Sometimes I have to actually remind myself that I purchased a condo at the West Side Lofts; that is how long it’s been since they’ve had my deposit!
A client of mine is interested in the project, so I spent Saturday afternoon meandering through their sales centre on Queen Street.
I must say that I’m pretty pleased with the results…
I’m not sure that I even recognize that artist’s rendering above.
The West Side Lofts has been re-designed and re-configured so many times that I don’t even know what I actually purchased.
In January of 2008, I wrote a blog post about my experiences with the project up until that point. It can be read here. But to be honest, that’s the last time I really gave the project any thought. Oh sure – I get a call about once per month from a sales rep reminding me that I still owe them $758 for some reason, but I usually just say “Thanks again,” and hang up the phone.
I first put down my deposit in November of 2005, and possession was scheduled for August of 2008.
After cancelling the project completely, and then re-launching it twice, they finally broke ground in February of 2009 – a full six months after it was supposed to be finished!
But having driven down Queen Street many, many times in the past few months, I’ve witnessed the construction progress to the point where the concrete has been poured to the tune of about eight or nine stories. By my math, I’d say they’ll get the full twenty stories finished by Halloween, at which point they’ll need a full year to complete the interior; minus the amenities, of course.
There are still about twenty units left for sale in the building, and to be honest, I have no clue how many there will be in total.
The original project was for one fourteen-storey building with about 190 units, and then it was changed to a nine-storey and an eleven-storey building with about 300 units total. I believe there are around 350 – 400 units this time around.
So what do they have left?
What are the prices like?
Well, I think the prices are a bit insane, but not because they’re high.
I don’t remember the last project where I saw such a broad range of pricing! Units at West Side Lofts are priced anywhere from $376 – $545 per square foot! Sure, there are some projects where the range might be $500 – $1,500 per square, but that’s a whole other animal; this is a relatively simple, homogeneous product that is relatively entry-level.
What also amazed me was the size of some of these units.
How about a 330 square foot studio condo?
If that’s not big enough, not to worry; there is a much larger 375 square foot floor plan as well.
Incredibly enough, it is these studio units that represent the highest cost per square foot. Try $179,990 for a 330 square foot unit, or between $496 – $501 per square foot for one of the 375 square foot models.
It hardly seems to compare to the $269,990 condo which at 635 square feet is only $425/sqft by comparison, or 22% cheaper.
And it’s not like those studio condos have a great view either, since they are on the 4th and 6th floors staring directly at another building.
While I don’t see any value in the smaller units, I do see some great value in some of the larger ones!
Keep in mind that a parking space in this building will cost you $28,000. I always like to include the parking costs in my calculation of price per square foot, since most resale condos have a parking space factored in and I like to keep things consistent.
There is a great 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom model that is 850 square feet and comes with a large 200 square foot terrace on the ground floor. Sure, being on the ground floor will deprive you of the view of the CN Tower and downtown, or of the train tracks if you are a cynic like me, but I can’t ignore the free terrace space and the opportunity for a patio set, BBQ, and perhaps some cedar trees and a magnolia…
At $359,990, or $387,990 with a parking space, this unit is $424 or $456 per square foot and that doesn’t take the 200 square foot terrace into account.
Last but not least, the 1st floor has ten-foot ceilings, while all the others have nine-foot. (That reminds me – nobody ever called from the sales centre to tell me that my “loft” now has 9-foot ceilings instead of ten-foot. I’m not surprised….)
I see some fantastic value in that model, and the floor plan is very workable as well. Of course I can’t show you the floor plans, since the www.westsidelofts.ca website is completely out of date with suite models that no longer exist, but take my word for it when I say that the split-bedroom plan, open-concept kitchen, and 31-foot-long living space combine to give the unit a huge thumb’s-up from me. In actual fact, I’m not very pleased with the unit I was forced to purchase back in January of 2008 after they re-designed the project for the umpteenth time, but I digress…
My second choice from the current list of suites that are available would be the larger, 950 square foot 2-bedroom model. These are available from the 13th to the 20th floor, and it costs an extra $2,000 for each additional floor you move up in height.
So the 20th floor model would cost $366,990 or only $386/sqft. Factor in parking, and you’re still only $416/sqft. If you want to really cheap out, take the basic 13th-storey unit and you’re down to $376/sqft.
I’m not a huge fan of this floor plan since there is a very long hallway that leads from the foyer to the living space which I think is a complete waste, but I can’t ignore that low-low price!
By comparison, the unit I purchased with a parking space cost me $379/sqft way-back-when.
I’m amazed that you can still purchase a unit for under $400/sqft. Keep in mind that of the twenty models left, that is the only one under $400 per square; the next lowest is $408, and keep in mind that these don’t include the parking space.
I suppose I should mention that Hybrid car owners get a $5,000 rebate, which I assume takes place when they move in and show proof of ownership.
Prices aside, what really attracted me to this project in the first place is the location.
It’s been years and years since Queen West was considered “under the radar,” and with the action spreading even further west of Dufferin in the last few years to popular streets such as Brock and Noble, I absolutely love the idea of owning a condo on Queen Street right across from the Drake Hotel.
Just as Liberty Village was carved out of complete nothing-ness about a half-decade ago, the Queen West area will soon see a population boom with the completion of West Side Lofts, The Bohemian, and Bridge Condos.
Sure, I’m a little concerned by the sheer volume of units that will be hitting the area all at once – about 1500 in total from the three projects I noted above, but if you can find 20,000 people to inhabit the evil CityPlace and another 10,000 are on the way, then surely these meager 1500 units that are spitting distance to The Drake and The Gladstone will find happy owners.
All we need now is 2-3 more Starbucks and I’ll be convinced that the area is ripe for investment…
I haven’t found many pre-construction properties worth buying into during the past 12 – 18 months, but there are always a few units that slip through the cracks. Of the 20 units left at West Side Lofts, there are two that I would feel more than comfortable selling, and that’s the first time in a long time that any pre-construction has been given my nod of approval.
When debating whether to buy in pre-construction, for investment or for primary residence, you have to ask yourself, “Is there a resale property out there NOW that I can pay less for and take possession of today? If so, then why would I pay more to wait three years?”
That’s the question I’ve been asking over and over for about the past year-and-a-half.
Well, cheers to October of 2010 when I’ll be the proud owner of a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom condo at the West Side Lofts!
Meet you at the Drake….drinks are on me….