The United BLDG is an extensive restoration and mixed-use office/retail/condominium by Davpart Inc. with the help of project marketing and sales firm, Baker Real Estate.
At University Avenue and Dundas Street, this opulent monument to fine design will completely preserve the 9 storey-high Maclean-Hunter building in addition to extending it up to a new height of 55 storeys. This ambitious restoration project has the incredible distinction of being North America’s tallest architectural heritage retention development in history.
These are just a few of the reasons why we sat down with Barbara Lawlor, CEO of Baker Real Estate, to discuss this monumental project setting architectural and residential standards locally and internationally too.
Check out the video below or read through the transcripts for all the details.
The United BLDG by Davpart - The Cool 10 Interview By GTA-Homes: TRANSCRIPT
GTA-HOMES: Hello GTA-Homes viewers, welcome back to the COOL 10. We're delighted to be sitting down with the CEO of Baker Real Estate, Barbara Lawlor. Today, the upcoming United BLDG by Davpart is the topic of discussion. This 55 storey tower is set for 481 University Avenue in the heart of Downtown Toronto and three high-density employment areas, the Bay Street Corridor, Hospital Row, and the Financial District. Let’s get into what Barbara has to say about this ambitious project.
GH: Who is Baker Real Estate?
BARBARA LAWLOR: We formed Baker Real Estate in 1993 and it was founded specifically to serve the needs of high-rise developers, to give them the service of having a brokerage that is their in-house team. We have stayed true to that for the past 26 years and the result is that we've had the privilege of representing the biggest, the best developers in our city and because we have an office in Montreal, we also serve Montreal and we've just recently opened in Vancouver, we also have an office in Shanghai, so we've been busy.
GH: B+H Architects, what can you tell us about them?
BL: B+H is a global award-winning architectural solutions firm. They have been in business for over 65 years so they are an institution unto themselves. They have had their hands in some of the most iconic structures on the Toronto skyline.
GH: Who are the residents that will live at The United BLDG?
BL: Well, I can tell you that anybody who lives in this building will probably never want to go outside of the building because of the amenities that are stacked up in this building are quite amazing but more than that I think that we will attract an awful lot of people who work in the area, who work in the hospitals, who are on-call in the hospitals, who probably will come home for a few hours sleep and then go right back when they get the call to the hospitals. That's one group. I think, like we talked about, the financial core, we’ll have a lot of people from the financial core. Because we're offering something for everybody from studios, I think many people who live elsewhere will choose it as a pied a terre in the city so that they can come into the city, they can go shopping, they can go dining and they can take in the theatre and they can walk from their pied a terre in the United BLDG so I think there's something for everybody. And I think that we would get politicians too or staff that are working at Queen's Park. I think we're going to attract a lot of different people.
GH: How will The United BLDG play out for investors?
BL: Well I would say the investors are happy campers as we go into this sale because 2018 saw an 11 per cent rise in rents so they will have a very big waiting audience to rent these homes once they're built. So I would say we're going to make investors very happy. Not just from a rental perspective but also because we know that appreciation builds up over a period of time that a building is under construction and because this is such a massive undertaking with the heritage component and having to preserve the heritage facades and then dig down to create the parking and then come back up and build the entire commercial building which is nine floors and then the residences start on the tenth floor and then build the tower, it's going to take quite a few years to do that David. We all know there could be delays along the way but we're pitching six years, over a period of six years, the equity game in Toronto is going to be amazing. I mean last year we had 14 per cent. 2017 was 30 per cent. I think all we need is a few conservative years and somebody has doubled their money.
GH: Who will be occupying the Retail & Commercial Space for the United BLDG?
BL: I think it's a bit early for that-- certainly all of the existing tenants will be invited to come back into the building and I already know the architects from the United BLDG plan to come back into the building so I'm sure there are many other tenants who are currently in the building will want to come back but then I'm sure there will be a lot of people wanting to get into the building because it's going to be an amazing looking building, it's going to have tremendous presence on the avenue and also to the builder has designed a shopping colonnade at the base which spans the north and east corner of the building and the colonnade is such a beautiful thing. It reminds me of going shopping in New York and London and great cities like that so the plans for this building are so great, they're so full of presence that I really believe the audience is going to be dramatically excited about it.
GH: Tell us about the floor plans. How diverse will they be?
BL: We have something, as I mentioned, for everybody, so we run the gamut of a small pied a terre studios for all the reasons we talked about. There are straight one-bedrooms, there are one plus dens, the den is like a flexible room so that it could be converted to an overnight guest room or whatever you need. And then there's a great selection of two-bedroom units and our largest unit on the southwest corner, in the tower portion, I'm not talking about penthouses, but it's a three-bedroom unit on the southwest corner.
GH: The building’s amenity space stretched across multiple floors. Can you tell us what these spaces offer?
BL: The amenities are spectacular both indoors and outdoors. There are amenities on the fifth floor, on the 13th floor, so much going on, of course, we have all the traditional party room, card lounge, co-working space, fitness centre, the sports lounges with billiards. There's a golf simulator, like the very latest, so somebody can practice their golf swing, video/gaming room, library, theater, the amenities are amazing but the outdoor spaces really capture my attention. Not only because there is an all-year-round pool that is like, just such a beautiful thing to sit by, and there are pavilions to sit by it, even in the winter there's a rock garden which creates a zen space, there's outdoor terraces coming off of the party room, there's outdoor terraces coming out of the pool, so there's wonderful outdoor spaces that are very different from each other, you know, there's dining areas, there's lounging areas, there's zen areas and I think there's really something for everybody. The swimming pool has a fireplace, I mean, just unusual touches.
GH: What can potential buyers anticipate with the interior features and finishes?
BL: I think the level of luxury, not just the address, but the level of luxury is spectacular. Our interior designer, Thomas Pierce, has really designed beautiful spaces and the finishes that they have selected are very, very beautiful, classic, elegant, timeless. From the moment you walk into your lobby, it has the feeling of a very grand hotel but with a residential feel. So from that, the 24-hour concierge has the ability to receive parcels and packages which we all know, with Amazon today, it's a constant stream of deliveries to our condominium buildings. Some very beautiful spaces have been created as common spaces, like the amenities we just talked about. But also the design like the kitchen designs, the bathroom designs, they're very beautiful.
GH: How will the prices fair in comparison to the neighbourhood?
BL: The neighbourhood has never quite seen anything quite so rare as the United BLDG so to find the price point, we looked at the Shangri-La and we looked at where they're trading and they're certainly trading in recent times, you know in the mid 1,500s to 1,600 for resale and they're quite a few years old, so I think we'll be stepping up on that.
GH: When is the project launching and how can someone gain access?
BL: We're launching very soon, so I'd say over the next couple of weeks, we're going to be launching and with regard to access they just have to call David and Brigitte at GTA-Homes. We've had the pleasure of working with you and your company for many, many years. It's always a pleasure to work with you, you’re ultimate professionals and they will not go wrong if they reach out to you. You will get them in.
I'm Barbara Lawlor and this has been the COOL 10.