With hundreds of projects either recently finished, under construction, or up for sale, we are finally seeing the predicted slowdown in the GTA condo market.
But not all projects are having difficulty selling.
The sort of development we want to see in Toronto—density where it is needed, great architecture that fits the location, larger units that can accommodate a variety of inhabitants, and homes on the waterfront—that stuff is still selling, because Toronto still needs it.
As an international destination, Toronto is gaining increasing respect for the planning and management of its downtown core, and sometimes for its architecture.
Mississauga’s Absolute Towers (aka the Marilyn Monroe buildings), built by Cityzen Development Group and Fernbrook Homes and completed in 2011, have become synonymous with modern architecture in Toronto.
I’m still a firm believer that great design sells, and not only does it sell but it sells at a premium.
This summer, Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat named Absolute the Best Tall Building in the Americas for 2012.
A closer look reveals that all Cityzen’s projects stand out architecturally; it is at the core of their strategy.
“I’m still a firm believer that great design sells, and not only does it sell but it sells at a premium,” says Cityzen president Sam Crignano.
Sitting right along the Oakville waterfront, architect Sol Wassermuhl designed The Shores, a 10-storey glass community linked to waterfront paths and including retail.
The Shores resembles a huge, sparkling cruise ship in keeping with its proximity to a marina, yacht club and wharf.
The idea was vacation-style living with interiors and suites by Brian Gluckstein no less.
Seventy-five percent of the units had unobstructed views of the water. They sold like hotcakes.
“I can’t believe how much that building has appreciated in value,” says Crignano. “I think we underestimated its value.”
Also located right on the water, this time in Toronto at Queens Quay East, Pier 27 was designed by Peter Clewes of architectsAlliance, designers of the revitalized waterfront at Harbourfront Centre.
Clewes, a former member of the Waterfront Design Review Panel, certainly knows what the city wants near the water.
Pier 27 will eventually have four, fourteen-storey towers connected in pairs by skybridges, and another larger building of undisclosed size. Lovely, fresh, and modern, they will be surrounded by public space, with some retail and parking, keeping the waterfront accessible to all Torontonians.
The next three phases may be announced as early as spring 2013.
If you look east out your window from Pier 27, you can see the Portlands. Cityzen owns 13 acres of the Portlands along Cherry St. and has engaged an all-star team to develop the site in the next decade.
In keeping with its devotion to world-class architecture, Cityzen has engaged English architect Norman Foster. The commercial spaces will be designed by fellow Londoner Eric Kuhne from CivicArts. ArchitectsAlliance and KPMB, local favourites, round out the team.
The project is waiting on the City of Toronto, but not just for approvals. The city needs to decide how transit will connect to the Portlands.
There are no renderings of any buildings yet. We have years of planning, approvals and eventually construction to look forward to before we can move in.