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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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Developer has his fingerprints on four projects
Excerpt from an article by Ellen Moorhouse – Toronto Star
Developer Peter Freed had been waiting for the house across the street from his eighth-floor office at 66 Portland St. to bite the dust.
Finally, the moment arrives. He jumps up to get a better view through a boardroom window, watching as the excavator’s jaws close on the gabled brick facade of the century-old building.
It’s amazing how fast Freed is rewriting the book for the neighbourhood near the King and Bathurst Streets area. Through his company, Freed Developments Ltd., he has four condo projects either built or underway within a couple of blocks: 20 Stewart St., 66 Portland St., where he has both his office and his penthouse living quarters, a condo–hotel at 550 Wellington St. and 455 Adelaide St.
The site where the house was demolished, however, will do more to raise Freed’s profile on the development scene than the four earlier projects put together.
That’s where he plans to build 75 Portland, a 212-unit condo, which will be the first Canadian project with interiors by world-famous French designer Philippe Starck.
This isn’t the first time Freed has gone to Europe for design talent. He hired Barcelona’s Estudio Mariscal for his condo-hotel project at 550 Wellington.
Starck promises to create something memorable in the huge courtyard and lobby for the 75 Portland project.
Freed, who partners with firms from Toronto and New York on his different condo and development projects, started trying to buy sites in the King and Bathurst Sts. area in 2000. He liked the neighbourhood and believed it was undervalued. Several years later, the work started to pay off; the owners approached him about selling.
A few seconds’ commute up one floor on the elevator from his office at 66 Portland St. lands Freed in his 3,400-square-foot penthouse. Walls of glass and sliding doors open to a 3,000-square-foot terrace.
He moved in just two months ago, but his tan suggests he must have had time to enjoy his stylish infinity lap pool and the elaborate outdoor decks and living areas.
Both exterior and interiors were designed by Cecconi Simone Inc., a firm that’s worked on a number of Freed’s projects. Wide plank floors and panelling add warmth to the spacious and sparsely furnished rooms, with polished concrete pillars.
Freed’s first construction experience came as a labourer in 1991 for a subdivision builder. In 1993, with partners, he built about 100 homes in Unionville, going out on his own in 1995 while the recession still lingered.
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Queen Street West has emerged as the neighbourhood that defines cool in Toronto. Its boutiques, nightspots, cafes, and restaurants are the places to see and be seen. For the hip, urban crowd, Queen West defines the best in downtown lifestyle.
Fittingly, Baywood Homes is now contributing its version of cool on Queen Street West with its new Bohemian Embassy, a stylish condominium in the heart of the city’s cultural capital on the corner of Queen and Gladstone, just steps from equally famous Toronto icon, the Drake Hotel.
This updated salute to the best of urban lifestyle offers two buildings and architecturally charming townhomes designed by award-winning architects Page + Steele, with lobbies and amenities by the renowned II BY IV Design Associates Inc.
The project comprises a nine-storey mid-rise building facing Queen West that will have retail stores on the street level, residential suites, and recreational amenities for residents, in addition to a 19-storey tower tucked behind it where residents can enjoy a view of the city or the lake.
The townhomes complement the site and offer a change of pace for those seeking to live in a creative neighbourhood. A landscaped courtyard, lush with greenery, connects the structures and is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Queen Street, but is visible as a quiet oasis through the arched gateway.
The beautifully landscaped courtyard is just the visible signature of the pleasures that lie within. There is a men’s and women’s fitness centre and a multimedia lounge, perfect for entertaining guests. But there is also the unexpected – such as the Bohemian Sky Lounge with its upbeat outdoor patio, a great place to barbecue, sit around the fireplace, take in the sun, or entertain friends and relatives.
Baywood has taken great care to offer the widest range of suites in both design and price. The 345 units encompassing flats and lofts start from $159,900 and top off with a magnificent 1,200-square-foot two-level, two-bedroom, and two-bath loft.
In between are one bedroom, one-bedroom-plus-den, two-bedroom, and two-bedroom-plus-den suites, each of which has its own balcony, and some even have terraces.
The Queen West streetcar puts the subway and the rest of downtown just minutes from your doorstep. Best of all, Bohemian Embassy is affordable – priced to attract a mixture of residents, making Queen West a sought-after neighbourhood.
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