Friday, July 15, 2011

One Bloor breaks ground finally / Toronto Real Estate

CANADA - What is arguably Toronto’s most important real estate site is one step closer to becoming a landmark today.

David Gerofsky, president of developer Great Gulf Group of Companies, broke ground at One Bloor today on the once controversial $450 million project at the intersection of Yonge and Bloor streets. The original buildings had been razed years ago by a different developer, leaving an empty chunk of land surrounded by a metal fence which has been an eye sore ever since.

Meanwhile millions have been spent on improvements on the Bloor St. corridor (improving the look of sidewalks, upgrading bicycle spots, adding flowers and trees, etc) which is often compared to Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, the vacant lot at 1 Bloor was a reminder of failed potential, of things to come that were never realized, on what is Canada’s most expensive retail street known as the "Mink Mile".

Its also the intersection at the southeast corner at Yonge and Bloor where Toronto's two major subway lines meet. Its basically the arguably most convenient place in Toronto to live and one of the most important pieces of Toronto real estate. (I currently live just 10 minutes walk east of there.)

While the lot has been dormant for the last few years, president Gerofsky promises bigger things to come. For one thing, the development is getting taller than previously stated.

The new building known as One Bloor will now soar 70 stories, with the addition of five more floors as it anchors the corridor.

“I think it was indicative of the success of the project that we decided to add more floors,” says Gerofsky. “We were being conservative when we launched, but certainly the possibility of going higher was always in the back of our minds.”

The day cannot come soon enough for realtor Anna Cass. She was one of the first in line to buy a unit. She also represents dozens of investors in the building who have already purchased from her.

“I still have a rock that I kept from the first time they demolished the original buildings,” says Cass. “I can’t believe I’m going through this a second time. But I’m glad they’re finally building something. It’s been an eyesore. We have a lot of people who have been waiting a long time.”

After 15 months on the market, the project is now 85% sold which means it now has ample time and funding to begin building.

With the additional five floors, One Bloor now has about 732 units in the building, up from nearly 700. The new penthouse is up for grabs and can be as large as 8,000 square feet depending on market demand.

The original builder, Bazis International said the penthouse had been sold in 2008 to a Hong Kong entrepreneur for a then-Canadian record of $25 million, but that project later fell through due to incompetence and became insolvent during the global financial crunch in 2008.

“We can’t control economic conditions, but most of our units have already sold, and we have buyers who have put down substantial down payments for 85 per cent of the units,” says Gerofsky. “We’re in good shape.”

There are 100 units remaining, but the builder says he expects to sell them all before the building is complete by December of 2014, less than 3.5 years from now.

At the base of the building there will also be 100,000 square feet of retail space. As Bloor Street is Canada’s most exclusive retail strip, and the 37th most expensive in the world (according to Colliers International) having a mall at the base of the building will be exceptionally profitable.

Major corporations and retailers such as Apple Canada, are already eyeing the space.

Buyers have been wooed with images of the swooping building filled with piano-like curves designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects. Toronto’s Mink Mile will finally be getting a piece of world class architecture (with the exception of the ROM, most of the buildings on the street look pretty stale and boring).

See Older Post on this Topic: One Bloor East

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