Find a small site in the downtown core near transit, a university or a major hospital, and don’t worry about the neighbourhood; gentrification, you’re told, is just around the corner.
Get the City to approve big height and bigger density. Work with a smart architect who can figure out how to add more units to the floorplate (they call them efficient; some call them small); use a designer to add sleek cabinets and stone countertops; and, include a handful of lifestyle amenities, like a pool, squash court or golf simulator.
Then you open. And while your marketing materials are geared to the end user—and no doubt, you'll find a few—your price, layouts and location attract investors looking for a preferred ROI.
If all goes well, you'll get to construction within six months, and sell out before the top floor gets poured.
That’s the development model that has made Toronto’s pre-construction condo market the envy of North America. It’s the model that has made our city tall. It’s the model that’s made us sophisticated. It’s the model that has made us real estate obsessed!
It’s also the model that has turned renters into homeowners, owners into investors, and the Toronto market into big news.
But is it the only model?
Not if you ask the developers at Circa.
Convinced there’s a part of today’s condo buying community whose needs aren’t being met (despite a decade or more of sizzling condo sales across the city), Circa partners Neil Spiegel and Evan Johnsen believe there are condo purchasers who are craving bigger spaces in established residential neighbourhoods, like Forest Hill and Cedarvale. Buyers who actually want to live where they buy. Buyers who don’t need—or want—a golf simulator and the maintenance fees it comes with, or the elevator delays that come with having 599 neighbours.
Circa’s approach is very different.
At all their projects, including their most recent, called 1657 Bathurst and 1733 Bathurst, and their newest, known simply as 3 Markdale, the developers bought aging low-rise rental apartment buildings, and turned them into modern new, boutique condominium projects.
Through a careful renovation and modernization of the pre-existing spacious apartment units, and the addition of an extra storey at the roofline (creating penthouse suites), Circa has figured out how to offer a new condo model for the City that breaks the mould.
In a recent article in the Toronto Star describing Circa's unique approach, Johnsen notes that, "this is our business model and we like it".
We do too... But, please don’t get us wrong.
We still love the cool condo designs of King West; the elegant condo towers of Yorkville, and the tall residential buildings fitting into the Financial District, but there’s something appealing about a new condo project that offers larger suites, good design, and a great neighbourhood that we don’t have to wait for!