Discussing Daniels Waterfront East Tower with Dominic Tompa of Daniels Corp.
Dominic Tompa of Citylife Realty and Daniels Corp. returns to the show to discuss the upcoming release of Daniels Waterfront Lighthouse East tower. What’s new at Daniels Waterfront, what makes this community so unique, and what has people most excited about living or investing in this new project from Daniels now under construction at Jarvis and Queens Quay East.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the True Condos podcast with Andre La Fleur, the place to get the truth on the Toronto condo market and condo investing in Toronto.
Andrew: It’s my pleasure to welcome to the show Dominic Tompa. Dominic is the broker of record for City Life Realty, which is Daniels’ in house real estate and sales company. Dominic, welcome back to the show.
Dominic: It’s a pleasure to be here.
Andrew: Thanks for joining us once again. Last time we spoke was, I believe, October 2015, which is when you were just about to launch the Daniels Waterfront west tower. Now here we are a year and a half later getting ready to launch the east tower.
We talked a bit, in the previous interview, about your experience in real estate and your history in real estate, lot of amazing experiences that you’ve had. You’ve seen all kinds of different markets. I thought I’d start by asking have you ever seen a market like we are having right now?
Dominic: This has been definitely in the last six months in particular it’s been a very heated market with a lot more demand than there is supply. What we’re seeing across the board, whether it’s in new homes, or whether it’s in the resale market, that buyers are outstripping the amount of supply that’s out there. Going into the spring, as we are right now, in the new home market, you’re going to see a little more product start to be available, so it’ll start to balance out a bit over the next few months.
Andrew: Is there anything that concerns you about the current market that we’re in right now, or are you in the feel like you just alluded to that, you know what? Things are about to balance out pretty soon, as they always tend to do?
Dominic: I think they are. You were asking earlier whether or not I’ve seen a market like this. I’ve always very cautious of trying to compare the current market to a past market in the way they move. There’s just never an exact parallel when we’re looking back, or the way markets go up and just the house sales go is never an exact parallel to something that happened before.
I think where we’re at with our marketing … I’m not concerned about where our marketplace is from a standpoint of the inventory that is being sold out there and in my area of expertise in the condominium market.
We actually have a real need for it in the city. The amount of new product coming on line matches very well with the demand for the amount of units that are out. In other words, we’ve got approximately 100,000 people coming into the city of Toronto every single year right now, which is a really significant number. We don’t really foresee anything in the next 10 years changing those numbers.
The amount of new condominium product that’s coming out really only helps to satisfy the demand that we’ve got on an ongoing basis. As long as what is being build matches that, I’m feeling fairly confident that this is a marketplace that can be sustainable.
Andrew: A lot of talk now from the government and the talking heads in the media and everything about what to do about this current market that we’re in. A lot of people starting to be concerned about what things the government may do to negatively affect the market, or artificially constrain the market in some way. I just wondering if you had any thoughts on that as it’s been just nonstop chatter about it in the media. Just from your experience, what do you think about the government potentially making changes, or intervening into the real estate market in some way?
Dominic: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. There’s been a lot of talk about it. The government’s meeting on various levels in the next week to talk about what they should, or shouldn’t do as far as trying to interpret [inaudible 00:04:23]. We’ve got the imperial budget coming up at the end of the month. There is some chatter about what could be in there that could be affecting the housing market.
My preference, in general, is for governments to stay out of trying to control, or direct markets. Every time they do, I think they artificially adjust the market. I never think that that’s the right way to go. I think the markets will adjust naturally on their own.
Having said that, if they do, the talk is perhaps a foreign buyers’ tax similar to what happened in Vancouver, or an empty homes tax is another proposal that you’re hearing support for. If that comes in to place and that’s what they do, I don’t think it’s going to have a dramatic effect on our marketplace. I can think of Daniels Corporation and our business. Our foreign buyers represent approximately 1% of our purchasers, so it’s really going to have a negligible effect on the marketplace.
Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative). Let’s shifting gears to Daniels Waterfront now, obviously want to talk about the new building, the east tower, which is coming up and people want to hear about it. What’s new? What’s new at Daniels Waterfront since our last time we chatted in 2015, before the launch of the west tower? What’s new on site and with the project from then til now?
