roy bhandari interviewing jason lam for 55 mercer condos

55 Mercer Condos – Centrally Located Condos at an Incredible Price

55 Mercer Condos is already pegged as one of the best launches of the 2020… and it’s still only January!

looking south at the base of 55 mercer condos

The condominium will replace the existing Gretsky’s and Second City in the Entertainment District in a pocket that has seen explosive growth in the past decade and the neigbourhood continues to evolve and get better all the time.

In the discussion with Jason Lam, we discuss everything that makes No. 55 Mercer one of the must-invest condo projects of 2020.

  • CentreCourt as the #1 developer for sales for 2019 and where they go from here
  • What makes CentreCourt the most sought after builder for investors (and why their investor continue to make huge returns)
  • How the Entertainment District is slowly evoling into the new “Tech District” with the neighbourhood home to thousands of high paying jobs in the Tech Sector
  • Why World Class brands (Ritz Carlton, 1 Hotels, Shangri La, Bisha, Nobu) are attracted to this location
  • The importance of the PATH network – just steps from 55 Mercer
  • The incredible amenities on offer at 55 Mercer
  • Partnerships with some of the biggest brands in the World that will elevate 55 Mercer above other condominiums nearby
  • How you can invest with Platinum Access and Day 1 Pricing with TalkCondo

No. 55 Mercer Condos – Interview with Jason Lam

No. 55 Mercer Condos – Transcript

Roy Bhandari: Hi everybody. This is Roy Bhandari with talkcondo.com and today we are joined by Jason Lam, VP of sales and marketing at CentreCourt Developments and we’re here to talk about 55 Mercer. Jason, thank you very much for your time. We’ve got a lot to cover.

aerial view of toronto and 55 mercer condos

Jason Lam: Yeah.

Roy Bhandari: So, top down, I want to talk about CentreCourt Developments increasingly becoming one of the best builders in the city. We’ve got a lot to talk about. I think we could honestly do 30, 60 minutes just on CentreCourt, but we’re going to try and truncate it and pull out the most important bits.

Roy Bhandari: We’re going to talk about the Entertainment District quickly becoming one of the best neighborhoods in the entire city. And again, we’ll talk about why we’re going to talk about this location specifically, King and Blue Jays Way. And we’re going to talk about 55 Mercer. So, let’s start talking about with CentreCourt Developments.

Roy Bhandari: We sat together eight, nine months ago just before the launch of TC4 and TC5.

Jason Lam: Right.

Roy Bhandari: You guys had a bit of a banner year in 2019.

Jason Lam: We did.

Roy Bhandari: So, tell us a little bit about how you guys did in 2019 and how that sets you up moving forward.

Jason Lam: 2019 was a very exciting time. We started the year off with Transit City four and five. Huge success, as everyone knows. We went through over a thousand suites in sales and we quickly pivoted later in the year and launched a site over in the Forest Hill pocket called the Forest Hill Condominiums. And overall, we did over 1300 sales, which is top in the high rise market. So, we-

rooftop amenity at 55 mercer condos

Roy Bhandari: Which is huge, again. So, CentreCourt Developments were number one, in terms of market share.

Jason Lam: Correct.

Roy Bhandari: Of condominium developers in the GTA.

Jason Lam: Sold.

Roy Bhandari: Sold. Yeah. Which is remarkable.

Jason Lam: It’s a huge year for us and I think we couldn’t be happier. And I think the team at CentreCourt has worked incredibly hard to get to this point. And a lot of that is just being organized and all the precision behind it. Just all about execution. And right now at TC four and five we started construction. It’s currently the largest residential construction site in Canada across one, two, three, four and five.

Jason Lam: And we’re excited to occupy one, two, midway this year, and three at the end of the year.

55 mercer condos lobby

Roy Bhandari: Amazing. CentreCourt Developments are such an interesting development because, in the grand scheme of things, you’re a relatively young developer.

Jason Lam: Yep.

