Search Results for: ken zuckerman toronto
Is the luxury homes market in the GTA coming back? There are many who say it never really went away.
Granted, projects offering suites at the lower range of the luxury scale – perhaps those priced at $850 to $950 a square foot – went through some doldrums. But according to companies such as RealNet Canada, which tracks the condo market, luxury condos above $1,000 a foot always sell at a relatively steady pace despite economic ups and downs.
“If you compare lower-end luxury sales with more modestly priced suites they both follow almost parallel courses,” says RealNet president George Carras. “When the condo market is down overall, so are those suites below about $950 a square foot.
“But for the super-luxury class, the people who have the money to afford them make their buying decision in good times and bad. It all depends on when they want to make a move.”
If, however, the state of your finances leaves you well below that super-rich class, there is indeed good news.
All forms of luxury homes in the GTA have come back with a rush. The Toronto area has probably never seen such a range of choice. Need a townhouse? Try the Townhomes of Lytton Park on Avenue Road south of Lawrence or Ancroft Place in South Rosedale just over the Sherbourne Street bridge.
How about a boutique mid-rise, which combines Yorkville’s rich history with a clean contemporary look? Zinc Developments Group has Hazelton 36. It incorporates the façade of the old St. Basil’s School into a sleek new terraced design.
For those who long for a life that almost makes you believe you are next to a highland salmon stream but still close enough to walk to the splendid boutiques, specialty stores and cafés of Bloor West Village, there is Riverhouse at The Old Mill.
How about a penthouse high above King Street West’s celebrated theatre and entertainment district? The new tower at 8 Mercer Street can make that dream come true, with its three levels of large two-plus-den and three-bedroom penthouses.
But city life is not everyone’s cup of tea. There are those whose idea of ultimate luxury is a large home on a 100-foot lot within a chip shot of a world-class golf course. They might find that dream home at the Glenbourne Custom Estate Collection right across from the Angus Glen course in Markham.
“It is really quite exciting,” says Barry Lyon of Barry Lyon Consulting. “Less than a decade ago, if you wanted a luxury condo, you went to one of the projects in Yorkville. Now there are choices all across the GTA…”
“Builders have recognized that people want choice; they want luxury homes that allow them to stay in neighbourhoods they love or to move to neighbourhoods that offer them what they consider the perfect lifestyle for their stage of life.”
That lifestyle might include a throwback to Manhattan in the 1920s through the 1950s when anyone who was anyone lived in a suite atop a five-star hotel. Central Toronto now boasts at least half a dozen of those.
It might still include a suite larger than most suburban homes, with a terrace almost large enough for a tennis court in the heart of Bloor Street’s glittering shopping district. Yes, we have those. In fact we even have a range of choices.
The theatre district, the financial core, the entertainment district, Lytton Park, Lawrence Park even the fringes of Forest Hill and Rosedale offer superb luxury suites and homes.
So, what is driving this spring and summer’s market? How have we managed to go from doldrums to boom times in a matter of months?
Experts such as Mr. Lyon and Jimmy Malloy of Chestnut Park Real Estate, recognized as one of the city’s top agents, say four factors are at play.
The first is the demands of simple demographics. Both point out that men and women on the leading edge of the Baby Boom have had to put on hold, for nearly two years, plans to downsize their existing domestic arrangements and launch themselves into a more carefree pre-retirement and retirement lifestyle.
“The kids are gone; the house is too big for them alone and they want to start a new life in the home of their dreams and in an area they love,” says Mr. Lyon. “But the recession has kept those plans at bay for the past 18 months to two years.”
The second factor is the resurgence of the resale market. The Toronto Real Estate Board says the first quarter of this year was the best on record, with 22,418 homes changing hands. New listings were up 42% from the same period last year and average home prices climbed every month.
“What this meant was that people saw they could once again easily sell existing homes – and get top dollar for them,” says Mr. Malloy. The ability to sell an existing home is absolutely crucial if you are planning to spend upwards of $1-million on a new luxury condo, he adds.
The third factor at play is the upswing in financial markets.
Men and women who saw recession-driven, steep declines in the value of their savings were in no mood to contemplate spending on anything except the basics, says Mr. Lyon.
“But now we have the markets rebounding … Canada weathered the recession better than any other industrial nation and we again have confidence in the future,” he says.
Not just confidence in Canada but in the future of the GTA as well. All predictions suggest the area will continue to grow through immigration by 100,000 new people a year. All of them will be looking for a place to live.
