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Examining the GTA affordable homeownership crisis

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Examining the GTA affordable homeownership crisis

A definitive new book providing a deeper insight and understanding

A book titled “The GTA Affordable Home Ownership Crisis: A Deeper Understanding and the Pathway to the Solution” has just been released and is available to download online at affordablehomeownership.ca.

It is no secret that the problem of affordable homeownership in the GTA is out of control, and is especially a concern for the millennial population. A recent OREA/Nanos survey found that 58.7 per cent of nonmillennial Ontarians agree or somewhat agree that homeownership is unaffordable in their neighbourhood, while 41 per cent listed saving enough for a down payment as the most important barrier to owning a home.

With average new GTA condo prices at $500,000, average new GTA house prices at $1 million and resale at about $800,000, generally speaking, the next generation has little chance at homeownership without a significant financial contribution from their parents.

The book’s aim is to bring an understanding of the relevance and implications by exposing the drivers behind the problems and pointing towards a pathway to the solutions so that our children, and their generation, will not have to face a future without affordable homeownership.

The majority of GTA residents count their home as their largest asset. A future without affordable homeownership could hollow out the wealth of the middle class and have a catastrophic effect on the economy, for a generation.

The book identifies drivers of the crisis, such as excessive taxes on new homes and condos, excessive mortgage regulation, and the imbalance between supply and demand, but also offers creative solutions that can be applied in order to address the crisis in a responsible and timely way.

Written by R. Scott Davie, a leader in the sales and marketing of GTA new homes and condos for decades, and a trusted advisor to many of the GTA’s top developers, this book is rich with ideas and breaks down the elements of the crisis in an interesting way.

“The solution of the GTA homeownership crisis will only grow through understanding, resonating from professionals in the development Industry to the public, and it is only through public awareness that government and non-governmental organizations will have the motivation, and the ability, to make the needed changes,” says Davie.

“I wrote this book to make a relevant personal contribution towards solving the serious crisis of affordable homeownership by bringing awareness to the public, developers, their employees and consultants, and politicians. The hope would also be to generate a potential spark for additional creative solutions, not to make a profit of any kind,” he adds.

Recognizing that we live in an age that we are inundated with information, the book takes a concise and approachable magazine style format with pictures and infographics and is about a 30-minute read.

Written by R. Scott Davie, a leader in the sales and marketing of GTA new homes and condos for decades, for a limited time you can download a free copy at affordablehomeownership.ca.

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Groundbreaking at Kingdom Developments' KSquare Condos in Scarborough

Kingdom Developments breaks ground at KSquare Condos in Scarborough

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Kingdom Developments breaks ground at KSquare Condos in Scarborough

Kingdom Developments Inc. has broken ground at its Canadian flagship, mixed-use condominium development, KSquare Condos, just a month after launching sales for the project.

“We’re thrilled with the opportunity to start construction just one month after our sales launch,” says Eric Jensen, Kingdom Developments’ vice-president, projects. “This speaks volumes to the success of KSquare Condos and the significant demand the project commands from both end-users and investors who recognize the incredible value and ownership opportunity that KSquare presents.”

KSquare Condos is located in the heart of central Scarborough at Kennedy Rd. and Sheppard Ave. E., an area currently experiencing a major transformation in new city planning and rapid development growth.

Major transformation

“As one of the first major developments in the city’s most dynamic neighbourhood, KSquare Condos is an exciting addition to Scarborough, an area that’s naturally poised for a residential density boost,” says Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt Councillor, Jim Karygiannis.

With more than 485,000 sq. ft. of planned development comprising of retail, office and mixed-use residential, KSquare presents a strong investment and ownership opportunity, the company says. Over the next decade, KSquare Condos is expected to kick-start rapid growth in population density and spur new job opportunities in this already fast-growing neighbourhood.

Groundbreaking at Kingdom Developments' KSquare Condos in Scarborough
Groundbreaking at Kingdom Developments’ KSquare Condos in Scarborough. Left to right, Raymond Chau, sales and marketing manager, Kingdom Developments; Danny Tito, executive vice-president, Skygrid; Jacob Ma, president, Kingdom Developments; Jim Karygiannis, councillor, City of Toronto; Jason Heidman president, Skygrid; Gary Chen, senior project manager, Kingdom Developments. Photo: AGI Studio

Across the rail corridor from KSquare, the City’s ambitious plans for Agincourt Mall will create retail and office jobs in a dynamic community of new shops, restaurants, cafes, offices, parks and a public square. With 10 million sq. ft. of office space, Scarborough has seen impressive job growth over the last decade, and is home to the head offices of top Fortune 500 companies including Toyota, IBM, Compaq, BMO, HSBC, Sony, Volvo and Lenovo.

