In The News
February 28, 2017
BEHIND THE DEAL: TORONTO’S FIRST CONDO REPLACEMENT
September 7, 2016
Going Back: Lawrence Heights mom, Faiza Dirir, gets scholarship, inspires community
CBC.CA News – Wed Sep 7, 2016
Byline: CBC News
Cabdriver Ali Omar was in his driveway in Lawrence Heights, about to start his shift, when neighbor Faiza Dirir came over to tell him her news ? she’d won a scholarship for a job-training program.
Omar was excited, not just for Dirir, but for himself.
“It gives me the opportunity to say, why not? Like Faiza ? she got it, what about myself?,” said Omar. ” I said, maybe finally, your dream come true.”
Dirir is one of 15 winners of the Limitless Heights scholarship fund, for residents of Lawrence Heights to pursue post-secondary education or training.
May 27, 2016
Seven of Toronto’s best just-built condos
The 42-storey, lissome twin towers (connected by a bridge) aren’t just green in colour. Its “thermal envelope” minimizes heat loss, while daylight censors turn the lobby and hallway lights on and off as needed. And thanks to a direct connection to the Sheppard subway, it’s easy to go carless in North York.
Nov 18, 2015
N3 Breaks Ground in Calgary
By: November 18, 2015
Calgary’s East Village was the scene of shovels, cowboy-shaped hard hats, and Biria Bicycles, as a new urban condo project broke ground. N3, a 167-unit highrise condo building designed by GEC Architecture and developed by Knightsbridge Homes and Metropia, has officially broken ground only two months after its opening sales launch. The three Ns in the project’s name reflect its goals for a “New Attitude, New Lifestyle and New Vision.”
Nov 18, 2015
Calgary Metro Cover
Nov 17, 2015
Parkade-free N3 condo aimed at millennials without cars breaks ground
CBC News Posted: Nov 17, 2015
167-unit development would normally have 100 parking spots but Calgary relaxed rules
Developers had a ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday for N3, a condo building in the East Village that will not have a parkade.
The 167-unit building is slated for the lot directly east of the St. Louis Hotel, which is now being renovated.
A building of its size would normally require about 100 stalls on-site. But city council voted earlier this year to relax its rules and allow the project to go ahead with no underground parking.
Most of the project’s buyers are younger people who plan to live car-free, says Joe Starkman, president of Knightsbridge Homes, which is partnering with Metropia and Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), the city-owned master developer of the East Village redevelopment program.
Tue Oct 13 2015
Lawrence Heights demo begins ahead of massive redevelopment
By: Jennifer Pagliaro City Hall reporter, Published on Tue Oct 13 2015
After years of waiting, residents say they are ready to shed stigmas, be reintegrated with the community outside Lawrence Heights.
“Finally.” It was shouted over the crunching metal, brick and glass as the claw of an excavator tore through the roof of the first townhome slated for demolition in the soon-to-be-revitalized Lawrence Heights — the largest project of its kind undertaken by Toronto Community Housing to-date.
Tue Oct 13 2015
Lawrence Heights renewal kicks off with demolition and cheers
By: Jennifer Pagliaro City Hall reporter, Published on Tue Oct 13 2015
More than 200 homes to be replaced in first phase of project expected to last 20 years.
Residents in Lawrence Heights cheered as a demolition crew began tearing down a townhouse in their neighbourhood Tuesday, as part of the largest revitalization project in Toronto Community Housing history.
Thursday, Mar. 31, 2011
The ROM meets its match in new crossstreet condo
By: John Bentley Mays, Columnist profile, Published Thursday, Mar. 31, 2011
Ever since the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) switched its main entrance from Queens Park to Bloor Street West five years ago, the first thing a visitor has seen, when exiting architect Daniel Libeskind’s controversial extension of the venerable treasure house, is the McDonald’s across Bloor Street West.
It’s long been the wrong outlet in the wrong place. The visual punches thrown by Mr. Libeskind’s building, the handsome overhauls by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg of the Royal Conservatory next door and the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art around the corner, the establishment of this stretch of Bloor as the most upscale shopping district in Toronto: all these recent cultural transformations have made a dumpy fast-food joint in the midst of this high-style, refined activity increasingly irksome.
I’m happy to report, therefore, that the McDonald’s outlet will soon be gone. It is to be turfed out and bulldozed to make way for a new condominium tower that will, if we’re lucky, complement and further the ongoing renaissance of Bloor West.
Thursday, Feb. 18, 2011
Calgary new condo market showing signs of life
By: Mario Toneguzzi, February 18, 2011
University City an example of the interest
CALGARY – A year ago, the new condo market in Calgary was “mired in a slump” but today it’s “starting to show more life,” says a residential real estate report by the Altus Group.
