Welcome one and all to a new edition of Buzz Talk! This week we’re buzzing with Adam Ochshorn, president and founder of Grand Metropolitan Homes and co-founder of the exciting new development company, Curated Properties.
Adam has been in the development industry for over two decades and comes from a family of developers. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who knows more about the ins-and-outs of the Toronto development industry.
We buzz with him about why Edition/Richmond is destined to be a hot project, why Queen West is better than your neighbourhood, and how Toronto’s becoming a much prettier city.
BuzzBuzzHome: When did you decide that a career in the development industry was the path for you?
Adam Ochshorn: Probably when I was 16 or 17. My father was in it, my grandfather was in it. When other kids had Sports Illustrated, I had Architectural Digest so I always liked design and architecture. I took construction management courses when I was finished university and in university I took architectural history courses.
When I graduated it was the late 80s and I worked for my father on-site as the assistant site super, that type of thing. Then I bought an old bungalow and knocked it down and built a new house in the Avenue and Lawrence area. I started rolling from there and moved on to bigger stuff — 6 unit, 12 unit and 20 unit townhouse projects.
BBH: Why did you decide to start your own company?
AO: Well, I’ve had my own company for years under different names. Curated Properties came about in the past year, with my present partner Gary Eisen. We’re just in the process of finishing Annex Loft Houses at 483 Dupont. We didn’t have our own name at that time, it was always a joint venture between my company, Grand Metropolitan, and his company, Dewbourne.
We decided to form our own company with the moniker “Curated” because we wanted to establish a company that connotates we’re taking care of the whole process for you. Not only are you getting great design built-in, but you’re getting a great seamless process. Purchasers have come to us in the past and said, “We’ve never had the builder’s phone number before and we’re always dealing with different people on the totem pole. With you guys we’re always going right to the bosses if we have an issue.”
What we tried to do is initiate this company and curate the whole process for you like it’s a piece of art that we’re taking care of.
BBH: That’s the company philosophy?
BBH: What do you think drove the success of Annex Loft Houses?
AO: We did some things that a lot of projects aren’t doing in the city. We gave it standard 11 foot ceilings. Most builders are claiming that they’re giving 10 foot ceilings but they’re bulk heading everything so it’s actually 9 feet or less. We gave it walls of glass which a lot of builders also weren’t doing at the time. We also did a premium on outdoor amenities space. On your second floor you have a small terrace, on the third floor you have a small terrace and on your rooftop, you have a minimum 300 square foot terrace.
At that point in time, our prices were aligned with builders in high-rise that were giving a 4 foot by 8 foot terrace. Buyers were getting this added value with no added charge.
BBH: Moving on to Edition/Richmond. What are some stand-out attributes of that project that you think will make it a big success?
AO: We’ve taken the design and standard finishes to the next level. Cecconi Simone is on board doing all the design and interior layout. You have things such as the kitchen, it looks like a kitchen that you’d see in a European design magazine. That’s the standard. We have all European appliances for the most part.
We have 10 foot ceilings and bathrooms that rival anybody else that we’re competing against. I would say the design and finishes are heads and tails above anybody else as a standard. We also have a rooftop terrace that was a big seller at Annex Loft Houses.
BBH: What do you like about the neighbourhood?
AO: You’re a stone’s throw from Trinity Bellwoods Park. The real beauty of the site is you’re on Richmond Street, but when Richmond hits Bathurst you can’t go west on Richmond anymore. None of that busy traffic gets back on Richmond. You could be out there during rush hour and there’s very little vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic. You don’t hear the noise from Queen Street.
Some condo projects are right in the action, but that isn’t always a good thing when you’re trying to sleep and you’ve got rowdy people outside your window. You don’t have that here because you’re a block away from it.
BBH: Tell us more about the Edition/Richmond sales centre.
AO: We wanted to utilize the existing building as the sales centre. The beauty of that building is you have these huge glass roll-up doors and 18 to 20 foot ceilings. We also wanted to build our brand with longevity. What happened to us at Annex Loft Houses was rather than going the old way of doing print media we would hit our email pre-register list and do different events.
What we’re hoping to do with our opening event is have a DJ, catering and so on. We’re going to have the Stephen Bulger Gallery in Queen West putting some artwork in there and we’re going to have some performance artists. We’re going to use this building for further events to build our brand and cooperate with different retailers in the neighbourhood. We figured we have this space, we should use it.
It’s shaping up to be a real gallery kind of space.
BBH: You’ve been in the industry for awhile now. What are some of the most interesting changes in the last few years working in Toronto?
AO: I would always criticize the big builders because you could tell if you were in the industry they were always trying to squeeze every nickel out of every project. What they proposed with their artist’s conceptions and what they delivered were two different things. I thought the city was getting really ugly. I would say in the past six years, you have some of the bigger guys and some boutique guys like us who are stressing the design aesthetic and not looking to cheap out.
There’s a bunch of buildings where you can see that all they cared about was the bottom line. In ten to fifteen years, they’ll regret that or the City will regret that they let that type of thing go on. An ugly city is bad for the people, bad for morale, bad for property values, it’s just not right on the whole.
Now what I’m seeing is you’ve some really beautiful and interesting buildings. That’s where I think it’s changed. It’s getting a better reputation throughout the world as a design centre. It has the reputation of the condo capital of the world, but it’s also some good looking work happening now. I think that’s great.
BBH: Do you have a favourite restaurant that no one else knows about?
AO: How do people not know about anything anymore? Everyone knows about everything now.
BBH: That’s a good point! Okay, how about favourite neighbourhood in Toronto?
AO: I like the Edition/Richmond neighbourhood. Obviously I’m biased but there’s a couple reasons. I walk out my door, I have a dog, I’ll go Trinity Bellwoods Park. I want a coffee, I’ll go around the corner to Squirrel. I want a fancy dinner, I’ll go to Noce. If I want a basic dinner, I’ll go to Terroni.
Thanks for buzzing with us Adam!