‘Kennedy Central’

Dubbed “Kennedy Central,” this area between Kennedy Rd. and Hwy. 401, will soon benefit from improved planned transit service with the proposed $5-billion plan to build a three-stop subway extension in Scarborough with stops at Lawrence East, Scarborough Town Centre and McCowan Rd.

With the existing Agincourt GO station to the north and projected SmartTrack and Sheppard East LRT stations nearby, residents will be able to connect to downtown in minutes. Drivers will also appreciate easy access across the GTA via Hwy. 401, which is directly to the south of KSquare Condos.

Designed by IBI Group with interiors by Tomas Pearce Interior Design, KSquare Condos features two sleek, elegant glass towers rising 36 and 39 storeys above a shared seven-storey podium.

Eric Jensen, vice-president, projects, Kingdom Canada
Eric Jensen, vice-president, projects, Kingdom Canada

KSquare features a wide range of suite types and sizes including one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts. Prices start from $372,900 and early buyers can also take advantage of a free parking space included in their purchase price.

“We have a really diverse group of condo units and sizes,” Jensen told Condo Life. “On the one end, we’ve got the students at (University of Toronto Scarborough) that are looking for a small one-bedroom, but at the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got a number of three-bedroom plus den corner units for full families.”

Signature amenities

KSquare will not only be home to Toronto’s largest private condo library and study area, residents will also have access to amenities such as two private music rehearsal rooms, state-of-the-art gym, pet grooming spa, kids zone, 24-hour concierge, an expansive party room with two dining areas and a rooftop terrace offering panoramic neighbourhood views.

“The real highlights are… the seventh-floor outdoor terrace is spectacular, it’s really like having a taste of a forest or High Park that you can just step out into,” Jensen says. “The private library is probably the crown jewel of them all. The versatility that this type of space offers… you can go there to study, there are breakout rooms, quiet spaces… it all ties into the library, and we’ve got moveable panels to open up spaces.”

Construction now underway at Kingdom Developments' KSquare Condos in Scarborough
Construction now underway at Kingdom Developments’ KSquare Condos in Scarborough

“The lobby itself is very unique, if for no other reason than its size,” Brian Woodrow, senior designer, Tomas Pearce, told Condo Life. “It’s almost a full double height, has a fireplace lounge, a business/tech lounge, so its broken into two areas and its meant to draw people together in a work, live and communicative environment.”

Kingdom Developments gave Tomas Pearce the freedom to execute its ideas, Woodrow says. “They came to us with these ideas… I wouldn’t call them prerequisites because they gave us a free hand, which is very unusual, and allowed us to develop these thoughts and notions from our design standard point of view.”

The KSquare community will be surrounded by nature and greenspace. Bordering the building, South Linear Park boasts over half an acre of parkland and trails and the building’s grounds will also feature lush landscaping that will weave into a central courtyard to the east of the main entrance.

Register at ksquarecondos.com or visit the Presentation Gallery located at 2035 Kennedy Rd., open Monday to Thursday noon to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Fridays.

RELATED READING

KSquare Condos is the flagship of Kingdom Canada coming to Agincourt

Luxury condos coming to Scarborough with KSquare Condos

 

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The Humber Condos offer riverside living at Lawrence & Weston in Toronto

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The Humber Condos offer riverside living at Lawrence & Weston in Toronto

Living in Toronto is too often a story of compromises: To enjoy the urban vibrancy of the city, you often have to forgo expanses of nature; in order to afford homeownership, you have to move to the suburbs. With The Humber, an upcoming condo community at Lawrence Ave. W and Weston Rd. in Weston Village, it’s possible to have it all.

Nestled on the banks of the Humber River, a lush ribbon of water, parks and trails that bisects the concrete jungle, The Humber is situated next to a river oasis with sweeping southwest views that will never be obstructed. Meanwhile, city life is never far away. Located a mere three-minute walk from the Weston UP Express stop, it’s only a quick 15-minute zip to Union Station or 12 minutes to Pearson. Whether you’re up for a night on the town or looking to take flight, it’s all within easy reach.

With The Humber, which is developed by Options for Homes, home ownership within the city is also within reach. Operating for over 25 years, Options for Homes is Canada’s largest developer working exclusively on making home ownership more affordable. It’s something that Options has been doing for 25 years – including the first three buildings in The Distillery District and a development in The Junction.

