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For condo buyers, living in a high-rise suite doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the backyard lifestyle.
Several products in the city and GTA are capitalizing on the spaces on rooftops and atop podiums to create outdoor living spaces, equipped with everything from swimming pools to cabanas to barbecue pits.
Several projects under construction or new to the market â€“ iLOFT, 550 Wellington, VU, iLOFT, Luna, Casa, the Forest Hill, Murano and the Yacht Club in Whitby, to name a few â€“ are among those incorporating outdoor amenities.
“The big concern of a lot of people is ‘I don’t have a backyard if I buy a condo,’” says Jeanhy Shim, editor of Urbanation, the quarterly publication tracking the Toronto condo market. “This addresses that concern and is considered an extension of the amenities. It’s something you didn’t see five years ago, but it’s what consumers like and want.”
Shim also explains that many projects are being constructed with towers rising from a podium base, “and the podium offers a great amenity space.”
“I think it’s a recent trend, though it had been done in the past,” says Peter Freed, President of Freed Developments. Until recently, people ignored the opportunity to do exciting things on the top of buildings.”
Freed took his inspiration for newly launched 550 Wellington W., which will have 327 luxury condos attached to a hotel, from a couple of sources: his own penthouse now being built at 66 Portland, where he had a pool and cabana designed for the roof, and the “great rooftop pool and bar” he visited at New York’s Gansevort Hotel.
One of the key features of 550 Wellington’s rooftop will be its infinity pool, an approximately 20-by-50-foot rectangle, where “water rolls off the edge of the pool and is seamless with the sky,” says Freed.
The rooftop will also include a 5,000-square-foot deck for lounging or sunning, a 3,000-square-foot restaurant and “lots of cabanas for dining,” where condo residents can have dinners catered by the rooftop restaurant’s chef.
The ground floor outdoor amenities will be equally creative. A quarter-acre courtyard will face Victoria Memorial Park across the street.
“The courtyard will have a large water feature and we might use it as a skating rink in the winter,” says Freed. “We’ll also be using lots of vegetation and potentially a statue or two.”
“People are nesting now and their suites are more important to them, not just as a place to flop down and sleep, but a place to call home,” Says Michael Firestone, vice-president of marketing for Camrost-Felcorp. “A lot more are working from home offices and they don’t want to be confined to an apartment.”
At Camrost-Felcorp’s iLOFT at Mystic Pointe in Etobicoke, the recreation centre sits on top of the condo’s podium above the parking garage (the tower soars up another 22 stories), where the exercise room, yoga and aerobics studios look out onto a landscaped deck, barbecue area, outdoor pool and whirlpool, running track and sun decks.
“One of the most exciting things is that you’re four storeys in the air, protected by the surrounding buildings, with great views of the downtown,” says Firestone. “The beauty is, you can buy a 500-square-foot suite and still have 14,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor recreation space. Many units have a balcony, but it is covered, it’s confining, and you usually can’t put more than four people on it. Here, you can have a party on the terrace.”
In the ’90s, amenities started to get less sophisticated, Firestone says, as the belief was that people didn’t want to pay for them.
“But that’s turned around and they want more amenities now,” he says.
Luna at City Place is catering to this demand.
“When we started looking at the type of amenities we’d offer, we looked at hotel resorts around the world,” says Alan Vihant, vice-president of develop for Concord Adex, which is launching Luna, the largest master planned community in the GTA.
“We took the pool, a traditional indoor amenity, and put it on the nine-floor podium on the southwest corner, overlooking an eight-acre park,” he explains.
“We were inspired by boutique hotels, and it has a very loungey bar/pool area, some tanning areas and, in another rooftop area, we have cabanas with Zen gardens, which terrace up to an indoor/outdoor party area.”
The area will also have a waterfall, outdoor rain shower, heated whirlpool, dining area and trees and vegetation to create an urban forest.
“It’s a newer trend in Toronto, although it’s been popular in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles for a while,” says Vihant.
“Rooftops are very trendy. But very few condos have the space and you have to have views and sunlight. They are still a fairly rare commodity in Toronto, it costs a premium to build them, but it’s an exciting amenity.”
At the Yacht Club in Whitby , now under construction, resident can enjoy spectacular views of Lake Ontario, Port Whitby and the Whitby Yacht Club from the rooftop terrace of 10 storey building, where they can suntan on deck chairs and relax in the hot tub or by the outdoor fireplace or barbecue.
Buyers have already moved in to Daniels Corp.’s Capital North and South in Mississauga, where Laura Starr of the Starr Landscape group was recruited to design the third storey outdoor space with a retreat theme, says Niall Hagart of Daniels.
The Muskoka- inspired outdoor space, with trees, rockeries, decks and patio, integrates with the central indoor amenity space, which has floor-to-ceiling windows, a stone fireplace, spa, fitness areas, library and billiards.
“From an urban design perspective, “it’s a great use of this space,” says Haggart.
At another Daniels project under construction in Mississauga, One Park Tower, a club area on top of the 38-storey building includes a lounge, internet cafÃ© and billiards are surrounded by outdoor terraces.
“It’s a really wonderful selling feature, as everybody, whether they have a 500-square-foot unit or a 1,500 square-foot-one, can enjoy the space in the sky,” he says. “It’s democratizing the view.”
Here are some other projects offering outdoor amenities:
* Pinnacle Centre has a golf centre, tennis courts, running track and terrace on its podium, integrated with its indoor fitness and leisure amenities.
* Vu, a master-planned community launched by Aspen Ridge Homes downtown, will make use of an eight-floor podium to include two outdoor party rooms, barbecues and a lawn bowling or bocce court.
