- Roy Bhandari (Broker of Record, SAGE – TalkCondo) interviews Eric Kuzuian (President, PSR Brokerage and Sales Manager at The One Condos) ahead of the launch for The One Condos, Launching on October 16th
- Discussion on the importance of this location at the South West Corner of Yonge & Bloor, arguably the most important intersection in Toronto, and all of Canada
- A deep dive into Mizrahi’s vision for The One Condos and incomparable attention to detail
- Roy and Eric discuss how Mizrahi bought on perhaps the greatest architect in the World, Foster + Partners to design The One
- The attention to detail at the ground level where this 85 storey tower meets the ground, with space dedicated to public events at Toronto’s most important intersection
- The services on offer that will elevate The One to become the pinnacle of condo living in Toronto
- The world class amenities including a year round rooftop space for the residents to enjoy
- A discussion on the world class residential suites that will include high end finishes that Mizrahi are known for
- How you will be able to purchase at The One Condos with VIP Access with TalkCondo
The One Condos
Roy Bhandari: Hello everybody, this is Roy Bhandari with talkcondo.com and today we’re here to talk about a very, very, very special project with Eric Kuzuian, the president of PSR Brokerage, and that project is the one which is located at the South West corner of Yonge and Bloor. Before we go on, first of all I want to say how honoured myself and my brother are to be involved in this project. It’s a very, very special project on so many levels. It’s a once in a lifetime kind of project, so we’re so excited to be involved in this. We want to thank you for involving our team.
Eric Kuzuian: It’s a pleasure to have you guys.
Roy Bhandari: So, the One.
Eric Kuzuian: The One.
Roy Bhandari: The One. First of all, quick agenda, there’s so much to talk about on this project, so we want to get to know you a little bit and your involvement in this site and how involved you are in this project. When you talk about this site, you have to talk about the location first, we have to talk about the developer, the architect and then the project itself. There’s so many facets of The One that make it special.
Eric Kuzuian: I’m happy to get through it all with you, Roy.
Roy Bhandari: Awesome, so let’s go. Talk to us a little bit about yourself. I know you’ve been involved in The One since the very beginning of this site. Talk us through that little bit.
Eric Kuzuian: One of our top agents in the office, actually a partner in our DuPont location, was the one who … We knew everybody wanted this site. We knew that the Stollerys site, which it was before it got demolished when it was purchased, everybody wanted it. There seemed to be a number that nobody was willing to pay and we were fortunate enough to put Mizrahi Developments inline with the owner at the time and they struck a deal. We were excited to know that the right developer got the site.
Roy Bhandari: For sure. We heard an interesting stat the other day, and somebody told me that this is the first time in 114 years, I think it was 114 years, that this piece of land has traded hands, and again it speaks to the quality of the site.
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, correct. It was owned by the city, and then from the city it was handed down to the owners of the Stollerys site, and then for 114 years they owned it. Now it’s with Mizrahi Developments.
Roy Bhandari: Excellent, so you were involved in the beginning.
Eric Kuzuian: Right.
Roy Bhandari: Now you’re involved in the marking of the project. Again, what’s your level of involvement with The One at this point?
Eric Kuzuian: We are doing the sales and marketing with The One sales team. That’s basically what we are going to be doing and we’ve been involved with the project, we’ve known the project for quite a while and we were brought on recently, officially, to get it to market.
Roy Bhandari: Awesome. This is one of those sites in the city, it’s such an important site in the city when you talk about location, this is the center of Toronto. It’s the most important intersection in Toronto, I’d argue in Canada. It’s such an important piece of the puzzle because of the two subway lines. As soon as the site was purchased, it’s been the most talked about project in Toronto.
Eric Kuzuian: Correct.
Roy Bhandari: I want to talk about the location. You guys have obviously been involved, so I’d like to hear it from your side.
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, I think you were pretty dead on. This is definitely considered the nexus in possibly the country in terms of the intersection of most importance. You have half a million ridership that goes through that intersection per day.
