New Development of The Week: Emerald City Condos

Emerald City, eh?

That’s also the name of the experimental prison unit in the television show “OZ.”

Well, hopefully this version of Emerald City will have less fighting, stabbing, and hurt feelings…

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I guess I could have used the following image instead of the logo for the condominium:

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Do you recognize this scenery, or is it too old for you?

For a movie that has been made over and over again, perhaps the yellow-brick-road in the foreground is something that simply shouldn’t be forgotten.

That’s right, this is the true “Emerald City” as first seen in “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” in 1910, “Wizard of Oz” in 1925, and again in the most well-know version called “The Wizard of Oz” in 1939 with Judy Garland.  The movie, the actors, the story – all simply classic!

So it’s no wonder that the developers, El-Ad Group, decided to name their newest condominium project after the city that leads from Munchkin Land to the end of the yellow-brick-road.

I suppose that’s a good place to start; who is El-Ad Group?

I had never heard of them before I received the marketing package for Emerald City but I’m impressed with their portfolio of successes.  Best known for their work in New York City, El-Ad Group is responsible for the retrofit of the historic Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, and has since extended that brand in constructing an upscale hotel called The Plaza Las Vegas.  They have plans to do further extend The Plaza brand into Singapore, and currently have other projects in Los Angeles, Montreal, and Florida.

Okay, I’m sold….I guess.

Hey, maybe they haven’t built in Toronto before, but would you rather deal with a successful international developer, or a notable Toronto-based development company with a spotty record (such as Cresford who one of my readers pointed out last week is responsible for letting Mode Condos fall through)?

So what is Emerald City?

Well, it’s supposed to be exactly that: a city or community with a so-called “master plan” for the residences, amenities, and surrounding infrastructure.

Located on the northeast corner of Don Mills & Sheppard Avenue in North York, Emerald City will comprise the entire city block, and consist of three condominium towers, multiple rows of townhouses, and an abundance of greenspace, pedestrian walkways, gardens, and parks.

I’ve bashed the whole “community” aspect of condominium development in the past, but for some reason, this one is different.

I guess it’s because in the past, a condo is built with absolutely no plan whatsoever, and then more and more condos are built in the surrounding area over time.

More often than not, it’s the same developers that own the surrounding lands, and they simply develop the lands and put up new towers one-at-a-time as they see fit.

But with Emerald City, the plans are in place for the entire site, and the towers will be built simultaneously.

This is the big difference.

The infrastructure and area are quite impressive, as there will be a direct link to Fairview Mall as well as the TTC Subway stop at Don Mills.  The Don Valley Parkway is a city block away (I suppose some might dwell on this but it’s nice to have a main traffic artery nearby), as is Highway 401.  The main drawback is the lack of a quaint retail strip that you might find downtown or midtown.

The condominium itself is also impressive, starting with the two-storey lobby which is directly connected to the subway allowing guests to arrive without getting lost.  I’m not usually impressed by amenities, but those that like the bells and whistles would like Emerald City.  On the ground level you’ll find a fully equipped gym, fitness & yoga studio, swimming pool, hot tub, and Gymobree area with kid-sized equipment and play space.

On the 5th level amenities area you’ll find the outdoor terrace and sunbathing area with reflecting pool, cabanas, BBQ pits, and and on the rooftop terrace where the “Emerald Club” is located, you’ll find the party room complete with wet-bar, billiards room, card tables, lounge, and movie theatre.

So many developments throw around the term “luxury” that I can’t keep track of what is and what isn’t, but Emerald City sounds like it has just about everything you could possibly need and more.

Well, there’s no bowling alley but I digress…

So if it feels like I’m about to finally state my opinion on the project, you’re correct.

I like it.

In fact, I think it’s great value.

As our city expands and the downtown core becomes more and more sought after and thus less and less affordable, surely people will have to consider “uptown” as a viable option to live regardless of where their workplace is located.

Comparing prices for Emerald City and some of the current downtown projects such as Fashion House and Market Wharf, I can’t help but think there’s some value in Emerald City despite it’s location.

Prices start around $340/sqft, which is simply unheard of in the downtown core.  I was eager to view the launch for projects such as King East Lofts, but with prices upwards of $600/sqft, it just doesn’t make any sense!

And even though I’m not a huge fan or user of amenities, If I amgoing to pay $600/sqft, I’d expect to have the pools, gyms, billiard rooms, and spas that condos like Emerald City has for almost half the price.

Developers in the downtown core are raising the price, and skimping out on the extras.

When was the last time you heard about a 540 sqft 1-bedroom condo for $189,000 in pre-construction in the downtown core, with all the bells & whistles?  It’s possible at Emerald City.

How far does your $300,000 go?  About 800 square feet, that’s how far.

The reality is, I would personally never want to live at Don Mills & Sheppard, but the prices are completely reasonable.  North York is booming with development and businesses are relocating uptown to save on the cost of leasing office space.

The only drawback I can foresee is the possible delay(s) in construction for the entire project.  Nobody likes the constant sound of jack-hammers and guys named “Jack” hammering away outside your front door, and it’s going to take a while to complete this entire project.

But the “master plan” incorporates enough greenspace, gardens, and parks to suit all the residents of Emerald City, and it won’t feel like living in Metropolis or Concrete City.

I just find it hard to believe that not once in the package for Emerald City did they use the perfect catch phrase from the original movie: “There’s no place like home!”

2 Comments

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  1. Great article. Emerald City truly looks impressive!

  2. Krupo says:

    Maybe the round two sales literature will shamelessly lift from you.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the allegory – plain as sight in that photo – about the whole Emerald city. I’ll just quote Wiki: “Scholars who interpret The Wizard of Oz as a political allegory see the Emerald City as a metaphor for Washington, D.C. and unsecured “greenback” paper money. In this reading of the book, the city’s illusory splendor and value is compared with the value of paper money, which also has value only because of a shared illusion or convention”

    Look at that green tower of a city, and the “hard” gold leading up to it.

    Hopefully all the market chaos isn’t going to disrupt their plans!

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