roy bhandari interviewing riz dhanji for king toronto condos

KING Toronto – The Most Spectacular Building in Toronto (Interview with Riz Dhanji)

KING Toronto Condos – Interview with Riz Dhanji

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KING Toronto Condos – The Most Spectacular Condo in Toronto: Transcript

Roy Bhandari: Hi everybody, my name is Roy Bhandari with, and today we are at the amazing Entertainment One building by Allied at the corner of Richmond and Peter to explore the amazing Exploring King exhibition that’s on for this week only. And we’re joined by Riz Dhanji, the President of RAD Marketing; Riz, thank you so much for takin’ some time out of your schedule-

Riz Dhanji: Roy, thank you for having me here today.

Roy Bhandari: So we’ve got a lot to talk about; we obviously wanna talk about KING Toronto, which in our opinion is one of the best condominiums that we’ve ever been able to sell in Toronto-

Riz Dhanji: I think, correction, it’s the best.

Roy Bhandari: The best. Well you know, it speaks volumes … Me and my brother picked up a unit here as an investment; I think that speaks just volumes in terms of how much we believe in the product, so I do-

Riz Dhanji: By the way, I’ve been in real estate for 20 plus years, and I bought a unit in this building. That’s how I believe this is gonna transform the whole city of Toronto. So we’re gonna be neighbors.

Roy Bhandari: Amazing, so what we’re gonna do is spend the next 20 minutes, 25 minutes chattin’ about why we think that’s the case. So let’s start by talking about probably the most striking thing about this building is the architecture. Anybody who’s been following KING Toronto knows that the architecture is really what sets this apart from the other buildings in Toronto, and you can’t talk about the architecture here without talking about Bjarke Ingles. So why don’t we give a brief introduction to those who don’t know who Bjarke Ingles is, give an overview of Bjarke Ingles.

Riz Dhanji: Yeah, Bjarke Ingles is one of the world’s, if not the world’s most proficient architects today. He just got on Time magazine as the number one architect in the world. He has three HP … Netflix shows about him and his architecture. He’s featured around the world; he’s doing some iconic buildings like number two World Trade Center in New York. He’s actually rebuilding the entire perimeter of Manhattan where they have the high line currently, and he’s doing something called a low line. It’s a multi-billion dollar phase, and the city of New York actually picked him to create this. So as to city building, I don’t think there’s a more influential architect in the world today than Bjarke Ingles-

Roy Bhandari: So I wanna just jump in, sorry, ’cause we’ve been very fortunate through your team and through Westbank, and we’ve been able to see Bjarke Ingles work up close, and it’s been amazing because it’s easy to rhyme off his CV because nobody’s got a better CV right now. He’s doing the Google headquarters in London and in Cupertino, he’s doing two World Trade Center, he’s doing work for NASA on Mars, his CV speaks for itself, but what really struck us as unique from him verses all the other architects that we work with, and we see other architects up close and personal as well, is how he sort of brings in the community and the lifestyle element of everything he does. It’s not just about the shape of the building and that; it’s how it all comes together.

Roy Bhandari: And I’ve never seen that attention to detail from any other architect, and it’s no wonder that he’s become … He’s leap-front a lot of the other architects, the world-class architects, and he’s a young guy for the architecture field, and he really has become Bjarke and big, his work speaks for itself. Netflix, the shows that he’s done are amazing, so I can’t speak highly enough of him; I’ve really enjoyed our chance to get to see his work up close and personal.

Riz Dhanji: Yeah, I think what Bjarke brings to the table that no other architect in the world is like you said, he integrates every aspect of development, not just building a nice building, but integrating the retail which is a huge component of KING Toronto. Integrating the commercial aspect of the building which is another big component of it, and that courtyard and the lifestyle that surrounds this building. I don’t think that there’s an architect in the world that really thinks through every detail on that, and that’s why he’s one of the very few architects that not only does the exterior of a building … ‘Cause most architects do the exterior and then they leave … He’s involved in every single aspect of the interior of the building, so all the interior design is done by Bjarke’s team.

Riz Dhanji: They pick every single thing from the handle to the common corridors, to the design of every detail; it’s really about Westbank’s all-inclusive work of integrated design. Where the exterior, the interior, are all encompassing from the furniture selection to the light bulbs that you see; it’s all incorporated. And that you don’t see with many architects, and Bjarke does that. And we’re really happy to have him as part of Toronto.