Dominic: To start with, when we chatted last we were just launching the west tower, which is Lighthouse West Tower, a 45 story tower with 534 suites. That is now sold out. It really outperformed from a standpoint of how quickly we sold that building out. We’re very happy to see that happen. Since then, we’ve been well underway with construction of 130 Queen’s Quays, which is our office condominium that’s on the south part of the community.
We’re now up to the 10th floor. We’ll have occupancy starting in the summer of next year in the office condominiums. We’ve had some great new groups coming into the office condominium. We’ve got George Brown College putting their school of design, taking the entire second and third floors, just over 100,000 square feet, which means that we’ll have 1,800 students, about 300 faculty that will be coming to this community every single day.
Other big users like Colleges Ontario that are going to be moving their head offices here and Art Scape that’s putting in the Art Scape Launchpad to help aspiring artists to develop their businesses. We’ve seen some really incredible new growth with the groups coming into our office condominiums, which, of course, is just going to be a big part of the vibrancy of this community.
Now with Lighthouse East Tower, a 36 story tower coming out this week, with suites from studios to two plus dens, there’s approximately 420, I think it’s 423 suites in Lighthouse East Tower. We’re seeing some incredible demand for that.
Andrew: Yeah, and I think you had some retail partners as well. I think some of the retail spots have been taken up as well. Can you share with us who those are so far?
Dominic: Yeah, we’re talking to a lot of different retail, but the ones that we can talk about is R.B.C. will be putting a bank branch at the base of the office condominium. We’ve got Starbucks coming in and putting in a coffee shop. We’re talking to a lot of quick service restaurants for our space between the office condominium and the residential towers.
That pedestrian walkway called The Yard that’s going to be lined with retail restaurants, approximately 25,000 square feet of that. We’re talking to a number of different ones. We’re not prepared yet to make any announcements on specific restaurants, but that’s going to be coming soon as well.
Andrew: Nice. Construction. Construction is actually under way isn’t it for the residential part? You mentioned the office towers are well underway. They’re way out of the ground and people might be moving in in just over a year, but the … What’s unique about this opportunity is somebody buying in Daniel’s Waterfront East Tower is that construction is already underway, isn’t it?
Dominic: Yeah, yes. You’re absolutely correct. Construction is underway on both the west tower and the east tower. They do share a podium, so we’re building them at the same time. Occupancies on the east tower will begin in the fall of 2019. We’re only approximately two and a half years away from move in dates.
Why that’s a real positive for anyone looking to buy at this community is there’s some certainty of this construction that’s already started, which means that the occupancies are much more certain that they’re going to be moving in on the dates we’re talking about.
Andrew: You’re not buying a parking lot and waiting four, five, six years. It’s already underway. It’s, like you said, it’s about two and a half years away, which is great.
Dominic: Exactly. Most of the delays for purchasers when they’re buying occur before construction actually starts. When you see these purchases where they’re delayed one, two, sometimes even longer, in years, it’s because they haven’t started construction in the time frame they had originally anticipated. Once construction starts, barring any major construction strikes, you tend to be completed in the time frame you estimated. Like I said, by being under construction before you purchase, it gives you that certainty of timing.
Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative). You mentioned the response to the first tower obviously, huge response, huge demand. Like you said, it’s 100% sold out at this point. Nothing to buy there today. We’re waiting for that east tower to come out, so we’ve got units to buy in the project.
Just talking to the different purchasers there and knowing who’s buying in the building, what would you say people are most excited about with respect to the project?
Dominic: I think it’s a whole lifestyle thing. The really attractive part of what we’re doing here is we’re building more than just one residential condominium. We’re doing what Daniels does best. We’re building a master plan community. That’s integrating residential, commercial, retail, entertainment, learning space all into one community.
Now it’s a community where we like to say, “Where you live, work, play.” We can add learn to this. What people really like about it is just how we’re creating these vibrant communities where there’s so much to do all the time. It’s not just a place where you’re going home at the end of your workday to go to sleep.
It’s a place where you’re going out for dinner. It’s a place where you may very well be working in the building right just beside you. You’re maybe walking to work everyday. There’s a lot that’s attracting the buyers to this from a standpoint of just the creation of this master plan community.
