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GreysAnatomy

What are some good and bad condos in downtown Toronto?

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We've all heard about the ICE condo nightmare...do you guys have any insight on good condos, or ones to avoid? Thanks!

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Oh boy.... do I ever. Stay clear from anything managed by Cromwell Group. I've lived at 666 Spadina Ave and let's just say the address number lives up to its name 😅

Your best bet is to find something on ViewIt.com or a facebook related sublet if you're looking to live in Toronto only during the school year. Good luck!

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I have nothing against rental buildings, but 666 is not a condo. OP, I would look at some of the new buildings that are operated by reputable management groups like Minto. 

As for other condo nightmares...

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/aura-elevators-1.3703612

Quote

 

For those like him that live above the 55th storey, only one elevator works—sort of. As of Tuesday afternoon, it was manned by a kindly security guard on a stool, who would pilot the elevator to the requested floor, stopping at every fifth storey on the way down to pick up any departing residents. If you want to go down, you can call the concierge and ask for the lift to be sent to your floor, or you can take the stairs to one of the storeys where the elevator is scheduled to stop.

“It’s like the ‘20s,” said McNally, provoking a laugh from the guard-turned-elevator attendant on Tuesday. “What happens when people are trapped and there’s an actual emergency?”

 

 

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Honestly like half the condos and apartments in Toronto are bad. Always search for the address on google with “cockroaches”, “bedbugs” and more generally “reviews”. I’ve found the best places for value tend to be smaller buildings (like, building/large houses with 4-16 units). But there are some nice, bigger buildings too — they just tend to be expensive. 

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Posted (edited)

If you can see if the building bylaws bans airbnbs, that's a good sign.

I know Toronto "banned" airbnbs, but they don't enforce it. Pandemic or not, the crowd that tends to airbnb downtown Toronto condos are typically douche bags you don't ever want to interact with.

Edited by pzabbythesecond
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For rental apartments, the mid-century purpose built rentals tend to be better value than the newer glass-and-concrete buildings, in my experience. 

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4 hours ago, GreysAnatomy said:

We've all heard about the ICE condo nightmare...do you guys have any insight on good condos, or ones to avoid? Thanks!

I've stayed in the ICE condos on a trip to Toronto once and holy hell, what a shit show (literally. The balcony of the neighbouring unit had copious amounts of dog shit, along with loud music blasting at random hours of the night). Also some of the weirdest layouts/architecture I've ever seen, with beams running right through the middle of the kitchen.

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7 hours ago, 0Lawschool2020 said:

Honestly like half the condos and apartments in Toronto are bad. Always search for the address on google with “cockroaches”, “bedbugs” and more generally “reviews”. I’ve found the best places for value tend to be smaller buildings (like, building/large houses with 4-16 units). But there are some nice, bigger buildings too — they just tend to be expensive. 

This is my experience as well everywhere. Bigger the building the worse it usually is, to a point (above a certain size, they mostly just suck). If you can get a unit in a smaller place I would always recommend that, even if it's a bit further away. 

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Posted (edited)

Are you talking about renting or buying?

I've heard (and seen) good things about Daniels Corp. If you're looking to buy a new build construction condo, their deposit structures are some of the best out there (up to 10% on Occupancy; I've also seen $3500 down and 1% every month up until 5% down or occupancy, which is quite good because that gives you time to save cash for your bigger down payment between occupancy and final closing). Quality of craftsmanship and customer service is also important, and I've heard they're up there (of course, you'll have your complaints here and there, as with anything).

They also have some communities/condos particularly for rental purposes, so I'd look into that too.

I googled ICE Condos and one of the first reviews is "Bullets shot through the wall from neighbouring unit!". What the hell is going on over there LOL.

Edited by burr0wn
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From my experience, anything built by Tridel is good, although they are not cheap. 

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I'll join the chorus in suggesting trying to find a rental in a smaller to medium size building rather than a large one. In my experience even buildings constructed by developers with supposedly better reputations can have issues. If your building is having elevator problems you'll be glad to live in a smaller building with only 10 floors rather than 40. 

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Better yet, live close to the ground. Find a second floor of a house, or condo townhouse. God do I miss being able to just walk out of my place. The view (and I have a damn nice view) is not worth it.

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This discussion really depends on whether the OP is thinking of buying a place or renting a place. If renting, I would avoid all condos, as you are at the mercy of a single individual who probably knows nothing about landlord tenant law. I would look at newer purpose-built rental with a reputable property management firm.

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4 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Better yet, live close to the ground. Find a second floor of a house, or condo townhouse. God do I miss being able to just walk out of my place. The view (and I have a damn nice view) is not worth it.

I used to rent on the second floor of a 4 story building. It had an elevator but I only used it if coming up from the parking garage with heavy packages. It was so nice to just zip in and out of my apartment using the stairs.

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Until 2004 I had never lived somewhere with an elevator. From 2004 on I have never lived lower than the 10th floor. I feel like that's something you just get used to. I wouldn't even consider it in choosing a place to live.

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Posted (edited)

I've worked as a realtor before and have been getting back into the market for myself lately. If you are buying, here are my battle scars (since you mentioned ICE). Sorry for the post length, I have a lot of opinions! 

Waterfront

ICE is actually laughably bad. A few weeks ago there were wine bottles being thrown off balconies onto the street below from the 40th floor. If you visit, you will see remnants still on the surrounding sidewalks. I had a showing there and we waited for the elevator for about 30 minutes at one point... this was for low-rise. Kitchens are tiny... the fridges are literally like mini fridges. As someone else in this thread mentioned, the layouts look like the architects (or builders) were drunk when designing them... just weirdly angled walls and unusable spaces all around. Terrible finishes relative to Harbour Residences as well (see below). It is hard to see when you are not in the industry what qualifies for "terrible finishes" but both buildings are similarly aged and situated and yet most units in ICE are falling apart at the seams and look terrible on the inside. 