The economic consulting firm said the success of the planned University City project at the Brentwood Village shopping centre shows that LRT stations offer potential opportunities for condominium apartment developers.
Last fall, the first two phases of the project – two 18-storey towers of 216 units each – virtually sold out within a matter of days.
“The experience at University City demonstrates that transit-oriented development can attract buyers if the product is well designed and priced for the location,” said the Altus Group. “There should be opportunities for transit-oriented development in cities with existing and/or planned LRT lines.”
Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010
Calgary condo starts to skyrocket in the new year
By: Myke Thomas Saturday December 11, 2010
New high-rise projects enjoy brisk sales
Only seven apartment-style condos were started in the Calgary CMA in November, but come spring or soon after, that number will increase noticeably.
In late October, two new high-rise condo projects went on sale — Drake in the Beltline and University City in Brentwood — and both have enjoyed success, especially University City. As of mid-week, Drake had sold 30 units, says Jaydan Tait, senior development manager at Grosvenor Americas’ Calgary office, adding the company is pleased with the response. Drake, at 15 Ave. and 7 St. S.W. (sales office at 850 16 Ave. S.W.) will feature 175 homes in a mix of townhomes and apartments and opened with some units priced at $159,900. University City, a transit oriented development adjacent to Brentwood Village Mall that will eventually be comprised of five buildings ranging from low- to high-rise, caught the attention of buyers and builders, selling more than 400 condos in just four days, in a market that has been sluggish, at best, since May. The complex will be built by Knightsbridge Homes, in conjunction with Metropia developments, with marketing handled by Buss Marketing.
“On the morning of October 30th, University City had 85 condos priced under $199,900 and by 4 p.m. over 200 units in Tower One were sold,” says Calvin Buss, president of Buss Marketing. “(And) on the morning of October 31st, University City launched Tower Two and sold over 200 condos in the following two days. “Many in the development community have asked how this volume of sales could happen in such a short period of time during a slow real estate market.” One reason is there’s nothing else like it in the neighbourhood, says Buss.
“(It’s in a) mature community with very little affordable housing and extremely limited re-development opportunities,” he says. “There’s bountiful employment and abundant shopping (in the area) and the Brentwood LRT station (makes) a 12-minute rush hour dash into the downtown core (a reality).” Price was also a factor, adds Buss, although the lower priced units were not the first to sell.
“Equally important was the overall affordability,” he says. “Studios were $159,900 with one-bedrooms at $175,900 and two-bedrooms at $189,900. We promoted 85 condos under $199,900, a message that assured buyers there would be something available for them at $199,900 when they arrived and not just the one unit facing the alley.” While starter units in both projects are small by Calgary standards — studio suites less than 400 sq. ft. — the success of Drake and University City means similarly sized and priced apartment-style condo projects are probably being planned for the new year. For more info, go to www.drake17.com and www.UniversityCity.ca.
Saturday, Nov. 8, 2010
Calgary condo project sells out first two towers
By: Mario Toneguzzi, November 8, 2010
Registration for next phases begins
CALGARY – The University City new highrise condo project, planned for the Brentwood LRT station, has completely sold out the first two phases of the development. Now registration has begun for the next two phases of the transit oriented development across from the
University of Calgary. On the weekend, Phase 1 of the project, a 216-unit, 18-storey residential tower, and Phase 2, another
216-residence, 18-storey tower, sold out. As of today the project’s website shows no availability of units in the first two phases.
It also invites potential buyers to register for sales for phases 3 and 4. Zee Zebian, marketing manager for the project, said all sales have been halted “because we need to catch up on the paperwork.”
“If any units come back, they’ll come back (for sale),” he said. “But right now we’re telling people we’re completely sold out.”
He said he expects interest to be high for the other phases of the project as well.
The University City project, a master-planned new community located across from the University of Calgary at the Brentwood LRT Station, will eventually consist of five buildings with a total of 600 to 700 residences. The first building will be ready for occupancy about late December 2012.
Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project will be 18-storey towers followed by 12 and 14-storey towers in Phase 3 and Phase 4, and four storeys in Phase 5. Studio units are priced from $159,900; one bedroom units from $175,900; and two bedroom units from $189,900. The project is being developed by Metropia, Knightsbridge Homes Ltd., and RioCan. University City is considered a Transit Oriented Development with the City of Calgary.
As of September, there were 976 condo apartment starts so far this year in Calgary compared with 184 for the same period a year ago. The number of complete and unoccupied units in September was 707, up from 342 units in September 2009.
