Amit Bhandari interviews Dan Flomen for Empire Maverick Condos

Empire Maverick Condos – The Best Condo Location in the Entertainment District

Empire Maverick Condos boasts one of the best locations in Toronto, period.  Replacing the former Restaurant Row in the heart of the Entertainment District and right across the street from the Toronto International Film Festival, it is easy to see why there is a lot of early buzz for this condominium.

Empire Maverick Condos Rendering

We were lucky to catch up with Dan Flomen (Executive VP, Empire Communities) ahead of the launch.  Flomen has been involved with every aspect of Empire Maverick; from site acquisition, to design, to intricately designing the floor plans, and now to the launching the condominium for sale.

Flomen shares some amazing insights on this exciting new condominium.

In the interview we discuss:

  • The evolution of King Street into one of the best neighbourhoods in Toronto
  • Why Empire Maverick is the BEST located condominium in the Entertainment Distict
  • The incredibly low vacancy rate in this neighbourhood and what that means for your investment
  • Why this is just the beginning of the Entertainment Districts growth
  • The unique features of Empire Maverick that will distinguish it from the rest of the condos in the area
  • How you can get First Access to Empire Maverick Condos

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Empire Maverick Condos – Interview with Dan Flomen: Watch the Video

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Empire Maverick Condos: Transcript

Amit Bhandari: Hi there. This is Amit Bhandari of talkcondo.com and today, we are with the Executive Vice President of Empire Communities, Dan Flomen. Dan, thank you so much.

Dan Flomen: Pleasure. Thank you.

Empire Maverick Condos Rendering

Amit Bhandari: Once again, I know we’re right around launch time for two huge projects. We’re sitting in a presentation center right now that’s under construction.

Dan Flomen: Yeah.

Amit Bhandari: So, thank you so much.

Dan Flomen: And thank you for bearing with the construction.

Amit Bhandari: No worries. The pleasure’s all ours. So today, I wanted to talk about Maverick.

Dan Flomen: Yes.

Amit Bhandari: A huge, incredible project that’s in probably one of our favorite neighborhoods in downtown Toronto. The entertainment district.

Dan Flomen: Yeah.

Amit Bhandari: And I wanna jump right in-

Dan Flomen: Absolutely.

Amit Bhandari: Because I think the entertainment district, first, I mean, we worked in the entertainment district the last years.

Dan Flomen: Yep.

Amit Bhandari: Starting in 2010, I believe, where we started working on the Mercer. And even before that, you ate and drank there all the time.

Dan Flomen: Of course.

Amit Bhandari: And the entertainment district has slowly, steadily become one of the most important pockets of downtown Toronto. Economically, for entertainment-

Dan Flomen: Everything.

Amit Bhandari: For the restaurant scene.

Dan Flomen: It has everything.

Amit Bhandari: Everything. And it’s going to become even more popular. And since then, we’ve seen a number of new developments come online. Bond, Mercer-

Dan Flomen: Yep.

Amit Bhandari: Cinema Tower-

Dan Flomen: Nobu.

Amit Bhandari: Nobu, recently, more recently. And then, even more recently, a few months ago, we had a number of brand new developments. 357 King, Central Condos, Theatre District, they all blew out incredibly quickly.

Empire Maverick Condos Exterior Rendering

Dan Flomen: Yep.

Amit Bhandari: And it just shows the level of demand that the investor crowd had for this area.

Dan Flomen: Absolutely. And end user crowd.

Amit Bhandari: Absolutely. And I’m gonna touch on that afterwards. I wanted to find out from your perspective, from Empire’s perspective.

Dan Flomen: Yep. Absolutely.

Amit Bhandari: Why this site? Why now?

Dan Flomen: Well, let’s be honest, you mentioned quite a few buildings. All great buildings, great places to have invested in. I believe our site is one of the best in all of the entertainment district. We bought what is basically called restaurant row.

Amit Bhandari: Right.

Dan Flomen: 321 to 333 King Street. It is directly across the street from the Toronto International Film Festival.

Empire Maverick Condos Rendering

Amit Bhandari: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Dan Flomen: You will never repeat this location. When the Film Festival is on, the celebrities will be walking directly in front of our building to get into the theaters. It is possibly the most sought after location in the entertainment district on King West.

Amit Bhandari: Right.

Dan Flomen: And, you know, when we had the opportunity of buying that site, we jumped at it.

Amit Bhandari: Yeah.

Dan Flomen: We got to know the owner of the property, we were able to do a deal, it was a very fair deal for everybody and it allowed us to be in an area that we desperately wanted to come into.

Amit Bhandari: And something you mentioned earlier about how the end users are living [inaudible 00:03:12], you were a 100% spot on. I was taking a look at the numbers within the neighborhood, the vacancy rates are-

Dan Flomen: Yes.

