usually bring in heritage architects to preserve their best features. Many people are drawn to church conversions because, with their stone interior walls and wood beams, they offer more character than a glass box in the sky. Toronto's vocal heritage and neighbourhood groups have fought hard to save churches. Deer Park's front end, at least, has been preserved because the city gave it a heritage designation, recognizing its cultural and architectural value.

However, with the number of new proposals for developments, large and small around Woodbridge and the City of Vaughan, it’s a matter of time until these new real estate trends start taking place more often around us.

Since the proposal for the Board of Trade Development, residents of the area have heard a variety of reasons why this development will benefit the community and those that live within it. While we are still waiting for the development to be approved (which could be able another year), there seems to be a very similar theme in the process of developing empty land into residential areas. However, the land no longer needs to be empty to be developed, and it looks like something that has purpose and meaning such as a church can easily be flpped into making a dollar.

There's been a lively idea discussed regarding what impact on the community a proposed development that would turn Woodbridge’s Boyd Park (Boyd Conversation Area) into a subdivision for single, semi’s, or condo buildings. While it is extremely unlikely that Boyd Park could ever be developed into residential area, it is important to highlight the fact that developers are always looking for their next project.

Read more about the church to condo story, here.

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