Nov. 2, 2010
Buyers line up for Calgary condo project
By: Mario Toneguzzi, November 2, 2010
Weekend sales top expectations
CALGARY – Three years ago during the peak of the housing market Calgarians lined up to purchase condominiums at projects that had not even dug a hole in the ground yet. This past weekend it was a case of deja vu as condo mania swept through the sales centre at the University City project planned for the Brentwood LRT Station.
In a matter of days, Phase 1 of the project, a 216-unit, 18-storey residential tower, has completely sold out. As of Tuesday mid afternoon, only 48 units were available in Phase 2, another 216-residence, 18-storey tower. “It was madness. It was really busy, really busy,” said Jennifer Carter, sales manager for the project, of the weekend activity. “I wasn’t expecting it to be that busy. I didn’t expect us to sell out either the first day.” She said buyers included students, parents purchasing for their children, people who work at the University of Calgary and Foothills Hospital, and some investors.
Cory Fisk was one of those buyers on Sunday and said he was shocked at how quickly units were being scooped up. He purchased a two-bedroom unit in Phase 2. “It’s a couple of years from now which I’m quite happy with. The main reason I looked at it was my son will be graduating high school in a couple of years and the location is perfect for a university kid,” he said. “And the price of course was phenomenal. You’ve got everything you need. The shopping’s right there. The LRT is right there. The university is right there. And if he decides to go somewhere else to school I’ve got a place I can rent.”
The University City project, a master-planned new community located across from the University of Calgary at the Brentwood LRT Station, will eventually consist of five buildings with a total of 600 to 700 residences. The first building will be ready for occupancy about late December 2012. Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project will be 18-storey towers followed by 12 and 14-storey towers in Phase 3 and Phase 4, and four storeys in Phase 5. Studio units are priced from $159,900; one bedroom units from $175,900; and two bedroom units from $189,900.
The project is being developed by Metropia, Knightsbridge Homes Ltd., and RioCan. Ironically, the condo frenzy comes at the same time the resale condo market took a dive last month with weak sales. In October there was only 310 MLS transactions – the lowest level for the month since 1999, when only 308 condos sold. The average price was $287,793, down slightly from October 2009’s $289,155 average on 601 sales. But the selling activity of the last few days at University City calls to mind similar scenarios played out in the city a few years ago. In June 2007, 40 luxury condos sold in one day at the Le Germain Calgary mixed-used development in the heart of the downtown just across the street from the Calgary Tower. Prices ranged from $840,000 to $3.5 million.
A few months later in September, the Waterfront condo project in Eau Claire had its first phase of development virtually sell out one weekend. The project, situated near the Bow River along Riverfront Avenue just east of the Eau Claire Market, saw strong interest for its 170-plus residential unit tower. Prices ranged at that time from the mid to high $300,000 to $1 million. University City is considered a Transit Oriented Development with the City of Calgary.
Kevin Barton, a senior planner with land use, planning and policy for the city, said the idea is to concentrate housing and jobs as close as possible to an LRT station. The intensity in terms of the amount of housing and jobs will vary from station to station. “Brentwood probably for northwest Calgary would probably have the most density for jobs and housing,” said Barton. “On the south line, Chinook and Anderson would probably be our highest density TOD sites on the south leg. “The TOD areas are like mini downtowns that will be strung along the LRT lines.” Although condo sales have been moderating in Calgary, some projects will sell quicker than others, said Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. “Projects that are competitively priced, close to the LRT or major bus routes, and close to amenities will attract prospective buyers,” he said. “In addition, units that are close to any major institutions or downtown will typically attract investors looking to rent the units out.” As of September, there were 976 condo apartment starts so far this year in Calgary compared with 184 for the same period a year ago.
The number of complete and unoccupied units in September was 707, up from 342 units in September 2009, said Cho.
Oct. 23, 2010
Young people want fresh ideas
By: Marty Hope, October 23, 2010
‘Whole different lifestyle going on’
Joe Starkman talks about a conversation he had with a young woman looking for her first home, about what she wanted and what was available. With only place settings for four, four wine glasses and a couple of pots, she told him she didn’t need plenty of cupboards. Because she brought home much of her meals, the kitchen didn’t have to be that large — and because she didn’t entertain all that much, there was no need for a big living room.
“There’s a whole different lifestyle going on out there among young people,” says Starkman, an ownership partner in Calgary-based Knightsbridge Homes. The company is a joint-venture partner with Metropia Urban Landscapes of Toronto in the development of a mixed-use project called University City at the west end of the Brentwood shopping centre in Calgary. “Young people are thinking differently than they were just a couple of years ago, when we got land use approval,” says Starkman. “Affordability is a big thing for them.” The first of five residential/ retail buildings in University City will have 216 apartments spread across 18 floors — with sizes running from studio suites at 339 square feet and priced from $159,900, to two bedroom/two-bath units measuring 712 square feet and starting at $189,900. Eighty-five of the suites are priced under $199,900 and two-thirds of them cost less than $250,000. “We’ve designed the suites as efficiently as we could so residents are paying only for space they will be using,” says Starkman.
