Condo buyers may have to line up again
By Tony Wong – Toronto Star
A new highrise will soar at 1 Bloor, considered one of Toronto’s most prestigious addresses. But it looks like former buyers of the condominium project will have to get back in line if they still want a home in the blue-chip neighbourhood.
The new owner of the site at the corner of Bloor and Yonge streets says it intends to build a high-rise development that will include retail and housing.
“We are working very diligently to see what is appropriate for that corner, which we envision to be some kind of mixed-use development,” said Jerry Patava, president and CEO of the company.
“Right now we are looking at what we can do, although it’s too early to determine what exactly will be there.”
An affiliate company of Great Gulf purchased the property from Bazis with a closing in September, Patava said.
Bazis, the original developer, had sold purchasers plans for a striking tower design that was supposed to be the tallest in the city.
Great Gulf’s Patava said his company would likely be in touch with condo buyers to see if they are still interested in living at 1 Bloor.
“Right now it’s a blank slate,” he said. “We have no contractual obligation to the former buyers. But obviously they thought this was a great place to live.
“It’s one of the most attractive corners in Canada.”
Purchasers will receive their deposit money back, Bazis International said in a statement. About 500 purchasers put down $70 million in deposits for their units. Realtors who sold the units and the company have been flooded with calls from worried buyers.
“Bazis International wishes to assure all purchasers at One Bloor that their deposit money placed for a condominium suite is in the vendor’s solicitor’s trust account and earning interest,” the statement said.
Great Gulf Group builds homes, shopping malls and office towers throughout North America. It owns the Taboo resort in Muskoka and its Great Gulf Homes subsidiary is one of the top five residential builders in the GTA by volume.
The privately held company was formed in 1975 by publicity shy brothers Elly and Norman Reisman. Their brother Sam, CEO of investment bank Rose Corp., was the driving force behind the Filmport movie complex in Toronto before selling his ownership stake earlier this year.
The sale of 1 Bloor signals the end of an at-times contentious relationship between Bazis and buyers who wanted to know whether they would ever see their units built.
Hundreds of buyers lined up for weeks to own a unit in 2007. Some realtors hired students to stand in line for them. Units sold for from $500,000 and up; the penthouse was reportedly sold for $25 million to a Hong Kong businessman.
Bazis’s problems started due to the vicious credit crunch that began last fall with the bankruptcy of New York investment bank Lehman Bros., the financial muscle behind the deal.
Bazis developer Michael Gold had stopped payments on a $46 million loan in December. When the loan continued to be in default, a consortium of lenders tried to place the project in receivership.
The group offered $50.5 million to Gold. But he ended up selling the property to Great Gulf for a sum believed to be substantially higher.
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