This content has also been published in a special section on thestar.com and will appear in the Toronto Star’s Saturday Edition on September 23.
Billiards rooms, guest suites, in-building theatres — these are just a few condo amenities that have long been mainstays for developers. But while it sounds charming to shoot pool with friends down the hall, there’s no denying these particular amenities feel leftover from a bygone era. Dated carpets and dingy wallpaper simply don’t match the cool, contemporary, curated vibes of the Millennial or Gen Z buyer.
Who residents are, and what they desire, has shifted majorly over the last decade, with the most dramatic changes occurring in the last few years (thanks, or not, to COVID-19). Today, a slew of fresh amenities stands centre stage. They vary in definition and purpose, but fall into streamlined categories: green and clean, intentional and utilitarian, sleek and chic, or — in the best cases — some combination of all three.
As one of the most notable amenity trends to emerge from the pandemic, outdoor spaces — parks, patios, and rooftops — are all but a requirement for today’s condo buyer. Through COVID, people realized the importance of fresh air for health: physical, mental, and social (from a six-foot distance). Today, this priority remains on top, and is manifesting through new development plans. Birchley Park, a master-planned community coming to Victoria Park Avenue and Gerrard Street East, will sit adjacent to a 5.5-acre public park. SmartVMC is another example — the burgeoning master-planned community near Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is anchored by a massive park, sprawling nine acres. (Eat your heart out, parkettes.)
In a (relatively) post-pandemic landscape, outdoor spaces are hubs for gathering together in nature: picnicking or playing sports; enjoying courtyard coffees; or hosting rooftop communal-barbecue birthday parties. Simply put, the importance of fresh air, and condo residents’ access to it, can’t be overstated as one of the ultimate modern amenities.
Going, Going, Green
This renewed appreciation for the great outdoors relates to another rising amenity trend: eco-conscious offerings. The sepia tone of Toronto’s skies this past June served as a stark reminder that the climate is changing, and its future depends on today’s decisions. It’s heartening to know that green amenities — smart technologies (including hands-free entry and high-quality air purifiers, popularity once again courtesy of COVID-19), bike storage, electric vehicle charging stations, and geothermal heating and cooling systems — are highly sought-after. That these green amenities also happen to make daily life easier only ups their appeal.
What’s more, the drive for eco-friendly action stretches beyond amenities. Buyers are also enticed by foundational developer values like clean building practices and materials, and low- (or no-) emission strategies. These principles can be seen in action through EllisDon’s development and preservation of the Port Lands, and via the Deep Lake Water Cooling system working underground at Tridel’s The Well. In essence, a green(er) condo is one buyers can feel good investing in, living in, and raising the next generation in.
Indeed, the number of young families living in condos is increasing (as is evidenced by developers building schools into their new condo plans, à la Menkes Developments’ Sugar Wharf.) This shift towards family condominium living raises a new and unique need: genuinely useful amenity offerings, catered to all ages. A dedicated kids’ lounge and playroom? Great. If it’s STEAM-themed (an emerging approach to education centering science, technology, engineering, arts, and math)? Even greater. How about an in-house creator studio equipped with podcasting and video-editing equipment? Whether for school or a hobby, any extremely-online teen will swoon. And, for parents who may not have the opportunity to go for regular self care appointments, an in-condo wellness hub with yoga classes, a cold plunge, or a steamy sauna allows them to keep their body and mind in top shape. Finally, there are those who treat their fur-babies like literal kin; this is where pet wash stations, dedicated dog runs, and on-site pet daycare centres can also come into play.
Whether an amenity is designed for pets or people, one element must be prioritized for modern-day success: cool design. Let’s face it — your amenities could be top-tier, checking the boxes of utility, eco-consciousness, and green space, but if they look outdated, their appeal shrinks. In the age of social media, amenities are underscored by the beauty of it all. A grand lobby is more inviting with massive windows and a carefully selected colour scheme; a wellness space promotes more ease with clear surfaces and soft lighting. Intentional contemporary design invites today’s generation of residents to fully relax into their condo’s amenities — to truly feel at home. Because they are.