Costas Kivelos: Hi, everyone. I’m Costas Kivelos. We are First Access Condos. Today, we have the pleasure of being with Zev Mandelbaum, Altree Developments and their landmark project, the Forest Hill. Zev, tell us a little bit about this project in one of Toronto’s most exclusive neighborhoods, Forest Hill.
Zev Mandelbaum: Thank you for having me on the show, Costas. I really appreciate it. Forest Hill Private Residences was one of the most amazing challenges of my life to put the piece of plan together. It is the most iconic location in Toronto in one of the most exclusive affluent neighborhoods, the Forest Hill community. Unlike any other community, the Forest Hill community is a tight-knit community in the heart of Toronto. It’s a location-based community where families grow old and stay. And it was very homogeneous, where you have three generations living in Forest Hill and wanting to return to Forest Hill. Almost every child that grew up in Forest Hill that you speak to sees themselves going back to Forest Hill, because it is that community. It’s centered around Spadina village. It has a really, really close village-y feel, unbelievably gorgeous from the homes to the affluent community that really gives it its unique and iconic location.
Costas Kivelos: Now when we talk about real estate, it’s location, location, location. And this checks all three boxes. But what sets the Forest Hill different and apart from other condo projects in the city is that it doesn’t have any direct competition.
Zev Mandelbaum: No. It’s one of a kind. It’s a true unique masterpiece. Aside from the incredible amenities that we’ve done here, going well and above and beyond those of a condominium in Toronto, this project is truly unique in its location and its design, its amenities, its units, and there is no competition.
Costas Kivelos: Now you mentioned the only direct competition is not really a competition because the unit sizes are completely different.
Zev Mandelbaum: The unit sizes and the amenities, where we have pools, saunas, steams, valet, service lobbies, heaters, kitchens, party rooms, 20-seater party rooms for a dining table that could seat for any event, whether it be Friday night dinners, whether it be holidays or Passover. To have a building like this with this unique amenity with the different unit sizes that we have starting from just over 700 square feet and move all the way up, and the combinations that we offer is truly unique.
Costas Kivelos: Now, what have I seen from my colleagues and competitors in a way they’ve been pitching this beautiful project is they’ve been focusing on the end user. And it’s great that I think that we touched on it, that this is not only for end users but the ultimate buy for the investor as well. Over 70% of condo buyers are investors. And in this project, when you’re looking for a good investment, Forest Hill Private Residences, it checks the boxes along the lines of it does not have any direct competition. It’s in one of the best areas in the city. And most importantly, this project, unlike any other condo project in the city, sets its own price per square foot. Would you like to touch on that?
Zev Mandelbaum: Absolutely. We look at condo downtown Toronto that may be a luxury condo, you have many other buildings around this, and you’re competing and you’re not impervious to market conditions. This is tantamount to being an art project. This is a piece of art in an affluent community that wants to remain that. Now, having such an affluent community that is so strongly attached to [inaudible 3:32] mean that this will be coveted by the Forest Hill community and the members of Forest Hill and surrounding members for it. You cannot duplicate it. You cannot have any other unit that it compares in another building. And that’s what makes it unique. And if you want to live here and you want to live in Forest Hill with these amenities, you’re going to pay whatever it is because there are no options. And when you invest in a condo, you want to be impervious to market conditions. You want to say the market’s great and the market will always help me. But I want to say that no matter what, there’s always going to be a demand for these products.
Costas Kivelos: When our clients, investors, and end users ask us at First Access Condos what kind of guarantee can we give them based on our experience that a project will increase in value? And what I tell them is always follow basic economics – supply and demand. Zev touched on why there will always be a demand in this area for product, especially something as unique as a condo building, which there is no competition. But most importantly, that demand will be limited and stunted by very, very little supply. And as we have said, both Zev and I, this is the only game in town if you want to be in Forest Hill. So will your investment increase in value at Forest Hill? Here, I can guarantee yes.
Now, Zev, we’ve talked about why buy this building from a financial perspective and talked about the culture and history of the area and what appeals people to come to it, brings them there. When we look at the structure, what’s going to set it apart is the exterior is stone unlike concrete, beautiful floor to ceiling glass windows, a cascading backdrop over the tree line streets of Forest Hill, and beautiful city skyline views from the south. But talk to me about what’s inside the building. What’s the bonus of this building? Talk to me about the amenities.
