The One: Toronto’s First International Design Building with Eric Kuzian
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The One Condos at 1 Bloor Street West is probably the most anticipated new project in Toronto in years. In this episode Andrew talks to Eric Kuzian who is marketing the project on behalf of Mizrahi Developments. What makes this location, this building, and this developer so unique and unlike anything Toronto has seen before? Find out in this episode.
ERIC KUZIAN INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS
2:30 How do you sum up with your experience of the building?
5:08 Let’s talk about the location of the building.
6:00 What do we know about Mizrahi Developer and their vision in general?
8:35 Tell us about Foster and Partners.
9:53 What is the key component of their design?
11:13 What is this exoskeleton idea? What is the benefit to the user?
12:52 What is value engineering.
14:22 Can you tell us so far about the retail component of the building?
16:10 Let’s talk about the suites, what can we know so far?
18:15 What kind of amenities can people expect?
21:13 Who are you designing this building for?
Andrew la Fleur: On today’s episode, we’re talking to Eric Kuzian about the One Condos, which is One Bloor West, the tallest building in Canada. Find out why Toronto and Canada has never seen a building quite like this. Stay tuned.
It’s my pleasure to welcome back to the show, once again, Eric Kuzian. Eric is the President of PSR Brokerage. Eric, welcome back.
Eric Kuzian: Andrew, always great chatting with you, man. Thanks for having me.
Andrew la Fleur: Great. This one’s a big one. We’ve been waiting for this one a long time. A lot of anticipation and build up. People are very excited about One Bloor West, of course.
Eric Kuzian: What an address.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah. As it’s called the One … You try to find … Let’s face it, real estate is an industry full of hyperbole and exaggeration and big words and flashy stuff. You can’t exaggerate how big this building is, how amazing this location is, how special this property is and how much the anticipation and the build up for this property is, can you?
Eric Kuzian: No, you can’t. It’s been nuts. Just the anticipation, even from our side, to preparing this building for marketing and sales. Everything’s been so exciting because you know you’re dealing with a future landmark location. You only have one opportunity to take something that’s of this importance, because of it’s location and being right at Yonge and Bloor, which is pretty much the center of the country. Not only having that intersection, but having the southwest corner of that intersection, which seems to be the most desired opportunity. You’ve got to put your best foot forward, man, and everybody’s excited about it.
Andrew la Fleur: Very excited. I’ve been saying – I don’t know how you describe it in a five or ten sentence – but I’ve been telling people this is a once in a decade sort of building. This type of a building is very, very rare. I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anything like it in Toronto. How do you sum it up with your experience of the building?
Eric Kuzian: Yeah, no I’ve never seen anything like this in Toronto. Rightfully so, I think Mizrahi Development, who’s the developer on the project, the partners that they’ve brought in for all the consultants and who’s going to be designing the project … I think they, right from the beginning, realized the importance of this corner to the city and making sure that what is being put there is something that really attributes and redefines what that city skyline’s going to be.
Andrew la Fleur: My first question is you’ve been working closely with the developer. I’m sure you’ve been looking at similar landmark type projects around the world and how they’ve been thought through and designed and how they’ve impacted the cities that they’re in. What does this say about Toronto? Is Toronto … Is this a tipping point for Toronto? Just the fact that this building is here, it’s about to get built, it’s about to be brought to the market … It’s something we’ve never seen before. What does this say about Toronto? Is this a big statement? How do you think about that?
Eric Kuzian: Yeah, this is definitely a big statement, and I definitely think Toronto is ready for it. I think Toronto needed the right opportunity, the right location, again, the right partnership, the right developer, the right architect. When all that came together, I think you’re definitely servicing what this city is in dire need of, in my opinion. We definitely researched this opportunity. We traveled internationally. We looked at different world class buildings to make sure that we are doing the right service [inaudible 00:04:19] the city and making sure that the product and the project that gets built there is a new way that the international market is going to view Toronto.
Andrew la Fleur: This is not a project that’s been rushed to the market. This property was acquired by the developer, Mizrahi, some time ago. This has been a long time in the works … a lot of care and time and effort working with the city and everything that’s gone into it, hasn’t it?
Eric Kuzian: Yeah, when you buy the most prominent, and maybe most expensive, real estate corner in the city, I think it takes a little bit of time to make sure that everything is properly thought of and every “I” is dotted and every “T” is crossed so that you can definitely deliver on what the vision and concept is.
Andrew la Fleur: Let’s talk about the location, first of all. Yonge and Bloor, as you said, may be the most important intersection in Canada. What does that mean, exactly?