There are seven different floor plans, and each floor will have seven two-bedroom units, four one bedroom suites, and one studio apartment. “We made some rather dramatic changes from our original concept for the building, a change that was dictated by the market and the economy,” says Starkman. “We’ve been forced, in a good way, to be more creative in what we design and offer.” It’s important — what Starkman calls the “sweet spot” — to keep the price below $300,000. “Any higher than that and sales will be tougher to get.”
The first tower, which could break ground as soon as next spring, has a contemporary look to it — and so will the second. Both will cater to young professionals. A third building will key on seniors and will include an assisted living element, while a fourth building will focus on empty nesters and semi-retired folks. No definite market segment has been attached to the fifth building. University City is a response to the city’s strategy of developing mixed-use area close to public transit — and is also a response to the desires of Brentwood residents, says Howard Sokolowski, CEO of Metropia. He calls University City a first-class development that will service the needs of the local community. As well, it responds to city officials’ desire for densification, a key part of the city’s Plan It growth strategy. “Without question, we had to respond to change,” says Sokolowski. “The city had to think outside the box, as we did, and the beneficiaries will be the community of Brentwood.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Some facts about the companies behind the development:
– Knightsbridge Homes has become known as a niche design/ build firm with the ability to create unique architectural solutions for all their projects. From its beginnings in 1990 focusing on inner-city infill housing, the company has expanded its focus to include work acreage communities and multifamily housing. University City is its first highrise development. Headed by CEO Howard Sokolowski, Metropia Urban Landscapes is a Toronto-based real estate development company devoted to urban development and renewal. Sokolowski was formerly CEO of Tribute Communities, which is one of the larger homebuilders in Ontario.
Oct. 23, 2010
Tracks nearly cleared for University City
By: Marty Hope, October 23, 2010
Calgary’s first transit-oriented mixed-use project could start in spring
Ground could be broken as early as next spring on Calgary’s first transit-oriented development (TOD). The multi-million-dollar University City project is to be in the northwest community of Brentwood. The first phase of the project — an 18-storey tower with 216 apartment condos, along with a street-level retail podium — is dependent on when the development partners reach a required pre-sale goal of 50 per cent. “I don’t think we’re going to have a problem reaching that goal,” says Howard Sokolowski, CEO of Toronto-based Metropia Urban Landscapes. “In the first couple of hours of marketing, we had a list of more than 200 names of interested people.” The company has partnered with Calgary’s Knightsbridge Homes to bring the project to market. Units in the first tower will be priced from $159,900 for a studio to two-bedroom suites that will start at $189,900. Joe Starkman, an ownership partner in Knightsbridge Homes, says the Brentwood TOD is the first to be approved under the city’s strategy to create mixed-use neighbourhoods close to LRT lines. “We received land use approval in 2008 and the Brentwood Station Area Redevelopment Plan was given final approval in November 2009,” he says.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
PROJECT: University City.
BUILDER/ DEVELOPER: A joint-venture project by Knightsbridge Homes of Calgary and Metropia Urban Landscapes of Toronto. The first of five residential buildings will have 216 suites over 18 floors. Each of the buildings will have a retail podium at street level. The second building will also have 18 floors, two others will have between 12 and 14 storeys, while the fifth will have four floors.
LOCATION: The west end of the Brentwood shopping centre on the east side of Crowchild Trail near Brisebois Drive N.W.
PRICES: The price range for the first building will see studio suites priced from $159,900 up to twobedroom units starting at $189,900. INFORMATION: To find out more about University City, call 403-457-1750.
In all, University City is expected to include five residential buildings, each with its own ground-level retail. The second tower in the development will be similar in design to the first and both will cater to young professionals, says Starkman. The next two buildings will have between 12 and 14 floors. One will be for seniors’ housing and will include some assisted-living units. No decision has yet been made on the target market for the fourth building. The four-storey fifth building will focus on empty nesters, semi-retired people and the lock-and-leave crowd who want to travel. “We have nearly two hectares of land for our development, but the overall redevelopment will be much larger,” says Starkman. RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust is in charge of the overall retail segment of the Brentwood project. In addition, the TOD project also includes upgrading the existing Blakiston Park. “The plan for Brentwood encourages mixed-use development closer to transit,” says Ald. Druh Farrell. “This is a starting point for what we hope will be more TOD projects.”