Condo townhomes fuse ground-floor living with high-rise amenities
Jack Kohane, National Post
A flourishing trend, condo townhomes are part of the blueprint in about 35 current condo projects in Toronto (out of 265 active projects around the city), according to Pauline Lierman, research analyst with Urbanation, which tracks the Toronto condo market.
“Townhouses (that are part of a bigger development such as a high-rise condo project) account for about 5% of the GTA condominium market,” Ms. Lierman says. By comparison, Ms. Lierman estimates that stand-alone townhouses account for a third of new home sales.
Fuelling most of the sales of ground floor town/condo combos are the low interest rates and demographics, i.e., move-down buyers, new families and empty-nesters.
Barbara Lawlor, president of Baker Real Estate, says that what makes the town/condo so attractive for these buyers is that they’re embracing the condo lifestyle, most for the first time.
“Townhouses draw those buyers looking for lots of the amenities associated with the condominium apartment lifestyle, or looking for a ground-level alternative to the traditional apartment unit,” Ms. Lawlor explains. The town/condo combo option is tailor-made for young couples looking to transition to a starter home, she says. “This may be more affordable than a semi or detached house in the GTA.”
These are the targeted buyers for the architecturally innovative 12° condominium that will rise north of the trendy Queen and Beverley crossroads. Set at the base of this glass-girded, 11-storey building (its façade shifts at a 12-degree angle, hence the name), are six towns that range in size from 900 to about 1,300 square feet. They’ve been designed by Core Architects for Tarek Sobhi and Tyler Hershberg of the start-up development firm BSAR Group of Companies.
Currently in preconstruction (occupancy is slated for the spring of 2012), the towns at 12° range from one bedroom to three bedrooms. Starting from the mid-$500,000, these two-storey units have nine-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, pre-finished wide plank engineered hardwood floors, porcelain tiled bathrooms, stone kitchen countertops and a front doorway made of Douglas Fir.
“Townhouses at the base of a condo provide actual street addresses with front doors,” says Charles Gane, the project’s architect. “And because this project is located in a zone that’s in transition from a commercial and shopping district to more residential usage, townhomes help increase the ‘eyes on the street’ concept, whereas commercial and office spaces would be dark and unused at night.”
Each townhome has its own separate private entrance at street level off of Beverley. Guests can access the homes from the lobby of the condo building itself.
Mr. Hershberg points out that 12° (12degrees.ca) is big on encouraging families to move in: “To give them the experience of living in a detached home while offering the amenities and conveniences of condo living. Here, they will have access to the rooftop terrace and outdoor swimming pool. The site feels and behaves like a quiet residential street and therefore the townhomes work perfectly.”
At the new Merton Yonge Condominiums (MYC), having your own front door at the podium of a 25-storey edifice is a big part of this town/condo’s allure. Scheduled for occupancy mid-2012, MYC has 16 towns offering two bedrooms and two bedrooms plus den (about 930 to more than 1,400 sq. ft.), ranging from less than $490,000 to more than $760,000.
Built by Cresford Developments, MYC joins the builder’s other projects NXT and NXT2, The Merchandise Building, CASA, and the Bloor Street Neighbourhood. Architect Peter Clewes of architectsAlliance, whose creative stamp is all over MYC and several other Cresford projects, fashioned the two-level townhomes. Some of the units overlook a landscaped courtyard. Townhouse residents can travel along a series of cantilevered walkways leading to the amenity areas such as the rooftop terrace with lounge and barbecue, fitness centre, guest suite and party room. Mr. Clewes describes these towns as a “European-style approach to family housing. He says, “they have become a highly desirable product in MYC’s unit mix.”
Suites feature engineered hardwood floors in the foyer and living and dining, kitchen and den areas, nine-foot ceilings in living areas and floor-to-ceiling windows. The kitchen has granite or Caesar countertops, stainless steel appliances and a ceramic backsplash. Bathroom finishes include marble countertops with an undermount sink, ceramic tile flooring and a glass-framed door in the shower stall.
MYC’s location is the major enticement. It has proximity to the city core via the Yonge subway line, and to the Kay Gardner Belt Line, a mostly treed 4.5-kilometre walking trail that runs through Mount Pleasant Cemetery and connects with parks and green spaces. “These are magnets for first-time, move-up and downsizing buyers,” says Maria Athanasoulis, Cresford’s vice-president of marketing. She expects many of those interested in MYC towns are those from nearby neighbourhoods who want to stay in the area. (For details, go to MYCcondo.com.)
In the city’s west end, a new development leverages on a former landmark’s name and a 5.7-acre parcel of land flanked by Hwy 427 and Bloor Street. When the half-century-old Valhalla Inn, one of the GTA’s first motor inns, closed last year, Edilcan Development drew up plans for One Valhalla Towns & Condos. The project will eventually encompass 68 three-storey townhomes at the base of three glass-clad towers (constructed in three phases). This Etobicoke town/condo combo, designed by Page + Steele/IBI Architects, will surround a landscaped garden courtyard and a children’s playground. Townhome residents will be able to use the tower’s rooftop terrace and its barbecue areas. Other amenities are an indoor swimming pool, concierge service, party room and catering kitchen.
One Valhalla towns, in three- and four-bedroom layouts, will offer 1,250 to 1,450 sq. ft. units starting from about $400,000. Occupancy of Phase One is the late fall of 2011.
This new breed of town/condo combos is a good choice for those who want a home with an upstairs and downstairs, “but don’t want the maintenance headaches of snow removal and lawn care,” says Ms. Lawlor. “All the upkeep is looked after in a condo community.”
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