Toronto is attracting keen interest from well-heeled international buyers, say developers, and there can be no greater vote of confidence than the fact that someone just plunked down a record $28 million to live in Canada’s largest city.
On Monday, a foreign buyer purchased the 9,038-square-foot penthouse at the Four Seasons Hotel and private residences in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood, obliterating a Canadian record for condominium prices.
“This is a real vote of confidence in the city that Toronto and Canada are firmly on the radar for global buyers,” said Alan Menkes, president of the highrise residential division of Menkes Development, one of the partners in the Four Seasons project.
When Menkes put the unit up for sale in September of 2008 he couldn’t have picked a worse time. That was the height of the global financial crisis that saw investment bank Lehman Bros. file for bankruptcy protection. But Canada has emerged with some of the strongest growth in the G8 and foreign investors are taking notice, said Menkes.
The developers are not saying who the new buyers are, only that they are “international.”
Speculation has been swirling that the likely buyer is either Asian or Russian, since they have been the most active in global luxury markets.
Asian buyers in Vancouver alone have been responsible for most of the multimillion-dollar sales in that market in the first quarter, and accounted for the majority of new home purchases in the pricey central London market this year.
Last year, an 8,000-square-foot penthouse suite sold for a record $22.3 million in Vancouver during the Olympics, or $2,787 per square foot; the Toronto sale easily tops that record at $3,098 per square foot.
(However, the Four Seasons unit also includes staff quarters of up to 1,000 square feet in an adjoining building. Even if that were added to the equation, the Yorkville unit would still eke out a record price.)
“We had a lot of interest locally and from around the world,” said Menkes.
At the northeast corner of Bay Street and Yorkville Avenue, the penthouse is the top floor at the 55- storey west residence building. The penthouse is expected to be “topped off” in a ceremony to be held Tuesday. Occupancy is not expected till the fall of 2012.
The suite features 12-foot ceilings and four corner terraces. There are a total of 210 residences spread over two towers. The hotel is on the bottom 20 floors of the west residence.
The penthouse unit had an original asking price of $30 million when it went on the market two years ago.
When the project was first marketed, the developers hired local designer Brian Gluckstein to configure what the unit might look like. He envisaged a 2,500-square-foot master suite with private terrace and two walk-in closets.
He also designed a theatre room and bar, and a walk-in wine cellar to accommodate 800 bottles.
“We knew the buyers at this level would want to highly customize their space, so the final details have not been set. They may want to turn the theatre into a gym or a separate bedroom, for example,” said Ng.
The project is a joint venture between Menkes, Lifetime Developments and Alcion Ventures, which have licensed the Four Seasons brand for their highrise.
Condo owners will have full access to hotel facilities, including valet parking, housekeeping and a 28,000-square-foot spa.
“That is a big price; there is nothing close to it in the rest of the country,” said Ben Myers, executive vice-president of condominium research firm Urbanation Inc. “There is really a very limited global market of people who can afford a $28 million property.”
Condo sales in the GTA have far exceeded the expectations of analysts, who have been calling for a pullback or correction for some time. April was the best ever on record for sales in the GTA.
“The person who bought this property isn’t thinking of the market or resale. They’re buying it because they can. They want the best and they’re willing to pay for it,” said Myers.
Confidence in the relative stability of the Canadian economy has attracted foreign investment, analysts say. And the strength of Bay Street and the banking sector in Canada’s financial capital has not gone unnoticed.
Luxury home sales rose in 12 major centres across Canada, according to a report by ReMax Ontario Atlantic Canada last week.