With Options you only need 5% total down payment to buy a condo, and its unique Down Payment Boost offers anyone – not just first-time home buyers – 10% to 15% of the home’s purchase price as a shared-equity down payment loan. The Down Payment Loan helps lower the mortgage required and thereby lowers monthly mortgage payments. That said, first-timers could be eligible for up to a 24% boost! The loan comes with no monthly payments and is due back only when a purchaser sells their home or moves out.

Here’s how that looks. For a home costing $500,000, a purchaser would put $25,000 down and Options would offer a 10% down payment boost, so $50,000, and then owns 10% of the home. If the condo then appreciates to $600,000 in a few years and the owner wants to sell, they would owe Options 10% of the sale price, or $60,000. Both the homeowner and Options benefit from the home’s increase and value, and the homeowner is able to build equity through home ownership.

Options also keeps prices as low as possible by forgoing costly amenities like pools, while investing in beautiful common spaces and environmental features such as solar panels, all in a high-quality building built by Deltera (part of the Tridel Group of Companies), meaning affordability comes without compromise. This results in low and stable maintenance fees, which are a city-low of $0.49 per square foot. The Humber is also pet-friendly, as homeowners are able to own up to two pets, and its Smoke Less policy – which permits only vaping of tobacco or cannabis in the building, including private homes – mitigates the negative impacts of smoking for all of The Humber’s residents.

As a mission-based social enterprise, Options makes a policy of not selling to investors. This ensures that housing affordability is available to middle income Torontonians looking to home ownership for stability and as a means of building equity for their family’s future.

All of this means The Humber, with a large percentage of 2- and 3-bedroom suites, is ideally suited for families and those who value community, something that Options for Homes is known for over its 13 completed developments.

Sheena McDonald, who along with her husband purchased a 3-bedroom suite at The Humber, says this focus on building community was an important factor in their decision to buy. “I feel like it’s rare. We have a number of friends who live at Heintzman (in The Junction) and I’ve learned through them that sense of community actually does exist in Options developments,” she says. “It seems like it’s not your typical condo situation in Toronto.”

While Weston Village is a lesser known corner of Toronto, it already boasts renowned and beloved community events such as the Weston Farmers’ Market (the city’s oldest), its own Santa Claus parade, and Weston Lions Park and arena. And it’s getting a huge cultural boost with the Artscape Weston Commons, which is home to artist housing, Urban Arts and Shakespeare in Action, along with the farmers’ market.

Quality, community and unparalleled natural beauty are hallmarks of The Humber. With excellent transit options, a rejuvenating neighbourhood, and down payment support that makes home ownership possible, The Humber is a perfect place to call home.

Visit thehumber.ca for more information.

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Do YOU know what Kind of Condo You’re Buying?

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Do YOU know what Kind of Condo You’re Buying?

Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. You could, for example, purchase a condominium townhouse, or perhaps a one bedroom unit in a highrise. They are both classified as “condominiums” because you own your unit while at the same time sharing access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways (otherwise known as common elements). However, just because the townhouse and highrise unit are both condos does not necessarily mean that they are defined the same way when it comes to warranty coverage.

There are several types of condos but the most common are “standard condominiums” and “common elements condominiums.” The determination of how a condominium project will be designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When it comes time to buy, you need to know how your condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

9th & Main Condos + Towns
Pemberton Group’s 9th & Main Condos + Towns in Stouffville.

So what would this mean to you as an owner? Let’s say you’ve bought a townhouse that is part of a complex that has underground parking. If there’s a problem in the parking garage – maybe leaks, drainage issues or a faulty door – the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage. If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty will apply. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees, or it could require a special assessment on all the owners.

How your condo is designated also matters when it comes to how Tarion can help. If a builder is not taking steps to resolve common element issues, we can only assist in situations where there is warranty coverage.

For the sake of both your peace of mind and your wallet, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. And if you have questions about the types of condos and their coverage, our customer service team can help. Contact us at customerservice@tarion.com or call 1.877.9TARION.

Howard Bogach

HOWARD BOGACH is president and CEO of Tarion Warranty Corp., a private corporation established to protect the rights of new homebuyers and to regulate new home builders. Tarion.com

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How to create a stunning, guest-friendly condo

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How to create a stunning, guest-friendly condo

• Photography By Colin Perry

Choosing your finishes is a joyful rite of passage when buying a new condo – the first step in putting a personal stamp on a new home. But what if the finishes have been chosen for you? Or worse, were chosen by the builder 25 years ago?

guest bedroom decor
With the warm hues of its brass-toned bedside table and straw-coloured accent pillows, the guest bedroom is a cheery retreat on Vancouver’s gloomier days.

