They’ll pay top dollar for life at the top
Marcus Gee – Globe and Mail
Hunter Milborne takes in the spectacular view from the roof of the old Imperial Oil building at 111 St. Clair Avenue West. The handsome limestone-clad office tower with its lobby mural by York Wilson is being transformed into the Imperial Plaza, “the gold standard in luxury living.” Glass-walled penthouse suites just went on sale for between $5.1-million and $8.4-million.
What sort of people will buy these cloud palaces? Mr. Milborne, the grey-haired dean of Toronto condo salesmen, smiles. “Rich people.”
There seems to be no shortage of them. Dozens of urban aeries like the Imperial penthouses are going on sale in Toronto, catering to a new thirst for high-end, high-rise living. A 9,000-square-foot, 55th-floor penthouse at the Four Seasons project in Yorkville just went for $28-million, a Canadian record. Aura, at Yonge and Gerrard, which is to be Canada’s tallest condo tower, is flogging a 75th-floor unit for $17.5-million.
Names like the Shangri-la Toronto, the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton and the Trump International Hotel and Tower all lure buyers with a vision of cosmopolitan downtown living. “Imagine a life so perfect it could well be a fairy tale,” says the Ritz-Carlton’s online come-on.
It’s hard to not to feel a bit nauseated, or at least amused, at the Bonfire of the Vanities excess of it all. The bespoke Italian kitchens. The valet parking. The spas that would make Nero blush. At the Imperial Plaza, top-floor residents have their own express elevator because (says a representative) “people who buy these private residences don’t want to be mixed in with just anybody.”
Still, the flowering of top-floor luxury has to be a good thing for Toronto, a visible symbol of its rise as an international city. Toronto has the biggest condo market in North America, with one unit sold every 13 minutes. April high-rise condo sales set a record for that month. The recent action at the high-end is just the latest development in a maturing market that now offers a huge variety of prices and living styles, from downtown cubbyhole lofts to glittering waterfront high-rises.
Some of the luxury buyers are wealthy foreigners who see Toronto as a good place to hang their hats or to invest in real estate. “They’ve done their due diligence, they’ve looked around the world, and they’re choosing Toronto,” says developer Paul Golini, executive vice-president of Empire Communities. “That’s an endorsement of the political, economic and social environment we provide.”
The prices attract them, too. Compared to New York, where luxury apartments can go for $10,000 to $12,000 a square foot, the $2,000 to $3,000 that luxury units here are fetching is a bargain.
But, according to Mr. Milborne, the vast majority of luxury buyers are well-heeled locals – business owners who are trading in hard-to-maintain mansions in Rosedale or Forest Hill for a concierge and a rooftop terrace. Their success reflects Toronto’s. A city that looked to get whacked in the global recession – its manufacturing base eroding, its economic pre-eminence under threat from Western up-and-comers such as Calgary – has bounced back smartly.
The Imperial, for all its pretensions, is a neat project. The developers are celebrating the building’s heritage as “a masterpiece of mid-century International Style modernism.” The wonderful glassed-in lobby is being preserved and spruced up. Units on the lower floors start in the $300,000s – but, sorry, you have to ride the elevator with everyone else.
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.
Incoming search terms