Tag Archives: tides
by Dan Flomen
Developing a master-planned community takes a great deal of vision. Not only must you picture the project itself, but also the impact that it will have on the surrounding area and the local economy.
In the early 1990s, one could drive along the Gardiner Expressway and see nothing but undeveloped land and decaying buildings when approaching Park Lawn Road in Etobicoke. Sandwiched between the railway tracks and the Gardiner appeared a sales catastrophe waiting to happen.
But then Camrost-Felcorp acquired that land and turned it into a modern community catering to all types of buyers. Mystic Pointe is the result, a new neighbourhood comprised of condominium townhomes, apartments, and lofts.
In the first phase of development on Manitoba Street, Camrost-Felcorp introduced a condominium and townhomes with underground parking, followed by a unique renovation of the McGuiness Distillery. The distillery was converted into modern two-storey lofts.
Using the existing structure, parking was added through the centre of the building. The following phase consisted of a unique concept: adding a second loft structure on top of the converted building. In doing so, Camrost-Felcorp provided a rooftop garden and created an outdoor living environment that is a central meeting place for residents.
Following the success of the previous lofts, a third loft building at the same development was put up backing onto the Gardiner, with a variety of wide and narrow plans. It has a modern New York feel, incorporating a minimalist approach to its lobby and halls.
The most recent addition to Mystic Pointe is The Tides, a building unlike any other in the area. Its soaring glass structure takes the site one step further into the future. Two-storey lofts and single-floor suites make up this dramatic building. The facilities provided at the Camrost Centre for Recreational Arts will rival most fitness clubs and will service not only The Tides, but also Camrost-Felcorp’s future endeavor, iLoft.
The overall effect on this area of Etobicoke was felt immediately. Young professionals, seeking refuge from the congestion of downtown, moved in. The minor commute was insignificant to them compared to the potential upsides: walking trails along the waterfront were now minutes from their homes. Stores and shops along The Queensway started to spring up. An urban community now existed in an area once thought to be dying.
Other developers have now joined in this south Etobicoke revival. With access to major highways at residents’ doorstep combined with all the conveniences of downtown, sales are brisk. Singles, young families, and empty nesters are moving into this thriving area. Unlike many visions that go unrealized, Mystic Pointe continues to grow and blossom.
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More than 1,000 such hotel rooms are slated to open in Toronto and Vancouver over the next 12 months. But hoteliers aren’t worried about oversupply: They insist the five-star market is underserved
Steve Ladurantaye – Globe and Mail
During the darkest days of the recession, one thought kept going through Tony Cohen’s mind: Better to be building a luxury hotel through the downturn than to be opening one.
Mr. Cohen, who with partner Peter Freed is putting the finishing touches on the 102-room Thompson hotel in the western part of downtown Toronto, isn’t worried any more about filling rooms when the doors open in May. The economy is recovering, business travellers are slowing returning, and the market is far from saturated. Toronto and Vancouver, Mr. Cohen believes, have long suffered from a lack of luxury in the hotel sector.
That’s about to change. Within the next 12 months, more than 1,000 luxury hotel rooms are slated to open in each of those cities – a huge expansion that was planned before the recession hit, and one with uncertain consequences for an industry that was hammered during the downturn.
“This all may be happening at a crazy time, given what’s been happening in the economy over the last couple of years, but I maintain this market has been underserved,” said Mr. Cohen, who also operates a small luxury boutique hotel in Toronto called Le Germain. “This is a long time coming, and we really feel it’s all coming together at the right time.”
The past couple of years have been anything but the right time for Canada’s hotel industry. Revenue per available room, a key measure of the sector’s financial health, plunged 12%, according to data from Colliers International.
Insiders suggest that even that number flatters the truth, because many chains have kept room rates stable but offered free nights and other upgrades to attract guests. PKF Canada, a market research firm, estimated in its annual review that profitability at the nation’s hotels declined by 33% in 2009.
But there are hopeful signs emerging. Figures from STR Global, which tracks occupancy and rates week-by-week, show that life is slowly returning to the market. The average daily rate was up 0.3% at the end of March, to $118.77. Occupancy rates climbed 1.7% to 58.2%.
Hotels such as the Thompson, Trump, Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton in Toronto and the Shangri-La, Fairmont Pacific Rim and Hotel Rosewood Georgia in Vancouver could help drive a renaissance for the embattled industry, said analyst Lyle Hall, managing director of HLT Advisory Inc. in Toronto.
“There is still some ugliness out there as the convention and meetings markets see softness,” Mr. Hall said. “But these brands have certain standards and price thresholds. Having them come in and push rates up should help. It’s the thing about rising tides lifting all boats.”
There are 12,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of Toronto’s Union Station, while the Olympic-fuelled boom in Vancouver has pushed the number of rooms in its downtown to 13,000. But both markets have been short on truly high-end offerings, industry analysts say.
There is no formal definition of what constitutes a five-star hotel. It generally refers to properties with a high staff-to-patron ratio and luxury restaurants and amenities. Colliers International executive managing director Bill Stone said the lack of such inventory has cost the cities financially, as large trade shows and upscale events opt for markets with higher-end facilities.
“You are going to see new business coming to these cities because they haven’t had this calibre of offerings before,” Mr. Stone said. “This is going to be better than people anticipate – people like to be at these places in a way that is different than more traditional hotels, and that attracts the corporate clientele.”
For the Ritz, the results are already evident. Though it won’t open until midsummer, advance bookings are already in place for weddings and bar mitzvahs. Site tours have been available for a year, and most of its 400 employees have been hired.
“Having these hotels will attract groups that would otherwise go to Chicago or San Francisco that already have them in the market. That is a certainty,” general manager Tim Terceira said.
While paying guests are the cornerstone of survival for any hotel, several of the developments have another advantage built into their business plans – they aren’t only hotels, they are also condominiums. With hundreds of property owners sharing the same space as vacationers, amenities such as restaurants and cleaning services have a built-in source of alternative revenue.
At the Ritz, for example, 135 condos will share the downtown Toronto location with 267 hotel rooms. The suites range from $700,000 for a standard condo up to an estimated $11-million for the penthouse.
“They’ve offered condo buyers a high level of services that don’t normally come with an independent building,” Mr. Stone said. “This helps with financing out of the gate, and the hotels also like it because it creates a feel that goes beyond the scope of a traditional offering.”