To feed Torontonians’ insatiable interest in 383 Sorauren, a new mid-rise development in the Roncesvalles community, we’ve kept up to date on the all the goings-on of the loft conversion.
We’ve posted renderings and talked to Bill Gairdner of Gairloch, one of the developers behind the project. But we were also keen to speak to Eve Lewis of MarketVision, who’s helping get the word out about the unique building.
Lewis is pretty much an industry legend, having founded both MarketVision and Urbanation and had a hand in the uber-successful Massey Tower.
We chatted with Lewis about 383 Sorauren, Roncesvalles’ transformation and the state of the city’s condo market.
BuzzBuzzHome: My first question is about 383 Sorauren. What demographic are you targeting with the project?
Eve Lewis: In large-part, we targeting the west-end [buyer]. There are a lot of people in the neighbourhood that either want to upgrade to this boutique building or are renting somewhere and they’ve already fallen in love with Roncesvalles and Queen West.
But in my experience, when it comes to a boutique building, it has a way broader reach. Because there’s so few of them, my expectation is that we’ll probably draw from the whole city.
From a demographic point of view, and not just area, we’re looking at singles and couples between 25 and 45. And then we’ll be doing trade-down empty nesters because we have spectacular penthouses.
BBH: In your opinion, what do you think are the biggest draws to the community right now?
EL: I know the stats are out there from TREB and CMHC that this area is increasing in price nearly more than any other community in Canada. And Roncesvalles, if you looked at it 10 or 15 years ago, it is absolutely transformed. It has everything there already. It’s got the cafes, the charming restaurants, the cool shops. It’s got all the fundamentals as well: banks, grocery stores, pharmacies. And it’s what? Three minutes to the Gardiner?
I think it’s got the whole flavour that people who are looking to live in a community want. They really have a great chance to do that here.
BBH: It’s a community that’s ever-evolving. Where do you see it evolving in the next decade?
EL: You know Liberty Village and King and Queen West? That transformed very quickly because it got a huge amount of population.
But I just think it’s going to retain its charm. The art gallery that I’ve been going to for years has been there for twenty years – Christopher Cutts and Olga Korper. I just think that whole area is going to continue to evolve. And the great thing about it is everybody lives there.
This is right by Sorauren Park and it’s got the farmer’s market there. I think it’s only going to continue to enhance and I think Parkdale and that whole west-end area is really going to increase in value.
BBH: Considering how family-oriented the area already is, do you think you’ll see some families purchasing at 383 Sorauren?
EL: You know what’s interesting? I used to think ‘Why would anyone want to go live in an apartment if they have a family?’ But having said that, I think the numbers are all way higher than everybody thinks – that lives in condos – because a lot of people don’t want to own a house. Or both parents are working and there’s so many great daycares around that condominium-living for a lot of people makes a lot of sense.
But this [project] has the park right next door and it’s two blocks from Roncesvalles. So we are expecting up to ten per cent will be families.
I think it’s a combination. I mean, you could have a single parent that doesn’t have the child all the time. Or you can even have young couples that are having young children.
BBH: You think the composition of the building, as far as suite-size is concerned, will accommodate families?
EL: First of all, the penthouses will take larger families. If you have a single child or small children, yeah, we have lots of product that will accommodate that. And because of the park next door, I think it makes a big difference.
BBH: As far as putting the area in context for Toronto, do you think that there some neighbourhoods within Toronto that might be seeing too much building right now and are becoming over-heated price-wise? Could you compare that to the Roncesvalles area – will prices remain on the upward trajectory just because it’s such a desirable area?
EL: There’s been a lot of change in the condo market in the last year. And really what the big change is that in a market where we’re 18,000 units a year for new sales, we sold 28,000 by the end of March last year. There had to be a rebalancing. And with any rebalancing, developers get nervous.
And whatever has opened since last summer, in large part, has been successful. But for us, I think this is the only boutique building that’s planned to come on the market this spring or summer. I think we’re going to do incredibly well. Boutiques buildings are unique, there’s not that many of them.
Everyone is in a different area of town based on what their needs are. The person that is looking to live at Sorauren is looking for a boutique building, they’re looking for a loft, they’re looking to live in a building that has a way higher percentage of owner-occupants. They want to be in a community, near a park, and walking distance to great, local shopping experience.
And that’s not to say that right downtown like King and Bathurst isn’t a great location too. Obviously we’re going to be more attractively priced than they are because they’re right downtown and the land costs are higher.
BBH: Obviously the sales numbers in 2013 haven’t been particularly strong but prices – especially for low-rise units – have remained quite steady and have even increased pretty dramatically. What’s your take on the market right now?
EL: Number one, I think that prices have only marginally increased over the last year and it makes sense because there’s not as much product out there. And really, the numbers for 2013, the reason they’re so low is because there’s been so few openings. I mean, that’s the largest reason. There’s product that’s being absorbed and existing buildings are selling.
I don’t believe we’re downward, I think we’re in an adjusting market. The biggest reason why are sales are low is because there have been so few openings. When you usually have 25 openings and last quarter I think we were at six in the whole GTA, you’re not going to have a lot of numbers.
BBH: Do you think this is necessary so that things don’t get out of hand?
EL: No, I think it just takes so long to get projects out on the market – the suites’ design, the finishes, the construction costs – all the elements that make up a project. And I think the developers last summer sat there and saw the market was softening after this ridiculous high and it takes time to get geared up again. We’ll see there will be a lot more projects this fall. The ones that are launching now will pretty much have the market to themselves.
BBH: Do you have anything to add?
EL: I really think it is a community sell because it is a boutique building. And there’s still a broad range of suites in the building. You’ve got two-storey penthouses with huge terraces and you have one-bedroom product for the single person. It’ll be a good range. And the finishes and specs are fabulous. Bill Gairdner and Johnson Chou and architectsAlliance – it’s a great team!
Thanks for chatting with us Eve!