Roy Bhandari: Started 10 years ago, approximately 10 years ago. And in that space of time you’ve quickly become this developer that all the other builders look towards as best in class in a number of different places.

Jason Lam: Right.

Roy Bhandari: And you said precision and execution and gloss over those terms, but there’s a lot to be said about those kinds of details that you guys go into. In a lot of ways you guys make very hard things seem very easy. It’s not easy to build a new downtown from scratch in Vaughan.

Jason Lam: Correct.

Roy Bhandari: And you guys are doing it and making it look very easy. It’s not easy to start construction six months after you go on sale, but you guys do it and you make it look easy. It’s not easy to go straight to final closing and have no occupancy, but you guys do it. And these things are so difficult that we’ve got other builders asking, how are CentreCourt doing it?

Roy Bhandari: And these are builders that have been around for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 years. And they’re asking those questions. And I think that speaks volumes to CentreCourt Development. So, just give me a little bit on that from your perspective, because I’m telling you how we’re seeing it from the outside.

Jason Lam: Right. It’s hard to speak to elements and parts of the business that I don’t regularly dive into, but the truth is, it is about precision. It’s about the principles that the company has in identifying the needs of the residences and the purchasers, as well as our partners in the broker community. So, it’s about identifying what’s being done, how we can do it better, how we can plan ahead.

Jason Lam: And I think that’s really what separates CentreCourt from pretty much every other developer in the city, is that we are very focused on one task, and we’re very organized in how we mobilize and execute, and we understand what needs to be done, when it needs to be done well in advance so that there’s no second guessing. And a lot of it is strategy, actually, and just how we go about construction, how we go about phasing out sales, being ready, always being zoned, so we don’t have to wait. That’s a big one for us.

Roy Bhandari: Huge. Huge.

Jason Lam: So, for those of you that are wondering, 55 Mercer’s fully zoned and every site moving forward will be fully zoned. But I get the question all the time and people walk up to me and will say, “Wow. CentreCourt is building buildings at a massive clip relative to the buildings beside.” And if you ran a time lapse of a building that started construction six months before us, we would just finish a year before them.

interior suite design for 55 mercer condos

Jason Lam: And all of that, it’s not-

Roy Bhandari: Time and time again. That’s no a [crosstalk 00:05:18].

Jason Lam: Yeah. And I think that’s not about being lucky. I think that’s about being precise. It’s being organized. It’s about being very surgical about that process. And that’s a huge credit to the team, the construction team, the development team, and all the business leaders within the company.

Roy Bhandari: Just to tie it back into why these things are so important to an investor.

Jason Lam: Right.

Roy Bhandari: Knowing that the investment that you made is going to be in the ground at a relatively quick pace. You feel secure on your investment. Understanding that your building is going to be built quicker than other buildings means you can get your equity working for you much quicker than you can with other buildings. You can get the rent, you can reshuffle that money into other property and grow your wealth like that. So, these things are very, very important.

Jason Lam: We often joke that in the same amount of time that you could have bought one project, the average project, you could have bought a CentreCourt product twice.

Roy Bhandari: Yeah.

Jason Lam: And again, that just speaks to the execution and that’s what really separates us from the rest of the market.

Roy Bhandari: Amazing. So, let’s shift and talk about the location of 55 Mercer. So, I want to talk about the Entertainment District, and this location specifically, I think, is very interesting because when we got our “big break” was when we identified the Entertainment District 10 years ago as a neighborhood that we felt had breakout potential.

Roy Bhandari: And a lot of it came down to the narrative that we had was the Entertainment District got its big break when the Toronto International Film Festival moved from Yorkville to the Entertainment District.

Jason Lam: Right.

Roy Bhandari: That, in itself, is not a huge thing, but what had to happen to support the film festival.

Jason Lam: Correct.

Roy Bhandari: So, all of a sudden you’ve got amazing restaurants opening up all over the place.

Jason Lam: Right.

Roy Bhandari: All of a sudden you’ve got the best names in hospitality, opening up hotels, you’ve got the Ritz Carlton, you’ve got Bisha, you got Thompson hotel opening up to support this.

