Tag Archives: Riverhouse at The Old Mill
Suzanne Wintrob, National Post
As a busy criminal defence lawyer, Patrick Ducharme is used to spending months at a time at Toronto’s courthouses. But it was one of his current cases that prompted the Windsor resident to reconsider his lifestyle.
Mr. Ducharme had taken on a case that was expected to last a year, which meant eight straight months living in a downtown Toronto hotel room. His wife, Janice, visited him often and together they basked in the upscale action along Bloor Street, but they had no intention of selling their 7,000-square-foot, 1920s Tudor-style home in Windsor and moving here. Still, Mr. Ducharme was tired of hotel living and longed for a downtown pied-à-terre.
Then one day Ms. Ducharme called him at work and said she was in love. She had just found out about the Regency Yorkville, a 19-storey, condominium building under construction, and urged him to meet her there. They toured the lobby, reviewed the plans and chatted with the developer’s wife. Soon Mr. Ducharme was hooked, too.
Today, the Ducharmes are the proud owners of a 2,000-sq.-ft., two-bedroom, two-balcony suite on the second floor of the elegant Regency Yorkville. They chose it for the exquisite architecture, the opulent fixtures and furnishings, and the fitness area that overlooks the chic ‘hood. It’s spacious enough to comfortably accommodate visits from their two grown sons, who live in Panama City.
While Mr. Ducharme won’t reveal what they paid, the five remaining suites in the 58-unit building range from a $2-million, 1,900-sq.-ft., two-bedroom with corner balcony to a $6.8-million, 5,200-sq.-ft. panoramic penthouse with four balconies, four parking spaces and an elevator into the suite.
“When I’m in Windsor, I’m seven or eight minutes away from downtown,” says Mr. Ducharme. “But it’s not like Toronto, where you can have 50 restaurants and boutique-y places where you can go for a drink or lunch – all within walking distance. There’s nothing like Yorkville. It’s exquisite for people who want to be where it’s vibrant but yet be able to get away in a quiet condominium steps away.”
The Regency Yorkville is but one of countless condominiums, townhouses and single-family homes in the Greater Toronto Area catering to those with discerning tastes. Even at the luxury level, cranes and construction workers are busier than ever and buyers have an ample selection from which to choose.
Mark Cohen has followed the luxury boom for two decades and is wowed by its evolution. Back in the 1980s, he was selling residential suites at Yonge and Bloor’s Renaissance Plaza, one of the city’s first exclusive condo buildings. In the ’90s, he was intrigued when the Windsor Arms Hotel had the radical idea of letting hotel guests share upscale amenities with those who owned residences there. Today, Mr. Cohen is busier than ever selling new condominium and new home projects for builders.
“There continues to be a healthy appetite for bigger, better, newer,” says the founding partner and senior vice-president of Toronto’s Condo Store Marketing Systems. “Hotel-connected condos have become a staple that people pay attention to and they command a certain value.”
The hotel residence business is certainly thriving, with construction well underway at projects sporting such names as Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Trump and Shangri-La.
“As people see it coming out of the ground, they feel the excitement and we’re getting more walk-in traffic,” says Janice Fox, director of sales for Four Seasons Private Residences.
The Four Seasons is now at the 14th floor, with framing going in for a 24,000-sq.-ft. spa, glass-encased pool and 3,500-sq.-ft. gym. The complete project comprises two buildings – a 55-floor West Tower housing the hotel plus residences beginning on Floor 24, and the 26-storey East Tower of residences only. Occupancy begins mid-2012.
More than 80% of the Four Seasons residences are sold, though the ones remaining are worth the wait. For instance, the East Tower’s 6,400-sq.-ft. penthouse takes up the entire floor and boasts 10-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, four terraces, direct elevator access and three parking spaces. Price tag: $16-million. Smaller two-bedroom residences in the tower have many of the same deluxe features and are priced from $1.9-million to $3.5-million.
Not to be outdone, the West Tower is awaiting a buyer for its $10.4-million, 3,850-sq.-ft. unit on the 24th floor – the only unit in the building with a wraparound terrace. The West tower’s 9,038-sq.-ft. penthouse is also for sale. It features an 800-bottle wine “cellar,” four terraces, four fireplaces and four elevators (two opening to a formal glass foyer, one to the private family area, and a service elevator allowing the hotel to deliver services discreetly). Plus, it comes with a separate 680-sq.-ft. staff residence in the East Tower, allowing for the convenience of private quarters for staff on-site but not in suite. Cost of ownership: $30-million.
