Out With The Old, In With The New!


< 1 minute read

November 30, 2012

This is really cool!

There’s only one building in the city of Toronto that has an LED display screen in the elevator in place of traditional buttons…


The board of directors at 38 Elm Street had a problem: “How do we compete with all the flashy new condos that are being built in the downtown core?”

As a 22-year-old building, 38 Elm Street isn’t actually that old.  But in today’s real estate market, it seems people want a 2-year-old condo, that is, if they can’t get into a 1-year-old condo…

So the folks at 38 Elm Street decided to use some money from their massive reserve fund, and spend some of the nearly $500K that they won in a lawsuit (spend away – it’s free money!) to upgrade and modernize the building.

I think the results are fantastic.

And might I add – I don’t have a listing in this building, so there’s no hidden motive on my part here.

I just like sharing great real estate stories.

The LED display in the elevator is one-of-a-kind, and perhaps we’ll look back at this as a turning point in elevator technology.  Check out the homepage HERE if you want more info.

And they spent a whopping $325,000 on a state-of-the-art fitness centre, that has better equipment than many GoodLife’s out there.

There can be a tremendous amount of value in older buildings, if they’re upgraded sufficiently.

I’ll follow up next week with some pics of the unreal amenities!

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. RT2020

    at 2:22 pm

    What is with the obsession for the latest trend / fashion /fad?
    This is why people get so easily blinded by marketing materials and thin veneer of slick design of today’s condo industry.

    Whatever happened to enduring design and build-quality? (i.e highly prized older co-op buildings in cities like New York). Condos shouldn’t be treated as disposable things with a lifespan of 5 years – but that’s a view that I think the real estate industry would certainly want to promote.

    There’s a saying about fads and gimmicks David – “nothing says yesterday like something that used to say tomorrow”. You can have your gimmicky touch screen. I’d take real quality brass elevator buttons (enduring design) over a touch-screen that people will literally laugh at in 5 years.

    As for 38 Elm Street – this particular building was initially designed and built as a suite hotel and changed to condos in the last minute (hence the amenities). It has a good reserve because the building was designed and constructed to a higher standard than the average condo (i.e. it was built for a single client (hotel) as opposed to 100’s of clueless and unsophisticated investors who are unable to hold the developer accountable). Great management and a diligent board I’m sure also went a long way.

    1. ScottyP

      at 9:40 am

      So I guess you’re saying my condo made a mistake by moving from swipe cards to fobs a few years back.

      Maybe we should’ve all been given a big brass key to enter the building. More enduring.

  2. Oren

    at 3:14 pm

    That’s really neat! Would be even nicer if there was a pinch in/out effect when you selected a floor.
    Or maybe an RFID card that you just swipe and takes you to the right floor.

  3. R

    at 7:34 pm

    Laughable. Even more of a waste of money than a party rom, squash court or juice bar.

    1. How does this add any benefit to the condo or users? If anything, less usable as you pointed out by those with visual impairment.

    2. The interface as shown is horrible. It uses the latest technology to visually mimic metal buttons and rivets (top and bottom corners). Not to mention the terrible typography of the labels on the bottom buttons.

    The demos on the product website look nice, but this implementation is terrible. I feel sorry for the residents who must use this daily.

    There’s nothing wrong with updates to an older condo if done correctly. My condo (a small 24 unit loft), almost 10 years old, recently updated carpets, installed LED corridor lighting and an new enterphone system. All together probably cost less than this elevator panel cost and the building looks better than most 1yr old condos, not to mention the rebates from the lighting install and long term energy savings.

    As RT says, new gadgets are just that…new now, and old soon enough. There was a new loft/townhouse complex on Palmerston that was featuring built in iPads to control lighting/heating. By the time they are installed, they will already be out of date. How do you fix your lights in 5 years when your built into the wall iPad is no longer supported, the app is longer in service or the battery is dead?

    Sometimes less is more.