Roy Bhandari: It’s important to put context on that because people often think about Union Station as the hub, but you said five hundred thousand people go through-
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, and Union Station is at like 180 thousand a day. It’s like more than double that goes through Yonge and Bloor per day, and that’s the importance of that intersection to the city. When you have the most important intersection in the city, then of course the southwest corner usually becomes the most desired location. When we say we’re happy the right developer got it, it’s because you want to make sure that, and Mizrahi, Sam Mizrahi, knew right from the beginning that when he purchased the site, that it had to be something, a future landmark and iconic.
Roy Bhandari: Yeah, we had dinner with Sam a couple nights ago and I think the first thing that really struck me was he understood the importance of the site and almost the way to the site and he’s delivered on almost every single aspect of the project, which we’ll talk about, but that really struck me a couple nights ago.
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, and in terms of location we talked about the ridership at Yonge and Bloor, but the other important factor with Yonge and Bloor is its proximity to the highest end of retail on Bloor Street, of course a short walk to the number one university in the country, which is the UofT Toronto Campus, and like I’ve said this building offering direct subway access.
Roy Bhandari: When you talk about location at Yorkville, there’s a laundry list of things that you could pull off, the best restaurants, the best shopping. It’s the street that people fly in from all over the world and they have to go see Bloor Street. There’s a reason Yorkville is Yorkville. There’s so much to talk about the neighbourhood, but I do want to spend more time talking about the builder, architect and building. Let’s talk a little bit about Mizrahi, and again, based on everything I’ve seen it’s become this perfect marriage of what this location needed. I feel like it needed Mizrahi because of the attention to detail that it’s gotten.
Eric Kuzuian: Correct.
Roy Bhandari: We were lucky enough to go through a Mizrahi building on Davenport and …
Eric Kuzuian: What did you think?
Roy Bhandari: It was incredible. There’s code, these guys don’t build, they build five, six, seven times what code requires. They were showing me the parking structure and they were so proud of how far beyond code they did in the parking structure. It’s such an afterthought for virtually every other building. They do what they’ve got to do and move on.
Eric Kuzuian: About 25 years ago Mizrahi started with high-end custom homes and he’s never changed his vision of delivering that type of quality, regardless of what he’s developing. It was very refreshing to see and very important when he grabbed the book ends of Hazelton and Davenport and he put out this really exquisite attention to detail, high-end product that was so well absorbed in the city, so needed in the city. Once you actually walk through it, and us have seen thousands and thousands of condos in our careers, to notice those small, perfect details is what really stands out and when you really understand the difference of development.
Roy Bhandari: And he’s brought a lot of that to this project. This project is those projects at scale.
Eric Kuzuian: Correct, exactly. He’s taken what most people would do only on a boutique building and he’s found a way to scale it, throw in some amazing technology and some understanding of how the building should live six years from now and come up with this amazing, call it potion, that delivers on all those aspects.
Roy Bhandari: One of the big pieces of the puzzle here for me is Norman Foster.
Eric Kuzuian: Lord Norman Foster.
Roy Bhandari: I’m obviously biased. For me, being from England, to me he’s the number one architect on the planet. What they could have done, they could have gone to a local Canadian architect and put something up, but they didn’t do that. They went out and they found the best architect in the world to do this building. You look at his CV, every building that he’s designed defines that city. You look at the Gherkin or the Pickle in London. You see that building, you know it’s London. Hearst Tower in New York, you see that building, it’s New York. Apple, they could have hired any architect on the planet to build their five billion dollar headquarters in Cupertino, and who did they pick? They picked Norman Foster, and there’s a reason for that. For me, that’s such an important part of this building.
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, it’s a huge part of the building. Exactly like you said, Foster & Partners, they don’t just call themselves an architectural firm, they called themselves a think tank. The reason they call themselves a think tank is because they literally think of every aspect of how that building is going to survive and pioneer a new movement and become a future landmark and define the city. When you understand the importance of this corner and when you have the vision and the concept to create an iconic legacy, you go out and you hire Foster & Partners. It’s exciting to know that their first residential building will be on this site.
