Pinnacle International Prefers to Play Big

Larger condo units a top priority for builder
February 7, 2015 Updated: February 7, 2015

Pinnacle International has a distinct advantage over its Toronto condo development competition, according to the firm’s vice-president of sales and marketing Anson Kwok.

“We build a lot more bigger two- and three-bedroom units,” he tells the Epoch Times in an interview at Pinnacle’s Bay Street headquarters.

Kwok notes that larger suites are becoming more in demand by people moving up from starter units, an emerging trend across the city as it learns to embrace condo living.

“As you evolve, you need more space. So we’re providing the larger units for people to transition into.”

The availability of larger units has translated into considerable success for Vancouver-based Pinnacle, which closed more than 900 units in 2014. “A record year for us,” says Kwok, adding he sees larger suites continuing to propel the company in 2015, with another 600 units closing this year.

Two-bedroom units have been “well received” at The Pinnacle on Adelaide, a 46-storey, 587-unit building at Adelaide and John that’s currently taking occupancy. Only two-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot layouts were on display at the project’s sales centres, notes Kwok. And now that people are moving into the completed building, there’s been increased interest in the larger offerings.

“Because that’s what people are looking for.”

Two-bedroom as well as three-bedroom units are being snapped up at Pinnacle Grand Park at Burnhamthorpe Road W. and Grand Park Dr. in Mississauga, a project located near to the city’s emerging downtown and a short drive from Square One Shopping Centre.

Back in the city, it’s the same story at the Pinnacle Centre complex on Bay Street between Harbourtfront St. and the Gardiner Expressway, where buyers are showing interest in the remaining larger two and three-bedroom suites that weren’t taken by pre-construction investors.

“I would classify this as second, third generation people living in condos,” explains Kwok, who himself lives in one of Pinnacle’s condos—a three-bedroom unit.

“Everyone starts in that one-bedroom, one-bedroom plus den, then you eventually want to find something a bit bigger.”

He’s finding many purchasers are choosing to remain in the company’s buildings when housing needs change. At Pinnacle Centre, for example, a couple dozen people have moved from one Pinnacle building to another as they went from being single to having children. “A lot of kids were born here,” Kwok says, “which is cool to see.”

With Pinnacle Centre, the builder was one of the pioneers of residential development south of the Gardiner. “No one would go there 10 years ago,” recalls Kwok. “When we bought this land, people thought we were crazy — ‘They’re obviously not from Toronto!'”

“But we had the foresight to say hey, it’s waterfront—it’s great. And now it’s become the hottest place. So we like to think we helped initiate a lot of the growth seen in the last 20 years down here.”

As 2015 moves ahead, Pinnacle has plenty more in its pipeline, having just started construction on Grand Park 2 in Mississauga, with 469 units priced from the mid-$200,000s. It’s continuing work on Pinnacle Uptown, its eight-tower mega-development, also in Mississauga, where the second building has just been released for sale.

Downtown, Pinnacle is going through the approvals process for PJ Condos, a proposed 48-storey tower at the southeast corner of Adelaide and John, currently home to the sales centre for The Pinnacle on Adelaide.

And the builder is working with the city to refine its proposal for a mega mixed-use development at 1 Yonge Street that could include four residential towers, two office buildings and a hotel, with multiple levels of retail. (The Toronto Star building that sits on the site will be re-clad, with several floors added to the top of the old tower).

“We’re spending quite a bit of time working through the various aspects of the project with the city,” says Kwok. “We want to make sure that ultimately this is the best complete community we can plan, because 1 Yonge is such a critical location for the city. The waterfront deserves something fantastic.”

Pinnacle’s approach to the Toronto market has been shaped by the company’s experiences back home in Vancouver, a city that’s years ahead of Toronto in its condo-focused intensification efforts.

“The tradition in Vancouver is to build two- or three-bedroom units,” says Kwok. “So we’ve stayed true to our roots, even though in this marketplace it’s not as common. It’s going to be a longer sales cycle, but at the end of the day we know it’s going to be a better building.”

“It’s part of the legacy we want to leave,” he adds. “For us having a bigger mix of end users and investors in our buildings is critical, because it creates a situation where the interests are more balanced.”

Ryan Starr is a freelance journalist based in Toronto.