You read Wednesday’s blog, and you probably agreed, and disagreed, with an equal amount of what I wrote.
You probably ranked certain amenities higher than others, and vice versa.
I’d like to think that many, if not most of you, agreed that things like virtual golf simulators belong in a fifth-tier of sorts, but having said that, I might be in the minority in that thinking, at least if you speak to developers of new condos who all seem to be one-upping each other these days.
Perhaps I’m missing a major societal trend.
Call it a shift, if you will.
We all know that real estate prices have skyrocketed in Toronto over the past decade, and many young people today are giving up the plan, or dream, of owning a freehold home, and are planting roots in a condo, at least for now.
So perhaps larger, better, and fancier amenities, which may have once seemed outlandish, are actually going to be more functional and useful than in years before.
I’m not suggesting that the “box in the sky” is going to become the sole place to live, sleep, eat, play, and socialize as we move into the future, but having some of these amenities at your fingertips might prove to be a time-saver, and a money-saver as well.
Now before I delve into some of the newer ideas out there, first let me say that if you’re a condo-buyer, you must understand there’s a difference between how amenities are marketed in brochures, and how they look in person.
Take this pool, for example:
Doesn’t the guy look like Sam Swarek from Rookie Blue?
In any event, we’ve got two young, good-looking, physically-fit people romancing in a PG-13 way in an empty pool that looks like it’s about 200-feet long.
There’s nobody sitting at the tables on the right.
There’s nobody inside in the…….lounge(?), on the left.
Don’t even get me started on the moonlight, and the Bob-Ross-esque sky.
In reality, this is what rooftop condo pools look like:
That may as well be a live-shot of the rooftop pool at 38 Stewart Street.
Nobody is in the pool, which happens to be tiny, and the tables are full of people who would otherwise be watching Sam Swarek and Andy McNally kiss on the cheek under the moonlight.
The same can be said of most amenities out there, to be perfectly fair.
How about a yoga studio, for example?
Here’s the yoga studio being profiled at Nautique Lakefront Residences:
If you’re a guy, you’re thinking, “Attractive woman, all alone? Perfect opportunity for me to display my gentlemanliness and ask her if might write letters to her while I’m away at war.”
If you’re a woman, you’re thinking, “Perfect place for me to get away from guys that only take yoga classes so they can meet women, or at least stare at them.”
But what condo yoga room looks like this?
Did Bob Ross also paint those trees out back?
Here’s what the yoga room looks like at 205 Frederick Street:
And how about the one at 112 George Street:
Nothing to sneeze at, I know.
But it bears mentioning that marketing techniques (or ploys, gimmicks exaggerations, misrepresentations…) require very special attention when looking at amenities for condominiums not yet built.
So while you might be in favour of all the amenities that I outlined in Wednesday’s blog, what about some of these unusual ones?
What about this pool at E-Condos:
A cantilevered red glass box for all the condo amenities, with an infinity pool that gives you an under-water view of downtown.
Incredible? Amazing? Groundbreaking? Or unnecessary?
How about The Wyatt at 500 Dundas Street East?
They have some amenities that you probably didn’t know existed in Toronto condos:
That’s the “bouldering cave,” which isn’t just for kids – it’s for adults too.
Then the “craft room,” which is for kids, but I wonder if I could show up drunk on a Saturday night and ask to make a popcicle-stick-house?
How about a play room?
This is what I meant at the onset about developers catering to the changing needs of today’s condo buyers, as more and more residents of downtown will be having kids, raising families, and putting a huge value on amenities that they never would have thought about years’ prior.
I don’t expect most developers to follow suit, however.
Truth be told, most buyers don’t think this far ahead.
Okay let’s get back to the weird ones, because they’re the most fun.
The second-strangest amenity (because the last one is a doozie) has to be this:
That’s the “Jam Studio” that’s planned for Lighthouse Tower by Daniels Corp.
It’s cool and all, but I just gotta have more cowbell…
Who brought the cheese platter?
And what type of 80’s sunglasses is the keyboard-player wearing?
I don’t know if this amenity is going ahead. It’s not listed on the Daniels’ website, but don’t worry – there is an artist’s studio:
There’s also an “appliance sharing kitchen” on site:
I don’t want to be a cynic here, but I remember being on the board of directors at Rezen one year, and one of the other board members was so distraught over the dirty barbecue on the rooftop terrace, that he put forth a motion that we lock the barbecue with a link of chain and a padlock, and require residents to sign out the key.
I lost that vote, as I wrote last month.
But the takeaway is this: if people can’t clean the barbecue properly, how in the world is an “appliance sharing kitchen” going to work?
I know I’m being negative, but I’m also being realistic.
I’m incredibly obsessive-compulsive, I’m neat and tidy, and I work hard – and have respect for people and property. But I don’t have faith that everybody else out there, especially when it comes to the concept of sharing this space, and being responsible for its cleanliness.
FYI – there’s also a community garden, as well as a designated area to prepare those herbs you’re about to plant in the garden itself. Imagine that!
So now, I have the absolute pleasure of presenting to you the single most ludicrous and outrageous condo amenity I have seen yet to date: an observatory!
Yes, an observatory.
Something I have never used in my life, not once. Not on a school trip, not on a weekend-getaway, just never.
And yet one particular Toronto condo was actually going to build an observatory into the building.
Here’s the artist’s rendering from Cosmos Condominium:
Tell me you value a virtual golf simulator.
Tell me you’d use the poker room.
But for the love of God, folks – an observatory?
Recall the 2016 Globe & Mail article: “Are New Condos’ Signature Amenities Worth The Cost?” This observatory was featured in the 2016 article, which was where I first heard about it.
Well guess what?
The condo was cancelled!
The video in the article was your typical “woe-is-me, this project was cancelled, it’s so unfair,” that we’ve seen before with every cancellation, and I have to think that not enough was made about the fact that there was a goddam observatory planned for the condo!
Maybe that should have been the first clue that this place was built on, pardon the pun, pie-in-the-sky logic?
In the end, I feel as though I have half a mind to say that amenities like the ones being included in the kid-friendly Wyatt might represent the future of downtown Toronto living, but the other half of me wants to suggest that this is indeed, a fad.
One reader commented on Wednesday’s blog that he had been in a “video game room” but that the systems weren’t functional, and the residents cleary didn’t care enough to upkeep the space.
I just don’t have faith that an “appliance sharing kitchen” works 1/10th as well in practice as it does in theory. And maybe that’s the same argument for a lot of the new-age amenities being built today.
In fact, I’m willing to wager that at least 80% of the readers would agree.
So what say ye? Care to substantiate my prediction?