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Tea Garden Condos Interview with Henry Strasser, Principal of Phantom Development

Today we chat with Henry Strasser, Principal of Phantom Developments. Phantom Developments have been developing condominiums in Toronto for over 5 years now. In this interview, Henry gives an in-depth look at their new pre-construction development in Bayview Village, Tea Garden Condos. Henry also gives us insight to the negotiation process when acquiring single-family homes, dealing with city planners and another upcoming planned project near Yonge and Bloor that has many in this city excited.

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Have questions for Henry or about the Tea Garden Condos? Please feel free to ask your questions below.

CondowNow: Give us your elevator pitch. What makes the Tea Garden Condos different from any other condo? Explain the vision.

Henry Strasser:  After the success of Jade Condos we wanted something very small and unique. The Tea Garden will be an 11-storey, boutique building. Amenities included will be a fitness centre, tea-lounge and outdoor hot tub. Residents can sit back, charge their smartphones and have a tea and relax. We’re trying to create something that doesn’t currently exist in the marketplace.

CN: Tea Garden is a unique name in itself, please tell us how you came up with it?

HS: Basically, Teagarden court is the street/cul-de-sac where the building will be located. We’re aiming at a broader demographic including new Canadians.  We wanted an exotic name to help capture that broader consumer base. Tea is a big part of Eastern cultures – The name was a perfect fit

CN: Kirkor Architects have an impressive resume which includes the Cinema Tower and the Chicago, what’s it like working with them?

HS: It’s great because they know the area better than anyone else having constructed approximately 8 buildings in the area. We’ve worked with them in the past and it was a pleasure. Interior design will be handled by Thomas Pierce who we have also worked with before Tea Garden. They are very trendy and have a contemporary style that speaks to people.

CN: Walk us through the building itself – Price point, Amenities, Suite Sizes and Estimated Completion.

HS: The average price per square foot is a competitive $584/per sqft. We have a great location which is key for success. Tea Garden will feature a mix of units: townhouses, lofts, and 95 one and two bedroom units. Suite sizes range from 480 sqft to approximately 900 sqft range. There are no bachelors/studios. Our penthouses range from 604 sqft to 932 sqft. Prices range from the mid $200’s to the high $500’s. Estimated completion for Tea Garden will be in early 2018.

CN: Who will be the target buyer at the Tea Garden Condos?

HS: Demographics in the area predict that we’ll get a lot of buyers that will occupy as their primary residence, including first-time buyers and empty-nesters. The building we designed and went after has a boutique feel. Investors will probably interested in the smaller units for rentals. A lot of the interest we’ve attracted thus far have been the bigger units with people looking to downsize. We really wanted to keep the price point down to make it affordable to everybody.

CN: We know your original plan was for 14 storeys and 144 units which got reduced to 11 storeys and 111 units, why the reduction?

HS: Unfortunately we couldn’t secure all the land we needed to sustain the original plans. The land we currently have can sustain 11 storeys with a 12th floor amenity space so we went with that. Same reason we went with three row housed instead of five. Sometimes compromises have to be made.

CN: We know that this site took some negotiation with multiple single-family home owners. Please explain what this process is like.

HS: We wanted five houses right away but had to deal with every person individually. We got number 2-4-6-and 10. However we couldn’t buy #8. Someone gave him a better offer which he took and he didn’t give us a chance to match. That’s why we had three houses in a row but couldn’t get the five.  It’s quite the experience dealing with all sorts of types of people while working towards an end goal.

CN: Do you anticipate any issues with construction?

HS: No, it should be very easy to build. It’s not downtown which is good and we also have access off Teagarden court. Of course I’d like to have all 5 houses in a row but it is what it is.

CN: Bayview Village has definitely changed in the past 5 years, how do you see the area in the next 3-10 years after the Tea Garden Condos is built and for the future?

HS: It’s booming. We see a Pusateri’s, revamped mall, and many other amenities coming to the area. Every time I go to the mall something new is being built or renovated. I don’t know if there is any more land to add more retail but we can potentially see more retail. The location is a minute from everything and it’s great to see these new condos support the area.

CN: We know in the near future Phantom Development plans to release 8 Cumberland Condos, anything you can tell us about this project? What should we look forward to?

HS: Everyone wants it, that’s all. Every broker, agent, everyone. (Smiles) I’m just joking. It’s a big one, literally the best location in the city. We hope to launch in the fall. Right now we’re designing the sales centre. It’s a beautiful project. We feel this one will be better suited for an investors interested in small units.

CN: Any future plans for Phantom Development?

HS: We have lots on our plate. We hope Tea Garden is successful and moves quickly. Cumberland is a six-year plan. We’ll get Tea Garden off the ground then work on Cumberland. We typically try and buy the best location, give value to the purchaser and sell for less than our competitors. Cumberland has a different magnitude so we won’t be able to finish quickly. It’ll be a six-year project no matter what.

CN: How will you measure the success of the Tea Garden Condos?

HS: We’ll be able to better measure it in 4 months. It’s a small project so I’m hoping to start construction in a year. We’ll know very quickly in sense of sales. We’re hoping people love our layouts and finishes as much as we do, because it’s hard not to love the location.

CN: Any last words?

HS: Tea Garden is the best location in that area, literally 50 feet from Bayview Village. We think we have an edge over everyone else. The price point, the finishes, and location are the best in the area. Make sure you get in at launch.

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