Roy Bhandari: And now, obviously, you’ve got Nobu coming and Nobu could have gone anywhere in the city. They could have gone to Yorkville, they could have gone anywhere, but they’re coming on Mercer Street. So, all of a sudden all this infrastructure to support this event is what grew this.

peloton bikes in the gym of 55 mercer condos

Roy Bhandari: And then, over the years we’ve seen a huge amounts of residential growth happen because of the demand to be in this neighborhood. At the same time CentreCourt, one of the buildings, the first building that CentreCourt built was a block North of 55 Mercer. It’s Peter Street condos.

Jason Lam: Right.

Roy Bhandari: So, it’s an interesting place where we’ve seen this evolution of the neighborhood. So, is there anything you wanted to talk about before we move on to specifics about the Entertainment District?

Jason Lam: Well, I think it’s fitting. 020 represents the 10 year anniversary of CentreCourt being in industry in 10 years, we’ve done more than most developers have been able to do. And I think it’s something to be proud of and I think we strive to continue to grow, and to be better, and to improve. But I think it’s fitting that we come back down to this pocket, this node with 55 Mercer 10 years later and I think that’s very exciting.

Roy Bhandari: Amazing. So, Entertainment District. The proximity to the Financial District.

Jason Lam: Right.

Roy Bhandari: Very, very important. The proximity to the Path network. Very, very important. The proximity to… This is what I want to spend some time talking about is the proximity to a large number of tech jobs.

Jason Lam: Absolutely.

Roy Bhandari: So, I’m going to tell you tech jobs from angle and I want to hear it from your angle.

Jason Lam: For sure.

Roy Bhandari: So, an amazing anecdote that I recently heard from one of my clients. The reason we keep talking about tech jobs, tech jobs, tech jobs, is because these tech companies that are coming in are setting up shop in and around this area. They pay very, very high wages. When you’ve got high wages within a pocket that’s going to put upward pressure on rents, it’s going to put upward pressure on prices. As an investor, these are very good things.

Roy Bhandari: Recently a client of mine had a condominium just around the corner from 55 Mercer as a one bedroom unit. It was vacated and he re-rented it to a 23 year old kid. First job out of university, working for Uber. As a first salary out of university he’s earning $150,000 a year.

Roy Bhandari: So, when you’re in a location that’s surrounded by these kinds of companies, bringing in this kind of talent, paying this kind of salary, there’s only one way for the investment to grow. So, I want you to go through the tech side of it. I know you guys have done a lot of homework on this, so you educate me on what’s going on there.

Jason Lam: I think to layer into where you’re going with that is it’s not so much… To add to it, that 23 year old, that 25 year old, that 27 year old, where do they want to be?

Roy Bhandari: Correct. Yeah.

Jason Lam: And they want to be in an environment where things are very convenient. Lifestyle is very convenient, very easy, everything is accessible.

Roy Bhandari: Sure.

Jason Lam: And that speaks to always looking to the skyscrapers where there’s AAA employment, but there’s so much that comes with that amenity, right, of being central and connected. But speaking to the tech job, you’re right. A lot of people are talking about tech and it flies under the radar. We are the third largest tech market in North America. We are the number one market in North America, in terms of recruitment of tech talent.

Jason Lam: And if you look at where these major tech companies reside, where they open their business, it’s all within the confines of the core, the downtown core, the center ice. And literally within 600 meters of 55 Mercer, you’ve got a hundred tech companies.

55 mercer condos co working space

Roy Bhandari: And growing.

Jason Lam: And it’s constantly growing. They want to be concentrated. They don’t want to be sprawled out. They’re all concentrated in a very particular area. So, I think that is the evolution. The maturity. You used the term Financial District. This has really become the tech district, and 10 years ago it was parking lots and nightclubs and we’ve seen this evolution and this maturity in the pocket and it’s very logical why. Because it’s so central. This land, as we’ve grown this, this parcel, this space, is bound to redevelop because it’s so prime. Prime because of its accessibility to the Financial District, to the Path system, which no one talks about, subway access, employment.

