- Amit Bhandari (Sales Representative & Co-Founder, SAGE – TalkCondo) discuss one of Toronto’s largest and most exciting new condominium projects, The Prestige at One Yonge
- What sets Pinnacle apart from other builders
- Discussion on the maturity of the Toronto condominium market and how “Super Tall” condominiums are going to become more accepted
- Discussion on the stunning One Yonge Community that will feature a 95 storey tower
- The incredible amount of detail that has gone into developing the One Yonge Project over the last 5 years
- What will set the One Yonge Community apart, including a state of the art 50,000 sq.ft. community centre
- An incredible 100,000 sq.ft. of indoor and outdoor amenities for the first phase of One Yonge
- How you can secure VIP Access to One Yonge with TalkCondo
The Prestige Condos at One Yonge
Amit: Hi, there. This is Amit Bhandari of talkcondo.com and today we are at Pinnacle International and we are sitting with The V.P. of sales and marketing, Anson Kwok. Anson, thank you so much for allowing us to chat with you today.
Anson: Great! Thanks for having me.
So, Anson, there’s a lot of stuff to talk about. Obviously, there’s a massive development that you guys are working on. As a summary, the things I’d like to talk to you about is Pinnacle International, the developer, what sets them apart. And then, I’m gonna geek out a little bit with you after that because I want to talk about what has changed from a city perspective because now we’re starting to see these super tall towers come to market now.
And then, after that, I’d like to talk to you about the One Yonge community as a whole and then drill it down to the Prestige, the very first tower in the Community.
Before any of that, I’d like to get to know you a little bit more because you’re the V.P. of sales and marketing but who was Anson Kwok before that? When did you start? Why did you start and how did you get to become …
Anson: Well, actually, I’ve been with Pinnacle for nine years, now. So, my previous career, actually was in the hotel industry. I actually worked for Pinnacle’s Hotel in Vancouver a long time ago. But, really its, for me, just a lot of it is very similar. We’re doing inventory management. We’re making sure we deliver a product that is clean, that’s well done, deficient free to hand over, so, there’s actually a lot, for me, a lot of commonalities between the hotel industry and here.
You’ll see a lot of things, like, you know, Pinnacle still believes in larger lobbies, lighter hallways, very similar to a hotel kind of feel to it because that is part of that experience. That’s from the company’s experience of having hotels. We have four hotels at West in Vancouver and that’s kind of what we have brought to our building condominiums.
Not to mention in Toronto, I guess … not to mention in Toronto, I’ve lived here for a while and I’ve lived in a condo for the last fourteen years, so, for me, I’ve a lot of practical experience of living in condos to bring to the team.
So, Pinnacle International. Obviously, one of the larger developers in Canada. I mean, portfolios right across Toronto, Edmonton, you mentioned a little bit earlier. Vancouver, obviously. And also San Diego in the states. So, what sets Pinnacle apart? What is it about Pinnacle that a …
Anson: I think one of our biggest differences that we’re actually very hands on. So, whether its in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto or San Diego, we also very … our principal’s very hands on. So, he works on every project. He still looks at every suite layout. He walks every site. So, for us, I think that’s kind of the … a little bit of the difference is that yes, we’ve scaled up by in terms of projects, across North America but we still have a detail to make sure that everything works well and functions properly.
For us, to give you a quick story. We still go back to our buildings from 10, 15 years ago just to walk through. And a lot of time is to make sure that our resume is still proud and still looking well and our buildings are still called Pinnacle … whether it’s Pinnacle Living, Pinnacle … you know, one of those. We’re not leaving so we still feel very much a part of that community even though we might have sold it and moved on from it but we definitely feel quite a big attachment to them.
Amit: That’s amazing. And then, you also have your in-house development company as well, which also sets you apart in a big way.
Anson: That’s right. So, we build our own buildings. So, our construction team, our development team, we all work together to do it. We do in-house sales as well. So, every floor plan that you see from us has actually gone through both the sales and marketing eye, the developer’s eye and the construction eye to make sure that we iron out those kinks and to make sure that things operate. I mean, ultimately, we want to provide a product that’s built to last. It needs to be timeless. Its not just its good today and tomorrow might be a little bit different, so we look at all those aspects and our construction team’s always working to make sure that we’re using materials in our design to make sure things last and to make sure they are more durable. Just because … there’s a lot of things in design that is simple to do to make sure that we take the extra step to make sure that everyone’s investment is taken care of.