When this homeowner finally found the perfect condo – after months of hunting for a three-bedroom, two-bath place, as elusive as a four-leaf clover in Vancouver’s frenzied market – she was faced with positively uninspiring decor. The finishes were bland, the bathrooms were dated, and the galley kitchen was “claustrophobic.”

plush living room
Wrapped in a moody navy wallpaper with a plush, muted yellow rug underfoot, the TV room is a snug antidote to the brighter, more spacious rooms. Gold sconces and side tables balance the blue and elevate the look.

A GUIDING LIGHT

While she was downsizing from a much larger home, she was intent on embracing a new esthetic in her new nest. So when she tapped seasoned Vancouver designer Negar Reihani to help take the 1,100-sq.-ft. Yaletown apartment from drab to dazzling, the dossier was slim, and there was no existing furniture to work with. “She gave me very little. She showed me some pictures, and that was it,” Reihani recalls. “She said, ‘Imagine this is your own home; treat it and design it the way you would do for yourself.’ She gave me carte blanche, then left the country for six months.” Every designer’s dream client, right? Not entirely. “It’s a major responsibility and comes with a lot of stress.”

dining room
Pale wood floors set a Nordic tone in the dining room, especially when paired with gallery-white walls, but an interplay of materials and textures–from lush Bianco Carrara marble to silky charcoal velvet to artwork in the rich golds of a Klimt masterpiece-build a rich, complex look. The demure pedestal table and gently curving chairs have simple but sophisticated lines.

The goals for the condo were two-fold: imbue it with a bright, welcoming transitional style, and make it work for the homeowner’s frequent entertaining and overnight guests. “When family visits from Iran, she can host them here,” she says. “And with her background, you usually have more people when you entertain.” The designer deftly skirted the form-versus-function dichotomy by building in piles of storage while maintaining the innate airiness of the surprisingly ample rooms and brightening them up with fresh finishes and furniture.

CHARACTER BUILDER

“She was coming from a large, single-family home on two acres of land in Iran where she raised her children,” Reihani says. “Her old home was very classic, with lots of antiques and rugs. But a house is a lot of maintenance, and at her age, it becomes more difficult. So, here in Vancouver, she wanted her home to be modern and elegant with none of the care and upkeep she worried about before.”

The quietly luxe galley kitchen is a lesson in artfully reimagining this drab condo stalwart. New MDF cabinet doors are budget-friendly, but look elegant painted out in “a colour between moss and warm taupe.” An undermounted sink and integrated stovetop are suitably low-key.

The decorating, too, would be a departure. “She wanted light blues and greens, colours that make you happy in Vancouver’s grey weather. A mix of modern, with some classic touches – pretty simple, pretty modern.” To keep the look from feeling one-dimensional, Reihani incorporated elements – like the brushed-brass accents and moodier artwork—that reference older, more traditional or more opulent styles. Pale-wood flooring installed throughout the home updates the look.

Kitchen
Brains and beauty: with the fridge and oven relocated to the adjacent hallway clearing up much neede prep space, the new finishes add elegance, while maintaining the home’s understated esthetic.

WHAT’S COOKING

Opening up the tiny, closed-in kitchen – the project’s biggest challenge – meant refinishing it with a light, elegant touch. Now fully visible from the dining room and den, the overhauled space had to be stylish. “The trick was to keep things sleek,” Reihani says. She replaced aged cabinet doors with simple MDF ones painted in mossy taupe. Laminate counters were swapped out in favour of stretches of cool Bianco Carrara marble. On the rear wall, upper cabinets fronted in back-painted glass are lushly framed in a crisp box of marble. “The marble box creates visual interest and movement, and the glass panelling has sparkle, so it makes the kitchen look more spacious.” Reihani also panelled the inside surfaces of the pillar and thin bulkhead (essential for the plumbing and structural support) in mirror, so they all but disappear.

living room
The living room has an ethereal quality, with white walls (subtly downlit by recessed lights set into “light boxes”) and textiles in muted pinks, blues and whites. A clever window seat stretches the width of the room designed to seat a crowd during the homeowner’s requent parties; an open base keeps the look light and the drawers below amp up storage space.

Of course, looks weren’t everything: the space had to have brains, too. “She’s an older lady and she likes to cook,” she says. To boost cooking space and function, Reihani pulled the fridge and stove out of the tiny galley space, packing those plus a full-height pantry cupboard and more storage into repurposed closets along the adjacent hallway, and freeing up space for cooking and storage in the kitchen.