Jason Lam: There’s so much to like about it. The evolution of TIFF coming in, the restaurant, the lifestyle, the CN Tower is not going anywhere. And I think that’s funny is that every time you see an ariel of the CN Tower in the future, you’re always going to see your building.

Roy Bhandari: Yep. I mean, you see that.

Jason Lam: And if that doesn’t define how close you are to the core, I don’t know what else does. This is a central as you can get and it’s still growing. It’s still going to take another step, another multiple steps. So, if it’s exciting today, again, it’s going to be even more exciting in the future.

Roy Bhandari: And I think I already mentioned Nobu is coming here. It could have picked anywhere in the city to be.

Jason Lam: Right. Right.

Roy Bhandari: But all of a sudden you start to look at the best architects on the planet. Where are they designing buildings? They’re designing them in this pocket. We’ve got obviously Bjarke Ingels around the corner. We’re going to have Frank Gehry designing a building around the corner from here.

Jason Lam: Right.

Roy Bhandari: A hotel condominium, 90 stories. And this is all happening in this pocket for a reason.

Jason Lam: Yes. And you still have elements that are there today. The Ritz Carlton, the Shangri-La, the Bisha. It’s already gotten to that status. And I think we’re just trying to overload. But I think, Toronto, when you look at Toronto’s neighborhoods, there’s very few corridors and pockets that stand out like Yorkville, King West Entertainment District, Tech District, Financial District that really define their district names.

Jason Lam: And I think this area is going to really take, like I said before, a next that to be the pinnacle. It really will stand out as the place to be, to work, to play, to live, to, to raise your kids, to retire. It really fits any and all lifestyles.

Roy Bhandari: We’ve often made the distinction between Yorkville as being classic luxury.

Jason Lam: Yeah.

Roy Bhandari: And this pocket being a more modern luxury for-

Jason Lam: A lot more contemporary.

Roy Bhandari: Yeah. Young professionals-

Jason Lam: And you’re getting that demographic that like to spend that, if you want to live downtown, it’s difficult to live in a house.

Roy Bhandari: Oh yeah, for sure.

Jason Lam: Right? You live in a condominium. It has become the norm and high rise condominiums are taking over the market. It’s become an expectation. I think 10 years ago people were finding it difficult to conceptually think about what it’s like to live in a condo. Whereas today it’s incredibly common, a) from a practical convenience point of view, and b) from an affordability standpoint.

Roy Bhandari: Yeah, I want to touch on the Path very quick.

Jason Lam: Yes.

Roy Bhandari: And again, it’s something that we glossed over, but it, again, is such a major amenity to be at your doorstep. I lived downtown for a number of years and I used the Path every chance I got.

Jason Lam: Okay.

Roy Bhandari: And again, if you think about the tenant and the buyer pool in this location, who are they going to be? They’re going to be people who work in the Financial District, so being this close to the path opens up so much. You walk to the ACC underground.

Jason Lam: Right.

Roy Bhandari: You walk the Financial District underground. You walk to the subway underground. And then, obviously, with the winters that we have, that we’re experiencing, this is an incredible amenity to have. So, I just want you to talk about the path a little bit.

Jason Lam: The Path has a misconception of being only about finance, and law, and accounting sort of geared towards the Financial District. And rightfully so, but I think the way we’ve built the city and we’re integrating multiple buildings to be connected to the Path, and 55 Mercer is the gateway into the Path can connection on the furthest of the West side.

Jason Lam: I implore that you look at the map of the Path system and you will be amazed at how far you can go. It’s over 30 kilometers, which I believe is a world record, and it really captures what it’s like to be downtown because it is a city underneath the core, the downtown, the most central part of the city. Very, very marketable and notable streets as Yonge, Bay, University, King, Queen, Adelaide. They all run underground the veins of the core.