Which brings us to the fourth factor – and that is something peculiar to the luxury market. As Mr. Lyon and Mr. Molloy explain it, luxury condo buyers are picky and prudent. They prefer to buy when they can finally see what they are getting.
That means the brisk traffic at luxury project presentation centres starts when the building begins to rise from the ground.
“Simply put, they want to see what they are getting for their money,” says Mr. Lyon.
That is why penthouse suites are the last to be released for sale even in moderately priced projects, adds Mr. Malloy.
“Luxury buyers also want to take their time before making a decision,” he adds. “It is not at all uncommon for them to come back and back again with their interior designer in tow, going over every small detail of their suite.”
That said, there may be a fifth factor influencing the luxury market: The ever-expanding range of choice.
“Great cities need diversity,” says Ken Zuckerman of the Zinc Developments Group. His company is creating Hazelton 36, that Yorkville boutique condo that incorporates the 1920s vintage St. Basil’s School. “Not everyone wants to live in the same area or the same kind of building.”
When you get diversity of choice, people who might not otherwise consider moving to a condo see alternatives that perfectly suit their taste and need, he explains.
David Silverberg, director of sales and marketing for Nexxt Development Corp. offers a hearty amen to that thought. Nexxt, in partnership with the Mizrahi Group, is building the freehold Townhomes of Lytton Park at Lytton Boulevard and Avenue Road.
“One of the things that is so exciting about this project is that we are bringing back to Toronto a much-loved form of luxury housing that simply has not been available largely because of land costs and the demand for higher densities,” he says.
“Not everyone wants to live in a condo and not everyone wants to live downtown. When we acquired this site we though it would be perfect for bringing back townhomes – freehold townhomes. If you want a healthy vibrant luxury market and a healthy vibrant city then choice is the key.”
Plans for future launches indicate the GTA has no worries there. Developers large and small have signalled their intention to bring new projects to market this summer. Minto Group, for example, will relaunch the St. Thomas tower at St. Thomas and Charles streets.
Canlight Hall Realty has purchased the 21 townhouses that make up Ancroft Place in South Rosedale and plans to update them and sell them as condos starting around June.
For those longing to remain in their much-loved Lawrence Park neighbourhood near Bayview Avenue south of Eglinton, The Tridel Group has launched Blythwood at Huntington, an elegant, brick-and-stone eight-storey mid-rise overlooking the Sherwood Park Ravine. While two-bedroom suites will start in the mid-$500,000s, larger homes on upper floors, including the penthouses, will have prices well above the million-dollar mark.
“It very much looks like this summer will mark a new and exciting stage in the GTA’s housing market,” says Mr. Malloy. “The range of options in luxury homes is going to be truly impressive.”
Incoming search terms
Deirdre Kelly – Globe and Mail
When Ken Zuckerman, owner of Zinc Construction, completed a new, boutique-hotel-inspired loft conversion in downtown Toronto last year, he decided to keep the best loft for himself. Located at 113–115 Dupont, this old commercial warehouse is now home to seven massive multi-million dollar luxury lofts.
Measuring 4,000 square feet with 12–1/2-foot ceilings, the loft was custom-made to showcase art, a passion of Mr. Zuckerman’s since he was a small boy going to galleries with his art-collecting parents.
Art, in fact, is the hallmark of a converted loft building whose lobby is decorated with original contemporary work by such artists as Canada’s Michael Awad and South Africa’s Brett Murray, and whose residents include Sandra Ainsley, owner of Toronto’s Sandra Ainsley Gallery, and Steven Levy, overseer of the Toronto International Art Fair.
Mr. Zuckerman is no stranger to the art world himself, having created over the years a substantial contemporary collection.
Artists whose work he collects include Radcliffe Bailey, Ke-Sook Lee and Hank Willis Thomas.
Their work is large-scale, but easily accommodated inside Mr. Zuckerman’s loft, which he built with an abundance of wall space and gallery-style track lighting.
“I built the place for art,” says Mr. Zuckerman, a brash fortysomething who builds shopping malls and award-winning residences in addition to stylish condos.
“I thought that the people who would live here would be big into art, and so far that’s been true of everybody who lives here. All the suites are full of art. It’s an inspiring place to live.”
And no wonder, when the lofts themselves were made to be as much an aesthetic experience as comfortable and convenient places to live.
From the random-sized-plank wood flooring imported from Germany through Toronto’s Floorworks to the sculpted modernist vanities by Italy’s Antonio Lupi bathroom design company, every detail inside the three-storey building was chosen for flair as well as function.
Inside his own loft, Mr. Zuckerman calls the all-white, contemporary Italian kitchen “sculptural” before noting that with two dishwashers, three fridges and a 14-foot-long centre island topped with Carrera marble it’s practical, as well.