* Casa, on Charles St. by Cresford Developments, will use the entire fifth-floor podium as amenity space, with swimming pool, hot tub, landscaped terrace, double-sided fireplace, dining pavilion and alfresco bar. The fitness centre will overlook this space.
* The Forest Hill by the Goldman Group will make a 3,000 square-foot, Miami style patio with outdoor furniture, landscaping and indoor-outdoor whirlpool adjoining the condo’s fitness and recreation centre.
* The two phases of Murano, at Bay and Wellesley Sts., will share a second-floor podium recreation area that features an indoor pool with retractable roof, overlooking an outdoor terrace.
* The third-floor podium will include a running track and landscaped lounging areas.
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by Denise Lash
But how many of these purchasers think about the community theyâ€™re buying into? Usually itâ€™s the price, location, and features that one considers when shopping for the perfect condo. But what about after construction? How will residents get along with one another? Does it really matter?
Sure it does. Just think of this scenario: Jane and Doug, young professionals, bought a luxurious two-bedroom unit at Yonge and St. Clair. Jane is pregnant. Doug just bought Jane a golden retriever puppy for her birthday.
You can see it now. The baby is born. The puppy wants attention. Lots of barking and crying ensue. The puppy isnâ€™t fully trained yet and has a few accidents in the hallway and in the elevator. The neighbours, who havenâ€™t even met Jane and Doug, complain to management. Letters are sent to the couple demanding that they remove the dog. Jane is in tears. Itâ€™s difficult enough having a baby and then dealing with angry neighbours and management and losing her puppy on top of that.
Now consider the alternative scenario. The building that Doug and Jane purchased in has an unusual management style. New residents get welcome packages from the board of directors and management. They have information telling them about the rules and how the building operates. The manager suggests a meeting with the board of directors before the next board meeting as a general introduction. Doug and Jane meet with management and the board, who notice that Jane is pregnant and has a puppy. The board notifies Doug and Jane of the specific rules and the common problems relating to pets. The board also tells them about the committee set up to handle pet issues. Jane volunteers on it.
Jane attends the committee meetings and learns about problems in the building with noisy pets, dangerous pets, and the messes they sometimes cause. She knows that if her dog is noisy there will be complaints. She and Doug have to make every effort to clean up after and give attention to their dog so that theyâ€™ll be able to keep their pet.
The initial welcome depends on the attitude and enthusiasm of the board, management, and residents.
You can see that providing this welcome and information can assist the board and management and perhaps even prevent those frustrating and unpleasant situations where residents are unaware of their responsibilities.
Residents need to become familiar with the community. They need to know what the rules are and why they need to follow them. Remember to be neighbourly and cultivate positive relationships.
Denise Lash is a condominium lawyer with Miller Thomson LLP and the host of the television program MondoCondo. Don’t miss the launch of MondoCondo beginning October 15 on Global, CH, and Prime. Watch Denise tackle every aspect of condo life. Check local listings or visit www.torontocondoshow.com for details.
Even The Donald has been trumped by a real estate record
By Jessica Gresko – Associated Press
PALM BEACH, Florida â€” Donald Trump’s property for sale has all the big-time extras one might expect. Pricey marble and 24-karat gold fixtures in its bathrooms, a gargantuan fountain by the driveway and 145 metres of oceanfront out back.
Perhaps the biggest thing about the home, however, is its price: $125 million (U.S.). And (sorry, Donald) that price has already been trumped. A home in Aspen, Colo., is now listed at $135 million. Another in Lake Tahoe, Nev., was recently listed at a flat $100 million.
The listings represent a monetary milestone in American real estate: The first time U.S. homes have broken into a whopping nine figures, according to real estate experts, and they’ve done so in quick succession. A May survey of the nation’s most expensive homes by Forbes.com put Trump’s home at the most expensive and the first to break the $100 million mark.
Now, the trio has market followers wondering: Will they sell? And what do you really get for $100 million?
“I’m surprised it took so long for people to realize value,” Trump said of the listings.
Usually the top 10 per cent of any marketplace is considered the luxury market, but these properties are a tier above.
“They’re super-luxury properties,” said Trump, the real estate mogul and reality TV star.
Shari Chase, of Chase International, which has the Lake Tahoe listing, said: “This is stratospheric for offering prices but I think we’re going in that direction….These three properties, they are really the Super Bowl of real estate.”
The listings are extreme. At these prices, bedrooms, bathrooms and square-footage are almost irrelevant. Like their price tags, all three are gigantic.
At the Aspen property, owned by Saudi Prince Bandar, the main residence, finished in 1990, has more than 56,000 square feet (about 1,000 square feet bigger than the White House) on a nearly 40-hectare site. It even has its own car wash and gas pumps.
Need more outdoors? The Lake Tahoe home, owned by Tommy Hilfiger Corp. co-founder Joel Horowitz, comes with 38,000 square feet of livable space on 85 hectares. Included are a private trout-stocked lake and two par-3 golf courses. Among indoor features is a grand staircase that replicates one built on the Titanic.
Smaller on acreage but bigger in square footage is Trump’s property, called Maison de L’AmitiÃ© (House of Friendship), which he bought for about $41 million in 2004.
He assigned renovations to Apprentice winner Kendra Todd. Its approximately 80,000 square feet encompass several buildings.
Sara Clemence, an editor for Forbes.com who wrote its listing report, says the recent 100-million-plus-dollar listings are significant.
“That said, just because you ask for it doesn’t mean you’re going to get it,” she said.
Taxes alone on the Trump property, if sold at its current asking price, would be more than $2 million a year, according to the Palm Beach County property appraiser website.
The Donald, surprised to hear his property had U.S. competition, asked, “Who’s at 135? My property is worth more than $125 million. It’s a bargain.”
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