Jason Lam: But to have that accessibility 150 meters away from the path, from 55 Mercer, sorry, is that ultimate connectivity to subway, as you mentioned, to the Eaton Center. It doesn’t have to be about the Financial District always. You can go down to the waterfront, you can get your way to the CN Tower, Metro Toronto Convention Centre. There’s a number of hotels.

Jason Lam: I think there’s around 75 buildings connected to the Path network, and I think it’s going to continue to grow. It’s going to take time, but I think it’s a hidden gem that people rarely talk about. And not every building, not every community, is connected to something so massive. Right?

Roy Bhandari: For sure.

Jason Lam: But you can’t find that anywhere else in the city. So, to have it so close, it is a luxury. It is an amenity that needs to be front and center when it comes to what it’s like to live, not just at 55 Mercer, but in this pocket of the downtown core.

Roy Bhandari: Amazing. So, I want to now talk about 55 Mercer.

Jason Lam: Okay.

Roy Bhandari: The first thing that struck me was that you guys called it 55 Mercer.

Jason Lam: Right.

Roy Bhandari: Correct me if I’m mistaken, but this is the first time CentreCourt has used a residential address as the marketing name of the building.

Jason Lam: I believe so.

Roy Bhandari: There must have been a reason for that.

Jason Lam: Oh, for sure. I mean, I think Mercer has an elegance to it. It really speaks to the area. Also makes it a lot easier for people to identify an address rather than some of these creative marketing names. But I think we wanted to bring out the essence of the excitement about what’s going on down there. And I think that that was a very fitting name.

Roy Bhandari: Okay. Tell us about the building. How tall it is. Give us the suite count, give us the rundown.

Jason Lam: 55 Mercer is 47 stories tall. We’ll have 543 suites from studios all the way up to three bedroom plus den. So, it’ll fit a variety of lifestyles. And I know we keep talking about investors, but I think part of it is we do a lot of the things we do because of the end user as well.

Roy Bhandari: Of course.

Jason Lam: So, from building fast to designing our buildings and identifying great locations. It’s multifaceted.

Roy Bhandari: It’s important that you say that because part of the reason that we look at CentreCourt as being a huge success is that it’s one thing to get the sales at the pre-construction level, but when you look at CentreCourt buildings that are delivered and lived in, and you look at the resale values and the rental values of Karma, of Index, or Core Condos, or-

Jason Lam: 101 Peter is on there, believe it or not. Yeah.

Roy Bhandari: Within the sub-markets of those buildings CentreCourt, their buildings, are always in this top-

Jason Lam: Especially on a PSF basis.

Roy Bhandari: PSF basis. Yeah, on a rental basis.

Jason Lam: They do very well.

Roy Bhandari: It’s not just about being great buys now, but they are buildings that-

Jason Lam: Trade incredibly well.

Roy Bhandari: And again this goes back to making things that are very hard look very easy. You mentioned the sweet mix already, the studios to three dens.

Jason Lam: Yep.

Roy Bhandari: I haven’t seen the floor plans right now, but-

Jason Lam: You will.

Roy Bhandari: … knowing what I know about CentreCourt and you the history of CentreCourt and the way you guys design buildings, I have a picture of what those units are going to look like.

Jason Lam: Right. Well, I think the precision in construction is no different than our approach in how we design our buildings on the front end.

Roy Bhandari: Yeah.

Jason Lam: Our amenity programming is 18,000 square feet of amenities. We have an incredible partner, two incredible partnerships with Peloton, which is innovative and it speaks to the modern technology and the maturity of the area and the tech district that’s really taking over this node.

Jason Lam: And then, we have a very exciting partnership with Pfaff that will bring a, EV car share to the building as well as a luxury rental delivery program. I can speak more to it in the coming weeks, but I think when you look at the Pfaff brand, they exude luxury and all the brands underneath their banner are wildly exciting. So, if you’re a car fan, definitely something that will really draw people’s eyes and their attention to what makes 55 Mercer separate itself from the rest of the buildings in the surrounding area.

Roy Bhandari: Amazing. And CentreCourt have done it in the past where these partnerships have been put in place and have been successful.