Roy Bhandari: The word iconic and this sort of stuff gets thrown around way too loosely in our market I think, but I really think there’s something special here. One of the things I have to mention is that often times people think of size as iconic, but you look at the Pickle in England, it’s not the biggest building, but it’s the special one. It is very special in London, so it’s more than that, but here you get to marry size and epicness and all the rest of it, it comes together so well.
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, and it’s not just the size, you’re right, it’s the design of the building. It’s this hybrid exoskeleton design that Foster & Partners have pretty much perfected, which brings an amazing feature to the way the building’s going to look, quite different than anything else in the city. It also strengthens the building up to six times more stronger than a typical tower that is built in any other city. It’s definitely not just size, and then-
Roy Bhandari: It’s form and function, right?
Eric Kuzuian: Form and function, and then also the thought of how it’s going to meet the street and how it’s going to dwell with the public spaces and how the people in that intersection are going to feel emotionally when they walk up to the building, that has all been thought of by Foster & Partners, and when you see the designs, which you have and your audience will see, there’s no exception.
Roy Bhandari: You talked about how the building meets the ground and people live on the streets, so how the building meets the street is so important. When we got a chance to sit down and chat with them, they were so proud of what they achieved at the ground level. You’ve got this 35 foot opening where the sidewalks have been extended-
Eric Kuzuian: Correct, the building’s been pulled back, which has really-
Roy Bhandari: Cost them money.
Eric Kuzuian: Correct, which is really rare that a developer would do, right? Just to make sure that that corner promenade is 30 feet wide to mimic some of the best in Fifth Avenue and other international cities. I’ll never forget the story, Roy, when Sam told me he’s thinking Foster & Partners, two days later Jamie, myself and Sam and Jordan went to New York to look at a Foster & Partners building, their first residential building that they did in New York just so that we can get an understanding of, “Is Toronto ready for this?” When we saw that, we said, “Absolutely.”
Roy Bhandari: Amazing.
Eric Kuzuian: Going back to what you were saying, yeah, you have this amazing ground floor of 35 foot ceilings, it’s just a curtain of glass and this amazing exoskeleton structure of this bronze metal finish that is something that the city’s never seen before.
Roy Bhandari: Yeah, the way it hits the ground, it creates that opening for, I saw the rendering with the Christmas tree and creating this public space for …
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, it’s taking all that into consideration so that it can become a destination, so that the building can host exhibits or art exhibits or, like you said, Rockefeller Center kind of mimicking what that’s doing and just creating a venue where people could enjoy, not technically having to live in the building, but actually realize that it’s a landmark that they’d love to visit whenever they had free time.
Roy Bhandari: One of the things we’ve noticed is that this is so much more than a condominium building. It’s so much more. We talked about the public space at the ground, we know there’s going to be extensive retail, we know there’s going to be a number of floors dedicated to that. Is there anything you could talk about on that front?
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, so the other feature and the benefits and the concept to create this exoskeleton structure is because it allows for barrier-free retail podiums. When you have these open spaces, a barrier-free space, you can attract some of the best global brands to come and do their restaurants or their retail, and that’s basically who’s at the table now.
Roy Bhandari: Excellent.
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah.
Roy Bhandari: Let’s jump up 18 floors and talk about the residences.
Eric Kuzuian: Sure.
Roy Bhandari: Again, I’ll tell you what struck me immediately. When you look at other buildings of this size in terms of 75, 80, 85, 90 story buildings, the first thing we expect is 1000 units, 1100 units, 1200, whatever it is. One of the small attention to details that Mizrahi obviously did was, as a tribute to Toronto, it’s 416, so 416 units.
Eric Kuzuian: Correct.