Eric Kuzian: It means it’s definitely … First and foremost, it’s the biggest transit hub in the country. You have half a million riders every day that goes through that intersection on public transit. Union Square, for example, is second in the country, which is 180,000. It’s quite a bit different from what the most important transit hub is. Above that, you’re surrounded by two of the most affluent neighborhoods of Rosedale and Yorkville. Then, you have the highest end of retail and global brands on Bloor Street. It’s all these different elements that surround this one intersection that makes it the most important location in the country.
Andrew la Fleur: Talk to us about the developer, Mizrahi. What do we know about Mizrahi Developer and their vision in general? What have they built? What’s the vision there? And what’s the vision for this site?
Eric Kuzian: First and foremost, Mizrahi has 25 years in the business. Very focused on the high end market of condos and residential product. Started with custom homes, but the most beautiful custom homes, and then went into the boutique development that flags the corner of Hazelton and Davenport. Very affluent area, right at the end of Hazelton. You have his signature buildings, which are 133 Hazleton, 181 Davenport, 128 Hazelton, which is currently under construction, and this newest project they’ve launched in 1451 Wellington in Ottawa. What’s important to realize is that the level of finishes and the most regard to the finest details is what you see in a Mizrahi building. If I can basically joke with you, but I’m not, it’s basically marble on top of marble on top of marble with millwork on top of millwork on top of millwork. The features you see in these condos are pretty much replicated. In my opinion, custom homes in the sky, where all the doors are solid core, all the appliances are top of the line. It is beautiful, beautiful work. It’s refreshing and comforting to know that, in my opinion, the right developer got that corner. I say that because you are not going to see a building here where a thousand common-
Andrew la Fleur: This is not a cookie cutter developer.
Eric Kuzian: It is not a cookie cutter developer.
Andrew la Fleur: Not at all, no.
Eric Kuzian: No. Like I said, really comforting to know that the most important corner is being developed by a developer who only looks at the highest end of finishes available and puts their best foot forward.
Andrew la Fleur: The architects and the designer, obviously this is a key piece. Anybody who knows about architecture is very excited that Foster and Partners are doing the design of the building.
Eric Kuzian: Andrew, I just get excited every time you say that word.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, exactly. Anybody who knows about international architecture is … Tell us about Foster and Partners and why is this a big deal that they’re doing this building?
Eric Kuzian: It is absolutely a huge deal. Like you said, anybody who knows architecture and those who might not know architecture, Foster and Partners is without a doubt the most world-renowned architectural firm on the planet. They comfortably can tell you that almost all their projects end up becoming future landmarks. They’re brought on to design the best. They are not only considered architectural, they’re actually considered a think tank, because what they really do is they conceptualize what is right and how every little piece works within the city, within the public space, to the actual unit. They’re a unique architectural or design firm that does both the exteriors and interiors. When Mizrahi Development secured this site, they knew right away that they had to bring the best [inaudible 00:09:35] industry on the planet to basically produce the most exciting building that the city has ever seen.
Andrew la Fleur: It’s a podcast obviously, so it’s best if people see the images, but just as much as you can, describe what is the key component of their design exactly? To me, it seems the exoskeletal model is really the key. Would you say that’s where it all starts?
Eric Kuzian: They definitely perfected that exoskeletal structural engineering, which is what’s being introduced for the One. If you go … whether you go to their website or just search some of their work, you’ll notice some beautiful buildings, famous buildings, landmark buildings. Like the Hearst Tower in New York or the Egg in London, England and probably their most expensive and prominent build is Apple’s new headquarters that Apple just spent five billion dollars on in Cupertino, California. That was all designed by Foster and Partners. That’s the caliber of architect that’s being brought to put their first residential building in Toronto.
Andrew la Fleur: Wow, that’s a great point. The Apple Headquarters, which is probably the most hyped and most interesting building in the world right now and everybody’s talking about how amazing it is and they’re finally just moved into it – Apple has. The same company is bringing One Bloor, which is incredible. Again, what is this exoskeleton idea? What is the benefit to the user?