Jason Lam: Absolutely.

Roy Bhandari: So, this is why we continue to bring these elements through.

Jason Lam: Right. And speaking to designing things on the front end is identifying who are the buyers are and who the residents are. It’s a very thoughtful process that we consider from what the city mandate is, and what our investor mandate is, and what the end user will be looking for. So, we put a ton of work in floor plans, they’re wildly efficient, I think. And as a direct result, our price points have always been very, very on point.

Roy Bhandari: Price points, talk to us about price points.

Jason Lam: Affordability in the best location. I think that’s the most simple way to put this. We’ll be starting in the mid 500 thousands.

Roy Bhandari: Amazing.

Jason Lam: And I think, unit type two unit type within the marketplace, you’ll find that we are easily a much better option from a price point, a much better option from a locational standpoint. I think we’re going to we’re going to surprise a lot of people with… Maybe not surprise because we’ve done it a time and time again but I think we’re really going to catch a lot of people off guard and it’s going to be very exciting for the people that are looking for an investment opportunity.

Roy Bhandari: Talk to me very quickly about the ground floor retail.

Jason Lam: We will have ground floor retail that will be beautiful jewel blocks that will speak to the elevated community of Bisha, of Nobu, of this transformation, this pocket, that’s TIFF. And right now I think we’re working on a couple of things but we will have that established once the building’s up and running.

Roy Bhandari: Amazing. So, I’m going to try and very quickly recap what we talked about and then you tell me if we missed anything. Okay, we talked about CentreCourt Developments and how, as a builder, they do just incredible things for the investor in their delivery and the precision that they’re able to deliver these condominiums are at a level that most other builders are envious of.

Roy Bhandari: We talked about the Entertainment District as not just an area that is amazing today, but is, a) connected to so many different things that make downtown Toronto amazing, but there’s also so much growth happening still to come right in this area.

Roy Bhandari: We talked about the proximity to the tech jobs, some of the highest paying salaries probably in the city and the evolution of that and how it’s continuing to grow. We talked about this area being a high in demand for this young professional, the modern contemporary luxury, as we like to refer to.

Roy Bhandari: We talked about 55 Mercer, 47-storey building with head to toe retail at the grade, amenities, and then, amazing floor plans throughout.

Jason Lam: Yep.

Roy Bhandari: Is there anything else that you would’ve liked to have spoken about that we didn’t?

Jason Lam: I think there’s so much to like about the product and we can talk about it, you’re right, for another 40 minutes and really take a deep dive. But I think you really covered a lot of the key points that anyone that’s looking to live. to buy, to invest, those are the reasons. And I think if you need more than that, I think it’s a hard to top something of this caliber.

Roy Bhandari: Awesome. We’re excited. I think a lot of the chatter already is paying. This is probably one of the top launches of to 2020. It’s only January.

Jason Lam: Yeah, it’s rare. I think we did an analysis on the last six years. The product that represents this node about 2.7% of all product released.

Roy Bhandari: Yeah.

Jason Lam: So you don’t get very many opportunities. On average, it was 690 units over the last six years that get released in this node.

Roy Bhandari: Wow.

Jason Lam: So, you have 690 opportunities on a yearly basis, and that’s it. If you want to buy in any other node, there’s plenty of opportunities. But if you want to be in this pocket, you want to be part of this, it is incredibly rare. So, for us, there’s 543 opportunities to be a part of this community, and I think it’s going to continue to be harder to assemble, and to develop, and in the timelines that go into these things, four to six to eight years long. It’s not every day that you get a brand new building specced out to the most modern, contemporary design to invest, purchase, or live in.

Roy Bhandari: Amazing. If our clients were interested in purchasing, what do they have to do, Jason?

Jason Lam: What a loaded question. They’re going to connect with the top brokers such as yourself that have access to 55 Mercer.

Roy Bhandari: Amazing. Thanks Jason.

Jason Lam: Thank you so much.

Roy Bhandari: Thank you very much.