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The Waverley heads up busy 2021 for Fitzrovia Real Estate

Fitzrovia Real Estate Inc.’s The Waverley is now leasing and the firm is facing a very busy 2021...

IMAGE: The Waverley is being developed by Fitzrovia Real Estate on the site of the former Waverley Hotel and its iconic Silver Dollar Room. (Courtesy Fitzrovia)

The Waverley is being developed by Fitzrovia Real Estate on the site of the former Waverley Hotel and The Silver Dollar Room. (Courtesy Fitzrovia)

Fitzrovia Real Estate Inc.’s The Waverley is now leasing and the firm is facing a very busy 2021 with several major Toronto apartment developments nearing completion or starting construction soon.

“We have four buildings with about 1,300 units to deliver in the next seven months,” Fitzrovia chief executive officer Adrian Rocca told RENX.

However, The Waverley is one of the most talked-about. The building features a relatively modest (in terms of Toronto developments) 15 storeys and 166 units at the centrally located corner of College Street and Spadina Avenue.

It’s within easy walking distance of Kensington Market, the University of Toronto, Little Italy, Chinatown and University Avenue’s hospitals, leading Rocca to say it’s well-suited for young professionals and university students.

But in addition to the usual buzz about these types of properties, The Waverley has another calling card.

The historic Silver Dollar Room

The site was formerly occupied by The Waverley Hotel and was well-known to live music fans as the location of The Silver Dollar Room from 1958 to 2017. A new venue adjacent to the residential lobby of the new tower will honour the former Silver Dollar, a registered heritage landmark.

Many of the venue’s original elements will be reincorporated into the new space, including the bar, stage, murals, terrazzo floor and the iconic Silver Dollar Room sign.

Rocca is still unsure when The Silver Dollar Room will open because Toronto live music venues have either been closed or faced severe operating restrictions since the onset of the pandemic.

“A lot of conversations have gone quiet. No one’s really interested in looking at a financial commitment to a space like that. We want to be patient,” he said.

“We’ll do some pop-ups out of it and do some resident programming out of it. My guess is that once a vaccine is rolled out and there’s more optimism in the market, that’s when we’ll bring it to life.”

Rocca said he’s open to creative ideas.

“We definitely want to bring back live music, but we also want a food and beverage concept, similar to a Drake Hotel-style offering where there’s a food offering, a beverage offering and then live music in the evening.”

The Waverley’s rents and amenities

In the meantime, the building is leasing units and Fitzrovia was offering early tenants a package including: one month of free rent; $1,200 in one-gigabyte Internet from Rogers; a $500 food and beverage gift certificate for Boxcar Social and Greenhouse Juice; and a $1,000 gift certificate from furniture and home décor retailer Structube.

The Waverley’s studios range from 425 to 474 square feet and rent for $1,900 to $2,100 a month. One-bedroom units vary from 525 to 550 square feet and rent for $2,100 to $2,400.

Two-bedroom units are around 775 square feet and rent for from $3,000 to $3,400. There are six three-bedroom units of about 1,100 square feet renting for around $4,000.

When asked if the recent drop in asking rents in Toronto impacted The Waverley, Rocca replied: “We definitely already took a haircut to them. We think, given the financial package we’re offering and the incentive package and the building offering, it’s really compelling and priced right for the market.”

The Waverley is to officially open April 1, including the integrated Boxcar Social and Greenhouse Juice. Rocca expects residential units to be fully leased in four to five months.

Amenities include: a rooftop infinity pool; a penthouse commercial-grade fitness facility; 24/7 concierge service; an immersive theatre; a pet spa; virtual yoga and pilates classes; event programming; and an on-site rental automobile.

“It’s really a hospitality-focused business for us,” said Rocca. “It’s almost like a hotel for residents in how we treat them and focus on community-building in our attention to detail and our partnership deals with what we call symmetrical brands.”

Resident wellness is another emphasis. Through Cleveland Clinic, it will have a room where tenants can use an iPad to virtually speak to a doctor and use on-site diagnostic equipment so the doctor can issue a virtual prescription.

