The 73-storey east tower of downtown Toronto’s Frank Gehry-designed Forma condominium project has sold 50 per cent of its suites in six weeks.
“This building is one of a kind and our sales velocity in these economic headwinds proves it,” Westdale Properties chief operating officer Mitchell Cohen told RENX. “People still want to live in a Frank Gehry-designed building.”
Gehry was born in Toronto in 1929 and remains active in designing and leading a team of approximately 160 people at Los Angeles-based Gehry International Inc., a full-service architectural firm founded in 1962.
Gehry has earned acclaim and multiple awards for designing unique buildings around the world, including: the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; Dancing House in Prague; Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle; Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles; Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas; Biomuseo in Panama City; Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris; and the expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
“All roads lead to home and here we have Frank Gehry putting up his masterpiece in his hometown,” Cohen said of Forma.
Dream Unlimited, Great Gulf and Westdale are the co-developers of Forma, which will be located on King Street West between the Royal Alexandra and Princess of Wales Theatres, north of Metro Hall and David Pecaut Square.
The site is surrounded by dining, entertainment, recreation, culture and shopping options as well as public transit.
Construction could start in the spring
Zoning is complete and the site plan approval process for Forma is well underway, according to Cohen.
“Subject to our sales velocity, we would love to be in the ground and under construction in the spring,” said Cohen. “The City of Toronto has been an incredible partner to help us move this through the process and be ready for construction.”
Hoarding design is being planned and the demolition of existing buildings that will make room for Forma can be mobilized within months, Cohen added.
Average pricing is pushing above $2,000 per square foot, which is consistent with other Toronto luxury condos.
Suites will range in size from 375-square-foot studios to 8,700-square-foot full-floor penthouses, with a variety of one-, two- and three-bedroom options in between.
The strong buyer interest in Forma’s 864 east tower suites is a result of several factors, Cohen said.
“It’s attributable to a great design, a starchitect and a superior location. You’re at the nexus of the financial core and the entertainment district.”
The developers and designers have needed to adjust on the fly to a higher-than-expected demand for larger units at Forma.
“We’re constantly changing our suite designs and layouts to cater to what people want,” said Cohen. “We’ve had to make some quick changes and movements of walls to accommodate larger units.”
Amenities at Forma
Toronto-based Studio Paolo Ferrari is overseeing Forma’s interior design, including its amenity spaces. The condo’s amenities will include:
• The Grand Suite, which encompasses a bar, lounge, dining room, theatre, games room and chef’s kitchen;
• a large terrace with outdoor lounges, a barbecue area and alfresco dining areas;
• a health and wellness retreat with a gym, sauna, jacuzzi, treatment room and spaces dedicated to cardio and weight training, spinning, yoga, personal training and boxing;
• The Creator’s Club, which includes co-working spaces, lounge areas, boardrooms, a sound-proof recording studio, a games and billiards room, and rooms dedicated to woodworking, painting and crafts;
• a lobby concierge, a third-party concierge service that will provide a variety of amenities, and an on-site program director.
OCAD University will occupy two floors in the east tower to add space to its unique tabletop-looking primary building, the Sharp Centre for Design at 100 McCaul St., located a few blocks north of Forma.
West tower at Forma to follow
Sales for Forma’s 84-storey west tower will begin at an unspecified future date.
In addition to 1,225 residential suites, Cohen said it will include 125,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. Discussions are taking place to bring a world-renowned hotel brand to the building for its first Toronto location.
There’s been a recent downturn in overall condo sales along with an increase in interest rates, but Cohen believes buyers will be eager to get a piece of the west tower when sales launch.
“This isn’t the first time there have been economic headwinds in the real estate business. If you have a good product and good value, you can weather out the storm and press forward.
“With this being Frank Gehry’s tallest residential building in the world, we’re pretty confident that we’re going to get through this fine.”
Forma means “form, shape or appearance” in Latin and Italian, and the name fits the unique design of its buildings.
“Developers today are understanding the legacy that we have to leave,” said Cohen. “Our buildings don’t stay up for five years, they stay up for 100 years.
“We’re impacting the skyline. Recently developers have collectively raised the bar on their designs.”
Forma’s development partners
Toronto-based Westdale employs more than 1,400 and has owned, managed and developed real estate across North America for more than 60 years.
It oversees more than 50,000 residential units in Ontario, Quebec and 11 American states. Its portfolio also includes more than four million square feet of retail, office, industrial, food and beverage, hotel and resort properties on both sides of the border.
Dream was founded in Toronto in 1994 and has more than $17 billion in real estate assets across North America and Europe. It has more than 21,400 new residential condo and rental units in development.
Toronto-headquartered Great Gulf is a low-rise and high-rise developer that was founded in 1975 as the residential division of the Great Gulf Group of Companies.
It has developed more than 80,000 residences in Canada and the United States and has more than 9,000 high-rise units in development or under construction.