Kitchener, Ontario has something new up its sleeve.
Often referred to as “Kitchener-Waterloo” because of its very close relation to its “twin city” (Waterloo), the city has come a long way.
Pioneered by Mennonites from Pennsylvania, Kitchener has always had a strong German foundation. It was even named The City of Berlin for a time before being renamed Kitchener. But Kitchener has come a long way from being just a little German town…
The city celebrates its German heritage with a massive 9-day Oktoberfest celebration every year (which is the biggest outside of Munich, Germany). And it has become increasingly diverse with immigration from other parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and beyond.
What started with a little town of a few hundred Mennonites has become an incredible, thriving city with a population of 233,222 (2016 Census). The Kitchener metropolitan area (also known as the “Tri-Cities”), which includes Waterloo and Cambridge, has a population of 523,894 people, making it the tenth biggest Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in the country and fourth biggest in the province.
Kitchener isn’t just known for its rich German culture.
It’s known for its gorgeous parks (including Victoria Park in the heart of Kitchener)…
It’s known for the incredible Chicopee Ski Resort (which attracts thousands every Winter).
It’s known for the booming technology hub…
But there’s something new on the horizon which is going to elevate the city to the next level.
Brand New Development In Downtown Kitchener Is About To Transform The City…
The head of Kitchener’s economic development department, Cory Bluhm, says, “It’s probably the most transformational time in the downtown’s history…”
Ktichener City Councillor Frank Etherington is calling it a “development tsunami.” So what’s all the hype about?
Over the next few years, a massive development boom is going to sweep downtown Kitchener, adding several towers and residential buildings for the incoming population surge.
There are currently close to 2,500 residents living downtown.
Approximately 9,000 residents live just outside the downtown core.
This development boom is going to add over 5,000 people to the area within just a couple years.
What makes this influx of developments stunning is that it’s not just concentrated into one zone. It’s spread out throughout the core. It’s going to evolve the downtown core to a new downtown Kitchener.
So why now? What’s been happening in Kitchener? Why are people flooding into the city?
There are several reasons Kitchener is pulling in new residents by the thousands.
1) The booming tech sector
In the past few years, 1,845 tech startups have been created in Kitchener-Waterloo (while raising over $650 million to back the companies). The region has been a tech hub for years, with its prized possession being BlackBerry Ltd. (yes, the cell phone) that was founded in Kitchener-Waterloo in 1984.
The area has a number of other notable tech companies including kik (a social media chat app), OpenText, Descartes, and Desire2learn.
Kitchener-Waterloo’s tech hub has grown so much that global tech leaders have set up international shops here: Google, SAP, Intel, Electronic Arts, and more.
2) ION Rapid Transit
Kitchener-Waterloo has been long awaiting the delayed light rail train system that will transform the transit life for locals and tourists alike.
The ION Rapid Transit was originally expected to arrive in 2017, but due to manufacturer delays, it has been rescheduled for Spring 2019.
The local area is expected to see an influx of population growth with the brand new transit system in place this year.
3) Developers are now hit with higher fees
Developers wanted to get their project’s planning approvals up and running beforehand so they weren’t hit with the new fees, so they all came at once.
Though it may appear that it’s just a saturation of supply for the condo market in Kitchener, the numbers for demand have shown otherwise.
The condo development at Garment Street had 80 per cent of the units sold within 30 minutes of being put on the market.
Many developers are seeing multiple offers come in for units on the same day, making it difficult to keep up with the demand of the presales.
Many of the new condos are offering units less than 1000 square feet – hovering around the 600-700 square foot range. They are most ideal for “under 35” professionals who can’t necessarily afford a bigger space.
The wave of new condos will increase the diversity of housing in downtown Kitchener. It has mostly been filled with low-cost housing and with much older, and (much less affordable) housing around the Victoria Park area.
With the new residential development projects underway, the surging economic growth, and the introduction of the brand new LRT this Spring, it’s safe to say that Kitchener is entering one of the most exciting phases of its evolution – and there hasn’t been a better opportunity to jump in.