Theatre Park: Lamb is acting on his confidence
April 22, 2011
When the curtains rise on a new condo in the heart of the Theatre District in early 2011, Brad Lamb is predicting buyers will applaud the innovative development.
Lamb, the well-known Toronto condo broker turned developer, is well-versed in hyping the projects he’s involved in, but his confidence in Theatre Park seems well placed.
The condo at 224 King St. W. will rise as a slim 47-storey tower surrounded by lowrise historic buildings, including the Royal Alexandra Theatre next door. The tall contemporary glass tower, designed by Peter Clewes of architectsAlliance, will appear to be crisscrossed with ribbons and at the front of the property will be a forecourt, or small urban park, facing onto King.
“I bought a parking lot from a relatively large foreign investment corporation two and a half years ago and immediately thought that to get a project approved there, I’d have to do something crazy,” says Lamb, started Lamb Development Corp. in 2001.
Well, crazy like a fox. Lamb hired Clewes to design the building, as he knew his proposal would have to be spectacular to win favour from the city.
Lamb says most developers build instinctively to the front lot line, but he decided to pull the building to the rear of the site to create a compact park in the heart of the Theatre District that would act as a neighbourhood gathering place, as well as showcasing the Royal Alex.
“I think it’s the best location of any condo ever,” claims Lamb. “It’s steps from the financial district, steps from the entertainment district, in a very prestigious neighbourhood.”
He knew one obstacle would be the building’s height, but he felt a lower, squatter structure on the narrow 62- by 100-foot lot would require the suite designs to be long and narrow to get the required massing.
Still, “it was a long, protracted fight from day one,” trying to win approval, despite the blessing of theatre maven David Mirvish, owner of the Royal Alex, and local city councillor Adam Vaughan.
The proposal set a precedent for height and one fear the city had, says Lamb, was that someone would start buying up heritage buildings in the immediate vicinity and start knocking them down to build more condos.
“This site has never had anything built on it. It’s been a parking lot and before that, vacant land owned by Upper Canada College,” he points out. And he wasn’t concerned about the building’s height as there are several new tall towers nearby, including the 66-storey Shangri-La and the 45-storey Festival Tower.
Eventually, the city passed a heritage bylaw to protect the older buildings on the block and paved the way for Theatre Park.
“It’s very neat, but it’s very difficult as well,” says project architect Adam Feldmann of architectsAlliance.
The main issue was to figure out a strategy to deal with the historic buildings in a sensitive and respectful way.
“Our first idea was to create the courtyard beside the Royal Alex. If you push the building back, it doesn’t compete with the historic buildings at street level.”
The podium will be at the same height as the surrounding buildings in the warehouse district and the tower will float above the public space created by the forecourt, thus unobtrusive.
“The site is on the tight side and the building is compressed, so the tower is wrapped in bands to appear like it’s held in. It’s a tiny floor plate, a point tower,” says Feldmann, adding that because the neighbourhood is protected and the tower has windows on all sides, virtually every suite will have great views.
He’s excited by the courtyard and foresees theatre goers mingling there before attending a play at the Royal Alex and in summer, a grid of trees, a water wall along the east side and a zero edge pond which will flood part of the courtyard will act as a soothing retreat from the bustle of the street. In winter, he says the water wall might become an ice sculpture.
Lamb tested the market with a broker launch in mid November “and we know the building will sell well. The development opened public sales last month.
Lamb’s development partners include Niche Development and Harhay Construction Management.
There will be 234 suites, starting on the ninth floor. The lower floors will be devoted to a five-star restaurant, amenity space and administrative facilities. The restaurant has yet to be determined, but Lamb vows it “will be Canadian or international, one of the finest restaurants in North America. And the space is just fantastic.”
He says the facilities will be like a five-star hotel, with 24-hour concierge, a swimming pool, and gym, etc.) but without the steep fees associated with hybrid condo-hotel developments.
The suites will be priced at $600 per square feet (the penthouses from the 36th floor up will be more expensive), which Lamb claims is substantially less than for other condos in the neighbourhood.
“Nobody needs to pay $1,000 a square foot,” he says. “I want to sell apartments, I want to build this building and move on to the next project. I actually want to offer value, do good stuff and make it available to people.”
Suite sizes will range from about 400 square feet to a 3,270-square-foot penthouse (plus 2,000 square feet of terraces) that occupies the entire top floor. Suites from the 36th floor up will have 10-foot ceilings while those below the 36th floor will have nine-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows.
As well, there will be an assortment of studio, one and two bedrooms, with and without dens, and Lamb says 10 per cent of the project will have three-bedroom suites.
The building’s tall, slim design allows for windows on all four sides of the building and short corridors, with a maximum of six suites per floor.
Lamb says the type of buyer who will purchase there will be “young, hip urbanites or those who aren’t necessarily young, but young at heart. There are also people who want pied-à-terres and need this. It could be a second or third home for some.”
II by IV Design will design the interior common spaces and the suites. Suites will have exposed concrete ceilings and feature walls.
“There’s going to be a crazy lobby, crazy facilities. We’re going to build a model suite to show people what they are getting,” Lamb says. “There will be stainless steel cooking, the best hardwood flooring, stone countertops, Scavolini kitchens and beautiful quality finishes.” a
Click the link for pics of the "crazy lobby" http://www.yourhome.ca/homes/realest...his-confidence