Amit Bhandari: virtually zero.

Dan Flomen: Almost nothing.

Amit Bhandari: Yeah. And that just goes to show that whenever there is something that becomes available from a rental perspective and to purchase, it gets snapped up really, really quickly.

Dan Flomen: Well, you got two things. You got a virtual zero vacancy rate and in an appreciating rental rate that you’re able to charge, which is great. You’re also attracting professionals whose incomes … because the buyers who are gonna live in this building are generally gonna work in the area and their incomes are generally higher, so you’re getting a better tenant as far as their FICO scores, as better as their incomes, as better employment letters and so, you’re able to attract a higher rental rate also, but to the end users, in this building in particular, we are gonna have very nice three bedroom and two bedroom layouts. Corner suites with three bedrooms, with two full bathrooms. So, if you are somebody who wants a place to live there permanently, we will also have units that will cater to your needs. Units over a thousand square feet, as opposed to just buildings that are made up by micro suites. We will have small suites, however, which are great if you wanna pay [inaudible 00:04:27] place to crash on the weekends or a place to just have in Toronto for when you wanna come down to the city and you wanna just have that night out on the town.

Dan Flomen: So, our building will cater to a wide range of buyers and both end users and investors.

Amit Bhandari: Amazing. So, I just wanna pause on Maverick because there’s a lot going on with that development. And I think the neighborhood as well, is like an extension of the building because of the amenities, the features and a person who wants to live there, wants to be able to do-

Dan Flomen: Well, I’m gonna stop you there because and say one of the things that we’ve positioned our building at is … the building has some amazing amenities, as many buildings do, but I’d like to say that Toronto really is the amenity.

Amit Bhandari: Right.

Dan Flomen: King West is the amenity, the fashion district is the amenity, the lifestyle is the amenity. You’re able to walk out of our building and eat at some of the best restaurants in Toronto without every having to get a car and if you do wanna get into a car, you get into your Uber, you drive five minutes away and you’re in everywhere else in the city. It’s just incredible.

Dan Flomen: So, you have everything from the night life, the theater district, you’ve got the restaurants, you’ve got just walking around downtown, high end shopping and even affordable shopping all within, as they say, a stone’s throw from the doorstep of this building.

Amit Bhandari: And, of course, you’re also a stone’s throw away from the financial district.

Dan Flomen: Well, of course. Yes. [crosstalk 00:05:47]

Amit Bhandari: The other thing I always tell the investor clients is, as any young city grows, they slowly start to expand outwards.

Dan Flomen: Always. Of course.

Amit Bhandari: And pretty soon, it’s gonna be very hard to distinguish where the entertainment district begins and where the financial district ends. It’s just gonna all become one large downtown [inaudible 00:06:08].

Amit Bhandari: One thing I also wanted to talk to you about was the … because we’ve been working in the entertainment district for so long … it wasn’t like it was today.

Dan Flomen: No.

Amit Bhandari: At all.

Dan Flomen: You had cd clubs when I was growing up and you had places when you were 19 and you went for a bucket of beer. It’s nothing like it is today. Today, it’s very much almost like a Yorkville light.

Amit Bhandari: Well, the composition has changed, right? Of the entertainment district. You know that, I think it’s very much a younger urban professional Yorkville.

Dan Flomen: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Amit Bhandari: And-

Dan Flomen: Getting the rents that are very close to Yorkville rents now.

Amit Bhandari: Absolutely too. And we’ve seen that change, but what I want to get your take on is we’re seeing a number of changes … unique changes … come to the neighborhood, with the pilot, and various other things. New restaurants and the new commercial activity, I wanted to get your take on where you see this neighborhood, where do you see it going into the future?

Dan Flomen: You have to attribute it to cities like … first of all, let’s talk more globally and say-

Amit Bhandari: Yeah, for sure.

Dan Flomen: You know, Toronto isn’t New York yet, it isn’t Chicago, it isn’t L.A., it isn’t London and it isn’t Paris. But, we’re creeping up in that direction. We’re becoming a world famous city. And like it or not, for those of us who grew up in Toronto, my whole life I’ve been here, Toronto is evolving into the city of destination. A place for travelers from around the world who want to go see.

Amit Bhandari: Yeah.

Dan Flomen: When that happens, areas like King Street get better and better. They also, unfortunately, get pricier and pricier.

Amit Bhandari: Right.

Dan Flomen: But, they do get better and better. You’re gonna see higher end restaurants coming into the area. You’re gonna see higher end retailers coming into the area. It’s an area that hasn’t peaked out of the top level yet.

Amit Bhandari: I agree.

Dan Flomen: But, we’re about 50% of the way there. A lot of the lesser desired business have all moved out from this area. A lot of the night clubs have moved out from the area, been replaced by beautiful night clubs.