BUDGET-FRIENDLY CUSTOM TOUCHES

To keep the reno budget manageable, Reihani didn’t radically alter the structural elements. She left the narrow column in place for support, and it also houses the kitchen’s pipes and drains. “I didn’t touch the plumbing,” she says. She hid the outer support wall inside the cabinet. “By extending the materials from the cabinets, I made it look more custom.”

guest bathroom
In the guest bath, the vanity is framed in a tidy white box of stone. The granite composite surface amps up the light around the mirror for applying makeup or shaving. Expanses of storage make it easy for the owner to keep living spaces clear of clutter.

Reihani had equal aplomb when tackling the dull-as-dishwater bathrooms. In the master bath, she focused her redesign on a long, lean display shelf that runs the length of the room, right into the glass-walled shower, for a look that’s crisp and architectural. The guest bath riffs on the kitchen design, with its vanity area boxed in in sheets of quartz composite.

The reimagined bathroom design hinges on a striking but simple display shelf that’s stretched all the way along on wall – right into the shower. Effectively a decorative move, it looks integral and architectural, giving the space a thoroughly custom esthetic.

When she started thinking about the condo as she would her own, Reihani developed a long list of alterations for the home. But, of course, all good things must come to an end. “I would have done wallpaper in the master bedroom to give it that extra layer, and upgraded the closet doors in the bedrooms. But you have to spend your budget where it’s most visible and always keep resale in mind as well,” Reihani says. “You have to create changes that will stay relevant. By that token, the bedrooms are usually last.”

master bedroom
The master bedroom is a serene retreat rendered in a tranquil palette of off-whites and blues. To boost ambience throughout the condo, Negar brought in layers of light, including innovative “light boxes” she fitted with recessed lights on dimmers along the edges of the ceiling.

In the end, the homeowner never got to choose her own finishes – that pleasure went to the designer. Nonetheless, she has gained a bright and charming new home base that’s a perfect launchpad for the next phase of her life. And as for the personal stamp… she’ll have to make that mark through memories she creates hosting guests overnight, and throwing parties for her friends, children and grandchildren.

Katie Hayden
Katie Hayden

SOURCES

INTERIOR DESIGN by Negar Reihani, CONSTRUCTION, FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS, Space Harmony; WOOD FLOORING, Floor House; PAINT, Pure White by Sherwin-Williams. LIVING ROOM: CUSTOM SOFA, Space Harmony; SIDEBOARD, Nuevo Living; SIDE TABLE, Suquet; POUFS, HomeSense; COFFEE TABLE, Jonathan Adler; BENCH FABRICS, Brentano. DINING ROOM: TABLE, Suquet; CHAIRS, CHANDELIER, LH Imports; ARTWORK (behind dining table) by Caro (caro-paint. com). KITCHEN: CABINETRY COMPANY, BACK-PAINTED GLASS, Modaa Kitchen; COUNTERTOPS, MARBLE BACKSPLASHES, Alpine Countertops; DRAWER PULLS, Atlas Homewear. DEN: WALLPAPER, Hygge & West; CUSTOM SOFA, Space Harmony; TABLES, West Elm; RUG, Surya (surya.com); MIRROR, The Home Depot; WALL SCONCE, Aerin; large PLANT in basket, HomeSense. MASTER BEDROOM: BED, COVERLET, West Elm; BEDDING, HomeSense; WALL SCONCES, Aerin; SIDE TABLE, CB2; ARTWORK by Negar Reihani, Space Harmony. ENSUITE BATHROOM: MARBLE FOR WALLS, FLOOR TILE, Creekside Tile; GLASS FOR SHOWER WALLS, Universal Supply; CABINETRY MANUFACTURER, Modaa Kitchen; TOILET, SINK, FAUCETS, TAPS, SHOWER HEAD, Universal Supply; DRAWER PULLS, Atlas; COUNTERTOP, Alpine Countertop. GUEST BEDROOM: BED, SIDE TABLE, BEDSPREAD, West Elm; WALL SCONCE, Aerin; PLANTS (on bedside table), HomeSense. GUEST BATHROOM: MARBLE FOR WALLS, FLOOR TILE, Creekside Tile; GLASS FOR SHOWER WALLS, Universal Supply; CABINETRY MANUFACTURER, Modaa Kitchen; TOILET, SINK, FAUCETS, TAPS, SHOWER HEAD, Universal Supply; DRAWER PULLS, Atlas; COUNTERTOP, Alpine Countertop.

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30 year old condo gets the ultimate facelift

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30 year old condo gets the ultimate facelift

Photography by Gillian Jackson Photography

Updating and renovating any home is a daunting task. My clients loved the size of their condo, but after 30 years, it was showing its age. They liked the two bedroom layout, but the kitchen was looking shabby with it’s original cabinets and appliances. Not only was it windowless and closed off from the living area, but the fluorescent, Florida ceiling cast a gloomy light. Together we transformed the entire suite from dated to daring.