So, I’m gonna pause on Pinnacle for a moment and talk about the next big project that, obviously you’re doing but the project itself, One Yonge, it’s a collection of three towers, but a collection … a couple of very, very large towers so I’m gonna geek out for a little bit because I’m a student of urban geography, I’ve studied how cities grow and, obviously, Toronto, as a city has seen a rapid expansion outwards.
But now, very recently, we’ve started seeing this way, this kind of movement. And obviously, with One Yonge coming out to market with a couple of very, very large towers, what has changed from the city level? Why have they started to say, you know, we’re okay with sort of these super talls?
Anson: I think, to start off with, obviously, technology has helped a lot in terms of building buildings to a certain height was always … for the longest time, a concern but I think things have improved a lot over the last 10 years.
But also, in the city, land is a little more scarce now. I think we haven’t invested as much in transit and in the road network so a lot of it is to make sure that people can be close to their workplace and the only way to do it is to build vertical communities.
We, unfortunately, can’t continue … yeah, with legislation, we can’t really continue to grow out and I think there’s also a tolerance on how much time people can take to commute and I think we’ve kind of reached that.
So I think a lot of people want to be able to live and work in close proximity. There’s a modern convenience that people want.
But, I think it’s the changes that … the fear of building high is really not there anymore. I think we had a five or six year stretch where every single building was 40 stories. Now, it’s really kind of emulate the postcard view of the city is to actually have different heights. I think we’ve experienced a lot of buildings all looking about the same height and now it’s about creating that variation that really makes the skyline interesting.
Amit: And it’s gonna look really cool, as well, especially with these super towers. It’s literally gonna change … like, before, it would be just spike of the CN Tower but now we’re gonna see the other peaks.
Anson: Which is great. We’ve done … Pinnacle’s … it’s actually kind of interesting. We’ve actually built … at one time, actually, our first building in Vancouver was the tallest building in Vancouver, which is the Pinnacle on Homer Street and then, we actually currently have the tallest residential building in San Diego, so actually we are looking forward to building the tallest building in Toronto.
Amit: A lot of experience.
Anson: Well, I guess in Toronto and in Canada I guess it would be the tallest so we’re excited to be a part of it and, obviously, a part of a much broader community, which we are excited to build.
Amit: So cool. We’re really excited. So, let’s bring it back down to One Yonge, the community. And I say “community” because it’s not chocked full of residential units. It’s multifaceted. There’s so many elements. If you could talk to us about everything like … because there’s so much …
Anson: Yeah, I think that’s actually what’s the most interesting about this development and that’s why it’s taking so much time in planning is that …
Amit: Five years?
Anson: Five years. It’s been pretty … I think with every reiteration, it actually improves it. We work really closely with the City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto but it’s highlighted by three residential towers, 65, 80 and 95 stories. Two office towers, 35 stories and 22 stories. It has a 50,000 square foot community center.
Anson: I think it’s really gonna add a lot to the neighborhood. It’s also going to be run by the City of Toronto so there’s a lot of collaboration in that. We’re gonna be having retail. There’s a hotel component, and a path network coming through, so it’s a very complex community, but it’s one of those ones where there is that modern convenience where there’s a lot of accessibility to utilize all the services around you without going far.
Amit: And that’s the key thing because when you’re here right now, there’s not too much in terms of retail. There’s not much of a retail component like we were saying earlier. You can wake up in the morning, do something at 7:00 but you can also do something at 11:00 P.M. as well.
Anson: Yeah, I think there needs to be a complete community. Not just be during work hours, it cannot just be a night place. It needs to be kind of a little bit of everything because, I think, that’s the demographics of who’s living here.
You need a little bit for everyone because, unfortunately, we don’t live in a world that is always 100% conventional in terms of hours. We need to be able to get out of that box because we’re not in that scenario anymore. So, it is, obviously, greatly located, close to Union Station, close to the new Goldust Station. So, it’s really has a lot of opportunity to, even, …
Amit: Close to The Link …
Anson: If someone’s commuting to somewhere else, it’s actually quite close and we’re gonna be upgrading the sidewalks, making the public Rumble Walk more accessible for people to walk as well upgrading the bicycle facilities around here so.there’s a little bit for everyone. There walking, biking, transit, and obviously, it’s a great place located to Billy Bishop Airport so if you want to go away on the weekends, it’s extremely convenient.
Amit: Talk to me a little bit more about the community center because that … I mean, obviously, it’s gonna be run by the city, but 50,000 square foot.