Other everyday objects that intersect the subjective world of beauty include the egg-shaped Agape bathtub in the master ensuite, and the large brushed-metal doors that close off the large walk-in closet from a master bedroom so commodious it houses a small home gym in addition to a king-sized bed and library.
While the main living area is open-concept, the loft splinters off into a series of rooms that are smaller – although no less grand in scale – where Mr. Zuckerman has been able to create a sense of seclusion.
One of these rooms is a home office with a walkout to a screened terrace. This is where Mr. Zuckerman conducts most of the affairs of Zinc Construction, recently handed an Ontario Association of Architects award for a private residence on nearby Bishop Street. The table is littered with papers, signs of a mind in full development mode.
“I’m going to build another building, and likely live there,” he says, explaining why he is leaving the one that so fully bears his imprint.
“I seem to like the process more than the end. I like being involved in the creative process.”
Incoming search terms
New homes on the market include Victory Condos, which has limited availability
Suzanne Wintrob, National Post
Housing sales may be booming again, but judging by all the bulldozers and cranes popping up, it appears luxury condominiums are the talk of the town.
From Lake Ontario to tony Yorkville and out to the suburbs, there is hardly a piece of land without a new condo building on it or one in the works. Famous hotel brands such as Trump, Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton are well into construction, while local developers who held on to land during last year’s financial nightmare have rolled up their sleeves and are back in action.
All the excitement has given buyers and investors an assortment of interesting luxurious options. There are grand residences atop hotels, chic units and penthouses in tall towers, and a new crop of lower buildings boasting garden terraces. Those on the market are selling swiftly, while several new offerings are about to make their official debuts.
“We’re all a little surprised by how the market turned around very quickly,” admits Brian Brown, vice-president of Lifetime Developments and principal of sister company BLVD Developments. “It was almost like somebody turned off the faucet and then all of a sudden turned it back on. It’s as if there wasn’t a slowdown. There has been a lot of pent-up demand. For a period of time, people decided they wanted to sit on the sidelines to see how things were going to shake out. As soon as we heard some good news, everyone was jumping back in and trying to find great deals, great offers and great investment opportunities.”
Lifetime/BLVD is the perfect example of a builder offering something for everyone. While most of the company’s condo projects are situated in downtown Toronto, they come in all shapes and sizes and cater to a wide demographic.
For instance, Liberty Market Lofts in Liberty Village features live-work spaces, with only a handful of lofts and penthouses left and priced to $494,990. Near Spadina Avenue, the pricier 12-storey project Victory Condos on King has just a few suites available. Penthouses, boasting private rooftop patios that match the unit size, range from 800 to 2,500 sq. ft. and $706,900 to $2.2–
million. As an incentive, penthouse buyers will receive free stuff including: a locker, an underground parking space, an upgraded kitchen appliance package and rooftop built-in barbecue and sink. Lifetime is also a joint venture partner with Great Gulf Homes on the 42-storey X2 tower, and will launch three more towers in the fall including the 41-storey Bisha Hotel and Residences in Toronto’s entertainment district. In short, different strokes for different folks.
“There’s definitely a market for every type of product,” Mr. Brown explains. “People feel they’re getting something different, something that fits exactly what their expectations are without having to spend extra money to upgrade. It’s done very well for us.”
Ken Zuckerman, owner of Zinc Construction, shares that sentiment as he prepares to transform St. Basil’s Separate School in Yorkville into a six-storey, 25-unit tiered boutique condo building called Hazelton 36. It is unique to Toronto, he claims, because it will be small but splendid and situated on a residential tree-lined street. Average units will be approximately 1,800 to 2,200 sq. ft. and priced around $1-million, with penthouses as big as 6,000 sq. ft. Expected occupancy is September 2012.
“It’s for people who are independent and want their privacy and want to feel they’re somewhere special,” says Mr. Zuckerman, who plans several more boutique projects now that the market is back where he likes it.
Another newcomer to the luxury condo business, given the economic upswing, is Dunpar Homes. Mark Mintzer, vice-president of sales and marketing, says the company has built more than 2,000 luxury townhomes in South Etobicoke over the past 25 years but the time was right for its first condo highrise. The seven-storey Kingsway Terrace, at the corner of Prince Edward Drive and Dundas Street West, will go to market on April 10 with 80 units ranging from 700 to 2,900 sq. ft. and priced from $400,000 to more than $2-million. The suites are geared to upscale empty-nesters who live in The Kingsway and want to stay in the area.