Luxury is all about adding small details that collectively amplify the feeling of glamour and sophistication. – Jane Lockhart

ALL IN ONE GO

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about renovating an apartment condo, is that it’s best to treat it like a bandaid and take it off all at once. When you’re dealing with noise, demolition, elevator disruptions and deliveries, it just makes sense to do it all at the same time.

We asked for, and received, all the appropriate permissions. Then, we began the months-long renovation process. Once we took the walls, floors and drop ceiling back to the concrete, we were able to get a good look at what we could (and couldn’t) do.

BEFORE

A GRAND ENTRANCE

Because you can’t install lighting into concrete ceilings, we strategically added coffered ceilings to house new LED recessed lighting. In the now-open-concept kitchen and entryway, instead of trying to blend the ceilings, we added trim to make it a feature. Now, the entry virtually sparkles with a full mirrored wall, sconces and a delicate chandelier.

Multi-patterned tiles in travertine and onyx added a reflective quality. We added crisp trim moulding to the flat panelled entry door and painted it a dramatic black.

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT

With the kitchen now open to the living room, it was important to create a cohesive living space with complementary surfaces and materials. Hardwood flooring was installed in a diagonal pattern to add visual interest in the living room, kitchen and bedrooms.

We opted to forgo upper cabinets in the kitchen. Instead, we used glass tile in a stacked form, and had the stainless steel range hood custom designed as a sculptural element. The art deco insert on the apron sink is a wonderful feature, as is the horizontal detailing on the glossy, Macassar wood cabinetry. A white stone counter tops off the island, and black is used on the perimeter counter. For dining, we chose a warm, wood finish for the table and rich, velvet fabric for the counterheight chairs.

OUT IN THE OPEN

High-gloss black barn doors house dishware and collectables. And guests now dine in comfort without being in a closed in room.

The living room features an electric fireplace in a book-matched, chevron-patterned tile. With black as the accent colour, we added lush textiles. Here, black is mirrored in the edges of the sofa, and the black cabinets are accented with a touch of the kitchen cabinetry wood. The look is carried throughout to add an element of drama, and as a backdrop to decorative pieces. Silk pillows and the plush velvet chairs add texture and shine, as well as the shimmery band around the border of the custom-made rug.

IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS

Moulded trim was added to the walls to create balance, and to add symmetry with the artwork. A silver coffee table added just the right amount of splash, along with other mixed metals. Luxury is all about adding small details that collectively amplify the feeling of glamour and sophistication. You don’t need to renovate to achieve this, so start with adding some luxurious elements into your own home.

Jane Lockhart, B.A.A.I.D., is a multi-award winning designer, author and television personality. Jane Lockhart Interior Design janelockhart.com

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Left to right, Ronnie Strasser, Sam Strasser, Alex Strasser, Stanton Strasser, Jay Strasser, Alan Vihant, Niall Collins, Mike McGrath, Hunter Milborne, Boris Shteiman and Josh Shteiman

Great Gulf and partners break ground on Yorkville condo 8 Cumberland

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Great Gulf and partners break ground on Yorkville condo 8 Cumberland

Left to right, Ronnie Strasser, Sam Strasser, Alex Strasser, Stanton Strasser, Jay Strasser, Alan Vihant, Niall Collins, Mike McGrath, Hunter Milborne, Boris Shteiman and Josh Shteiman
Left to right, Ronnie Strasser, Sam Strasser, Alex Strasser, Stanton Strasser, Jay Strasser, Alan Vihant, Niall Collins, Mike McGrath, Hunter Milborne, Boris Shteiman and Josh Shteiman

Award-winning developers Great Gulf and Phantom Developments Ltd., along with The Kadima Group and MM Realty Ventures Inc., have celebrated the groundbreaking of 8 Cumberland, a modern 51-storey highrise condominium with a century-old brick Victorian podium. Located at the northwest corner of Cumberland Avenue and Yonge Street, it will pay homage to Yorkville’s timeless heritage and the neighbourhood’s revitalization.

Conveniently situated near two subway intersections, Canada’s most exclusive shopping district and one of the best cultural and art destinations in the world, 8 Cumberland is a sculpture with ribbons of gleaming steel and luminous glass creating a stunning façade. The masterplan includes parks and open spaces with pedestrian mews that will connect Yorkville Avenue to Cumberland Street and eventually to Bloor Street.