Roy Bhandari: I was gonna say that having Bjarke Ingles’ building as a residential option in Toronto is, it’s such a rare opportunity, and we’re really excited about that. So Bjarke’s obviously a very important piece of KING Toronto, but what’s also very unique about this project is the location as well. It’s not the only building in King West, but this very … There’s a lot of elements here that really help stand this building above the others. I know this parcel of land took a decade to assemble so why don’t you talk to us a little bit about the land first before we start diving into the location a little bit.

Riz Dhanji: I think between … Allied took close to 10 years to accumulate 600 feet of frontage on King Street-

Roy Bhandari: Which will never happen again. This is-

Riz Dhanji: Which yeah, I think to try and get that many land owners to accumulate that piece of land is virtually impossible in the downtown … Or I’m sure you can get in the suburbs, but it won’t happen in downtown. And what that’s done is, it’s allowed them to play with architectural design like no other project. Most buildings of this scale would be point towers, tall buildings, very high, with no real character to it, and what they’ve been able to do is create these mountain-like topography with this landscaping that’s unlike anything else that we’ve seen around the world, let alone Toronto. And then incorporate close to 200,000 square feet of retail which is gonna be second to none based on what you’ve seen with Allied and what they’ve done, and obviously what Westbank has done around the world. I think you’ve got this full integration of not only location, but sort of this lifestyle of dining, and shopping, and lifestyle living all together in one which I don’t think we’ll see again in Toronto on this kind of scale.

Roy Bhandari: I’m really glad you brought up the lifestyle ’cause that was one of the things that for me is really important I’m at this location. One of my clients actually said it to me, they said, “This location passes” what he calls the “8:00 p.m. test”. There’s a lot of great locations in Toronto, but when you walk out your door at 8:00 p.m. there’s so much life in this area. And it comes from that retail element, and it comes from some of the best restaurants in Toronto. It comes from just this vibe that you don’t have in other places of Toronto; and I believe that this building is in the exact place it needs to be in Toronto to lend to that lifestyle piece of the puzzle.

Riz Dhanji: I think what other people don’t understand is that King West now is becoming the number one location in the world for [Tac 00:07:15] companies to be here, and so you’re seeing companies like Shopify who’ve taken over 200,000 square feet up to 400,000 square feet at The Well which is just right behind the project. They’ve already taken another 100,000 square feet; Indigo’s new corporate offices are opening up here. Some of the major tech companies around the world are all coming into King West. Why do they come to King West? Because people want that lifestyle, they wanna be able to work, play at the same area, and they also wanna be part of amazing architecture and amazing design. So like you said after 8:00 p.m. you wanna go to a great restaurant, it’s all at King Toronto, everything’s gonna be there. They’re curating all the retail here; it’s not like you’re gonna get a big box store that you will see in typical projects or a mom and pop shop.

Riz Dhanji: You know Allied’s known … They own a majority of King West; they put in restaurants like Buca, like [Bersi 00:08:13], some of the top restaurants that you see, Jacob and Co., are in here. Those are the type of retail that you can expect in the restaurants, that you can expect. They also wanna bring some of that retail that’s coming from Yorkville down to King Street, because what they’re seeing is that a lot of people are doing their shopping on King, and it doesn’t have that vibe. Because of that heritage component and the retail component in here, they’re able to be able to offer that. And so I think the next transition that you’re gonna see in the next five to eight years is King becoming the new destination for dining, for shopping, right? And this is where people will wanna live, and so that’s really gonna be an important element.

Roy Bhandari: You mentioned Yorkville, and what we’re tending to see now, and what we’re seeing in real time right now is that Yorkville is seen as this sort of traditional luxury whereas King West this pocket of King West, is sort of seen as the young professional luxury. Like the younger crowd who have these high-paying tech jobs at the Shopify’s and maybe working down at The Well, they wanna live in this pocket of Toronto. It’s got all the, like we talked about the lifestyle and so much more, I think that’s really, really important to-

Riz Dhanji: I think if I would give an example it’s similar to you being in New York, right, you know people who go on Fifth Avenue, it’s really your traditional kind of luxury shopping that’s there, but most people are actually going to SoHo to do their shopping ’cause there’s amazing restaurants, boutiques, and stuff like that, all the best hotels, boutique hotels are there. And that’s where I see KING Toronto fitting in; it’s gonna be that next destination where people wanna live, work, and play, and I think that in the next five years you’re gonna see that.

