Built in 1975, 150 Heath Street, in the heart of Foresthill, was ahead of its time. Built by Cadillac Fairview, this building was the first, if not one of the first, luxury condominiums in the City of Toronto. Built as a flag ship building, 150 Heath Street represented a new era in apartment style living. Cadillac Fairview spared little expense when they built this building and the craftsmanship and quality is still evident today. Originally, the building consisted of 52 units, four per floor over 13 floors. Now the building has 46 suites as some owners doubled up over time combining two suites into one. In 1975 the common elements represented luxury at its best throughout the building. The main lobby was spacious with 12’ ceilings and all the trim solid English Oak, including the ceiling itself. The building had two Party Rooms that looked onto beautifully manicured gardens and a staff entrance and staff lounge on the main floor as well. Each typical corridor had solid oak cornice moulding with matching solid oak baseboards. All the suite entrances were trimmed in oak with double oak doors. Two levels of underground parking provided the residents with ample space to park. This building was very unique, not just because of its location and style, but because it was a condominium. In 1975 condominium living was a new concept and in its infancy. The idea of owning an apartment was a novel concept and the sharing of expenses made the idea even more appealing. Today, Toronto boasts one of the largest condominium markets in North America second only to the State of Florida. 150 Heath Street is still a luxury building, even by today’s standards, however; in order to compete in today’s marketplace 150 Heath Street needs to “keep up with the Jones’”.
The building still has all its original amenities, but it still has all its original finishes as well. This is where our refurbishment story begins. The Board recognized that the building needed a facelift in order to maintain market value. Though the building was immaculately kept and the finishes well maintained, the finish style was out of date. The Board understood that a refurbishment was more than replacing the architectural finishes. A refurbishment was an investment in the Corporation and a good investment always pays dividends, and in this case the pay off is realized through increased real estate values. When a refurbishment project is approached in the right manner the outcome is certain and immediate. Teaming up with a good designer and a good contractor makes or breaks a project. The process to find the right mix is long and arduous, but a worth while exercise never the less.
The Board interviewed a number of design firms and contracted Paul Maggiacomo of Tanner Hill Associates to complete the design process. Tanner Hill Associates is one of Toronto’s pre-eminent condominium design firms. They specialize in new condominium design as well as refurbishment projects. Paul collaborated with the Board to develop a number of design plans that worked with the buildings existing features while modernizing the buildings identity. This approach was important to the Board as they wanted to retain the existing feeling of the building while modernizing the finishes. The final design was a complete success. Paul was able to successfully merge the existing styles using new materials and modern design to develop a completely new look for the building. Paul introduced hard surface flooring in all the typical residential corridor elevator lobbies to deal with wear issues on the carpet. He used 24” x 24” porcelain tiles that perfectly mimicked natural limestone and bordered them with granite for a sophisticated look. By using the porcelain replica tiles the Corporation saved on the long term maintenance costs associated with natural stone. The existing carpet was made of wool and held up amazingly well for its age. Paul continued with the use of wool, but chose to develop a completely new carpet design using a printed wool carpet from Design Origins. Printed carpet provides more design freedom and the ability to custom colour the carpet. One of the major issues Paul had to deal with was the upgrading of the corridor and lobby lighting. The existing lighting was original and still used incandescent bulbs. This was one area where immediate energy savings could be obtained with a short payback period. These are but a few of the design ideas Paul brought to the Board. Once the process was complete, and signed off at the Board level, Paul presented the final design to the residents through a town hall style meeting. Paul has great success with this approach as residents are able to review the design with Paul while asking questions related to the design. Once the process was complete, the details were finalized and the project tendered. The tender was won by CPL condominium design interiors, a mid size boutique contracting firm who specializes in condominium refurbishment projects.
Richard Lyons, President of CPL condominium design interiors, began the process by meeting with both the Property Manager and Paul Maggiacomo of Tanner Hill Associates to review the tender package and the scope of work. Once everything was complete, and the contracts signed, the project was underway.
This article originally appeared in Condo Business magazine.
You can also view a PDF version of this article.