Harbour Residences. Terrible management (Menkes has off-loaded it onto some other corp). Elevators never work. 90% of east-facing views are going to be obstructed by the CIBC buildings (phase 2 starting soon) and 90% of west-facing views are currently obstructed by the west tower or ICE. Public amenities are always a dump and the gym is contracted out (a running theme in this building) to PURE Fitness which is both inconvenient and costly if you live with one other person. Price per sqft is also insane relative to ICE because although they are still covertly an "Airbnb" building, they have managed to escape ICE's reputation. For god knows what reason. 

Living by the waterfront you will have bug problems, even in the newer and "nicer" buildings. From what I understand exterminations don't really do anything. This applies even if you don't have a south-facing unit. It has to do with the humidity and the lake. 

Another set of buildings I hate are the cluster of buildings in Fort York. I don't even know what they're all called because they blur into one after a while. The area is so out-of-the-way in my opinion, and aging very poorly. The area is poorly planned and transit sounds like a nightmare. Not all of the buildings are bad though. I think the ones I have a specific problem with are Spectra. 

33 Harbour Square do not have balconies and will charge you maintenance fees out the *** because they are ancient. 

Water Club has very awkward floor plans. Long, never ending hallways and rounded living rooms. Nice building amenities and staff though.

Monde Condos towards the east side of the waterfront are fairly nice. Nice, straight layouts that just make sense. Nice, high-quality finishes. Well situated (your views will likely not be immediately obstructed). In these newer buildings, it is very hard to find floor plans that just make sense and views that are unobstructed. The builders were not drunk when making these! From a building architectural pov, the tower is beautiful and one of the most interesting in the area. Highly recommend this one as far as the waterfront goes, it's a gem. 

Residences of the World Trade Center -- older but well maintained. Not bad. 

Moving away from the Waterfront

Massey Tower is one of my least favourites. As well as Aura and 10 York. All fall into the same set of crap. This isn't just an issue of "over priced" -- the finishes are cheap, the layouts are awkward, the ceilings are low outside of "principal areas" (in 2021 at a luxury building priced at $1500/sqft there is no excuse for this subpar crap). 10 York is also next to the ICE buildings which largely cheapens the experience. This basket of buildings just has an insane PR machine and a lot of hype built around them, but I would save your money. I don't mind One Bloor or 488 University because even though they are expensive, they are at the very least decently built, well-designed and well-planned.

King West

In King West... many complain about the quality of the build at King Blue - lots of unfinished features and generally not the most reputable builder. Also, King Blue units are in a bit of predicament because while they are currently priced to account for a nice, unobstructed view on the south-side... this view will be ENTIRELY obstructed by 2023 due to the Nobu towers and 55 Mercer. Buyer beware! 

Bisha Hotel... some people like these units, in my opinion the bedrooms are ridiculously small, not even sure how you would put a bed in them. Also the "residences" (non-hotel) have a back alley entrance, not directly entered through the hotel, it feels very odd for the price per sqft being charged in this building. I would not even visit this one again.

Pre-construction, I'd like to say that it is too early to tell for Nobu but 55 Mercer just sucks. 55 Mercer is situated to be largely obstructed in views, the floor plans make no sense, and the developer is notorious for its cheap finishes and poor planning. Check out INDX (same developer) where there is a recurring problem with sinks backing up and flooding the units, a design flaw according to the plumbers. Kitchens are also not designed for cooking. Just a bad place to live all around. I feel bad for anyone who signed up for this atrocity. At the beginning of the pandemic when there was panic in the air, I noticed some people sold these on assignment for a loss, something I haven't seen at any other point. 

In King West, I don't mind the Pinnacle (295 not 290). Decent building, really well proportioned units and price per sqft isn't bad. 

Bloor-Yonge

On a more positive note: I have a real soft spot for the buildings are Chaz/Casa (and X2). Floor plans are beautiful and just make sense, building amenities are beautiful and well kept. I believe Chaz/Casa are almost 10 years old and yet have aged much better than most of the buildings I've described above. The finishes are just beautiful, with flat ceilings (sometimes concrete!) and large, quality windows. Beautiful facilities, really well managed, maintenance fees are relatively low. They really don't build them like this anymore, sadly. 

Edited by quickcomments
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Oh... and I forgot... the Maple Leaf Square Residences at 55/65 Bremner, right across from ICE. LOL. Don't even go here unless you are desperate. There is no direct elevator up to the units (from what I understand). You have to take two elevator trips to get to your unit (one to floor 9 which is where the main lobby is and then from floor 9 to the main lobby). It has also aged really poorly and is a notorious Airbnb hot spot, even on a showing in the middle of a pandemic we saw a flurry of suitcases and travellers. Also this is where chair girl made history.

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Yeah, it’d be one thing if we were throwing our space away to build quality, worthwhile homes. Instead, anything new tends to be absolute dreck. Great thinking, everyone!

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2 minutes ago, easttowest said:

Yeah, it’d be one thing if we were throwing our space away to build quality, worthwhile homes. Instead, anything new tends to be absolute dreck. Great thinking, everyone!

Developers can get away with it because anything new is largely financed by out-of-country investors who will never step foot in the housing and will use it as a money store. I don't have the resources on hand but I've seen some statistic that really drive this point home. 

Like I said, I have a lot of opinions on all of this. I really cannot stand what the developers are doing in this city, outside of building terrible shoeboxes, i.e. sitting on permits endlessly until the prices rise and then turning them for a profit.

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