Roy Bhandari: Awesome. I wanna talk a little bit about Westbank, obviously Westbank are the developers of KING Toronto, and Westbank are one of the biggest developers in the world. Their most recent work in Toronto, completed work in Toronto is the Shangri-La Hotel, one of the best addresses in the city, and if anybody wants to get a sense and touch of feel of the kind of quality that Westbank can bring to the table; I encourage everybody to go check out the Shangri-La Hotel. It’s another address that’s close to my heart; I lived there for a few years. It was-

Riz Dhanji: I sold it so-

Roy Bhandari: You sold it. It’s a great building but … Being in that environment I often said to anybody who asked me, “Why do you love living here?”, I always said that, “The unsung hero of this building is the lobby, the lobby experience”. And the reason I bring up the lobby experience, and if you haven’t seen it, you go at any time of the day, there’s always amazing live music. They’ve got the Fazioli piano right in there that they’re always playing; there’s always an amazing vibe, there’s always great people in there, and it’s really tough to explain without experiencing it. And the reason I bring that up is because, and you already touched on the retail at KING Toronto, but the aim is to recreate this, not just recreate this, but amplify this, make it … Not just match this, but make it better than the experience of the Shangri-La Hotel lobby and bring it over to KING Toronto. And you mentioned 200,000 square feet of retail, like that’s enormous-

Riz Dhanji: Well, one thing that’s important is to see about Shangri-La is if you pick up Toronto Life magazine today, Momofuku is a restaurant that is [crosstalk 00:11:30] by David Chang, David Chang would never of thought of Toronto, coming here, I can assure you. He’s got some of the top restaurants around the world; the only reason he’s coming here is because of Westbank. Toronto Life just rated it as the number one restaurant in all of Toronto. It goes to show that there’s some incredible restaurants in Toronto to be named number one is a huge feat in Toronto itself, and the fact that Westbank brought it in, it goes to show what they bring to the table. The lifestyle in the Shangri-La like you said, I know I’ve gone to other hotels in the city, there’s nothing like it, it’s a vibe, and the reason is, is because Westbank owns, they do not sell it. So they always-

Roy Bhandari: Pause, I wanna explain what-

Riz Dhanji: Sure-

Roy Bhandari: So in a typical condominium though, just to help put some context on this piece, ’cause if you just write this on a brochure, it gets glossed over very quickly, but this is such an important piece of why the Shangri-La Hotel lobby is best in class, and why we believe KING Toronto retail experience is gonna be best in class. And it’s a typical condo developer, the retail level they just lease it, sell the space, and they sell to the highest bidder-

Riz Dhanji: Correct.

Roy Bhandari: They have no long-term hold on the retail space. The difference here is that Westbank are gonna maintain ownership of the entire retail, which means they are invested in this condominium, from day one along with all the purchases-

Riz Dhanji: Exactly.

Roy Bhandari: Now what that means in the real world is that instead you’re not gonna get your Burger King’s and A & W’s of the world taking up retail space in the … And nothin’ against those companies but, you’re not gonna get those kinds of brands in the retail. You’re gonna get Momofuku-level restaurants, you’re gonna get Buca-level restaurants, these kinds of things are what we’re gonna expect in the retail experience. And that’s because Westbank are maintaining ownership, and they’re maintaining investment in this building. So I wanted to say that and highlight that-

Riz Dhanji: Yeah, no I think it’s an important element, and I just wanna add Allied with Westbank [crosstalk 00:13:33]. I think you’ve got one of the largest retailers, one of the biggest retailer and owner of land in all of King West, which is Allied. They own more buildings than anybody in King West; they put in all the top restaurants, all the top retail, they own that. Then you’ve got Westbank who got precedence of some of the best retail in the world from Vancouver, to Toronto, to Seattle, to Japan. And so you’ve got a developer that has a vested interest to ensure that the retail is up to a level that’s never been seen before in Toronto, and you don’t see that in many developers in and around the world today. And so I think that that’s gonna maintain … And you know I think you and I have talked about this, but retail actually elevates your resale values in a condo building, right?

Riz Dhanji: There’s something called the Starbuck’s Effect, when you put a Starbucks in you know it raises the prices, but when you have amazing retail people wanna live there just because of that retail, and I think that you’re gonna see values continually increase in this building as the retail starts to go in, and people say, “Wow, like I have to live in King because I can go downstairs and get the best restaurant in Toronto, is right downstairs”.