Coronavirus precautions include contactless temperature testing by an automated camera on entry to the building, and providing two free COVID-19 tests in tenants’ suites.

Fitzrovia’s apartment strategy and outlook

Fitzrovia is a vertically integrated developer and asset manager of class-A apartment buildings in the Greater Toronto Area. It partners with public institutions, pension plans and high-net-worth investors interested in long-term, cash-flow-generating assets.

“We have zero desire to be in the condo space,” said Rocca. “We just want to be focused on the rental market.”

Rocca concedes this isn’t the easiest time for apartment owners and developers, “but we’re taking a long-term view that immigration is going to come back to the market and the excess inventory, primarily through Airbnb, will get mopped up and the market will recover.

“There are a lot of people on the sidelines waiting to see some proper green shoots in the market and a proper recovery.”

Fitzrovia continues to track opportunities for its Toronto development pipeline. But with five projects nearing occupancy or under construction — plus two more about to start — it can hold off on new launches until market conditions improve.

The Brixton and Liberty House

Fitzrovia and CentreCourt are partners on The Brixton, a 32-storey mixed-use building at Dufferin and Queen Streets with 397 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, plus 60,000 square feet of commercial space and underground parking.

The Brixton’s amenities include: concierge services; bicycle storage; storage lockers; resident event programming; a rooftop infinity pool; outdoor grilling stations; a fitness centre; a yoga and spin room; a community kitchen and dining room; a media room; a games room; a fireside lounge; a pet spa; and a dog run.

The Graziani + Corazza Architects Inc.-designed apartment building offered early tenants a package including two months of free rent, a fully stocked wine fridge valued at $500, a $300 Ritual gift card and a $200 Netflix gift card. Pre-leasing has started and initial occupancies will start in April.

Liberty House, at 39 E. Liberty St. at the corner of Strachan Avenue, is another CentreCourt partnership. The 25-storey, 440-unit, IBI Group-designed apartment building with integrated retail on the ground floor is on track for an October delivery at the eastern end of Liberty Village.

Liberty House’s amenities will include: an outdoor rooftop pool with a cabana and terrace area; a full-size gym and yoga room; multi-purpose lounge areas; a party and entertainment room; concierge service; a games room; a media lounge; and a full entertainment kitchen for cooking classes.

The Parker and 88 Queen

Occupancy is to begin at the 37-storey, 349-unit The Parker in November. The Graziani + Corazza Architects Inc.-designed building at 91 Broadway Ave. near Redpath Avenue includes ground-floor retail. It’s close to retail, restaurants, services, Sherwood Park and the Eglinton subway station.

The Parker’s amenities will include: an outdoor rooftop pool with a cabana and terrace area; a full-size gym and yoga room; multi-purpose lounge areas; a party and entertainment room; and concierge service.

A 27- and 28-storey development at 88 Queen St. E. will have 542 combined units and integrated retail on the ground floor. One tower is geared toward young families and downsizers, the other to young professionals.

The Hariri Pontarini Architects and Turner Fleischer Architects-designed project is expected to be delivered in 2023.

Amenities at 88 Queen will include: an outdoor rooftop pool with a cabana and barbecue area; a multi-purpose study and lounge area; an entertainment room; concierge service; a games room; an indoor basketball court; a 5,000-square-foot fitness facility; a theatre room; co-working space; a spa; and a daycare.

Upcoming Fitzrovia apartment developments

“We’re about to break ground on a three-tower, all-rental development at the Holiday Inn right across from the Yorkdale mall,” said Rocca. “We just started abatement on the hotel.”

The project at 3450 Dufferin St. will include IBI Group-designed buildings of 24, 28 and 30 storeys with 766 combined units along with retail at grade, a daycare, parking for 693 bikes and a three-level underground garage with 731 parking spaces. It’s slated for 2024 delivery.

Fitzrovia’s partners on the site, which was acquired from The Gupta Group last September for $86.5 million, are Hazelview Investments and Alberta Investment Management Corporation.

Fitzrovia has also filed a zoning application for a mixed-use apartment building with retail at grade at 412 Church St., between Carlton and Gerrard Streets.

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