At the 53-storey Ritz-Carlton, developed by Graywood Developments, only 26 of 159 residences remain unsold. Of particular note: a 6,000-sq.-ft. sub-penthouse with 12-foot ceilings and a true floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall (no step, sill or baseboard at the bottom of the window). Price is $9.6-million. Smaller units are also available at the Ritz, with one-bedrooms boasting a not-so-small 1,400 sq. ft. of living space.
Barbara Lawlor, president of Baker Real Estate, says salespeople have been touting the project in Moscow, Abu Dhabi and Singapore, so it’s not surprising 60% of the units have been bought by international investors.
“Every one of our buyers has stayed at many Ritz hotels all over the world,” she says. “That’s the one thing they have in common.”
Graywood is also behind 8 Mercer, launched last month with Beaverhall Homes. The 33-storey building in Toronto’s Theatre District has all the trappings of urban living but with a classic contemporary look that does its darndest to fit with the surroundings.
“We’re always looking at how we can fit into the community, not only as a participant but architecturally, too,” says Irma Stanic, director of sales and marketing at Beaverhall Homes, whose most recent residential project was Europa Condominiums in Little Italy. “BBB Architects have done a terrific job taking the red-brick existing streetscape on Mercer and made it part of the building façade to help it blend in with the streetscape.”
Ms. Stanic is excited about the “07″ stack of suites on floors seven through 28. All are 1,100-sq.-ft., two-bedroom plus dens, with floor-to-ceiling windows on two walls and European gourmet kitchens. Prices range from $793,900 to $843,900. The top three floors are devoted to penthouses (four per floor), with an airy three-bedroom, 1,786-sq.-ft. space with 1,200-sq.-ft. balcony terrace listed at $1.6-million.
Nearby at the 12-storey Victory Condos on King, five penthouses remain – from 800 to 1,300 sq. ft. and $706,900 to $1.2-million. All have floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed concrete ceilings, chef-worthy kitchens and private rooftop terraces matching unit size. And, of course, they’re perched above one of the city’s coolest ‘hoods.
“I was out there on a Thursday night and it was amazing to see how much activity and life and vibrancy was on King Street,” says Brian Brown, principal of BLVD Developments. “It’s where people want to be, and Victory is positioned right in the centre of it.”
If 12 storeys isn’t high enough, then look up. Way up. Well, soon. Canderel Stoneridge’s 75-storey Aura at College Park – touted as the highest condo tower in Canada – will feature 14 sub-penthouses on five levels. The 11,370-sq.-ft. top-floor unit will have five bedrooms, six bathrooms, direct elevator access into a grand arrival hall, gourmet kitchen, two master ensuites and dressing rooms, a palatial great room and dining area, whirlpool/hot tub in an enclosed terrace, sunroom, 14-ft. ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling windows with 360 degree vistas. Cost: $17.5-million.
Still, not all luxury is in downtown. Those looking for something more scenic have plenty to choose from in both high-rise and low-rise varieties. In midtown, Camrost-Felcorp will unveil The Avenue’s new on-site sales office and model suite on May 29 to push the 18 remaining suites at the 19-storey, 73-unit project. Of note are a $4-million, 3,200-sq.-ft. two-bedroom-plus-den-and-family-room that takes up half a floor, and a three-bedroom, 3,750-sq.-ft. unit (the building’s largest unit) with den and library for $4.5-million. Each has direct elevator access and tremendous views. And the windows are fully operable (read: they open!), even on high floors.
“[Our buyers] are coming from large homes and want grand entertaining spaces but that easier lifestyle”,” says Daniela Palmieri, Camrost-Felcorp’s marketing director.
A bit farther north is Lytton Park Townhomes, where six 3,500-sq.-ft., four-bedroom freehold townhomes are attracting attention. Built by Glenbourne Nexxt Developments and Mizrahi Design/Build, each boasts a rooftop terrace gardens, elevator, library, two-storey glass conservatory and two-car garage. Price tag: $1.8-million. President Sam Mizrahi says response has been “unbelievable” with more than 200 people registering or contacting the company since the mid-April sales launch.
The Daniels Corp. has two unique projects outside the core. Daniels is excited about The Bayview, comprising two high-end condo buildings connected to an Amica Mature Lifestyle residential building with hotel-inspired amenities such as spa, restaurant and pub. The Bayview’s main nine-storey building has 70 units, including The Henley – an 800-sq.-ft. one-bedroom-plus-den with top-notch finishes – yet affordable at $475,000. The more intimate Manor House is a four-storey, 30-suite building overlooking a park.
