Many in the know have traded in the hustle and bustle of big-city life without feeling they’ve missed a beat, and are now calling the Bay of Quinte region home. With recent real estate data showing average prices in Belleville almost $400,000 lower than in Toronto, it’s no wonder the population has grown over 8% since 2016.
Written by Angela Hawn
Some have settled into newly outfitted condo projects, like the unique Century Village, mere minutes from the water. Situated the Downtown District of Belleville, the region’s largest city (population approaching 60,000), this building with nearly 40 units is highly sought after whenever vacancies arise. “Century Village is a one-of-a-kind lifestyle community amidst top- notch restaurants and cafés, boutique shopping and the Farmers’ Market—and is just a few blocks from Meyers Pier on the Bay of Quinte.” says Kathleen Kuschmierz, one of the founders of local real estate firm Your Dream Team Quinte. “Every suite in the building has beautiful views, either of picturesque downtown streets—Bridge, Front and Pinnacle—or of the bay, the Moira River and the city’s rolling hills.”
Century Village’s one-, two- and three-bedroom luxury suites undoubtedly called out to a wide range of home seekers, but those who know the city best might argue the area’s biggest drawing card lies in the surrounding neighbourhood. Moving into digs amongst the historic buildings of one of Ontario’s oldest cities surely appeals to history and architecture buffs. Belleville’s Victorian-era Gothic-revival-style City Hall is one of the condominium’s nearest neighbours. A short stroll away is the Old East Hill neighbourhood, where you can marvel at the century homes and stop to smell the roses in the historic Corby Rose Garden. Just behind the building, year-round shopping awaits at the city’s 200-year-old Farmers’ Market, where you can find fresh local produce, honey, maple syrup and baked goods.
Head south along the Riverfront Trail following the Moira River and you’ll reach the Bay of Quinte’s beautiful shoreline in less than 15 minutes. Kuschmierz adds that living downtown “allows residents the opportunity and ease to explore all that the Bay of Quinte Region has to offer.”
A little closer to the bay, right alongside one of the area’s many marinas, a sign announces plans for another development known as Porta. While it is still very much in the pre-construction stages, its website promises investors a broad variety of incredible benefits. Calling itself “a gateway to your getaway,” this building project aims to provide a lifestyle with a hint of luxury. Reports in condo-savvy media such as the website Urban Toronto describe a proposed layout with a resort-style vibe, from an elevated outdoor pool to a terrace with BBQ facilities, both boasting incredible bay views. And though proximity to both urban and natural attractions always presents a major plus, future residents
might opt simply to stay put and enjoy the site’s planned fitness centre, or check out whatever retail offerings eventually take advantage of the 20,000 square feet of commercial space available at ground-floor level. The concept of a 24-hour concierge in the lobby might indeed have residents feeling like they’re on vacation 365 days a year. With no bricks in place yet, we can only dream for the moment, but Porta’s exciting plans are something to keep an eye on.
Along both sides of Front Street in downtown Belleville, you’ll find another batch of new living spaces on the go that share that big-city feel. For the last six years, Mark Turner—one of the region’s top restorationists—and his talented crew have been working exclusively in the Belleville downtown core, restoring century buildings and renovating residential units within them. Mark notes, “The downtown is certainly experiencing a major transformation, and the pace is quickening. We have 40 new units currently under construction, all on one block between Bridge Street and Victoria Avenue.” A glance at the Instagram account for Turner’s company, Restoration Services Inc., reveals the innate beauty of the truly antique. Visuals of the loft space in the old Maze Mall, which will go by the new moniker The Lofts on Front, show enormous, historically accurate windows, 26-foot-high ceilings and original hand-hewn beams, as well as exposed brick and stone. The work showcases historic Belleville at its best, while ongoing plans to completely overhaul and modernize interiors promise chic living throughout. “There are seven residential units in total here, with additional rooftop units that will cater to tourists and long-term rentals,” says Turner. Across the street in the Burrows Building, erected circa 1870, ten new units are move-in-ready, with far more to come along Front Street in this prime section of the city’s core.
Those who appreciate the resilience and lustre of buildings a century or more in age will want to give this area in the BoQ’s biggest city’s downtown a closer look. Layouts run the gamut from microsuite to two-bedroom unit, while the convenience of downtown awaits just outside the door. Browse the ground-floor marketplace of The Lofts on Front, slated to open next spring, or make dinner reservations at any number of excellent dining options before heading off to enjoy live music at the nearby Empire Theatre, or a show at Pinnacle Playhouse or Theatre In the Wings—when you live downtown, some of the best entertainment
on offer is just steps away. “The consumer demand for services and goods, entertainment, restaurants and bars, clothing stores and spas will increase dramatically,” adds Turner. “All of the buildings we’re working on are undergoing commercial renovations to accommodate the need for such services, and I anticipate another 50 residential units will be started within the next year.”
“With a stunning waterfront and countryside, charming villages and a strong sense of community, I think it’s the perfect place to call home,” exclaims realtor Sharon Donahoe of the Donahoe Advantage Team. “My top five reasons for moving to the Quinte region are the active lifestyle, with numerous trails, golf courses and water sports; the numerous events and festivals throughout the year; the proximity to Toronto, Montreal and Kingston; the amazing culinary and wine scene; and the charming towns and villages close by. Even if you are not in the market to move, I suggest visiting this beautiful Ontario region and experiencing all it has to offer.”
The many reasons to explore the possibilities of city-style living in a smaller urban centre, coupled with real estate prices that are hundreds of thousands of dollars below the national average, it’s easy to see why MoneySense has included Quinte-region communities within its top ten locations to buy real estate in Canada for two years in a row.