Is Toronto Ready For Car Elevators?

Opinion | September 2, 2020


NFL season is almost upon us.  Are you ready?

Are you going to watch?  I almost wasn’t.  I don’t like the expanded 17-game season, which throws a half-century worth of records out the window.  I don’t like the American response to COVID, and how some players are choosing to ignore social distancing while blatantly thumbing their nose at the concept, often for political purposes.  And part of me just had trouble getting back “in” to sports, post-COVID.  I wasn’t into the NHL when the Leafs were back, and I’m not into the NBA now that the Raptors are playing.

But it’s the NFL.  So I’m fairly certain that I just won’t be able to escape the allure…

My favourite team is the New Orleans Saints, but it wasn’t always.

Before that, it was the San Diego Chargers.

Wait, before that, it was the New England Patriots.  My buddy says I’m a “team-jumper,” but it’s just sort of how it worked out.

I was a huge Patriots fan from Grade-Nine onwards, and a big fan of the best quarterback in the world at the time: Drew Bledsoe.  I remained a huge fan of New England all the way into university, and I used to sit in class, bored out of my mind, trying to draw the Patriots logo in my notebook.  In 2001, Drew Bledsoe was injured, and the Patriots were forced to bring in this absolute nobody to take his place.  We all knew the season was over, and that this was a disaster.

That player?

Some guy named “Brady.”  I think his first name was “Tom.”

When Drew Bledsoe was healthy again, the team, amazingly, didn’t give him his starting quarterback job back!  In fact, they let this “Tom Brady” character finish the season and lead the team into the playoffs, where he just so happened to win the Superbowl, but that’s beside the point.  So too is the fact that he won five more…

The point is: I was so distraught over the treatment of Drew Bledsoe, and hated Tom Brady so much, that I couldn’t really enjoy the 2001-2002 Superbowl.

The next year, I started to cheer for the San Diego Chargers, who had my favourite player in the league and the best running back of his generation: LaDainian Tomlinson.  They also had a rookie named Drew Brees, who (despite a small hiccup this summer with his response to social issues in the USA) I think is one of the best all-around people in the NFL, a family man, and now one of the best quarterbacks of all time.

I cheered for San Diego for the next four years, but then something eerily reminiscent happened: Drew Brees went down with an injury!  An injury he suffered while trying to win a playoff game for San Diego, unsuccessfully.  And how did they reward Drew Brees?  By replacing him with Philip Rivers!

Egad!

Drew Brees went to New Orleans the next year, and I still cheered for San Diego, but kept a close eye on Drew and the boys in Louisiana.  The following year, when another San Diego Charger, named Darren Sproles, left San Diego for New Orleans, I switched sides.

Sorry, Chargers!  Still cheering for LaDainian Tomlinson as his career winds down, but now, I’m a Saints fan!

I’ve been a Saints fan ever since.

So too is my wife, and as a result, we’ve taken three trips down to New Orleans over the last decade, seeing football games every time.  Once, we rented a Dodge Charger (it was the only car that Hertz had left in the lot!) and drove to Baton Rouge to see the LSU Tigers play in a 105,000-person stadium.  It was a complete mind-fu*k to be on a college campus like that.  It was like something out of a movie.

Long story short (if that’s possible at this point…), we love the city of New Orleans, and had thought about purchasing a condo down there.

The pros and cons of purchasing a condo in New Orleans, or anywhere else, is a topic for another day.  There’s the down payment issue, financing for non-residents, currency play, taxation, etc., not to mention renting and managing the property!  With AirBnB banned in the French Quarter, we had looked outside the French Quarter and found decent options, but just never pulled the trigger.

I’m still on the email list of an agent down there that I chatted with from time to time over the years, and I usually spend at least a few minutes reading through each email he sends me, if for no other reason than to keep in touch with the market down there.  I like to know about the market anywhere, since it always gives me perspective on Toronto real estate, and I find other markets to be absolutely fascinating, no matter where they are.

Different property types, different home features, mountain or ocean views we’d never see here in Toronto, different business practices, or even the terminology used elsewhere – all of this is fascinating to me, as somebody that works in real estate in a completely different market.

Case in point: there’s a new feature in one particular New Orleans condominium that intrigues me.

I’ve seen things like this before in Toronto, but not really like what they’ve done here.