“In building our townhomes, we always had a missing link for the person who wanted something all on one floor,” Mr. Mintzer says. “People always loved our finishes and designs but couldn’t do the stairs. We were missing a segment of the market we should have been looking at.”
Dunpar Homes has owned several pieces of land on that intersection for a decade but was waiting for the right opportunity. When the economy picked up, the company made its move. Kingsway Terrace is just one of three buildings the developer is planning for that corner over the next five years.
Some builders are enticing buyers with nostalgia. The Nicholas near York-ville is a throwback to the 1960s, with floors, fixtures and furniture in the 29-storey, 255-unit building designed as an ode to Mad Men. Mark Reeve, a partner at developer Urban Capital Property Group, describes the building as “affordable luxury” given the “first-class” finishes and Cecconi Simone-designed kitchens. The ’60s theme is so ingrained in marketing the property that “one advertising executive wanted to call it the Sterling Cooper building [like on the TV show] but we said that was going a bit too far,” Mr. Reeve quips.
Then there’s the “something different” category. Concord Adex’s 1,800-unit Parade project, covering two city blocks in downtown Toronto, comprises two 38-storey towers linked by a two-storey bridge at the 28 to 30 levels. Parade II – the phase now under construction – boasts two Mike Niven-designed Sky Suites situated within the bridge. Each 4,000-sq.-ft. Sky Suite has three levels, with the living room and dining room located on the bridge and the bedrooms in the tower. There is a walkout from the master bedroom to a private garden on the bridge’s roof deck. Cost of ownership: $6-million.
“Our target is the typical rich and famous, the type of personality that only looks at properties that are one of a kind,” says Brian Fong, senior manager of project marketing at Concord Adex.
The company has never offered such exclusive suites at any of their other projects around the world, he says. They are being sold through a select group of real estate agents.
For those looking for single-family luxury, only three bungalows remain at The Bungalows at Kilgour Estates, ranging from $1.7-million to $2–
million. Simona Annibale, vice-president of marketing at Daniels Corp., says they offer “something very unique in today’s marketplace that even nearby Lawrence Park or Rosedale do not: an intimate connection to the Kilgour Club – an all-encompassing fitness, social and recreational oasis designed by Brian Gluckstein.” Buyers can move in this year.
Condo/hotels are doing brisk business, too, with the big-name brands coming together nicely. The 60-storey Trump Toronto is almost halfway up (“We’re averaging about a floor every week and a half,” says spokesman Howard Tikka) and the first stage of the granite-and-glass curtain wall is complete. The residences are 60% sold but the remaining are exquisite, ranging from a 36th-floor, 1,310-sq.-ft. suite from $2.1-million to a 51st-floor 3,275-sq.-ft. suite from $5.8-million. Hotel condominiums start at $900,000. Trump’s people are hoping for a February 2011 hotel opening, with residence and condo occupancy following that fall.
The 53-storey Ritz-Carlton Toronto is also making inroads, with the building now topped off and 80% of the 159 residences sold. As incentive, buyers will receive a $150,000 gift card they can use at any Ritz-Carlton properties around the world.
“Most of our buyers have stayed at a Ritz-Carlton hotel or resort across the world,” explains Tina Amato, senior vice-president at Baker Real Estate. “They are very familiar with the brand, they know the service and they know what they’re going to get by living above a Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The gift card … is a really special incentive for them to buy.”
Not to be outdone, the 55-storey Four Seasons is now at the ninth floor and the glass curtain wall is going in. The complete project comprises two towers – a 55-floor tower housing the hotel plus exquisite residences beginning on the 24th floor, and a 26-storey tower made up entirely of residences. Both will be completed at the same time, with residence occupancy in mid-2012. The residences are also 80% sold.
Of particular note is the 55th-floor penthouse. At 9,032 sq. ft., it takes up the entire floor and includes 12-ft. ceilings, floor-to-ceiling glass on every wall, four terraces, and a separate 680-sq.-ft. staff suite. The lucky owner gets four private parking spaces and a Four Seasons address. Price tag: $30-million.
“Ninety to 100% of our buyers own residences elsewhere in the world, but most have some Canadian [connection] – maybe they used to live here, or they still live here, or they have kids who go to school here, or they have family or business here,” says Janice Fox, director of sales for Four Seasons Private Residences. “Much less than the majority will live here full-time … so [owners] are never going to have to wait long for an elevator.”
With so much activity, 2010 is shaping up to be a busy year for developers – and a luxuriously satisfying one for those seeking the finest in condominium living.
Incoming search terms