Condo of the Week: $950,000 for a Mimico suite near a butterfly preserve

Address: 59 Annie Craig Drive, Unit 803
Neighbourhood: Mimico
Agent: Maz Ekbatani, Sutton West Realty Inc., Brokerage
Price: $948,800
Previously sold for: $597,342, in 2014

The place

A lakefront condo across the street from a butterfly habitat.

The owner installed an electric fireplace in the living room:

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There’s a small den area with a view of the lake:

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The kitchen countertops are quartz. The fridge and dishwasher are concealed by cabinetry:

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Here’s the guest bedroom:

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And the hallway bathroom:

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The master bedroom’s en suite bathroom:

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The balcony and the view:

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The story

The owner bought this two-bedroom condo pre-construction in 2014. He hired a designer and dumped nearly $100,000 into outfitting the place with custom lighting, new cabinetry and a built-in bed frame:

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After all that work, he decided to sell the place and move closer to the city’s core.

Big selling points

Every room (except the bathroom) has a dazzling view of the lake and the distant city skyline. And, thanks to the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat across the street, there’s little chance of a new condo tower popping up and blocking the vista. The building’s amenities include a rooftop patio with barbecues, an indoor pool, a gym, a jacuzzi and a steam room.

Possible deal breaker

TTC access isn’t great. It takes about five minutes to walk to the 501 Queen streetcar, which is notoriously unreliable during the weekday morning commute. It’s about an hour by streetcar to Union Station. Another possible drawback, for those who aren’t charmed by the bed frame: it’s pretty well attached to the wall and ceiling, and removing it could be tough.

By the numbers

• 1,095-square-foot interior
• $601.91 in monthly maintenance fees
• 125-square-foot balcony
• 9-foot ceilings
• 2 bedrooms
• 1 bathroom
• 1 parking space

The Chase: A 26-year-old flees her Trinity Bellwoods rental after her housemate is arrested for robbing banks

The renter: Megan Reynolds, a 26-year-old event coordinator for Baro, a Latin American restaurant on King West.

The story: Reynolds was sharing a house near Trinity Bellwoods with four other people in 2014 when a police officer knocked on the door. One of her housemates, a 26-year-old chef named Brandon Michael Smith, was facing charges related to a string of 16 bank robberies across Toronto. Reynolds was shocked. The roommate, who went by “Mike,” was a polite and chatty guy who sometimes went out of his way to make food for the house. As detectives scoured the apartment for clues related to the “Mummy Bandit” heists—so-called because Smith would often disguise himself by wrapping a scarf around his face—Reynolds took it as a sign and moved out within three days. (Smith was later convicted and is now serving time.)

She headed west to Parkdale, where she sublet a room in a condo at Queen and Dufferin. With a year before the sublease was set to expire, Reynolds casually perused Craigslist in search of her own place—ideally a bachelor or one-bedroom on Queen West for around $1,200. Her biggest concern was finding a safe, independent living situation.

Option 1

Bachelor loft near Queen and Lansdowne, listed at $1,500 per month

This loft had no photos in its listing, but it caught Reynolds’ eye because the landlords mentioned that they worked as interior designers. Unfortunately, the space was big on style but slim on square footage. The loft was drenched in sunlight and located in her target neighbourhood, but she decided she wasn’t willing to stretch her budget to live in a fashionable shoebox.

Option 2

One-bedroom apartment near Dovercourt and Davenport, listed at $1,600 per month

The prices along Queen West were beginning to seem outrageous, so Reynolds widened her scope. She visited this one-bedroom in a converted house near Wychwood Barns that was advertised as having a spacious kitchen and a full backyard. In reality, the place was even smaller than some of the apartments she’d seen on Queen West. Plus, the backyard was shared with three other tenants in the house. She figured the unit was only worth about $1,000 per month. Rather than haggle, she decided to pass.

The choice

One bedroom in a two-bedroom apartment on Elm Grove Avenue (near King and Dufferin), for $900 per month

By the time her sublease ended, Reynolds still hadn’t found a one-bedroom apartment, so she decided to give shared living another try—but this time with someone she knew well. She moved into a ground-floor apartment in a Parkdale house with her best friend (and her friend’s mutt, Prince). The space is bigger than what she could afford on her own, and it comes with air conditioning, en suite laundry and a private backyard. Her share of the $1,900 monthly rent is small enough that she has now has a bit of spare spending money. The walk home at night can be sketchy, but rooming with her best friend is, at least so far, more comfortable than living in an episode of CSI.