Eric Kuzian: What the exoskeleton does is, again … Foster and Partners, when they take on a project, they don’t just think about the residential users. They think about the whole building and how that building is going to come to life and how that building is going to become a landmark and become a destination. The main feature of an exoskeleton is, especially on the ground floors, where you have your opportunity to speak to the street and speak to the city. It’s where your building meets the city. It creates a barrier-free space. What that does is it attracts some of the best global brands to hunker down and become your tenants and bring in some of the best brands for restaurants. It really attracts and gives an opportunity for this creative space to be designed with no pillars and no obstructions. That exoskeleton, what it actually does is it actually strengthens your building up to six times the normal traditional high rise build. It’s a very expensive engineering feat. It’s also a very calculated engineering feat. To, again, have that be a part of what this building is going to do just adds to the excitement and the fact that they are putting their best foot forward. There is no value engineering here, my friend.
Andrew la Fleur: That’s a great concept. Yeah, value engineering, for those of you that don’t know, it’s an industry term in the condo world where developers will – for lack of a better word – look for savings and economies. I wouldn’t say cutting corners, but anything they can do to cut their costs going into a building, which will ultimately increase their profits. This is not-
Eric Kuzian: To that point right there, Andrew, you’ll notice when some more of these building renderings do come out, that the profit was not the first thing on their mind. What I mean by that is the building itself has been brought back, which again, it’s very high valuable retail to any other developer. Mizrahi decided, and Foster and Partners decided, to bring that back so that they can create this thirty foot sidewalk so that when the building meets the city, it’s much more inviting and it replicates some of great sidewalks on 5th Avenue and other world class cities.
Andrew la Fleur: Amazing. Talk to us, you alluded to the retail commercial spaces, some unique opportunities exist to build some beautiful spaces because of the design, because of the exoskeleton, and the lack of pillars inside, creating these big wide open spaces. Construction is already under way, which people may have seen the headlines about that a few weeks ago. Construction has started on that commercial part of the building. Can you give us any hints as to the retailers who may be coming in? What can you tell us so far about the retail component of the building?
Eric Kuzian: I can’t tell you anything in terms of who the retailers are. I think they will obviously announce it in their glorious fashion the way they’re known to do. It’s 175,000 square feet of retail space. The way it’s designed … it’s the ground floor. It’s 35 foot high ceilings. It’s this veil and curtain of glass that meets the ground. Above that, you have another three levels of double height retail boxes that are programmed for food-beverages services, again, just to replicate what some of the best buildings on the international scene are doing. In addition to that, the ground floor retailer has also taken the Concourse Level, which is direct access to the subway, and created retail on that level as well. Again, when you’re dealing with a half million riders every day passing by, you have the opportunity to speak to that demographic, as well.
Andrew la Fleur: Great. You’re going to be connected directly underground to the subway and there’s a pretty extensive underground path network at Yonge and Bloor, isn’t there?
Eric Kuzian: Yeah. You do have direct access to the most populous transit hub in the country. The building is also set up for any future path … for the actual path from downtown Toronto that seems to try to becoming north on Yonge. The building’s also set up for that, to accept that path if that ever gets to Bloor like they’re planning.
Andrew la Fleur: Let’s talk about the suites themselves. As purchasers are very excited, they’re thinking about what potentially these suites might be like. What can you tell us about the units at this stage? What layouts? What sizes? What are the views going to be like? What can we know so far?
Eric Kuzian: You’re looking at Canada’s tallest residential building that is currently going to be built. It’s 85 stories. In terms of views, I can tell you the views are not going to be any objections. They’re quite glorious wherever you’re looking. In terms of the building, every part of this project has been thought as a landmark tribute to this city. We’ve decided for a building of this size that we’re going to do 416 units, a little tribute to Toronto and the 416. It’s going to be the unit count for this building.
Andrew la Fleur: Amazing. A lot of people thinking 85 stories … that’s one of the biggest surprises. People are thinking, well, if it’s a typical Toronto condo building, it’s probably going to be close to 1,000 units if it’s 85 stories but quite the contrary. It’s only 400.
Eric Kuzian: That’s exactly what One Bloor East is across the street. You’re looking at close to 900 units, I believe, in One Bloor East if my memory serves me correct. This building, to make sure that it is a world class internationally acclaimed landmark, it has to have 15 million dollar penthouses and 7, 8 million dollar beautiful corner large units and it has to really be an exclusive offering, so it’s not typical of what Toronto usually does. The units, they range from 581 square foot one bedrooms, that’s our smallest unit, to 5,700 square foot three-story penthouses with the grand circular staircases that you’d only see in Hong Kong or New York.
Andrew la Fleur: Wow. It sounds incredible. What about the amenities? What kind of amenities can people expect? I don’t know if you’re able to share that at this stage. It’s still early on, but can you tell us about the amenities?