“8 Cumberland will create a new gateway to the Yorkville District,” says Great Gulf President, Residential, Niall Collins. “Our commitment to the neighbourhood’s revitalization includes a 36-storey condo tower at 18 Yorkville, the iconic 76-storey condo tower at One Bloor east and this 51-storey condo development all within a block radius.”

Designed by Architects Alliance with interior designs by Thomas Pearce and landscape architecture by NAK Design, the sleek and stylish building will feature retail on the ground and second floor within the heritage building dating back to the late nineteenth century. With 371 units ranging from 468 to 1,845 sq. ft., the spacious open-concept suites offer panoramic city views and state of the art amenities.

“Phantom Developments is thrilled to be breaking ground on 8 Cumberland,” adds Henry Strasser, principal of Phantom Developments. “When we acquired the site in 2014, we knew we had the opportunity to develop a true landmark in our vibrant city.”

Vihant
Alan Vihant, Great Gulf’s senior vice-president, highrise

Location doesn’t get much better than right in the heart of Yorkville, even in an area with other condo options. “(8 Cumberland) is different in a lot of ways,” Alan Vihant, Great Gulf’s senior vice-president, highrise, told Condo Life. “It’s right on Yonge Street, you can walk to the subway door, it’s right there, and it connects to a path that goes through Yorkville and all the way through to Bloor Street.”

 

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Great Gulf breaks ground at 357 King West

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How to host Christmas dinner in your condo – for cheap!

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How to host Christmas dinner in your condo – for cheap!

One of the biggest challenges condo owners face is lack of space. Many who choose condo living do so to minimize maintenance costs and live close to where they work and play. That often means a smaller unit where every single square inch has a purpose. For day-to-day living this is an excellent solution, but for hosting a large gathering it can be challenging. With Christmas coming up condo owners might feel like their only choice is to attend a party at a larger home, but with some careful planning, you too you can host a great party in your home and not break the bank.

Book the party room

The easiest and most obvious choice is to book your condominium party room. Most of these spaces come with food prep rooms, a lounge area and of course a spacious place to seat all your guests. With only a few weeks before the holidays the best dates may be gone already, but inquire about Christmas 2019. Maybe you can book now for the year ahead and let guests know that next year the holiday meal will be hosted by you. As a courtesy let your doorman know your plans to minimize delays of your dinner guests getting in. Go a step further and make signs that lead to the room, as some condo buildings are difficult to navigate.

Rent it

Most condo owners don’t have a table that will seat eight to ten guests. If you’re hosting in your unit look into renting a dining table with chairs. Turn your condo into a restaurant like feel. Move all the unnecessary furniture out of your main space into your bedroom. Leave only the long table and chairs and a few seats for guests to lounge. Keep the focus on the table and encourage guests to claim their seats as they arrive. This way, like a restaurant, they can stand during cocktail time and know there is a seat available right way if they need it. In some cases you can rent a dining set for as low as $200 and this includes set up. Some companies will provide the china and flatware, too.

Pot luck

The easiest way to keep costs (and efforts low) is to make your holiday dinner a potluck. After all if you’re spending money on renting furniture or a party room to accommodate your guests you may already be looking at a few hundred dollars to put on your party. As host commit to making the main dish. Ask your guests to bring dessert and the fixings. Also, for a big Turkey dinner skip the appetizers. When guests arrive already having your first course on the go, like a soup or salad. This will keep guests occupied and save you the hassle and money of making extra appetizers.

Prep

Having a small space means there is little room to do any work once guests arrive. After all you should be talking to them and not stuck in the kitchen. Make all you dishes ahead. In fact, except for dressing the salad, don’t leave anything to the last minute. The joy of holiday cooking is that casseroles and can be cooked ahead and kept warming in the oven.

Saving money

Planning ahead will make sure you don’t blow your budget. Make a list early of what you want to buy, search the flyers to get food ahead of time on sale. Make conscious choices to not cook meals that have complicated ingredients that you’ll have to go out and buy; use what you have at home first. Christmas is about getting together and enjoying a great meal with family and friends. A small space and small budget should not sway you from hosting.

Rubina ahmed-haq is a journalist and personal finance expert. She is HPG’s Finance Editor. She regularly appears on CBC Radio and TV. She is a contributor on CTV Your Morning and Global Toronto. She has a BA from York University, received her post graduate journalism diploma from Humber College and has completed the CSC. Follow her on Twitter @alwayssavemoney.

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42 Mill St. 1

Amico begins construction at 42 Mill St. condo in Georgetown

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Amico begins construction at 42 Mill St. condo in Georgetown

42 Mill St. 1

by Wayne Karl

Amico has broken ground at its latest condo development – 42 Mill St. in Georgetown.