Roy Bhandari: It’s funny because this building, for me the retail, the ground-level is one of the most exciting things about this building. You look at the attention to detail of the entire courtyard, and when will you hear Bjarke Ingles talk about this project, one of the things that was very important about it, he uses the word “permeability”. It was the permeability of the site, being able to walk from the North through the courtyard through to the South where you’re gonna have the park, and it’s getting that courtyard experience and looking at the renderings and seeing just this incredible scale of what they’re gonna build there. And then you add the lifestyle element on top of it with the restaurants, and the shops, and the coffee bars, and the bars, and all this stuff starts to come together, and I really believe that this stretch, this 600 frontage of interior space is gonna be incredible-

Riz Dhanji: One thing before I forget to tell, is an important element of King, unlike Westbank does in every single project, is their art component, and if you look at the Shangri-La, you know they hired one of the world’s best artists, John[Wan 00:15:41], to do the rising outside of there. If you go to Vancouver, you’ll see elements of their art pieces from some of the best in the world that are a part of it; it’s a huge element of what Westbank does. There a wholistic company that looks at it all, and I think that art element in itself is gonna be so expensive that people will just come to King just to see the art, and how it’s programmed as part of the courtyard. I think there’s so many elements of this project that people just don’t understand that, how it’s really gonna transform this part of Toronto.

Roy Bhandari: I think one of the things that you often see with not just this building but with Westbank and Bjarke is that, they often go above and beyond. And I mean you and I see the art pieces that most developers will install outside of a condominium building, and then you contrast that to the rising, and you very quickly see which one … There’s such an important element, and it’s a huge, I think it goes about four-stories tall; it’s a stunning art piece that people come around the world, take pictures of, and it’s a really important piece. And I’m glad you brought up the art angle, and I wanna tell one story, and it was ’cause of one of my clients that invested here was actually an architect, and he said this line to me and it’s always stuck with me.

Roy Bhandari: He’s an architect and he said … Bjarke Ingles is almost like an artist in the way he designs buildings … And he said, “This building is just as much about who it is, as what it is”, and what he said to me was, you and I, we could sit down and draw the exact same painting that Picasso could draw, when I draw it, it’s worth pennies, but Picasso draws it, it’s worth millions. The team behind this is so incredible, and that’s really, really an important piece of the puzzle here. You’re getting one of one; this is not one of ten, not one of twenty; this building is one of one, and that’s why I think it’s again such a unique building.

Riz Dhanji: I agree with that.

Roy Bhandari: I do wanna talk about the building right now. So we’ve talked about the retail, the amazing retail that’s gonna be coming in, there’s gonna be a commercial aspect here as well, you’re gonna see some amazing office space within this building as well. I wanna talk about the building itself; we talked about Bjarke, the architect. A couple of things that stood out to me are a typical building in Toronto is a square, you get four corners, and this building they took the building, and then they rotated it 45 degrees and you get all these, they call them pixels, but you get a situation where every single unit now has a corner feature.

Roy Bhandari: And if you know condominiums, and you know real estate, you know that those corners are at a premium. So just by doing this unique twist on the building, we’ve created hundreds of corners within the suite so now your living room has a corner, your bedroom has a corner, your dining room has a corner; so that’s one thing that really stood out to me. But go ahead, talk to us about [crosstalk 00:18:32] of the building and some of the things that you love.

Riz Dhanji: I think what Bjarke’s done is like you said, he’s created … He’s taken Habitat 67 which was the most important architecture by Moshe Shafdie in Montreal, done in 1967. And he’s looked at this building and said you know how important it is, but it’s sitting on an island outside of everything; there’s no lifestyle like you said to it. And he took elements of that, and he looked at the Maison de Verre in Paris where it’s this glass block building, and he integrated both. And said, “How do we create this pixelated building and be able to give people as much outdoor space as possible?”, as much glazing as possible and have this glass, and this glass block continue to bring light into your unit. We’re used to building’s that are more square, rectangular, you know 20 to 30 stories, brick, not a lot of window that goes up, and it’s really, it’s soul-less.

Riz Dhanji: So what he’s done is he’s taken this element of that block, and like you said created these corners in these large outdoor areas, and allowed light to permeate as much as possible. And so you’ve got this different experience where every single floor plan is completely different. There’s 400 and something units in this building, and there’s 390 different floor plans because it gives that individualization for each of the unit holders. And so I think that that element in itself is so different from everything that we’ve seen, it makes for unique living areas and light that people haven’t seen before. And I think that that in itself is why it’s gonna be so unique than everything else.