If you read the title of today’s blog you know where this is going.

Here’s the building exterior, just to put a face to a name:

 

 

Ah, yes!  They named the building, with a built-in car elevator, “The Garage Apartments & Condominiums.”

Save the idea of having both condos and rental units in the same building, for another day.

But the building from the outside looks pretty cool, and yet the cool-factor, for those forward-thinking individuals, doesn’t peak until you get inside!

Check this out:

 

 

A freakin’ car elevator!

Now, there is at least one building in downtown Toronto that has this feature.  39 Sherbourne Street has one, and I believe there’s another building on Bay or University Ave.  But I’m not familiar with these buildings, to be blunt, because the car elevator is typically an awful idea.  The buildings that have this “feature” in Toronto are doing so not to woo buyers, but rather out of necessity.

Think about how much space the ramps on each parking level take up, and how many parking spaces could replace those ramps.

That’s why the parking elevator exists – to allow for more spaces, as a result of less excavation in the development phase.

Excavation is extremely expensive, and any developer will tell you that parking spaces are a loss leader.  There’s a reason spaces cost $90,000 in some pre-construction projects, after all.  And there’s also a reason why a 400-unit building may only have 150 spaces available, in 2020, whereas they’d have had 400 spaces available, back in 2002.

But the “car elevator” for this building doesn’t exist for the same reason here in Toronto, but rather because of innovative design, and a sought-after feature.

In this case, the parking spaces are on the same levels as the units!

So just as you would, if you lived in a house, you literally park your car at your front door.

From the website:

 

The Garage reimagines city living with unmatched amenities built for convenience in the heart of downtown New Orleans. In addition to our rooftop lounge, wading pool, and fitness center, we offer a state-of-the-art parking experience that will take you from the street right to your door.

The Garage is conveniently located from all points in the region via the Pontchartrain Expressway, which has a direct ramp to Carondelet Street just three blocks away from the property. As you make the turn from Carondelet Street into the property, a transmitter in your vehicle will notify the system that you’ve arrived and will send a lift to greet you.

An overhead monitor will direct you to the appropriate lift. The entire system is outfitted with a laser guidance system to ensure safety and reliability. When your vehicle is centered, the doors will close and the monitor will instruct you to put your vehicle in park and enjoy the ride! The lifts are 21 feet long, 9 feet wide, 10 feet tall, and have a capacity of 8,000 pounds.

When you register your vehicles with the property, the system is programmed to know the exact location of your reserved parking spot. In less than a minute, you’ll arrive on your floor, and you’ll have the green light to exit and proceed to your reserved spot. Your spot is oversized, so you’ll have plenty of space for getting in and out of your vehicle.

The Garage is all about bringing suburban conveniences to urban living. Your parking spot is just a few steps from your front door! And that’s just the start.

 

Now the obligatory blurry photo of a car, which appears in so many marketing pieces, and I remain confused as to why…

 

I probably could have started with the video, but that might have spoiled the fun!

It’s less than a minute, you’ve got to watch:

 

 

So the best, or most progressive part about these condos and the associated parking spaces?

They’re all equipped with electrical outlets for smart-cars:

 

 

If you watched the video, you’ll see a row of four parking spaces, containing four car-charging outlets.

So what do you think?

Is this a fad?

Is it a luxury feature?

Is it so progressive that it’s unreasonable to assume it could, one day, be a feature in Toronto condos?

Honestly, I can’t see this catching on.

Developers in Toronto are looking to build as high as possible, and usually as boring and generic.  Even the flashy, new, “unique” buildings are just repackaged also-rans and same-olds.  I think unless a developer takes an existing structure and repurposes it, possibly in the luxury vein, these car elevators and car-charging stations won’t become a reality in Toronto.

But this is why, among other reasons, I love looking at real estate in other cities!

When in the world am I going to get to New Orleans again?  Two kids, restrictions on flying, a pandemic, and a strange time down south, eek!

Well, at least I have NFL football, right?

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40 Comments

  1. hugh

    at 9:47 am

    We lived in an apartment building at Queen and Pape with car elevators – one car parked at surface level, another beneath it, and the elevator would lift to allow the lower car access.

    It broke frequently and the building had to reimburse the residents for Ubers and taxis all the time. New Orleans might be better since they don’t have snow and salt all over the place half the year, but I would definitely give it a couple years to see if it’s more reliable than the one in my old building.