The house is a Parkdale Victorian:

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Here’s the living room, with a cameo from Prince:

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The kitchen:

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There are two bedrooms. Here’s one:

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And the other:

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And here’s the backyard:

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Here’s what the Broadview Hotel (formerly Jilly’s strip club) looks like now

The former home of Jilly’s performed its final striptease yesterday, as the scaffolding that covered the Broadview Hotel for almost two years finally came down, revealing the restored exterior for the first time.

The 1891 Romanesque Revival building had fallen into disrepair, thanks in part to some questionable stewardship by its former occupants, who reportedly knocked holes in load-bearing elements to give patrons better views of the stage. In 2014, the property was purchased by Streetcar Developments, which set about renovating the building into a boutique hotel with a ground-floor restaurant space.

As part of the conversion, Streetcar has restored the building’s exterior brick, erasing a century of grit. The slate roof has been replaced, the cornices revamped, the metal fire escapes removed and a new storefront entrance added. Streetcar has also built a modern, glass-lined rear addition that adds some square footage to the upper floors.

A Streetcar representative says the interior renos won’t be complete until spring. In the meantime, here’s a look at the big reveal.

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Streetcar held a lighting ceremony in the evening, after the scaffolding was completely down:

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And here, from Google Street View, is a “before” shot:

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How to: Renovate like a pro


A savvy renovation always makes for a good return on your investment. Renovating your home can certainly be costly, but doing it right is more important than trying to save a few bucks by cutting corners.

Just like many of us, you too might be feeling the itch to start updating and bringing your space up to the current times. When tackling a bathroom, kitchen or even a larger overhaul, one thing to remember is that it is always important to consult with experts. As a designer, I have had to rescue jobs gone wrong numerous times. In the end, the costly price of fixing mistakes winds up being much greater for the homeowner than consulting with a designer and doing it right from the beginning.

Whether large or small, when the itch to remodel hits you, always begin with careful planning to ensure that you get the most out of your renovation budget.

With more than a decade of projects under my belt, I can confidently state that maintaining focus on your design style and direction is absolutely key. Being consistent and following your desired path is exceptionally important to ensure that your project is seamless and less stressful.

Begin with Inspiration

Design inspiration can come from many creative sources such as an HGTV design show, magazines, nature or art. Even your favourite travel destination might inspire you to remodel. Create a stylebook and fill it with photos of your favourite images, décor and artwork. You can even browse the online portfolios of designers like me for inspirational remodeling ideas. Design sessions with an interior designer are a great opportunity to hone into your style and colour palette and also useful for learning important renovation tips.

Define Your Goals and Priorities

Create a list and prioritize all the projects your wish to complete, including any major repairs. No matter what size your renovation is, don’t forget to consider all logistical details – from plumbing and electrical to your HVAC system.

Create a Budget and Timeline

Determine the money you have to spend and establish a timeline for completion. Knowing this will help you stay on budget and ensure you reach your goal without steering down a path you didn’t plan on. I always tell my clients to put aside 15% for a contingency fund, which shouldn’t be confused with overspending as it is to be used for those unpredictable construction costs. Make sure to work and consult with a designer, and invest in floor plans. Contractors need floor plans to communicate the design intention and not having a set of plans onsite can leave room for costly errors and discrepancies.

Find a Contractor

Interview at least five contractors and look for ones that work regularly in your neighbourhood.

Set Your Plan in Motion

Allow your vision to take shape by researching paint colours, furniture, lighting, accent pieces and anything else you would like to incorporate into the design of the space. Sometimes choosing the right décor can be overwhelming. I often get called in to help with colour choices and the décor selection to match the client’s budget and vision. A short design consultation can take a lot of stress off your plate and give you confidence in your selection.

 

EXTRA TIPS:

  • Before hiring a designer, do your research. Ask detailed questions about their background and experience and don’t be afraid to ask to see pictures of previous projects to ensure that they’re the right fit in terms of style and expectations.
  • Prepare yourself for the process. Do extensive homework to get acquainted with what you are drawn to, what you don’t like, what’s in style now, ect.
  • Don’t work without a design plan and a scope of work. An experienced interior designer can create an aesthetic that suits your taste and develop a solid plan that works for you and your contractor.

 


Toronto based celebrity and award-winning designer Dvira Ovadia, Principal of Dvira Interiors, is known for her appearances and design work on various HGTV shows. Dvira and her team use their profound understanding of design to create stylishly smart spaces. Servicing clientele throughout Ontario GTA.

www.dvira.com @DVIRAdesigner