Roy Bhandari: They could have easily tripled the unit count here, but that was something that, again, immediately that I noticed and just something I wanted you to …
Eric Kuzuian: Sure, I mean you can’t be a world class building if you do what everybody else is doing.
Roy Bhandari: For sure.
Eric Kuzuian: If you, again, Mizrahi Developments wanted to make sure that this building is internationally known, that it helps put Toronto on the map in terms of a new way of residential quality. You look at all the great buildings and the most high-end buildings in all these amazing international cities and you realize that they have to have 15, 17 million dollar penthouses. They have to have five or seven million dollar lower penthouse units and you can’t just be a thousand small units because then you’re just not really paying the tribute to the way this building’s going to be. There was a little thought there to make sure the number was 416. We could have done 406 or 426, but we found a way to get it to the number, again, to pay a tribute to the city, and it’s-
Roy Bhandari: That’s great. I love that attention to detail.
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, that’s what makes it special, you’re right. What’s amazing is you have only 416 units, but you have eight elevator bays.
Roy Bhandari: Which is, again, for anybody not in the condominium world, that may not quite resonate, but eight elevators for 400 units is …
Eric Kuzuian: Unheard of.
Roy Bhandari: Yeah. If we get four, typically it’s one per 100 units. One per 50 units is incredible, and from what I understand even the elevators are going to be state of the art, fastest elevators in North America. Everything has been thought of.
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, these elevators, they’re actually currently in production because the technology is not 100% there yet, but they’ve been contracted and these elevators are going to be smart elevators. The way they’re going to work is, and it’s funny because when you have that many elevators you don’t even really need this type of service and technology that’s going into it, but again, to make sure that there’s no exception to the details, these elevators actually start floating in-between the floors, so they don’t all go down to the ground floor and you have to wait for them to come up. They become smart elevators and they start understanding at what times people on what floors are mostly calling for these elevators. The technology is there and when the project’s finished the purchasers or the residents will be able to call the elevator, and their 24 hour valet, which we can get into, right from their phone.
Roy Bhandari: See, that’s … It’s amazing. I’ve been in high rises with good elevators and I’ve been in high rises with bad elevators and just the mindset between the two, it’s such a different world. It’s a small thing, but it’s a big thing, right?
Eric Kuzuian: It’s the little details.
Roy Bhandari: For sure. Let’s talk about valet. Again, every single unit in this building, again what they want to emphasize here is that service is important and that runs through everything.
Eric Kuzuian: Yes, you can’t be the best building in the city if you’re not looking at the best way to service the owners of the building, so all of that has been thought of. When I say all of that has been thought of, every square inch of amenity space has been thought of to the level of what the service is going to be to the purchasers and the owners and the residents. Right from the type of the newspapers that will be in the lobby that people can come down and read, to the branded umbrellas that will be available for the doorman to give you if it’s raining outside, to the protein shakes and the type of water that is going to be in the state of the art fitness studios or the spin studios, all has been thought of.
The way the building works in terms of services is pretty much not seen here in the city of Toronto, but if you do visit Tokyo or Hong Kong or New York and you visit some of their best serviced buildings, that’s kind of what this building is going to represent. You basically pull in off the quiet street of Balmuto to the entrance of where the 24 hour valet is, you hand your keys to the valet and either mingle in the retail or go down to the subway if you need to get anywhere else, or you jump in the elevators and you go 110 feet up and that’s where your residential lobby is.
Roy Bhandari: Wow.
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, so again the idea that the retail and where the city meets the building becomes this public space, you want to offer exclusivity and privacy to the residents. The sky lobby, which we’re calling it, is technically on the sixth floor, but it’s 11 stories up, and that’s because of the height of the first few floors of retail. Once you get into your residential lobby, you have your 24 hour concierge, we’ve talked about your 24 hour doorman, and you have everything you could ever think of. From an 80 to 100 square foot outdoor amenity terrace that has a 2000 square foot infinity pool facing south that’s heated all year round, that’s right.
Roy Bhandari: Very important.