    1. Izzy Bedibida

      at 11:28 am

      Good points. New Orleans, like Amsterdam is built on mud so its difficult to go deep, and this makes sense.

    2. not harold

      at 8:07 pm

      OMG everyone is so stupid.

      After 2005 NO ONE in New Orleans will park their car underground.

      There are some Toronto condos that have parking below water table or below likely flooding, but not many.

      North of Wellington your car only drowns because a sewer backed up or your developer fucked up.

  2. JF

    at 10:18 am

    Hey David what about Manning and Colts/Broncos..that was a story and an ending to love..don’t you think?

    1. David Fleming

      at 4:08 pm

      @ JF

      The Denver Broncos won the Superbowl in 2016 not because of Peyton Manning, but in spite of him.

      Manning was one season removed from a 39 TD, 15 INT year, and in 2015-16, threw for 9 TD’s and 17 INT’s in his worst season ever.

      In the Superbowl, he was an anemic 13 for 23 passing, for 141 yards, with zero touchdowns, and one interception. A quarterback rating of 56.6. Sacked 5 times. Two fumbles, one lost. It’s the worst performance by a Superbowl winning quarterback in the history of the NFL.

      The Broncos defence that game? 7 sacks, 4 forced fumbles (one recovered), one INT. They held Cam Newton to 18/41 for 265 yards and a QBR of 55.4.

      It was almost tough to watch at times. Manning looked lost. The defence won the game, and Manning got to retire a winner. The first time a Hall-of-Fame QB got to do that since John Elway in 1998. It was magical, but sad at the same time. He finished his career 2-2 in Superbowls. Had they lost this game, and he finished 1-3, his legacy would be tarnished.

      1. JF

        at 11:48 pm

        Woahh those are some stats totally agree with your assessment though I was alluding more to the fact that he got to ride away into the sunset after winning one more SB despite some major surgeries and declining capabilities…but yes that broncos team was all about defence.

      2. Professional Shanker

        at 2:58 pm

        If you are taking away SBs, then take away Tom Brady’s 1st 3….pretty sure any QB in the league could have won with that Defense.

        1. Fearless Freep

          at 8:27 pm

          And after those first three, Brady has gone 3-3 in SBs, but if not for Pete Carroll’s terrible goal line call (give the ball to Marshawn!) in XLIX and the Falcons’ second half folderoo two years later, he could well have been an ignominious 1-5. As they say, it’s a game of inches.

  3. BHT

    at 10:56 am

    there’s also a reason why a 400-unit building may only have 150 spaces available, in 2020, whereas they’d have had 400 spaces available, back in 2002.“”

    A lot of this actually has to do with the city zoning. I believe its around 0.3 parking spots per 1 bed unit or something like that.

    Someone correct me if im wrong

    1. BHT

      at 10:59 am

      I would add that car elevators are in a few buildings

      – 25 oxley, 11 charlotte, some beaches buildings, 39 brant, theatre park

      Coicidentally those are mostly Lamb buildings

      I would say, another thing that can break and leave you stranded without a car…especially if theres only 1 elevator.

      1. m m

        at 12:56 pm

        The Beach Hill condo at Woodbine and Gerrard doesn’t quite have an elevator, but the cars are stacked above each other using hydraulic lifts.

  4. London Agent

    at 12:07 pm

    David, rest assured that the 2020 season will feature (at most) 16 games for each team! The 17 game regular season can be implemented as early as the 2021 season per the current CBA agreement.

    1. David Fleming

      at 4:01 pm

      @ London Agent

      I hear you, but it’s just delaying the end of the NFL as we knew it.

      2,000 rushing yards is a huge feat. Only 7 players have done it (including O.J. during a 14 game season…), but now with an extra game, will we put asterisks beside the name of players who do it because of a 17-game season?

      What about records like most receiving yards in a season? Michael Thomas just beat Marvin Harrison’s seemingly-unbeatable 2002 record of 143 catches, with his 149 last year. So now in a 17-game season, a player catches 150, and he’s got the record, but in 17 games!

      Every record goes out the window.

      1. Ed

        at 4:55 pm

        I would suggest that many who watch the NFL or participate in football pools really don’t care so much about the single season records.
        What do you planned to update your spreadsheets 🙂

  5. Jeremy

    at 3:04 pm

    Might be a nice safety feature for women or the elderly who don’t want to be alone in an underground parking garage?