Comprising six stories and 78 suites from the mid $400’s, 42 Mill St. units boast open concept designs, 9.5- to 10.5-ft. ceiling heights, European-style kitchens with integrated appliances, luxurious master ensuites, garden suite patios, recessed pot lights and exclusive access to electric car charging stations.

42 Mill 2

42 Mill St. also offers state-of-the-art building amenities, including fully-appointed fitness studio, a party room, an outdoor terrace with fireside lounge and barbecue, as well as an indoor party room with adjacent business lounge.

“We were intent on giving the community all that it deserves in terms of the quality of the product,” Cindy Prince, vice-president of development for Amico, told Condo Life. “The reception has been terrific. We listened to the community a lot when we were going through the design process.”

Mill St 3

Located right in downtown Georgetown, 42 Mill St. is walking distance to historic streets, shops and other amenities. Also nearby are schools, hospitals, recreation facilities and golf courses. The building is adjacent to the newly developed Lions Club Park, affording outdoor enthusiasts easy access to the Silver Creek Trail and the Terra Cotta Conservation Area.

And with the Georgetown GO station a short drive away, residents can be in downtown Toronto in just 55-minutes.

Mill St 4

The first of what will eventually be three buildings on the site, 42 Mill St. occupies an important place in the local history – it’s the site of the former Georgetown Memorial Arena, which opened in 1922 and was closed in 2013.

“It’s an appropriate thing to do in the community,” Prince says. Some of the common areas of the first building will likely be given somewhat of an arena theme, with artwork and historic photos reflecting the roots of the site.

Prince also hints that Amico is looking at Georgetown and the Halton Hills area for other possible future projects.

For more information, visit 42millst.com

 

 

 

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Condo Market: The Evolution of the Condo

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Condo Market: The Evolution of the Condo

Bigger is often better

I guess the old adage that ‘what goes around, comes around’ is right on. It spans into our universe — the condo universe. Right here in the centre of the condo universe. I was fortunate enough to work with the pioneers in the business, starting right out of university about 35 years ago.

Condos represented about 10 per cent of the new housing market; slowly creeping up over the years, to 15 and 20 per cent at best. The suites were big; two-bedrooms almost always. I remember selling them at $120 to $150 a foot in some pretty good neighbourhoods. Those now hit upwards of $1,000 per foot in North York, Thornhill, places like that.

I marketed thousands of new homes concurrently. They were everyone’s first choice — the backyard, 2 and one half kids and a dog, the right school district and all those other things. Really, that was everyone’s first choice. Prices per square foot were lower, sticker prices were higher. That part hasn’t changed much, even today.

As the world evolved, and Toronto became a destination for so many new Torontonians, we went condo crazy. Had no choice. The Greenbelt was frozen, the lake remained and we went east and west, and further north. Condos were it. But it no longer was necessarily an affordable alternative to housing. It became, as it is now, a first choice for many.

The average new condo still is hundreds of thousands of dollars less than its detached counterpart, despite the rising costs of development and construction in recent years. And those have been whopping.

We saw not so long ago the micro suites, the quantity of components, i.e. bedrooms and bathrooms, becoming more important than the sizing of the rooms themselves. Critical dimensions we used to use in creating spaces became downsized considerably. The 600-square-foot two bed/two bath condo came of age. And it continues to exist appropriately in some locales.

But as the world has turned, and as sexy condo locations are being filled and becoming harder to find, some of the great new offerings are being found right in the neighbourhoods that people value and want to stay in, places where they didn’t have opportunities to downsize without compromising their lifestyle in terms of suite design particularly. I personally moved last week from an 800-square-foot two-bedroom condo to a 950-squarefoot condo. Same components, but very different spaces. Night and day in many ways. Both serve and will serve a purpose; different costs of course.

Look for these types of things in many of the great new projects that will be entering the market this time of the year. One particularly good example of this is coming this fall to the Kingsway; I’ve had the privilege to work on the design, architecture and the planning of this great soon to be master planned community — 293 The Kingsway. This is a redevelopment consisting of five new buildings in a rare private enclave setting in an outstanding established valuable neighbourhood. The suites very much reflect the upsizing of things in all categories — one bedrooms, one plus den, two-bedrooms and two pluses.

It’s a reflection of just how far we’ve come as an industry, and just how integral condo living is in our great town. No longer an alternative choice; it has become very much our first choice.

MARK COHEN is a founding partner of The Condo Store Marketing Systems, a firm specializing in the design, marketing and sales of condo and new home communities in and outside of the GTA.

condostorecanada.com

mark@condostorecanada.com

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