Eric Kuzuian: Yup, heated all year round, and the terrace itself is heated all year round with the snow melt system, so it’s really cool to see those types of features. Then, of course, you’ve got your urban sanctuary spa and the state of the art fitness studio and the list just keeps going on and on and on.
Roy Bhandari: You’ll never want to leave the building.
Eric Kuzuian: No, you don’t want to leave the building, that’s right.
Roy Bhandari: So we’re at the lobby. Next up, the suite.
Eric Kuzuian: Right, so we go from the, again you jump into one of eight elevator bays and you fly up to your suite. Suites, again, were very well thought of. No studios in this building, so the smallest unit we have is 581 square feet, one bedroom, and they go to a 725 square foot one plus den, to an 1100 square foot two bedroom two bath, and then the two bedroom two baths can go anywhere from 1100 to 1353, and then the two plus dens and the three bedrooms start in the 1495 range and they can go up to a 5700 square foot three story penthouse.
Roy Bhandari: Which I think you’ll buy, right?
Eric Kuzuian: Yes. I’d be lucky enough, but I don’t think I can pull that one off.
Roy Bhandari: I want to talk about the suites because I think there’s some really amazing features within the suites that are unique to this building.
Eric Kuzuian: Correct.
Roy Bhandari: We’ve talked about the exoskeleton structure. The suites that were [inaudible 00:20:04], and it comes into the suite and it becomes part of the jewelry, as Sam called it, it becomes the jewelry of the building and it comes through to the suite, which I think is an incredible feature.
Eric Kuzuian: And that’s, I think, a tribute to Fosters & Partners, you can take a structure that everybody’s usually scared of to not have near their unit, to make it actually a desired feature in their unit. It is truly unique and it is, the exoskeleton on all the corner units will be coming in on both sides of the exposure and they are finished in this bronze powder coated metal that has been sourced in London, England, by Foster & Partners. Like you’ve mentioned, it becomes this really, really unique feature that you don’t really see in Toronto.
Roy Bhandari: The other thing I’ve noticed, and it’s hard to miss, is this benches that sort of run around. Often times, if you’re not familiar with the condo layout, is that that space is typically dead space, in the front of the window, but by building in these beautiful wooden benches finished to the tee, to the nines, it kind of reorients how you think about the living space.
Eric Kuzuian: Right, so it’s, again, having an opportunity to get yourself right up to that window, you really understand, almost become a part of the building. These amazing corner units have this standard bench detail that, again, has never been seen before. It’s exciting to know that this will be the first project to offer it and it also gives people an understanding of a new way to start living and a new way to start designing space, and that’s again tribute to hiring some great architectural companies.
Roy Bhandari: For sure. Obviously, the suits are going to be finished …
Eric Kuzuian: Mizrahi fashion.
Roy Bhandari: Yeah.
Eric Kuzuian: It’s basically everything in terms of high-end, high-end, high-end. I think our baseboards are standard eight inches as a standard baseboard. What is truly unique in this building, again, that you don’t see, but, again, is reflective of Mizrahi’s values, is even the 581 square foot one bedrooms are going to be finished as a standard gas cooktop, so gas is offered standard throughout the building and everything is absolutely panel ready, Miele appliances and all the ceilings are coffered as well.
Roy Bhandari: Beautiful. I think it was actually you who said it and it really stuck with me. If you go into one of the old buildings it’s marble on marble on marble and millwork on millwork on millwork.
Eric Kuzuian: That’s right.
Roy Bhandari: And [inaudible 00:22:26]. It’s a different level.
Eric Kuzuian: That’s right, and you know as well as I do, Roy, that having a solid corridor in a condo is huge, and that’s why, again, taking his concept and his position to deliver custom homes, but just add a different product, but not jeopardize what the actual offering is, is kind of why you’re getting these elegant and exquisite and timeless details and finishes.
Roy Bhandari: How about the views?