Eric Kuzian: Yes, absolutely. The building, you can call it a 7-star amenity type of building, is kind of what we’re definitely going for. What that means is anything you could imagine … every thought in terms of service has been well planned and thought of, from the newspapers, Andrew, that are going to be in the lobby for purchase to read to the umbrellas that the doorman’s going to give to the purchasers if it’s raining outside to the protein shakes and different waters that will be in the state of the art fitness studio. These have all been budgeted for in the actual budget, and thought of. That comes with 24 hour valet and 24 hour bellhop and 24 hour doorman and two 24 hour concierge. In terms of the way the building works, it’s truly world class because your lobby – we’re calling the Sky Lobby – is actually 100 feet above grade.
Andrew la Fleur: Wow, 100 feet, yeah.
Eric Kuzian: Only world class buildings in the world do that. The reason they do that is because the vision for the building is to make the ground floor speak to the city. With that public civic section, we have opportunities to do trees like Rockefeller Center or [inaudible 00:19:39] art exhibits if needed. So, the exclusivity and privacy that the residents will need are on the 6th level, but just over 100 feet, so 10, 11 stories up in the air. On that residential lobby floor, you have 8,200 square feet of outdoor terrace that has a 2,000 square foot infinity pool that is heated all year round. The terrace around the pool is heated all year round with Snow Melt. You have beautiful state of the art fitness studio that has spin studios, pilates, a 3,000 square foot urban spa sanctuary. I could just go on and on.
Andrew la Fleur: Incredible. I think you’re starting to paint a great picture of this 7-star luxury resort lifestyle in the building. It’s incredible. Everything’s been thought out. The commercial, the residential, the amenity package, how it relates to the city, the street, the connection to the underground, the Yonge and Bloor, the architecture itself, just how beautiful the building’s going to be. Am I missing anything? It’s highlight on top of highlight on top of highlight. It’s just the building of the-
Eric Kuzian: And it should be, Andrew. That’s why we’re excited that such a prominent corner has the right team behind it to deliver what this city deserves and something that’s going to be talked about for years and years and years to come.
Andrew la Fleur: Who should buy in this building or who are you – in your marketing and your planning – who are you speaking to? Who are you designing this building for?
Eric Kuzian: That’s a great question. There’s obviously going to be that investor who is looking to buy a piece of this really exciting building that’s direct access to everywhere. We have a walking distance to the University of Toronto, which is of course the number one ranked university in the country. Right behind is [inaudible 00:21:47], a 3,500 square foot – the first location in Canada. It’s really attracting that investor that knows that there’s great features of this building that any tenant would want to be a part of, including the amenities and the service. Definitely the investor.
In addition to that, we’ve definitely noticed an international market. There’s definitely a market out there. I found this out, Andrew, in the last year or so, that follow Foster and Partners like celebrities. If there’s a Foster and Partner’s building [crosstalk 00:22:24], they’re going to buy it. We have that market who we think we’re going to speak to.
We have the local market and users who, believe it or not, will probably purchase in this building and use it five, six months out of the year and travel the rest, and knowing that when they come home, every little amenity and service and possible opportunity has been thought of for them that they don’t have to worry about. They can just come in, enjoy their beautifully designed space and know that whatever they need is below them or within a quick walking distance to us.
Andrew la Fleur: Beautiful. Very exciting. Eric, is there anything else I haven’t asked you about One Bloor that maybe I missed or any detail that people need to know about that we didn’t talk about?
Eric Kuzian: No. If you just want to understand, we did explain the design and finish that Mizrahi does. What’s really unique to this building is the fact that even the 581 square foot one bedroom will be completely panel ready, finished in the same finishes that the large high rise tower unit are going to be finished in … every single unit, Andrew, is going to come standard with a gas Miele cooktop, which is truly unique. It has to be, because this is what this building is going to stand for. In terms of Miele appliances, solid core doors, white plank hardwood is standard, coiffured ceilings is standard in every unit. It just ticks off every single box that somebody would want when they’re building their own custom home.
Andrew la Fleur: Beautiful. Can’t wait to see all the renderings … interior, exterior. We’ve seen a few teasers here and there, but can’t wait to get all the details, which I know are coming out very, very soon. Look forward to that and look forward to working with you on this project once again, Eric. Thank you very much for your time. Hopefully, we’ll have you on the show again soon.
Eric Kuzian: As always Andrew, this has been an absolute pleasure and excited to talk about this exciting project with you. We definitely look forward to working with you like we have in the past. We’re truly excited to get this project up for the market. Thanks for having me.
Andrew la Fleur: Great. Good luck.