Zev Mandelbaum: Absolutely. One thing I will touch before we get to the amenities. What makes this unique building even more unique is the amount of outdoor space. With the majority of these units, in fact, almost all of them having tremendous terraces, with the ability to have 10 foot ceilings and a huge terrace that is tantamount and comparable to what you have at home. It really marries the bridge between a home and a condo. And that’s what makes it unique. The fact is when you live in a big home, you spend your time on your patio, you don’t really go to inside your apartment. And your patio which has your couches and has your dining table, barbecues, and that size patio, you can duplicate here. Having such tremendous outdoor area creates an indoor-outdoor living just like living in a home. And having it as a building with the amount of elevators we’ve put in, giving you super fast access to every unit means you’re not waiting as if you were in a condo tower. You’re seconds to your suite, tremendous outdoor living. You grab your coffee, you’re on a huge terrace with your couches. And you have something that is very much like the way you live at home. And that’s another aspect of why this is unique. If you go downtown, there’s lots of towers. But a tower doesn’t give you the outdoor living experience, the feeling of being inside a home.
And in regards to the amenities over here, coming from a hotel background as well, we’ve developed hotels, I tried to marry a five star service, five star amenities. I’ll give you an example. There are two lobbies in this building. There’s a main lobby, which will be like a lounge in a hotel. You meet your people. There’s 24-hour coffee, tea, and water. The valet comes in. You go there, you can sit. And then there’s a service lobby, where the noise is. When someone comes and delivers a pizza, you don’t want that stench in the main lobby or in the hallway. It goes through the service lobby. When your dog comes in all wet, the concierge will grab your car, take your pet right into the pet spa in the service lobby and keeps them nice and dry.
Having amenities like a wine sommelier on staff to recommend the latest vintage, to have a wine collection built into the building, where at cost with no markup you can call down to the concierge and they will recommend a different bottle every night for you. Where you have wine locker storages where you can store your own wine. From individual private training areas to caterers, kitchens, to expand an indoor-outdoor area, tranquility, lounges, outdoors, pool, sauna, steam. Having so many amenities when you have towel service by the spa and pool. Having all these kind of amenities where we’ve gone so far and so beyond. And we got things at a tremendous cost, because this is a marquee building. We’ve gotten 15 foot ceilings in the amenities, expansive. We’ve done a double height 24 atrium in the primary lobby. These are things that will stand out to you. And we did that at tremendous cost, not just the limestone exterior, because we know that this building will be iconic, will be the building that everybody wants to be in. It’s going to be the building that, “Oh, you’re in Forest Hill Private Residence.” That’s the building you’re in. And that’s the value. The value is that this is so unique from its amenities, its designs, its outdoor spaces, iconic location.
Costas Kivelos: Now, all development is just like any other business, and it’s based on trying to achieve a return. But when you build something like this, that is not the focus of this project. And it’s great to see someone with your pedigree in development taking on such a task because very few could actually accomplish it. Now, you’ve gone above and beyond to create a landmark building because that’s what it is. It’s not about the money here. It’s about creating something that will stand the test of time, maybe a landmark and people will say, “That is the building.”
Now, a lot of our overseas clients when they come to Toronto and wanted to invest, they’re a little disappointed with what they see in terms of luxury. You coming from your hotel background has found a way to bring that luxury to Toronto, and it was a lacking sector. It was empty and you’re filling that void, and that is amazing and fantastic. It’s something our city needs.
Now, another thing I want to touch on and what I’m really impressed is you found a way to take a condo which traditionally has a colder feel than a home and tried and created a way to fuse that feeling and sense of a home and not just a unit by including the terraces, the large high ceilings, the floor to ceiling windows, and you’ve taken it and it is an easy transition for a lot of people to go from a home with a backyard into this condo. What you’ve created here and are planning to build is really essentially the best of both worlds.
Zev Mandelbaum: It very much is and it’s a legacy. You said it before, a building like this is very hard to get. The amount of detail, the amount of units, the thought that goes into it. Every unit being unique add different from the other, every floor plan being different. Every unit here is different than the one next to it. It is three times as hard to make a building like this than a regular conventional home. But I did this because it’s a legacy. My grandfather started the business in the ’50s H&R. My father [inaudible 10:20]. I come from a long lineage of developers, I have children. This is a legacy. It’s a marquee project. It’s a legacy that my children will see because we live not far from here, and they’re going to see it almost every day going to school.
Costas Kivelos: The Forest Hill Private Residences, three generations of development knowledge and expertise culminating in one iconic building. Thank you, Zev Mandelbaum. I can’t wait to see this built.
Zev Mandelbaum: Thank you.