Amit Bhandari: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Dan Flomen: Better restaurants. So, the quality has gone up and I guess what I would attribute it to is, like I said earlier, it’s almost a Yorkville light in that you’re getting those great restaurants, you’re paying maybe a little bit less than you are at Yorkville, but you’re getting that same Yorkville style, that experience. Both in living and in eating and in entertaining.

Amit Bhandari: And it’s only gonna get better and better.

Dan Flomen: Better and better. Better and better.

Amit Bhandari: Amazing. And I think a lot of that has to, like I mentioned before, because it’s so close to the financial [inaudible 00:08:37]. You know, the financial hub of Canada.

Dan Flomen: Toronto. Toronto and then, Canada.

Amit Bhandari: Yeah. So, I think-

Dan Flomen: Sorry to all my Montreal relatives.

Amit Bhandari: But, the ingredients up there for it to become a very much the next Yorkville, whatever Yorkville [crosstalk 00:08:52]

Dan Flomen: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Amit Bhandari: Is prime for that. Amazing. So, I wanna talk about Maverick. Because-

Dan Flomen: Yep.

Amit Bhandari: I saw some of the renderings-

Dan Flomen: I leaked them to the detriment of my own career because I got in a lot of trouble for leaking some of the renderings.

Amit Bhandari: Oh, did you? Well, the very latest one that you put out, it’s one of the best I’ve seen in any project.

Dan Flomen: Yeah.

Amit Bhandari: Completely.

Dan Flomen: Yeah.

Amit Bhandari: It’s a phenomenal-

Dan Flomen: That was the one I wasn’t supposed to leak, by the way.

Amit Bhandari: Alright. Phenomenal. Phenomenal rendering. What can you tell us about Maverick.

Dan Flomen: So, Maverick is a stand alone tower. It is 49 stories. It will have something very unique for the city. There’s only gonna be six of them, but the penthouses are actually two story penthouses.

Amit Bhandari: OK.

Dan Flomen: Very, very different. There’s only gonna be six of them. The floor plate itself is a very small plate, so it’s not like some of these large towers where you’ve got 20 people on a floor. I think, at the most we’re looking at, is eight units on a floor.

Amit Bhandari: OK.

Dan Flomen: Some with seven units on a floor, which is nice. It makes it a little bit more quaint. We’re gonna have retail on the ground floor, which is also amazing. And what happens is you’ll be met by a door man.

Amit Bhandari: I meant to ask you about this. This is really interesting.

Dan Flomen: So, the concept is that it’s a doorman/concierge type person on the main floor who can greet you New York style, Chicago style.

Amit Bhandari: So, there’s no Lobby on the ground floor?

Dan Flomen: There will be a very small lobby and the reason why we wanted to put something there is for some people who’s gonna be waiting for their Uber or their taxi or something like that, so it’s a place you can go down and meet that. But, it’s a very small area. The concept is is you come into the building and then, you go up the the fourth or fifth floor. And I refer it to two floors because we’ve got facilities on the fourth and fifth floor and the main concierge area, the main social architect area is on that fifth floor.

Amit Bhandari: Which I want you to talk about as well. But, this whole concept you just spoke about-

Dan Flomen: Yes.

Amit Bhandari: You mentioned that it’s very New Yorkesque. That you tend to see this in sort of the triple A [crosstalk 00:10:49]

Dan Flomen: You know, whether it’s the Mandarin Hotel or the Baccarat Hotel, the lobby’s really tend to not be on the ground floor. You tend to go up to a sky lobby.

Amit Bhandari: OK.

Dan Flomen: So, we’ve done a very similar thing here. However, the difference is is this building has what we are coining the social architect.

Amit Bhandari: OK. This is so cool.

Dan Flomen: And it’s a little bit different. So, the social architect’s position in the building is to curate. [inaudible 00:11:14] there to create events for the residents of the building that aren’t necessarily gonna be in the building. The building will have great facilities, great entertainment, ideas within the building, but our goal is to play off the fact that Toronto is really the amenity. King West is the amenity. Downtown is the amenity. And so, we are going to be dealing with this social architect, who may take over a restaurant for the night and invite all the residents to come to that restaurant.

Amit Bhandari: Right.

Dan Flomen: Or they may do something at the AGO, so you could get first time viewings of some great new art exhibits.

Amit Bhandari: So basically, there’s one individual that has been assigned, the social architect, where a resident or a tenant or somebody who lives in the building can sort of call and say, “This is what I wanna do.” And they sort of-

Dan Flomen: Well, that was one of the extras that we were looking at doing. The concept is is the social architect has to be proactive and create the events for the residents.

Amit Bhandari: It’s amazing.

Dan Flomen: Think of it like the Bellagio concierge when you go to Las Vegas.

