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Tag Archives: construction costs

Smart House opens door to downtown micro-condos

Streamlined kitchens, convertible furniture and clever storage help small space living

Ryan Starr – Toronto Star

With land prices and construction costs in Toronto going nowhere but up, builders have been creating ever-smaller units in an effort to maintain affordability.

Trouble is, notes developer Rony Hirsch, while the size of condos in this city keeps shrinking, suite design hasn’t evolved to reflect the new realities of intensified urban living.

“So we wanted to do something different,” says Hirsch, whose firm Malibu Investments recently launched Smart House, a 25-storey project on Queen St. W., a block in from University Ave. “We didn’t want to do just another condo with small units.”

The innovative Smart House — which Malibu is developing in partnership with Urban Capital Property Group — will feature micro-condos, some as small as 289 square feet, and designed to maximize the very minimized space. They’ll feature kitchens with retractable secondary countertops, islands that double as dining tables, combined convection oven-microwaves, dishwasher drawers, and stoves with two burners versus the traditional four. There will also be an all-in-one washer-dryer.

Bathrooms at Smart House will have integrated vanity cabinets and sinks, and recessed storage space created by reconfiguring the plumbing shafts. “All the stacks that usually take up your wall space, we pushed them back and created niches where you can store things,” Hirsch explains. “We think it solves a lot of issues.”

Closets come with full-height storage organizers with shelves and drawers. Buyers also have the option of purchasing a “smart furniture” package, including a bed that folds into the wall and becomes a couch or desk.

“If you’re going to live in 300 square feet, then you won’t feel like you’re living in 300 square feet,” Hirsch insists. “These will be places where people can feel comfortable.”

For inspiration, the developers looked to cities with dense urban living conditions. “There are places in the world, like New York and Tokyo, where people want to live in the heart of the city and they have smaller units and they’ve (made it work),” he says.

Smart House Condos - 219 Queen Street West
Smart House, designed by architectsAlliance, will have undulating balconies with laminated glass railings in varying shades of red.

There will be 8,000 square feet of retail space on the building’s first and second floors and 17,000 square feet of office space on floors three and four.

The condo’s fifth-floor amenity level will include a party room and lounge with kitchen and bar, a fitness room and fully furnished guest suite. An adjoining terrace will have lounge seating, gas fire pits, barbecues and dining tables.

Suites at Smart House, designed by II BY IV, range from 289-sq.-ft. studios to 778-sq.-ft. three-bedroom suites that will satisfy the demands of local councillor Adam Vaughan, who wants all developments in his ward to include a proportion of family-sized residences. “We believe there will be people looking for a three-bedroom suite,” says Hirsch.

Prices start in the mid-$200,000s, with half of the 241 suites priced under $350,000. Occupancy is slated for 2017.

The project — on sale this month — is targeted at urbanite end-users who work in the area, as well as investors who will see the smaller suites as rental properties. Smart House will also appeal to people who live out of the city but want a pied-à-terre for occasional use, Hirsch says.

The Smart House property, currently a parking lot, is a prime piece of downtown Toronto real estate. “It’s really the last site on Queen West that’s available to build on,” notes Adam Feldmann, an associate with architectsAlliance. “It’s kind of the missing tooth on Queen.”

Feldmann, who worked on the Pan Am Games Athletes’ Village and neighbouring Distillery District condos, says Smart House is ushering in a new era in condo design for Toronto and helping to challenge long-standing assumptions in this city of what urban living is all about.

“What’s really unique with this project is the thought that goes into it in terms of how people will really live in these (condos) — how they will use the space, what they need, and what they don’t need — and then being really smart about how we create the spaces,” he says.

“So I think this very much points toward the future.”

Smart House Condos

Address: 219 Queen St. W.
Developers: Malibu Investments and Urban Capital Property Group
Architect: architectsAlliance
Interior design: II BY IV Design
Size: 25 storeys
Units: 241, from 289 sq. ft. to 778 sq. ft.
Prices: From the mid-$200,000s

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor with Century 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who are
interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.