Cube will keep residents connected with the community
Ryan Starr – Yourhome.ca
Toronto is North America’s condo construction capital at the moment.
And while glitzy glass towers seem to be cropping up on every available downtown lot, architect Richard Witt knows not all buyers want to live in a skyscraper with no connection to the outside world.
“They don’t want to be in a big faceless condo,” says Witt, a principal with RAWdesign, the firm behind Cube, a six-storey infill project on College near Ossington that’s nearing completion and slated for occupancy in the summer. “Some want to live in a place that has a bit more character.”
Developed by Neilas Inc., Cube offers an alternative to the stratospheric competition.
The building’s boutique size and main-street frontage mean residents can easily tap into the vibrant Little Italy community right outside their door, the designers say.
“People are here because they want to be a part of the neighbourood and be on the street,” says Roland Rom Colthoff, Witt’s partner in RAWdesign. “You get a lot more intimacy in a building like this.”
Cube’s 21 units range from 450-square-foot suites to 2,000-square-foot penthouses; layouts go from one bedroom to two-bedroom plus den. Two of the units are two storeys.
The open-concept suites have engineered hardwood flooring. There are 9.5-foot ceilings in the one-storey units; the two-storey condos have 20-foot ceilings. Each unit has a terrace that offers either north- or south-facing views.
There will be retail at street level, but tenants are not yet secured.
Cube’s name is inspired by the building’s façade, which highlights the staggered mix of suites.
Each unit’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows are accented by large black squares that project in and out of the exterior. “You walk down the street and say that’s my box, that’s where I live,” Rom Colthoff says.
Construction on Cube is nearly finished, but the project travelled a long and winding road to get to this point.
Developer Jim Neilas first approached Witt and Rom Colthoff in 2006.
They were both working at Quadrangle Architects at the time.
“He was looking for a product that would be unique and stand out in the marketplace, something that would hold peoples’ attention,” Rom Colthoff recalls.
Originally called N-Blox, the condo they designed had 11 full-floor units that were stacked and interwoven — “sort of like Tetris in three dimensions,” says Witt.
Like Cube, N-Blox’s exterior showcased this mishmash of suites. The edgy design generated quite a buzz in the industry, but N-Blox was cancelled shortly after it launched.
Neilas explained that the market wasn’t willing to pay a premium for the larger units.
He subsequently purchased the site next door and three months later the project was relaunched as Cube.
RAWdesign’s second iteration of the building has retained N-Blox’s unique facade but is nearly double its size, with twice as many units.
RAWdesign’s recent work includes Bellefair Kew Beach Residences on Queen Street East; LTD condos at Bathurst and Lakeshore; and Onyx condos in Mississauga.
Like its precursor N-Blox, Cube faced challenges.
The project has only 21 units but Rom Colthoff notes that “it took just as long to get approved as another building we’re doing that’s 200 units — longer, actually.”
“If you’re doing 1,500 units,” adds Witt, “then it understandably takes a little while. But if you’re doing 21, you should be able to get approvals in a few weeks.”
The city is encouraging smaller-scale infill developments along main streets like College and Queen as part of a push to intensify Toronto’s long-established neighbourhoods.
But Rom Colthoff says the protracted approvals process they faced is a huge financial disincentive.
“You spend almost the same amount of money for approvals as those larger projects but in the end you only have a tiny bit of product to sell to amortize that cost,” he explains.
No need to tell John Neilas, a partner with his brother Jim in Neilas Inc. The two are steering clear of Cube-sized projects from now on. “Based on the sheer cost, we’ll never put something up like that again,” he says.
All that aside, Witt believes Cube is a unique project that will breathe new life into old Little Italy.
It will certainly stand out along College St., but he thinks the neighbourhood could use a bit of spicing up, architecturally speaking at least.
“We think Cube will add another layer of richness,” he says.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416-388-1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
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