In Conversation With, Anson Kwok, Vice-President, Sale & Marketing Pinnacle International
Toronto is blessed with a number of signature high-profile condo projects, forever changing the landscape and city skyline. Few are as noteworthy as what’s about to rise into the sky and pierce the clouds in the heart of the downtown area – Pinnacle One Yonge from Pinnacle International.
One Yonge, as a location, is notable in its own right, as the address of the landmark Toronto Star building, built in 1970 and acquired by Pinnacle in 2012. The property was in the news again recently, when in May the Star itself was sold to a private equity firm, leading some to again wonder what the plan was for the area.
And an opportunity for Pinnacle to again discuss its vision for One Yonge.
The plan is a nothing short of a spectacular master-planned complex of residential, commercial and retail space, that over the years of its development will reshape that area of downtown.
The first phase of Pinnacle One Yonge involves The Prestige, a 65-storey residential tower with 497 condominium units, a community centre and extensive retail space. Phases 2 and 3 will add SkyTower, a 95-storey tower, and then an 80-storey tower, significantly contributing to the densification of the block. Phase 4 will develop the south parcel of the land, introducing an additional three buildings, including a 12-storey addition to the existing Toronto Star building.
Designed to densify and enhance the urban streetscape, Pinnacle One Yonge links to public transit, improves and widens sidewalks and provides prioritized pedestrian and cyclist access.
And this is just one project Pinnacle has on the go in the GTA.
Condo Life sat down with Anson Kwok, vice-president of sales and marketing at Pinnacle, to discuss the progress at Pinnacle One Yonge, how the company is adopting to the COVID-19 pandemic, and other topics.
When we spoke to you at the beginning of the year, things we very different. Pinnacle had four active construction sites in the GTA, and you mentioned possibly increasing that to six projects by the end of the year. Generally speaking, where is all that now, in this unprecedented COVID-19 world?
Our four active construction sites have continued during COVID-19 with some delays, and we are still looking to deliver three of those projects for our purchasers to get their keys in the next 12 months.
Our sites are ready to go for both Pinnacle Toronto East and SkyTower at Pinnacle One Yonge. We are just finalizing approvals and future permits to proceed.
You also mentioned at the time that lengthy municipal approval processes were resulting in longer completion times. How hopeful are you that this will improve? During the pandemic, governments have demonstrated that they can and do move more quickly when they really have to…
Fundamentally, I don’t see the process speeding up, as the system is set up so that all city staff, especially planners and reviewing departments, are working on projects for years, with new applications and resubmissions continuously ending up on their desks. The complexity of projects is also increasing, resulting in additional consultant reports and more detailed drawing sets. This all leads to longer processing times, and it perpetuates the constant cycle.
Even having city staff working on the same file at the same time, would help improve efficiencies and to expedite timelines.
How did COVID-19 affect your projects, in terms of both construction and sales?
Our construction sites have continued to operate, but we did experience about a six-month delay due to new procedures onsite with social distancing, inspections and supply chain delays.
Our sales program took a pause for about four weeks, and then we have been pretty active with inquiries and sales since.
Working from home is expected to become more prevalent in future. How might Pinnacle address this trend in future condo designs and amenities?
We have been offering larger product in the marketplace, so we will continue with that strategy, as I think this has benefited people who have been working from home. Also, providing amenities such as study rooms, business centres and boardrooms will be in higher demand.
How are things coming along at The Prestige at Pinnacle One Yonge?
We have built out the extensive podium of our first Phase 1, and now reached our typical floorplate at The Prestige at Pinnacle One Yonge, so you will start seeing the building really rising quickly. We are on schedule for our first occupancy in May 2022.
And with SkyTower?
Sales have gone extremely well at SkyTower, and we are in position to start construction and will be mobilizing in the near future.
Besides a pretty unbeatable location, how will The Prestige and SkyTower stand out from other projects in the area?
The location and address of this master-planned community definitely speak for themselves. What also stands out is that it’s part of a true master-planned community. At its completion, it will comprise:
- Three residential towers, including the tallest residential building in Canada at 95 storeys
- 80,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor residential amenity space
- 50,000-sq.-ft. community centre with a six-lane swimming pool and gymnasium
- 1.1 million sq. ft. of office space
- 160,000 sq. ft. of retail space
- Two future hotels
- PATH connected
- Next to a future a 2.5-acre park.
So, there is a lot to be excited about!
The Prestige and SkyTower are two of the three towers planned for One Yonge. What is the third, and what is its status?
We are currently working on the final design of the 80-storey tower planned on the north parcel, as we review the suite layouts.
What’s next for Pinnacle, beyond these noted signature projects?
We are currently working on rezoning our Pinnacle Etobicoke and Pinnacle Uptown Communities which will consist of eight future residential towers and three residential towers, respectfully.
We are also looking forward to start leasing our new office building at Pinnacle One Yonge.
And on a personal note…
When I’m not at the office, I am:
In my condo, enjoying time with my wife and our two young boys.
My greatest inspiration in this business is:
My mom, Grace. She brought the concept of preconstruction sales to Vancouver and is dubbed as BC’s First Lady of Pre-Sales. She has been consistently leading successful sales programs in all different market conditions.
If I wasn’t in the new condo business, I would:
Be pursuing my previous passion of running a hotel.
Amber at Pinnacle Uptown
Move in now
Cypress at Pinnacle Etobicoke
Pinnacle Toronto East
SkyTower at Pinnacle One Yonge
The Prestige at Pinnacle One Yonge