Amit Bhandari: OK.

Dan Flomen: We want somebody who’s gonna curate events for the owners. But, however, the building itself will have an amazing gym, it’ll have a great WeWork style area. WeWork is really a specific thing, but an area where you can go down and do business. You can bring your laptop down.

Amit Bhandari: So, it’s like a share workspace?

Dan Flomen: A share workspace.

Amit Bhandari: OK.

Dan Flomen: We’re also gonna have something very unique in this building. I’m gonna call it a beauty bar, for lack of a better word, and this is an area where, if you’re going out and you wanna invite your friends to come over and you’re gonna bring in your own hairstylist … as you can see, I don’t need one, but let’s say you bring in your own hairstylist to come in and do the group before you go out-

Amit Bhandari: Wow.

Dan Flomen: And remember, going out here means just walking out your front door to go the restaurant. It’s not about getting in a cab and driving 20 minutes. Or for maybe you and me, we bring in somebody to do a straight razor shave or something like that. So, we’re gonna have an area dedicated that you can reserve it and have it as your private getting ready before going out section, which I don’t think has been done before.

Amit Bhandari: A lot of these things that you don’t really tend to see often and I think they’re such a huge selling point for an investor who wants to rent the suite out to-

Dan Flomen: Oh, absolutely.

Amit Bhandari: And they’d be prepared to pay a premium.

Dan Flomen: Oh, for sure.

Amit Bhandari: I mean, number one, you’re right in the heart of the entertainment district, you’re right across the street from TIFF-

Dan Flomen: And people have to understand, when I say we’re right across the street, I don’t mean we’re down. I mean, when you look out your windows facing north, you are looking onto TIFF.

Amit Bhandari: Exactly. You could potentially see all the stars coming [crosstalk 00:13:52]

Dan Flomen: Well, we have this outdoor area and it’s gonna be done almost like a NanaWall System, so we’ll be able to have outdoor/indoor space in the summer, opening it all up, and you go outside and you’ll be able to look down onto the Toronto International Film Festival.

Amit Bhandari: That’s incredible.

Dan Flomen: Especially when they close King Street to any driving, you’ll be able to-

Amit Bhandari: Yeah, they block it off, don’t they?

Dan Flomen: You’ll be blocking it off.

Amit Bhandari: Wonderful. So, I wanted to speak more about … you mentioned a couple of the larger suites that you will have that will cater more towards the end user. What else can you tell us about the general suite mix? You mentioned eight units per floor [crosstalk 00:14:26]

Dan Flomen: So, the majority of the building is still gonna be one bedroom of suites. We don’t have any bachelors. They’re true, proper one bedroom suites that’ll run anywhere from about 450 odd square feet to about just under 600 square feet.

Amit Bhandari: Got it.

Dan Flomen: Then, we’ve got two bedrooms that will be just over 700 square feet to just over 850 square feet and then, we’ve got three bedroom suites that will start around the 1100 square foot mark. One of the key components with the three bedroom suites, though, I will tell you, is they will include a parking spot.

Amit Bhandari: OH.

Dan Flomen: As you know, there’s many buildings downtown where parking isn’t even an option.

Amit Bhandari: No, it’s not.

Dan Flomen: But, the three bedroom suites, we are including one parking spot with every suite.

Amit Bhandari: Wonderful. Excellent. I think that’s perfect for an end user or small family and what not. Amazing. So, there is one final thing regarding Maverick that I wanted to ask you. Is there anything that I missed that you wanted to-

Dan Flomen: So, I’ll tell you the one thing you missed. Because you haven’t seen any of the floor plans.

Amit Bhandari: OK.

Dan Flomen: For the one bedroom unit, four of them are corner one bedroom units.

Amit Bhandari: Oh. Interesting.

Dan Flomen: Yeah. So, when we have our plates … so it’s very rare to find a one bedroom corner. So, the northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest corners of our typical floor plates that run up to the 25th floor are one bedroom suites.

Amit Bhandari: Amazing. Well, we’re really excited about Maverick. I saw the rendering this morning, like I said earlier, and now this is it. This is phenomenal, this is incredible. If any of our investors or end users are interested in buying at this development, what would you suggest they do?

Dan Flomen: OK, so the easy question is to speak to you first.

Amit Bhandari: OK.

Dan Flomen: Listen, you’re one of our top brokers, you will be given units to sell, you will be given advance allocation of suites, so if anybody’s watching that is interested in buying, I strongly advise them to call you and then, you and I will work together to find the right units that works for them, whether it’s an investment or for them to live in or a combination of both, an investment now until such time that they’re gonna wanna move to downtown. And we’ll put your clients into the suite that best works for their needs.

Amit Bhandari: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Dan. We appreciate it.

Dan Flomen: My pleasure. Thank you very much. Really appreciate it.