Also, from the greater development that’s going on down here along the waterfront. This whole east bay front, it’s a 55 acre re-development that’s going to dramatically change the waterfront and the city. Daniels city waterfront city of the arts is just really the gateway to this whole re-development. It’s a pretty exciting community overall to be moving to.
Andrew: Yeah, and on that note there’s been, again, since the release of the first tower a year and a half ago there’s been several new developments and new announcements about future developments happening all around you. What’s interesting, I find, about Daniels Waterfront is you’re conveniently located right in the center, it seems, of all the massive re-development that’s happening east of you and now Also west of you there’s huge developments coming up as well with the LCBO lands being sold and the land around Young Street with the Toronto Star building and everything. That’s all being re-developed. You’re conveniently located right in the center of everything that’s happening on the waterfront.
Dominic: Yes, you’re absolutely right, Andrew. It’s right in the middle of it all, which means for anyone living here, you’re so close. Whether you’re going to the west and going to the more developed area of Queen’s Quay, or you’re trying to go to Union Station, and the financial district, these are all walking distance. Now with all of the east bay front lands being developed, you’re also very close to all of that and the distillery district over towards Parliament Street. It’s a real central location.
Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative). What’s new for tower two in terms of what can we expect for people who are familiar with tower one and what was happening there? Will we expect the floor plans to be be similar, or are you changing the suite mix, based on demand? What’s happening with amenities in the building, as well?
Dominic: In terms of suite mix, it’s a little bit different from the west tower in that we don’t have the larger suites. In the west tower is a taller building. We had, in our top floors, suites that we had penthouse levels that had suites that were up to 2,000 square feet and gallery floors from the 40th to the 43rd floor, where suites were up to approximately 1,300 square feet.
In the east tower, we are not creating those floors. What we’re doing is taking the same suite type all the way up to the top of the building. In the east tower, the largest suite is just under 900 square feet. That’s the really beautiful southeast view on the southeast corner of the building. In terms of suite size, the range is from studio, or better, just under 400 square feet to two plus dens that are just under 900 square feet.
In terms of the amenities, the amenities I would say are fairly similar to what we have in the west tower. The east tower and west tower share the outdoor amenity space on the third floor. It’ll share the tennis/basketball court and bocce court that’s on the outdoor space on the third floor, as well as having our community garden plots on the outdoor space of the third floor.
The rest of the amenities on the inside are on two levels and called spotlight club. With the third floor, we’re creating an amazing fitness center. We’re calling it the Extreme Fitness Center. It really is at the level of a five star health club. For anyone who’s into fitness and has their own club membership, they can cancel it. This will be at the same kind of level as a real health club type of gym.
We’ll have a great arts and crafts studio on the third floor as well, for those who want to explore their creative side. On the 11th floor, we’ve got a great outdoor area that we’re calling the zen garden. It’s a more tranquil type of outdoor space and has outdoor barbecues on this beautiful terrace and an outdoor fireplace for sitting out there in the evenings under the stars. It’ll be a really nice outdoor space.
We’ll have a party room that is a bookable space with outdoor barbecues that is all part of a bookable space on the 11th floor, as well as a social club that’ll have a projection screen and a fireside lounge with access to the barbecues as well. The same overall level of amenities that are in the west tower with just a few slight changes that we’re doing on the outdoor space on the 11th floor.
Andrew: That sounds amazing, yeah. You guys always do an amazing job with the amenity spaces. That’s for sure. What would you say is your best tip for investors, or even end users looking to buy in tower two? What’s your best tip, or advice, or suites to look for, views to watch to consider and things as they’re considering buying in this building?
Dominic: For investors, with the announcement of George Brown coming in and their school of design, it’s really a great building to invest in. From a rental standpoint, this is really going to do a lot for making sure that any suite that’s available is going to be rented out very quickly.
I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the selection, whether you’re looking at a smaller one bedroom, or you’re looking at some of our two bedrooms that are in the 700 square feet range are excellent investments to make.
