Friday, February 19, 2016

Arrested Panorama

Before I start this post, I should warn you that it may come out sounding like a bit of a whine.  I hope it doesn't but be warned.

This is our current view.  OK it was taken on a day when a blizzard was about to come in so you can't really see the lake which really is down there beyond all those tall buildings.  It was a really cold day too which is why all that steam is being produced from everyone's heating.
Its about Toronto.  Downtown Toronto.  And Building.  Lots of building.

I've been coming to Toronto since 1987, steadily since around 1995-96. So seeing as we weren't likely to buy a place in Bermuda, we decided to buy a place in Toronto instead.  So in 2001 or so I asked a then colleague at work for ideas as he was looking to buy a condo off plan.  He showed me a place that he liked the look of.  The idea with buying off plan is you put down a small deposit, usually $500 or so.  Then at some later point round that up to 5% of the final price.  Then at 3 or 6 month intervals add a further 5% or 10% until you get to 35% at which point you stop for if you are Canadian you can then finance the remainder.

For us this was particularly attractive as the CD dollar was trading around 70 cents to the US dollar.  A bit like now in fact.

I investigated, crunched a few numbers and found it actually all was pretty easy.  I found a real estate agent too from a then client who lived in Toronto and asked her to show us a few places in addition to the condo that we had plans for (yes, it was my colleague's, the first place we looked at!).

We looked at half a dozen already built places that were either conversions or were relatively low rise developments -- the newer ones were all 40-50+ storeys.  None rocked our boats like the one we first thought of so we put our name down for one on the 36th floor.  Nothing really fancy.  Just a pied a terre.  1200 sq ft with 2 bedrooms.  So off we went …. just as the bloody looney started to pick up against the US dollar!

It took 2 years to reach the 35% funded level at which point we'd picked out all the fittings, trim and all the rest of it with the help of an interior designer we'd been introduced to.  And then the big day came when we took possession with the aid of a little local and very cheap financing and went to take a look at it.  The apartment had a south facing aspect and looked down the length of Bay Street to downtown and the lake beyond.  It was a breath taking view.

And then I looked out of the window, downwards forgetting my vertigo for the moment.

"What's that?" I asked.

"The developers are building a new 50 storey condo" came the answer.

A 50-storey condo less than 50 yards away from our window would block our view ENTIRELY!!!!

So we stopped thinking about decor for this place, called the realtor and asked her to flip this condo for one in the new 50-storey building 50 yards down the road.

The mechanics of that particular transaction are worthy of another note but for brevity, we managed to do the flip at no net cost to us, other than the fact that the new place would be much larger and hence more costly.  The realtor must have loved us being paid to sell to us in the first place, sell it off immediately on taking possession and then buy a new place -- 3 times the pleasure!  But she did a great job for us and we achieved what we wanted.

That was in 2008.  Ever since we've been receiving at odd intervals notice that such and such a building will be going up all round us, some getting in the way of our wonderful view.  It is still lovely but we can't really see the CN Tower any more, for example.

You actually can see the CN Tower over there to the right but before all that building we could see far further down the tall thin stick building
What really prompted this post is notice that the site of a hotel nearby will be building not one but 4 new towers of 80, 70, 60 and 50 storeys no more than 500 yards away.

I cannot imagine 4 new towers going there!
Right next door to the 75 storey behemoth to our left.

Part of the behemoth at our level...

With another 50+ storey development on the car park outside...

The soon to be ex-car park with Bay Street to the right!!
...and the 30 storey building across the street being raised up to 60 storeys….

30 becoming 60 storeys… with Bay Street to its left!!!

I realize that we don't have the divine right to the downtown Toronto skyline but really!

Maybe I need to call the realtor again.

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