Home Values

A move downtown? Two Londoners make the case

Downtown London board chair Gerald Gallacher and Jonathon's Ceramics Gallery owner Jonathon Bancroft-Snell say downtown has seen dramatic change over the years.

Hear why two Londoners say downtown is a growing, vibrant place worth calling home

Looking west down Dundas Street. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

Downtown resident Jonathon Bancroft-Snell didn't think much of London or its core when he first arrived in the city.

"When I moved to London in 1986, I thought I'd fallen into a loaf of white bread."

Bancroft-Snell, who lives downtown and owns Jonathon's Ceramics Gallery on Dundas Street, said much has changed in 30 years.

"I think downtown London is really evolving into an exciting place to be," he said pointing to the number of immigrants who have settled in London.

Downtown London board chair, Gerald Gallacher echoed that sentiment. "It's a great place to live. There's a lot going on. There's great shops, there's great restaurants. We have a really great supply of restaurants downtown. We'd like people to come and spend their entertainment dollars in the downtown core."

Gerald Gallacher (left) is the board chair for Downtown London; Jonathon Bancroft-Snell (right) is the owner of Jonathon's Ceramics Gallery. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

Gallacher, who is also a principal with Nicholson Sheffield Architects, said there's still much work to be done downtown to improve the landscape. 

"It's a work in progress. There's a lot of great bones. We have a fantastic scale of streetscape still left. There are a lot of historical buildings that are in good shape, and there are others that are in not great shape, but there's a potential there for redevelopment and adaptive reuse."

Growing the population downtown

City officials estimate about 5,000 people live in the city's downtown core, and say there's room for three times that number.

Gallacher said there are a number of new condo buildings slated for the city, but because London isn't an investor's market, developers have a harder time selling units. 

The corner of Dundas and Wellington Streets (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

"They have an end user market. So people are buying to actually live in the spaces. That's a good and a bad thing. The developers have to find other means of financing, but it means it's not an empty unit when it's done."

As for the future of London's downtown core, Bancroft-Snell said, "I think we're going to see a true cosmopolitan mini core. I think we are going to see the demand for residential increase. The demographic and also the average income level is springing up."

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