I think, for the end user, again depending on what size you’re looking for, one of the things I really just enjoy from here is the views of the city. The views when you’re looking to the city and the lights of the city, and the vibrancy of that, that’s always been my favorite view. Again, everyone has different ideas of what they like to be looking out at.
I think the city of Toronto is just gorgeous at night. That would be one of mine. When I talk to people, I say, “Consider what this’ll look like when you’re coming home after a day at work and just sitting there and enjoying the view of all the lights of the city.” That would probably be something that I would strongly recommend for people to give some thought to when they’re looking at the various floor plans and exposures.
Andrew: Yeah. Another tip, I’ve found with the west tower and I know it’s going to be the same in the east is for people who do want to have some water view, the nice thing about it is whether you’re on the east … Of course, you think about the south side, of course you’re going to face the water.
Anything on the east side of the building, anything on the west side of the building, all suites are going to have large balconies. You just step out onto your balcony and you take a look. You can see the water from any suite on the east, or the west side of the building as well.
Dominic: Pretty well. The interesting thing about just how the lake configures here in the city is that it actually curves around the city. Generally, when people think of lake views, they’re always, in their minds they’re thinking just direct south. That’s how you see the lake. When reality the lake curves around, so that when you’re looking directly east from Lighthouse Tower, you’ll actually see beautiful views of the city at the lake, as it curves around. The lake goes around towards the whole east end of the city.
On the east side, you could be facing directly east and you’ll have some really nice lake views. The same goes for the west, as well, as it curls around the Etobicoke part of the city, you get some really nice views as you’re facing directly west as well.
Andrew: Absolutely. What else is coming up? I know it’s going to be a very busy for Daniels in 2017. I thought it’d be good just give everyone a bit of a sneak preview of what other projects you have planned. Obviously, Daniels Waterfront is the full focus right now. What else is coming down the pipe for Daniels this year?
Dominic: We have a number of … This is going to be a very busy year for new projects for us. The next really exciting one is we’re coming back to the Mississauga City Center with a 40 story tower this summer. We’re looking at mid August. We don’t have an exact time frame on it, but mid August to about the third week of August with a release of the Wesley Tower at Daniels City Center. That’s right in the heart of all that. It’s in square one by City Hall that we’re going to be building that out. That’s a really exciting one to be looking for.
Then, in Regent Park, two things that we’ve got going on. We have a handful of suites that are remaining from our very successful launch at Wyatt Condominiums last fall. We’re going to be releasing them on a one day sale on a first come, first served basis on early June. We’ll be doing that.
In the fall, we’ll be coming out with the next tower in Regent Park, called Dueast, which is a 29 story building. That will be in late October. That will be just on the northeast corner of Sumach and Dundas, right across from the aquatic center in Regent Park. There’s a lot going on this year for us. It’s going to be an exciting year.
Andrew: Absolutely. Sorry. The Regent Park one, I think you just said what that was called. I don’t know if that was world breaking news. I haven’t heard the name of it. Sorry, what was the name of that tower going to be?
Dominic: It’s going to be called Dueast, as in Dueast, D-U-E-A-S-T. We chose that name really as a reflection of what’s really happening with the development in the city, a lot of the real attention to the new development is toward the east side of the city. It’s an acknowledgement that going east is the way people are going. That’s why we called it Dueast.
Andrew: Go east, young man. That’s right. The east side has arrived. That’s for sure. The Regent Park redevelopment is a big part of that in the past decade. Dueast. You heard it here first, Dueast.
Dominic: That’s the news, yeah. That’s not a name that has been out there yet. That’s a little bit of news for your followers.
Andrew: Awesome. There you go, you always get the latest breaking news here on the True Condos podcast. Thank you very much, Dom. Really appreciate your time today. Is there anything else you wanted to add about the project, or anything we didn’t cover that you wanted to highlight about Daniels Waterfront or anything?
Dominic: No, I think we’ve covered it pretty well. This is a master plan community with some residential, retail, office space, and learning space. It’s a really incredible community to come and visit. I think anyone who comes down here and has a look at it will understand why we’re so excited about it.
Andrew: Excellent. Once again, looking forward to working with you and the whole team at Daniels on this project. Until we talk again, thanks again for being on the show.
Dominic: Thank you, Andrew. Take care.
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