Photo: James Bombales

From dog runs to children’s playrooms, new condo projects have typically gone to market boasting a variety of amenities designed to fulfil the needs of the building’s future residents.

After nearly a year that so many have spent working remotely, the lasting impact of the global pandemic is set to shift what developers think to offer new home buyers in their future projects.

“If the pandemic taught our industry anything, it taught us that we can never become complacent [in] thinking ‘What worked in the past, will continue to work forever,’” said Mark Cohen, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of TCS Marketing Systems.

“The developers with whom we work are having in-depth philosophical discussions about how best to deliver product that shapes a better future. In the end, residents will benefit across the board,” he added.

Dedicated home offices, outdoor spaces and multi-functional rooms are some of the most sought-after features among today’s home purchasers as they look for space to work, learn and exercise at home. Even as the pandemic’s impact recedes, companies are looking to rejig their work-from-home policies to allow their employees to work remotely more frequently.

Photo: Sidekix Media / Unsplash

Architects and designers have been considering the permanency of working from home in their residential project concepts, looking at ways to integrate ad hoc workstations and multi-functional spaces within condo units. Cohen explained that TCS Marketing Systems is currently working with developers on how to optimize square footage in “new and valuable ways for the future.”

Vaughan-based developer and builder, Lormel Homes, told Livabl that the importance of multi-functional and outdoor spaces is here to stay. The developer is currently designing an eight-storey condo building slated for 880 The Queensway in Etobicoke. The Lormel Homes team is now reviewing the future mid-rise’s amenity spaces to see how they can be programmed to best serve future residents, they say.

“We are going through a design [and] functionality exercise right now for our 880 Queensway site,” said a company spokesperson. “The neighbourhood outside the building envelope has everything a person wants, and we are striving to augment that with great, safe amenities inside the building envelope too.”

Photo: Scott Webb / Unsplash

COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in many Toronto condo residents being shut out from their building amenities in an effort to reduce virus transmission. While rooftop terraces and communal pools remain closed in many buildings across the region at the moment, Cohen explains that amenity spaces are still a desirable condo feature.

“Every site condition is different, as is every market, as is every neighborhood. There is no ‘one size fits all’ where designing a vertical community is concerned, pandemic or no pandemic,” he said. “Our extensive market research indicates the marketplace still values amenity space.”

Toronto’s condo resale market struggled through a lackluster 2020, with the market segment easily outshined by red-hot activity in the single-family homes segment. In a monthly insights report published in November 2020, Realosophy Realty Brokerage noted that there was an oversupply of ‘micro’ condo units smaller than 600 square feet, a trend that pointed to the increased demand for larger living spaces among those buyers now working from home.

Photo: James Bombales

On whether future condo sizes would change as a result of this trend, Lormel Homes explained that many variables come into play when planning mid- and high-rise designs. Cohen said that developers work with city planning departments and architects to follow suite size guidelines that are set for new projects, which adapt over time.

“Like cities, condominium design evolves,” said Cohen. “Ontario has some of the most forward-thinking planning departments, architects, landscape architects, engineers and developers in North America, making for exciting times ahead.”

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