“This has the ability to attract somebody who is more mature, who can see themselves in five, 10 or 15 years needing the services of an attached rental retirement and all that comes along with that,” says Mr. Haggart. “When they’re older, people don’t want to pick up from their community and move somewhere else.”
Also in the city’s western reaches, Dunpar Homes’ seven-storey high-end boutique Kingsway Terrace has just 20 of 80 units left, ranging from $400,000 to $2.4-million. Spokesman Taylor Szucs says each suite has a unique floor plan, “so there is something in this building for everyone.” He raves about the two remaining penthouses – both three-bedrooms with den, two terraces and spectacular Lake Ontario views.
Nearby, Lanterra Developments has opened the doors of its new presentation centre to tout Riverhouse at the Old Mill, a 11-storey luxury condo project with 84 suites ranging from 800 to 3,000 sq. ft. and up to $2-million. Suites overlook the Humber River, parkland and the Old Mill Inn & Spa. The setting is so picturesque, says Barry Fenton, Lanterra’s president and CEO, likens it to living in Scotland.
“Every time I go out there I want to put my boots on and go fishing,” he says. “That’s the feel of it.”
And this week, Kylemore Communities is releasing an enclave of 20 new homes as part of the Angus Glen West Village’s Glenbourne Custom Estate Collection. The five-bedroom, three-car garage homes sit on one-third acre “on a little special street in Unionville,” says Kylemore president Patrick O’Hanlon. The customizable homes range from 3,000 to 6,000 sq. ft. and start at $1.5-million. They’re geared at 40- to 60-year-old executives, he adds, and some have main floor bedrooms to appeal to “empty nesters who still want grand homes.”
Will luxury living keep growing? With so much interest, especially in condominiums, it sure looks that way.
“The luxury market is not immune to the realities of the world, the mood of the world, the pulse of the world, [yet] real estate remains a wise place [for the wealthy] to park some of their money,” says Mark Cohen. “Condos will continue to represent a larger percentage of people’s homes in Toronto… They will continue to choose condos as a permanent choice.”
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Is the luxury homes market in the GTA coming back? There are many who say it never really went away.
Granted, projects offering suites at the lower range of the luxury scale – perhaps those priced at $850 to $950 a square foot – went through some doldrums. But according to companies such as RealNet Canada, which tracks the condo market, luxury condos above $1,000 a foot always sell at a relatively steady pace despite economic ups and downs.
“If you compare lower-end luxury sales with more modestly priced suites they both follow almost parallel courses,” says RealNet president George Carras. “When the condo market is down overall, so are those suites below about $950 a square foot.
“But for the super-luxury class, the people who have the money to afford them make their buying decision in good times and bad. It all depends on when they want to make a move.”
If, however, the state of your finances leaves you well below that super-rich class, there is indeed good news.
All forms of luxury homes in the GTA have come back with a rush. The Toronto area has probably never seen such a range of choice. Need a townhouse? Try the Townhomes of Lytton Park on Avenue Road south of Lawrence or Ancroft Place in South Rosedale just over the Sherbourne Street bridge.
How about a boutique mid-rise, which combines Yorkville’s rich history with a clean contemporary look? Zinc Developments Group has Hazelton 36. It incorporates the façade of the old St. Basil’s School into a sleek new terraced design.
For those who long for a life that almost makes you believe you are next to a highland salmon stream but still close enough to walk to the splendid boutiques, specialty stores and cafés of Bloor West Village, there is Riverhouse at The Old Mill.
How about a penthouse high above King Street West’s celebrated theatre and entertainment district? The new tower at 8 Mercer Street can make that dream come true, with its three levels of large two-plus-den and three-bedroom penthouses.
But city life is not everyone’s cup of tea. There are those whose idea of ultimate luxury is a large home on a 100-foot lot within a chip shot of a world-class golf course. They might find that dream home at the Glenbourne Custom Estate Collection right across from the Angus Glen course in Markham.
“It is really quite exciting,” says Barry Lyon of Barry Lyon Consulting. “Less than a decade ago, if you wanted a luxury condo, you went to one of the projects in Yorkville. Now there are choices all across the GTA…”
“Builders have recognized that people want choice; they want luxury homes that allow them to stay in neighbourhoods they love or to move to neighbourhoods that offer them what they consider the perfect lifestyle for their stage of life.”
That lifestyle might include a throwback to Manhattan in the 1920s through the 1950s when anyone who was anyone lived in a suite atop a five-star hotel. Central Toronto now boasts at least half a dozen of those.
