Tag Archives: Downtown’s Next Address
Ryan Starr – Yourhome.ca
When it comes to condo sales centres, Anna Simone believes what buyers see is what they should ultimately get.
Simone, a principal with interior design firm Cecconi Simone, stressed this one recent afternoon during a sneak preview of the $1.2-million presentation centre she helped design for DNA3, the third and final phase in Canderel Stoneridge’s condo cluster on King West.
Located at the corner of King and Shaw St. — formerly the site of a Chrysler dealership — the third phase of Downtown’s Next Address is a two-tower, mixed-use development with 600 units that range from 340-square-foot studios to 900-square-foot loft townhomes. Prices go from $180,000 to just over $400,000.
“Toronto is a sophisticated market and there can’t be smoke and mirrors with buyers,” Simone says. “When they walk into a sales centre, they want to get a sense of what their future home is going to be like. They want to see the real deal.”
With that in mind, DNA3′s 7,000-square-foot sales office takes the presentation centre concept to a whole new level.
Sales centres these days have certain standard features: a model of the project, renderings and suite layouts, and flooring and colour samples. They often include a full model suite, as well. Touchscreen TVs have become a popular gadget, enabling would-be buyers to go on a virtual tour.
DNA3′s presentation centre goes a step further, giving prospective purchasers a chance to experience most elements of the condo in real, life-size form.
Essentially, visitors to the DNA3 sales centre can go on a condo test drive. Upon arrival, they pass through an indoor version of the King West streetscape, complete with trees and images of fashion models and photos of trendy local shops lining the walls. Buyers then walk into a replica of the condo’s lobby area and board a faux elevator meant to resemble the one that will be in the condo tower.
Once visitors exit this “elevator,” they stroll down a hallway decorated the way the corridor will look in the building — carpeting, paint, lighting fixtures and all. They can then walk up to the front door and enter the 630-square-foot model suite, just like they’re entering their future home.
Once inside they’ll see what’s on offer at DNA3, including nine-foot ceilings, hardwood flooring and an open-concept layout. The kitchens will have CaesarStone countertops, an island, glass backsplashes and stainless steel appliances. Bathrooms will have porcelain tile, framed-glass showers, soaker tubs and custom Corian sinks.
The DNA3 presentation centre also allows visitors to experience what life will be like on the third-floor rooftop terrace, with exact replicas of the lounges, private dining spots and barbecue areas.
“It gives buyers a level of comfort,” Simone says. “You’re seeing not only what your future home will look like, but also what the feeling of your public and common areas will be. So there’s no element of surprise here.”
The way Simone sees it, Canderel Stoneridge’s willingness to show buyers everything underscores the company’s credibility. “If a developer is confident about who they are and what they’re delivering,” she says, “they’re not going to hesitate.”
Riz Dhanji is quite confident about what Canderel Stoneridge is delivering with DNA3. Dhanji, the firm’s vice president of sales and marketing, notes that DNA1 and DNA2 — across the street from DNA3 — helped spur a revitalization of the once industrial King West neighbourhood. What’s more, by offering as standard finishes that were considered upgrades at the time — stainless steel appliances, granite countertops — “we set the bar for quality and finishes. We were pioneering in what we did.”
“DNA 1 and 2 are getting the “highest resale values of any other buildings in that pocket of King West,” Dhanji says.
With DNA3, Canderel has sought to improve on its formula. The developer gathered feedback and suggestions from existing clients and incorporated those ideas into plans for DNA3.
More retail, they told the developer. Accordingly, DNA3 will have 20,000 square feet of space in its podium for shops and services. (DNA 2 had 8,000 square feet of retail.) Increased amenity space was another commonly heard suggestion. So DNA3 will have 6,000 square feet of it, versus 1,500 square feet total at the other two buildings. In addition to the rooftop terrace, DNA3 will have three party rooms, a games room and theatre room. There will also be a fitness centre, aerobics/yoga room and, in lieu of conventional showers, a rain room.
If things get too hot up on the terrace, DNA3 will have special “misting stations” to help cool things down. “You just walk underneath it and you have this wonderful mist that cools you off, then you go back and continue tanning,” says Simone, who got the idea on a trip to Arizona. “It was so hot, but you’d walk around and they would mist everything to cool things off. I thought it was a great idea — we should have mist.” After all, she notes, “not that many people use outdoor pools.”
The DNA3 presentation centre opens in September. The project is being marketed to first-time buyers and move-up buyers, those in the 25– to 40-year-old demographic who want to be in the thick of the King West action. To generate buzz for DNA3, the sales centre has a special events centre in the space that used to be the car dealership’s showroom.
For the previous DNAs, an events centre served as a venue for fashion shows, art exhibits, and promotions for the Molson Indy and Toronto International Film Festival. Dhanji says something similar is planned for DNA3.
“We’ll be hosting number of parties from the film festival to neighbourhood parties, with tie-ins with fashion, design and everything that relates to the building itself. We really want to get our brand out there.”
Special events help. But in the end, few things are more important in reinforcing the DNA brand than the project’s slick presentation centre.
“It allows prospective purchasers to walk through and touch and feel the elements they’re going to have in that building,” says David Klugsberg, a vice president with marketing firm LA Inc., who has worked on all three DNA projects. “It’s an environment that speaks to the personality we’re trying to create with the final product.”
Strong personality and branding are key, he says, given that pre-construction buyers can be nervous about buying a condo based on only a plan. “When people are buying a condo, at the end of the day they’re buying a suite to live in,” Klugsberg says. “So having a strong brand sets it apart. It touches peoples’ emotions and gives the project a personality. Buyers can then take ownership of that brand.”
The idea, in other words, is for DNA to become a part of them.
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Tracy Hanes – Toronto Star
At the time, the old Massey Ferguson tractor factory in the King West neighbourhood seemed anything but Downtown’s Next Address (DNA).
But Stonebridge Canderel Equity Group decided to take a chance on the site at the corner of King West and Shaw St. and try something innovative.
“We saw other condos and townhouses being built in the area that were price-point driven and didn’t have high-end finishes,” says Riz Dhanji, vice president of sales and marketing for Canderel Stonebridge. “We saw the area evolving and it was a young, urban crowd with different aspirations. They wanted more modern finishes, lower maintenance fees, open-concept suites, great design and better retail.”
The builder had agreed to keep most of the original factory building intact, which it transformed in 46 unique lofts and added brand-new units (DNA 1 and 2). The project has been completed since 2005.
“In 2002, it was a scary place. We were pioneers in the area. We really tried something very unique and we’re glad it went the right way,” recalls Dhanji. “It really paid off. But when we first did the retail component, it was very hard to sell. No way any retailers wanted to look at King West, but as Liberty Village started to evolve, the first couple of retailers came.”
Dhanji’s company launched what he claims was the first urban condo campaign selling lifestyle, complete with a 5,000-square-foot sales centre. The suites were decked out with European kitchens, stainless steel appliances, nine-foot ceilings and barn-style doors. And even thought they were priced considerably higher than other condos in the area, they sold.
“They turned out to be a great investment and people who sell them now get multiple offers,” says Dhanji. “The retail component has been a big component in the residential value. Before, it was small Mom and Pop shops. Now we’re seeing our urban model replicated along King West.”
(DNA retailers include RBC, Starbucks, GNC, Flight Centre and Canadian Newstand store.)
Coming soon will be DNA 3 at 1030 King St. W. on the north side of the street on the site of a former Chrysler dealership, across from the original DNA buildings.
“We are taking the brand to a whole new level,” says Dhanji. “The interior and exterior design will create a very unique condo in Toronto.”
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