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130 highrise building projects in Toronto lead North America

Toronto still has more highrise buildings under construction than any other city in North America, but the gap between Canada's largest city and second-place New York City is getting smaller.

There are 130 highrise projects under construction in Toronto, more than in any other North American city.

New York is second, with 91 projects, and Montreal is third with 25.

That's the word from Emporis, a construction data firm that monitors development activity around the world.

Toronto has maintained top spot in the rankings for several years now, but New York, the traditional home of iconic skyscrapers, is narrowing the gap of late.

"On the basis of current developments, we assume that New York will catch up with Toronto as early as 2015," Emporis analyst Matthew Keutenius said in a release.

It wasn't that long ago that Toronto had twice the number of construction projects on the go as the second-most active market. But an uptick in construction in New York has changed that.

Emporis defines a highrise as a building at least 35 metres tall. Buildings more than 40 storeys tall are considered skyscrapers.

The Toronto area is also a leader in terms of the percentage of those tall buildings that are residential in nature.

In Toronto, Markham, Ont., and Burnaby, B.C. some 92 per cent of the tall buildings under construction are residential in nature. That ratio is normally around 65 per cent in most other cities.

"It is notable, too, that current residential highrise construction in Canada comprises almost exclusively condominiums, while in the USA it includes a relatively large proportion of rental apartments," Emporis said.

In Chicago, for example, 80 per cent of the residential highrises under construction are new rental apartments — not individually owned condominiums.

A total of 13,797 new condominium units were sold in the city of Toronto last year, a decline of 22 per cent from the all-time record set in 2012, recent numbers from real estate data firm Urbanation recently showed.

"Momentum is expected to help usher in more new projects during the first half of 2014," Urbanation's vice-president Shaun Hildebrand says.

According to the latest data available, the average price of a downtown Toronto condo hit $367,376 in December, a rise from 7.6 per cent from the same month a year ago.

Toronto has been the main hub for highrise construction for several years now, but since the boom started later in Toronto than it did elsewhere, it remains well behind other cities in terms of completed projects.

There are currently 6,069 buildings classified as "highrises" in New York City — more than three times the number in Toronto.