It might still include a suite larger than most suburban homes, with a terrace almost large enough for a tennis court in the heart of Bloor Street’s glittering shopping district. Yes, we have those. In fact we even have a range of choices.
The theatre district, the financial core, the entertainment district, Lytton Park, Lawrence Park even the fringes of Forest Hill and Rosedale offer superb luxury suites and homes.
So, what is driving this spring and summer’s market? How have we managed to go from doldrums to boom times in a matter of months?
Experts such as Mr. Lyon and Jimmy Malloy of Chestnut Park Real Estate, recognized as one of the city’s top agents, say four factors are at play.
The first is the demands of simple demographics. Both point out that men and women on the leading edge of the Baby Boom have had to put on hold, for nearly two years, plans to downsize their existing domestic arrangements and launch themselves into a more carefree pre-retirement and retirement lifestyle.
“The kids are gone; the house is too big for them alone and they want to start a new life in the home of their dreams and in an area they love,” says Mr. Lyon. “But the recession has kept those plans at bay for the past 18 months to two years.”
The second factor is the resurgence of the resale market. The Toronto Real Estate Board says the first quarter of this year was the best on record, with 22,418 homes changing hands. New listings were up 42% from the same period last year and average home prices climbed every month.
“What this meant was that people saw they could once again easily sell existing homes – and get top dollar for them,” says Mr. Malloy. The ability to sell an existing home is absolutely crucial if you are planning to spend upwards of $1-million on a new luxury condo, he adds.
The third factor at play is the upswing in financial markets.
Men and women who saw recession-driven, steep declines in the value of their savings were in no mood to contemplate spending on anything except the basics, says Mr. Lyon.
“But now we have the markets rebounding … Canada weathered the recession better than any other industrial nation and we again have confidence in the future,” he says.
Not just confidence in Canada but in the future of the GTA as well. All predictions suggest the area will continue to grow through immigration by 100,000 new people a year. All of them will be looking for a place to live.
Which brings us to the fourth factor – and that is something peculiar to the luxury market. As Mr. Lyon and Mr. Molloy explain it, luxury condo buyers are picky and prudent. They prefer to buy when they can finally see what they are getting.
That means the brisk traffic at luxury project presentation centres starts when the building begins to rise from the ground.
“Simply put, they want to see what they are getting for their money,” says Mr. Lyon.
That is why penthouse suites are the last to be released for sale even in moderately priced projects, adds Mr. Malloy.
“Luxury buyers also want to take their time before making a decision,” he adds. “It is not at all uncommon for them to come back and back again with their interior designer in tow, going over every small detail of their suite.”
That said, there may be a fifth factor influencing the luxury market: The ever-expanding range of choice.
“Great cities need diversity,” says Ken Zuckerman of the Zinc Developments Group. His company is creating Hazelton 36, that Yorkville boutique condo that incorporates the 1920s vintage St. Basil’s School. “Not everyone wants to live in the same area or the same kind of building.”
When you get diversity of choice, people who might not otherwise consider moving to a condo see alternatives that perfectly suit their taste and need, he explains.
David Silverberg, director of sales and marketing for Nexxt Development Corp. offers a hearty amen to that thought. Nexxt, in partnership with the Mizrahi Group, is building the freehold Townhomes of Lytton Park at Lytton Boulevard and Avenue Road.
“One of the things that is so exciting about this project is that we are bringing back to Toronto a much-loved form of luxury housing that simply has not been available largely because of land costs and the demand for higher densities,” he says.
“Not everyone wants to live in a condo and not everyone wants to live downtown. When we acquired this site we though it would be perfect for bringing back townhomes – freehold townhomes. If you want a healthy vibrant luxury market and a healthy vibrant city then choice is the key.”
Plans for future launches indicate the GTA has no worries there. Developers large and small have signalled their intention to bring new projects to market this summer. Minto Group, for example, will relaunch the St. Thomas tower at St. Thomas and Charles streets.
Canlight Hall Realty has purchased the 21 townhouses that make up Ancroft Place in South Rosedale and plans to update them and sell them as condos starting around June.
For those longing to remain in their much-loved Lawrence Park neighbourhood near Bayview Avenue south of Eglinton, The Tridel Group has launched Blythwood at Huntington, an elegant, brick-and-stone eight-storey mid-rise overlooking the Sherwood Park Ravine. While two-bedroom suites will start in the mid-$500,000s, larger homes on upper floors, including the penthouses, will have prices well above the million-dollar mark.
“It very much looks like this summer will mark a new and exciting stage in the GTA’s housing market,” says Mr. Malloy. “The range of options in luxury homes is going to be truly impressive.”
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