“Boutique” Condos?


3 minute read

July 8, 2010

What defines a “boutique” condo?

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?  Is this a selling point, and does it add value?

Some boutiques are special, and others are just full of discount crap like this:


I feel as if I’ve written a similar post before.

I may have even given a dictionary definition of “boutique.”

But this time around, I’m not going to explain the definitions and intentions of “boutique” condos but rather speak to the watered-down version of boutique condos that we see today.

Watered-down versions.  Would you expect anything less?

As years go by, everything that’s hot goes cold, and everything that’s cheap gets expensive.

Everything that’s “in” goes out, and styles, fads, and trends will certainly change.

According to this logic, it follows that something as cool, unique, and special as a “boutique” condo will eventually be exploited and over-marketed.

I think we’ve reached this point.

By my own definition, a “boutique” condo is a low-rise condo of no more than fifty units.

It’s hard to pin-point the number of floors or units; what if a condo had fifty-one units?

Examples of boutique condos in my neck of the woods can be found at 261 King Street and 180 Frederick Street.

Abbey Lane Lofts at 261 King Street is a very cool condo of only 29 units and it rises seven stories above King Street where the neighbouring retail building is two stories in height.


Lofts on Frederick at 180 Frederick Street is an even smaller building at only 12 units in a three-storey brick building.


These are true boutique condos.

Do you know what’s not a boutique condo?

Post House Lofts.

Before I get to the meat and potatoes of this blog post and use Post House Lofts as my grinding stone, I should say that I’m eager and excited for this project to launch.  I love the location, I like the design of the project from what little I have seen, and I love the idea of incorporating the history and charm of Toronto’s first post office (located on Adelaide Street and currently used as a museum) into a new condominium development.

However, a boutique condo, this is not.

Here is one of the advertisements that Post House has put forth:


You can clearly see that they are marketing this building as boutique condominium.

And why not?

Boutique condos have a certain cache that can be turned into cash for any developer.  In the words of George Costanza, “Oh it’s got ca-che, bay-be!  It’s got cache up the ying-yang!”

But if we let The Alterra Group get away with calling this project a “boutique” condo, then the word has lost all meaning, if it hasn’t already.

Post House is going to be a whopping twenty-one stories and will contain 275 units.

My building is 332 units and “boutique” is the furthest thing from my mind when I think of my 17-storey home.

I consider my condo to be a “mid-rise” building as it’s not huge, but it’s far from small.

So how can The Alterra Group get away with calling Post House a “boutique?”

Easy.  There’s nothing to stop them.

And the best part is – Post House Condos is actually being called “Post House Boutique Condominium,” just to rub salt in the wound.

There’s really nothing to stop marketers from doing whatever the please, except perhaps for the ever-present threat of being charged with false advertising…..which almost never happens.

Personally, I think common sense should prevail.

I mean, does this look like a boutique condo to you?


It certainly doesn’t look like a boutique condo to me!

In fact, it looks almost like a high rise!

You know what would be a boutique condo?  A building that is the same size as the old Post Office itself, or the old Bank of Upper Canada building that is featured in the above photo as a grey building, even though it’s yellow.   I guess when you’re calling a twenty-one storey building “boutique,” changing the color of a building for photo purposes is the least of your worries…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. wb

    at 11:04 am

    Yes, I hope the thing gets chopped at least in half, height wise. Plus could they not do something with the design that integrates more with the surrounding heritage buildings??

  2. JD

    at 3:12 pm

    No surprises here. They’ll call it a boutique, and I’m sure they’ll advertise “green friendly, LEED” as well, even though they won’t attain it. Just for good measure, why not offer incentives discounts to people who drive Hybrid cars, and then refuse to pay them out upon closing? Developers are liars, plain and simple.

  3. Adam

    at 5:08 pm

    What about Boutique Condos on Simcoe St. (& Nelson?)? It took some nerve to call that condo Boutique – there’s TWO buildings, and one is a high rise. It’s a nice building (I’ve only seen the outside), but it definitely is NOT boutique.

  4. Alex

    at 5:06 am

    David, the word boutique in this marketing campaign is in reference to the hotel boutique industry and not a retail space.

    Its size does not disqualify it from being boutique in nature (note the sizes of international thriving boutique hotels.)

    Though changing the colour of surrounding buildings in the initial plans does seem hoky.

  5. Kyle

    at 2:59 pm

    I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, most new condo buyers are like lambs to the marketing slaughter. They don’t question, challenge or demand more from the developers. You can hardly blame the developers for taking advantage of the situation. They know if they spend a little on marketing, they can spend much less on the building and charge way more for the units. Frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t also throw in the word “loft” in the marketing too. Had they done so, none of the buyers would have ever even questioned why the ceilings are only 8 feet.

  6. Krupo

    at 7:59 pm

    @JD – if, however, If they were selling a “LEED” certified building and it wasn’t, you could bet there’d be lawsuits flying.

    The point about lambs/sheep is valid though – both in the marketing, and in people’s response to police challenging them on the street (reminder: they do not have the right to search your bags – you’re legally allowed to refuse!).

Pick5 is a weekly series comparing and analyzing five residential properties based on price, style, location, and neighbourhood.

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