Anson: I think it’s gonna be quite interesting because there’s a six lanes, 25 meter in length pool. So, having a community pool really serves a lot of demographics. I think they’re gonna have classes for teaching young kids how to swim for the first time. You have senior swim. There’s a lot of opportunities for … in a more controlled environment, which I think it’s a benefit to some of the condominium pools because programming sometime is lacking, which some people really thrive on and you’re gonna have a full size gym, which means you can play basketball and everyone that loves to play basketball and stopped after high school because they couldn’t find a gym, well this is great place to have the opportunity.
Amit: Fantastic. And speak to us a little about the Path Connection because that is, obviously, huge … huge deal as well.
Anson: Yeah. I think the Path, for us, … we’re really kind of going to be the gateway for the central waterfront and the lower precinct. It’s gonna come across Yonge Street. It’s gonna, obviously, connect … make our building very permeable.
We made sure that even in the first building, Prestige, you can actually exit Prestige on the second floor and actually enter straight into The Path network without having to be circuitous in terms of walking downstairs, upstairs, going across, so I think it was really important. There’s no point in having a path unless it’s utilized and we want to make it as assessable as possible but really it’s gonna open up the East Bayfront. Once we provide for those opportunities and those linkages, it really is gonna make a big difference. Union Station is not going to feel as far for places like George Brown and
Chorus, which right now, sometimes ….
Amit: Especially in this weather.
Anson: It might feel a little bit lonely.
Amit: Amazing. So, incredible community. It sounds so exciting. The next thing I wanted to drill it down even further and talk about Prestige, which is the first tower in this community, 65 stories. What can you tell us about Prestige?
Anson: I think Prestige is, obviously, our inaugural phase. It’s 500 units and we’ve put a lot of thought into it. Units range anywhere from 500 square feet all the way to 1,800 square feet. So, we’ve combined a lot of large units providing 15%, three bedroom units so that there’s an opportunity to live here in the waterfront. And because this is the first phase, we are actually building 100,000 square feet of amenities both indoor and outdoor to start off the community so I think it’s really gonna benefit everyone that lives in this community.
Amit: Do you think that’s enough? Do you think that 100,000 is enough?
Anson: That is quite a bit. I would say you would be hard pressed to find any more like it.
Amit: I know!
Anson: And we are actually gonna be adding more when we bring in the other phases but the interesting thing here is that we have our own elevated dog park, dog wash stations. We have an elevated track, an outdoor track for people to … I guess we envision people to be walking on it, running on it, and also have some outdoor exercise equipment so I think there’s gonna be a transitional shift, I guess, in this area of what the amenities will be and then also we’re contributing to a park across the street, which will be a close to nature park.
There’s a lot of opportunities for outdoor space. We all know that downtown’s transitioning between families. There is lots of dogs and all that so we are taking a lot of consideration to all those important factors because I think we’ve grown a lot as a city.
Ten years ago we were only talking about daycare and now we got to talk about where the dog’s gonna go? Where are the kids gonna go after daycare? I think those are all important things for us to kind of start thinking about so we have put that part in the last five years and that’s why we’ve always tried to … I guess we’ve always tried to improve ourselves in terms of creating a product that’s not just for today but something that is long lasting.
Amit: It’s incredible. Is there anything that I may have missed and not asked you that we have not covered about One Yonge or the Prestige.
Anson: I think for us, we’re a very excited, obviously. It’s a large project. I think Pinnacle One Yonge is really gonna be that master plan community that you’ve seen around the world.
It think it’s not uncommon to see it in Asia or even the Middle East and it’s something that, maybe, a little bit different for Toronto. We are excited to bring that here because you’re really gonna see that evolution here and, obviously, being One Yonge Street, the foot of the longest street in Canada and right by the lake, there’s a lot to it and, obviously, we’re up for the task of putting a great community here at this great location.
Amit: Well, we are incredibly excited and incredibly thankful, as well, at the same time to be given this opportunity to work on this amazing, amazing project. If we have any clients that are, perhaps, interested in taking a step further and investing in One Yonge at the Prestige, what would they need to …
Anson: I think the important thing is to talk to the Talk Condo team, so either Roy or Amit and really go from there. I really think that is the best starting point to proceed with your team and then really make this home a reality.
Amit: Amazing. Thank you so much, Anson. We are really, really looking forward to it.
Anson: Thank you very much for the opportunity.