Roy Bhandari: At the exhibit, and we’re gonna get a video of this, there’s I think a dozen or so 20 different variations of what this building looked like at the beginning which is your typical block, and then you see it evolve, evolve, evolve, evolve, evolve, evolve into what we got, and again when you look at the mountains and how the building lifts and peaks up and down in certain areas, that’s done with a very keen eye and comes with allowing maximum light into the buildings in different areas. And again, it just highlights the attention to detail from the architects in this case of why these decisions take place-

Riz Dhanji: And the other element, this huge element of what Bjarke does is sustainability, and if you look at the building itself and you look at the building model and the renderings, there’s 200 different species of plants that are on there which you can see up here on the building. Then you have this vining system that’s gonna go up the entire building, that’s gonna be this green look to it. Nobody in Toronto does that; this is like really the first, truly sustainable building in all of Toronto to encompass a green aspect of it. And I’m sure we’re gonna see buildings come out there, but this is really gonna take it to that next level where we’re really excited about what that’s gonna bring to the table.

Roy Bhandari: On the landscaping, I have no green thumb so I don’t understand all of it, but one of the things that really stood out to me on the landscaping was they talked about this building as mountains. And the landscaping on the various level of the building are supposed to mimic how landscaping would be on a real-life mountain. Not only that, but if you wanna talk about attention to detail, in each unique part will be a different species of greenery based on how much sunlight it’s expected to get. Like this is … This level of detail has just never been seen before-

Riz Dhanji: And then you can understand-

Roy Bhandari: If they pay that much attention to the plant [pop 00:22:13], just imagine how much-

Riz Dhanji: And I think when you go through the exhibit you’ll see elements of the curtain wall system, it’s never been done before. And how they’re gonna put three different element parts of glass block onto it, and how each one is put together. It’s something that Toronto has never experienced before, and that’s why I’m so excited for this project to come here and really transform, and bring that next level of design and architecture that Toronto’s looking for. And this is where it’s gonna be; it’s gonna be, “I’m coming to Toronto to see the CN Tower, and I’m also coming to see KING Toronto because that’s how exciting it is”. Very similar to what Vancouver House that Westbank has done in Vancouver with Bjarke Ingles is the most talked about building today in the world. It’s Instagram more than any other building in the world today, it’s one-

Roy Bhandari: And it’s a condo building-

Riz Dhanji: And it’s a condo building, right, no one really does that and so there’s amazing buildings around the world, but to see that is really I think what’s gonna happen to Toronto with KING Toronto.

Roy Bhandari: Amazing. I’m gonna try and succinctly wrap up everything we talked about, like I said, we truly believe KING Toronto to be one of the best buildings in Toronto. You said, “Is the best”; we’ve put our money where our mouth is, myself and my brother, we’ve invested in this building. We talked about Bjarke Ingles, probably the number one architect in the world; we’ve talked about the location and the lifestyle elements attached to the location. We’ve talked about Westbank, one of the biggest developers on the planet today, and their experience in bringing lifestyle and elevating lifestyle within their buildings. We talked about the building itself, and 200,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, and coffee shops, and fashion shops. We talked about the office component; we talked about this world-class design that will never be seen again in Toronto. Is there anything I missed that you think we should’ve been talkin’ about-

Riz Dhanji: The only thing is I think people need to come to the King exhibit, you know Exploring King. It’s open from 11 to 6 at 134 Peter Street from tomorrow, 11 to 6 p.m., meet with you guys and really get a handle of why this is gonna be transformative for Toronto, and really a unique piece of architect. The only one thing I would recommend is the first three mountains in this building are sold out virtually. So the West Mountain is gonna be launching this spring, and I highly recommend you know to get the best availability ’cause there’s not that many units to contact you, because this building will sell out very quickly given the excitement for this project and the severe demand that we have for it. So we’re excited for it, we think there’s gonna be some big announcements very shortly, so we’re excited for it, and we’re looking forward to servicing your clients and the coming through.

Roy Bhandari: Amazing. You already mentioned it, but I have to ask you again, if our clients want the best units, get VIP access to the West Mountain, what do they have to do?

Riz Dhanji: They have to contact you, number one. They need to come see either the exhibit or take a look at a sale’s office, and get in early at the best pricing ’cause pricing is gonna go up.

Roy Bhandari: Excellent, thank you so much.

Riz Dhanji: Thanks so much.

Roy Bhandari: I really appreciate it.

Riz Dhanji: I appreciate-