    1. david davis

      at 10:30 pm

      Interesting… so I guess Dave is wrong,,, people don’t want new – they want older buildings with original components with the odd updates LED lights. Elevator upgrades are key – both mechanical and cosmetic. Sounds like a lot of jealous agents out there.

      1. R

        at 9:35 am

        I’m not an agent.

        And if by old, you mean real hard lofts, compared to new concrete boxes, then yes, I do think people prefer those. My building is old. More than 100 years old. And even with no elevator, concierge, party room or gym consistently sells for more $/SF than many “new” condos.


        1. ScottyP

          at 9:37 am

          Pretty passionate post about elevator panels there, R.

          Give me an updated gym in the building over the poor insulation, lack of sound-proofing, and overall pretentiousness of a hard loft any day. To each their own.

  4. ABBlanas

    at 10:46 am

    This format of elevator control panel display is also installed at Toronto Hydro-Electric head office at Carlton and Yonge. It’s VERY effective, I used to work there. After seeing and using these LCD panels, you wonder why anyone would go back to mechanical buttons. (David note that they are LCD, not LED screens).

    The flexibility to display large-size numbers and extra contextual information (like for the G and 2 floors) is very useful. And having the panel very close to eye level is a wonderful enhancement, rather than under the 42 inch regulation height for buttons. I also imagine that the ‘glow’ effect of a LCD display enhances the overall atmosphere of the elevator cabs. David, you did not comment on any other enhancements their board may have done for their elevators, including ceiling lights, walls, etc. but I imagine the soft glow is very welcoming.

    The negative comments from the guy earlier (who does not live in a hi-rise and in fact has never seen this kind of panel in action) sound like total sour grapes. He should wake up and applaud first-adopters rather than rip them. I bet he still listens to his 1979 Sony Walkman!

    Thanks David for this cool insight into what other condos are implementing.

    1. David Fleming

      at 11:44 pm

      @ ABBlanas

      38 Elm undertook massive changes, including the terrace renovation, and the $325K reno the gym.

      I’m going to do a post next week about the other facilities.

      Again – some love it, some don’t, but the gym in this building is better than many commercial gyms downtown! They even have TRX training! Man…..this reminds me, I need to get into the gym. I had Spring Rolls last night, and Swiss Chalet tonight. Surely this is no way to maintain a body as I grow old…

  5. Jeremy

    at 10:08 am

    Less curmudgeonly than “R” but my first thought was whether or not they are as reliable. It looks cool, but if its going to break down more/need more frequent maintenance (e.g. cost the residents a lot) then it may not be worth it.

    Could be cool to display messages from the condo on it to make sure people read them.

  6. Devore

    at 10:09 am

    I’ve been away on vacation for 2 weeks, and an now reviewing the back issues of David Fleming’s World Famous Blog(tm), so it is unlikely anyone will get to reading this comment, but here it is for posterity.

    This is a “cool” idea… but I do have to agree with some of the negative posters today. How durable are these things? How often will they have to be replaced (and at what cost and service outage/degradation) whenever someone smashes/kicks/punches/pokes one of these out of anger/frustration/malice/accident? Leans on it with their backpack? Selects their floor with something handy and sharp because their hands are full?

    How will this look in 5 years? Probably as good as the cheap trendy condo towers of today.

    The biggest advantage of these is the ability to have custom buttons, but as you yourself said, “legacy” elevators already do this as well. It’s not like they’ll be moving the pool or sauna to another floor anytime soon.

    This seems like modernization for the sake of modernization. There is nothing wrong with elevator panels today. It’s a perfectly good UI. This LCD panel does nothing new, it just replicates a physical interface in a software form, vast majority of which are vastly inferior to their real counterparts. This is not an advancement. We’ve had LCDs and touch panels for decades, and no one’s seen the need for this so far.

    The only UI update elevators need is the ability to un-select a floor selected by accident. Please tell me this technological marvel is able to do this for me at least, please? I mean, it’s not like there’s any physical constraint at play here, although even the regular push button elevator panels should be able to do this, as they are, surprise! digital behind the scenes as well.

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