Boutique buildings, especially the luxurious sort, have many advantages over towers: elegant finishes, short waits at the elevator, fewer chance encounters in the hallway and a scale that tastefully tucks into a neighbourhood. Quality control, after all, is inherently more manageable in a mid-rise, where each suite can be coddled and treated as the individual it is, without competing with 699 other units. And so we present a quartet of exceptional small buildings in mid-town Toronto to call home, all within 15 minutes of each other.
200 Russell Hill
Step into the marble-loaded model suite for 200 Russell Hill (200russellhill.com) and your eye shoots up 20 feet to a lacy swirl embedded in the domed ceiling. Which way to go next?
Left to the black kitchen or right to the black kitchen. There are two in the same hue, one contemporary, one traditional, and they’re both glossy and glamorous.
But it would be a shame to bypass the miniature model that sits squarely under said rotunda. It showcases countless trees the size of broccoli florets as a reminder of the forest and the park that makes this site so appealing. If you peer closely at the model, you’ll also notice the front and the back of Rafael + Bigauskas Architects’ design doesn’t match.
“We’ve designed the building with a beautiful, traditional, limestone front, which transforms into a contemporary, minimalist facade around the back,” says Simon Hirsh of Hirsh Development Group of the units that run from 2,000 to 5,000 square feet and are priced from $3.2 million to $11.9 million.
There’s a reason for the hybrid, Hirsh says. Once the five-storey mid-rise is complete in the fall of 2018, it will complement the sylvan setting. “As you walk along the ravine trail up through the park, you look through the trees where you will see a black, understated building,” he says. The refined design means the trees will eclipse 200 Russell Hill instead of the other way around.
Hirsh stresses the units themselves should be considered as “22 custom homes” given the attention to detail. The enthralling model showcases interior designer Lori Morris’ obvious love of layered and eclectic spaces.
The designer’s signature sass continues indoors, where a gutsy mix of materials prevails: there’s leather on the library walls and kitchen cabinets with raised Rococo detailing as well as gold striping. Buyers needn’t copy the look, Hirsh says. Go Scandinavian with pale woods if you want. And buyers are free to introduce whatever custom finishes they choose without incurring extra costs. Morris says doing this kind of specialty work would be quite different on a tower. “In a smaller building, you can get more intimate, both with what the client wants and you’re able to do more finesse details.”
Driving south 10 minutes to the Casa Loma district leads to 346 Davenport Road (346davenport.com). The site is where the mid-rise condo is debuting in 2019 from developer Peter Freed of Freed Developments.
Homes from 1,000 sq. ft. to 4,400 sq. ft. start in the $800,000s and can be combined for true largesse. RAW Design’s vision for the 35-unit building sees a striking marble-like material cascading down the front, as well as vertical landscaped green elements. Acclaimed firm Burdifilek will design the interior and common spaces.
The area is close to the developer’s heart. “I love this neighbourhood. It’s such a core part of our city,” Freed says. “My parents live in the building next door, so it’s been an intimate part of my life.” The luxury market could use a boost, he continues. “The user market with larger units is under-served in the city. Over the past decade, most of the larger projects offer 300 to 700 units; most of which are very small units, which cater more towards rental markets.”
This project promises to pamper the private dweller. “Units are open-concept with very high-end finishes, it’s going to be really stunning,” Freed says of the building that boasts expansive floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies big enough to lounge in.
Drive 10 minutes east to Summerhill to take in The Davies by Brandy Lane Homes (thedavies.com). The nine-storey, 36-suite condominium overlooks Robertson Davies Park, and has a move-in date of Fall 2018. Suites sized from 1,105 sq. ft. to 2,900 sq. ft start from just over $1 million in a curved building that feels very art deco.
“Right-sizing is big here,” says David Hirsh, president of Brandy Lane Homes of the design by SMV Architects. “We started with 44 suites (36 regular and eight penthouses) and now we have 11 penthouses and 25 suites. One custom suite is 3,000 sq. ft., which is perfect for the empty-nester who wants room to spread out.” Hirsh also recently added a guest suite to the main floor, which is unusual for a building of this size and is a definite bonus for those hosting overnighters.
“We wanted to build an iconic building that completed the existing established neighbourhood,” Hirsh says.
It took a while to get the project going on Avenue Road just north of Dupont, says Hirsh, noting the effort was well worth it. The response from the public has been great and Brandy Lane has already made modifications to the original design to meet buyer demands. “The design development was extensive and took more time that conventional projects,” he notes.
Crowning the project, a spectacular rooftop terrace means those decamping from a house won’t miss their backyards. This one features private areas where you can catch some rays with a book and communal couches for chatting over drinks.
The Hill and Dale
Ten minutes east leads to Hill and Dale (hillanddaleresidences.com), a heavily glassed building with street-level shops and office space at the corner of Yonge and Roxborough. Designed by the architectural firm Studio JCI with interiors by Chapi Chapo for Old Stonehenge Development with Clifton Blake, the 17 custom-crafted residences start at $2,195,000 for over 1,500 sq. ft and can be combined up to 6,000 sq. ft. There are only five units left; occupancy is slated for 2018.
Suites grace the top three floors of the building and are for the design-savvy: Those who gravitate to graceful opulence over loud lavishness will love, for instance, kitchens by bulthaup, the architect’s go-to.
“These aren’t flashy, which isn’t our interest,” says Paul Johnston, a salesperson with Right at Home Realty. “Our buyers really care about finishes, which is why we’ve gone to the extreme of using bulthaup.”
He adds, “The building has such a refined level of construction we’re allowing 10 months just for the finish of the individual suites.”
Life in a boutique building is wonderful for the luxury buyer, Johnston adds. “There’s something in the idea of luxury that has to do with scale and privacy that the highrise business can’t aspire to.”
So for those who aren’t interested in dawdling by an elevator in a tower or “renovating a creaky Victorian,” as Johnston puts it, a luxurious mid-rise suite in a distinguished neighbourhood is a very wise move indeed. But better get in quick — there aren’t many of them around.
Source: Iris Benaroia, Special to National Post | November 17, 2016 3:18 PM ET