    1. Ed

      at 4:59 pm

      I like the idea of the car being on the same level as the condo. Imagine if you have to unload a car full of stuff, or when you will be taking to car to go somewhere you don’t even have to take the regular elevator.

  6. Kyle

    at 7:50 pm

    Are you allowed to play ball hockey in the garage on your floor if you get agreement from your neighbours?

  7. J G

    at 8:49 pm

    Hi David, just want to say Bledsoe very much deserved the ring for 2001 season. He was excellent in the AFC championship game against the Steelers even though he didn’t play in the SB.

    Also, Brees vs Rivers was a tough choice for the Chargers going into 2006. If they kept Brees instead maybe they would have gone further in some of their playoff runs in the late 2000s.

    1. Bal

      at 7:32 am

      we are pretty much here and i knew as soon as the report come out..you will be first one to jump here….lol……

      1. Bal

        at 7:34 am

        and as long as cheap money is available….you are gonna keep dancing….lol

          1. Bal

            at 11:38 am

            🙂 I see that…and I also see how the speculator are running around to buy houses to flip…well I guess I missed the boat…:(…and I also know that this cheap money is here to stay.

          2. Thomas

            at 11:37 pm

            There is no such thing as cheap money Bal and you didnt miss any boat. Rather, this boat is best when missed

        1. not harold

          at 8:12 pm

          Look I was talking sht about free money in 2009 and 2010.

          It’s been 11 years, we’re now at 0 or negative out to 5 years with a 3+ year commitment from every relevant central bank.

          CBs can deliver free money for far, far longer than you can be short. Over a century they’re probably wrong, but it’s better to use your shorts 50 years from now.

    2. J G

      at 8:44 am

      416 condo $673k, still way down from Feb high of $720k. Since detached and 905 are carrying the market, just focus on that, right pumper?

      S&P and FAANGs absolutely killing it this year. But hey, I know you hate it when stock market goes up cuz that’s when the millennials make money instead of the boomers.

      1. jeanmarc

        at 9:45 am

        Red day in the market. Good time to add to FAANG if one is interested from the dip.

      2. Appraiser

        at 10:28 am

        @JG: Still spending time picking fly shit out of the pepper I see.

  8. Chris

    at 11:51 am

    “Details contained in last Friday’s quarterly gross domestic product report reveal that household disposable incomes surged nearly 11 per cent in the second quarter.

    The country’s households lost a combined $21-billion in employment compensation in the quarter, but they gained $54-billion in government transfers.

    What this tells us is that the government response to the COVID-19 crisis has gone substantially beyond one of its primary goals, that being to replace the income lost to lockdowns and other virus-containment measures. Ottawa isn’t just leaning against wage losses, it has leaned far beyond them, substantially juicing the consumer pocketbook.”

    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-surprising-household-income-spending-numbers-show-theres-room-for/

    Gee, I wonder if this is at all relevant to various real estate and stock markets being at all time highs?

    1. Appraiser

      at 1:08 pm

      You wonder a lot of things.

      It’s probably caused by some unknown but very sinister “dark underbelly”

      1. Chris

        at 1:19 pm

        Is that the same dark underbelly that caused your bull trap prediction for stock markets to miss the mark so widely?

          1. Appraiser

            at 7:17 pm

            P.S. Someone didn’t see the equity markets today, eh.

            Blood on the streets yet again for the amateurs.

          2. J G

            at 7:27 pm

            Hahah, is after today’s crash, where does that take us? Hmm, about last Monday. Sorry you missed the train old man.

          3. Chris

            at 8:49 pm

            Nope, the article and it’s implications are pretty clear and coherent. Your inability to grasp that doesn’t make it incoherent. Simply highlights your lack of acuity.

            As of market close today, the S&P500 is +19.9% YoY and the NASDAQ is +47.9%. Oooh nooo, so much blood on the streets!

            Something, something… but the Dow Jones… Right?

  9. Downtowner

    at 5:54 pm

    King Charlotte on Charlotte St. at King/Spadina has car elevators given the very narrow floorplate for the building.

    I have owned and lived there and never any problems! Can be a little claustrophobic but seem to work well.

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