Architect Sol Wassermuhl loves the life he and his wife lead now that they’re residents of the uber-exclusive MuseumHouse, a 27-unit boutique building on Bloor Street West that he designed.
“We stroll into Yorkville, visit the Art Gallery of Ontario, and pop into the Royal Ontario Museum (right across the road),” the president of Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects tells Epoch Times in an interview, noting they moved to MuseumHouse’s 4,000-square-foot full-floor sub-penthouse from a home in Forest Hill.
“We’re really becoming part of the cultural scene of the city in a way we never did before, and we’re walking everywhere, which we love.”
Sheldon Esbin, a partner in the development group, also purchased a full-floor unit at MuseumHouse, one level below the Wassermuhls’. And on the floor above the Wassermuhls’ sits MuseumHouse’s penthouse, a fully finished space on the 19-storey building’s top two levels that’s just been released for sale.
Priced at $10.5 million, the penthouse has four bedrooms, four bathrooms and over 7,000 square feet of inside/outside living space, with 12-foot ceilings on the main floor and 10-foot ceilings on the upper level, and wide-plank hardwood flooring throughout.
Each level has two limestone terraces with frameless glass railings and views of the city that are guaranteed forever because MuseumHouse overlooks Queen’s Park, the ROM, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and University of Toronto. The unit, designed by IBI Group, comes with a large storage locker and three parking spaces.
The penthouse’s main level has an open-concept living room with floor-to-ceiling windows yielding spectacular south-facing vistas. A fireplace is clad in match stone, with built-in wood shelving on either side and recessed LED lighting.
In the kitchen, all appliances are integrated behind wood paneling, and both the kitchen and adjacent dining room areas open onto a walkout terrace that’s ideal for outdoor dining. A separate catering corridor and service elevator just off the kitchen functions as a butler’s pantry, Wassermuhl notes. “It’s perfect for entertaining.”
A semi-circular staircase with a hand-rubbed bronze rail and stone treads leads to the penthouse’s upper level—or you could just take the suite’s own internal elevator. Upstairs, a two-sided fireplace separates the master bedroom and ensuite bathroom, where a freestanding tub is set against the backdrop of a curved stone wall. There are his and hers closets, too. “His is very large and hers is humungous,” and includes a makeup vanity, Wassermuhl points out.
The penthouse at MuseumHouse was left unfinished when it first went on the market, the idea being that a buyer paying the kind of money being asked for the suite would probably want to have things their way. But it seems a blank canvas was too much of a leap for Toronto. “If you were in New York, it would work, because that’s what they do there (buy unfinished luxury spaces),” Wassermuhl says. “Here, people expect a finished suite.”
Finishing a raw unit is no simple task, he acknowledges, having been through the experience himself a floor below. “You have to hire architects, interior designers, mechanical and electrical engineers, acoustic consultants… For a layperson to take it on is pretty tough, and it takes a long time.”
“Toronto’s not ready for that yet,” he adds, “and possibly that was a mistake with the first attempt (to sell the unit). Eventually we realized you’ve got to finish it, and so that’s what we’ve done.”
MuseumHouse’s penthouse, the only available unit remaining in the building, is being targeted at international buyers, Asian and South Asian purchasers in particular. “We’re seeing investor interest in luxury large product, which we didn’t really see before,” explains Barbara Lawlor, president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc.
The penthouse at MuseumHouse is a true trophy property in an “ever-blossoming city” that continues earning international accolades, Lawlor says. “And any economy tied to US dollars is suddenly very attractive—there are deals to be had, not to mention our real estate is still a great price versus other international cities.”
That the architect of MuseumHouse owns and lives in a unit in the building he designed can be seen as a testament to the project’s quality. Indeed, Wassermuhl notes that since he and Esbin knew they’d be residents there, “we were willing to spend the money to do it right.”
Flooring, for example, has two layers of plywood beneath it to avoid creaking. Curtain-wall windows keep out city sounds. And doors are rock-solid, with four ball-bearing hinges.
The building also has a gas-powered generator that kicks on automatically in the event of a power failure and powers every light and outlet in the building.
“It’s not limited to three or four days like a diesel generator,” says Wassermuhl, recalling a dinner party he hosted during a recent winter blackout.
Amenities-wise, MuseumHouse has a gym, board room, party room with adjoining terrace, plus a guest suite. And a 24-hour concierge and valet can assist with receiving parcels, groceries or dry-cleaning deliveries, hailing a limo, or making restaurant reservations. “It’s just like a 5-star hotel,” says Wassermuhl. “The staff here are first class.”
So much so, he even lets them park his precious sports car. “Some people in the building have Ferraris and Rolls Royces. If they have no problem with it, I have no problem with it.”
Ryan Starr is a Toronto-based freelance journalist.
MuseumHouse on Bloor
Location: 206 Bloor St. W.
Developer: The Yorkville Corp.
Architect: Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects
Interior design: IBI Group
Size: 19 storeys
Penthouse: 7,000 sq. ft. indoor/outdoor space
Price: $10.5 million
Sales: Baker Real Estate Inc.
Info: 416-875-8726 | info@MuseumHouseonBloor.com