Eric Kuzuian: The views, I mean when you’re that high it doesn’t really matter which way you’re looking. You’ve pretty much got views everywhere, and what’s interesting about Yonge and Bloor is it’s actually one of the higher points.
Roy Bhandari: Yeah, because it slopes, the city slopes towards it.
Eric Kuzuian: That’s right, so when you’re actually looking south, you’re actually even higher than you think you are because the city slopes down to the lake. The location is amazing in terms of view, and whether you’re looking northwest or east or south, obviously, views are exquisite.
Roy Bhandari: One of the things we didn’t touch on was, and again it’s one of those small features that I think is going to have a big impact, is this lighting feature on the exterior of the building. They mentioned that the building can change color depending on what they’re celebrating, so on Canada Day it can be red and white. On independence day for the state it’s going to be red, white and blue.
Eric Kuzuian: Correct.
Roy Bhandari: Again, it’s one of those small details, but if you think about, around the world, go out of Toronto into the world for a second and you think about the kinds of buildings that support this feature or celebrate this feature, like you go to New York, it’s the Empire State Building, red, white and blue on independence day, pink when they’re celebrating breast cancer awareness. If you think about these kinds of buildings, they are that building … This is working towards that, where it wants to be the Empire State Building in terms of stature, in terms of importance.
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, we’ve used the word before, but that’s exactly what a landmark is. It positions itself to be a visual for the rest of the city and to celebrate when it needs to celebrate, to show emotion. That was a very, very special detail that was thought of for the building that’s going to be amazing to see when it’s lit up at night.
Roy Bhandari: Oh yeah, for sure. I think it’s going to be great.
Eric Kuzuian: Yeah, there’s a lot of those features. There’s so many of these features, right?
Roy Bhandari: We could talk about those features and we’d be here for days.
Eric Kuzuian: I know, it’s exciting.
Roy Bhandari: Is there anything I didn’t talk about that you feel I should have talked about? Is there anything I missed, because I think we’ve covered the location, we talked about Mizrahi, we talked about Norman Foster, we talked about some of the amazing features of the building itself. Is there anything you feel we missed?
Eric Kuzuian: We could just, one of the unique features that we briefly touched upon, which you don’t see in Toronto that this building is going to have, is these three story penthouses. These three story penthouses are basically, it’s 85 stories is the building. You kind of get off the elevator on the 82nd story, which is the penthouse, and from there you have these three story corner penthouses, one in each corner, so four of them, and they’re 5700 square feet. They have these grand circular staircases. They’re kind of like a home, and then of course on the 86th story you go outside to your outdoor kitchen, your private pool enclosed in 20 feet of glass to make sure nobody gets blown off the building. I’ll never see it, Roy, because I’ll never go that high, but I’m sure it’s going to be spectacular once they’re done, and again, you just don’t see that. You see that in some of the best buildings in the world, but it hasn’t been done here until now.
Roy Bhandari: You say that, because a lot of times if there is a rooftop amenity, they give it as a space that they rent out. We see restaurants, whereas this way they’re actually dedicating that rooftop 1000 feet in the air to that buyer, which is really, really special.
Eric Kuzuian: Correct, yeah, absolutely, and hopefully one day whoever buys that will invite us to a pool party and we can actually see it. Again, I probably won’t go on the roof, but I’d love to see the finished product.
Roy Bhandari: Awesome. We’re so excited about this project and I think you are and I think the city is, so this is a really special one. If clients are interested in buying, what does that look like?
Eric Kuzuian: The event is coming up, the broker event, and of course TalkCondo always on top of our list to make sure that they come to the event, and I think the best shot they’re going to have at getting a unit. We always look forward to working with you and your brother and we’d be happy to have you there and I’m sure we’ll get some deals done.
Roy Bhandari: We’ll be happy to be there.
Eric Kuzuian: Absolutely.
Roy Bhandari: Thank you very much.
Eric Kuzuian: My pleasure, Roy.
Roy Bhandari: Thank you very much.