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(Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
(Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

satire

How two property moguls overcame their differences and landed their dream tower Add to ...

Deal of the Week: Scotia Plaza

Asking price: $1-billion

Selling price: $1.27-billion.

Time on the market: 4 months

The couple: Dundee Real Estate Investment Trust, a high-powered mover-and-shaker in the nation’s building market, and partner, H&R Real Estate Investment Trust.

The back story: The two property moguls had long eyed one another warily from a distance, but had always been more concerned about out-manoeuvring a shrewd competitor than finding a soul mate. Then, one day, Dundee and H&R were double-booked by an agent to see an office tower. “It was the Royal Bank Plaza,” Dundee recalls, “and the fact that we both hated those hideous gold windows just sort of broke the ice.” Neither party bid on the building – both deeming it as ugly as it was overpriced – but the next week they met for a coffee, and within a year the two devoutly single high-flyers were looking to settle down.

What they wanted: “Everything!” says H&R, whose list of “non-negotiables” included: super-fast elevators, auto-flush toilets and no Muzak. Dundee was more traditionally minded, wanting an established address, preferably on Bay or Adelaide, killer views, and close proximity to the TTC.

The staging: Completed in 1988 and considered a postmodern landmark, the 68-storey Scotia Plaza is no easy sell. “It’s just old enough to look dated,” according to the selling agent, “but still a decade away from having any sort of retro cool factor.” Scotiabank painted over passé taupes and installed the brushed-metal bathroom fixtures young couples now demand, but there was nothing they could do about all that red granite. “In the end, we just had to let the great location speak for itself,” the bank said.

The showing: “Outside, I was like, no way,” says H&R, who was eyeing the crisp, just built RBC Dexia building on Wellington, which is not for sale. Dundee was initially impressed by the build quality, but a home inspection revealed curled shingles on the roof. “It definitely wasn’t looking good,” Dundee recalls.

The turning point: Then the agent showed them the smaller, 28-storey historic Bank of Nova Scotia Building next door, a part of the property the couple had failed to notice on the sell sheet. H&R – instantly smitten by the 1928 façade – took one look at the high ceilings and turned to Dundee and said, “Pottery studio?” Dundee nodded, the couple embraced and within the hour their lawyers had drawn up the paperwork.

The deal: Initially, there was haggling over a Tassimo coffee machine and the fake plants, which Scotiabank wanted to keep because they were a gift from a deceased grandparent. But after an emotional closed-door meeting, Dundee sweetened the bid by an extra $270-million, and the couple got the buildings of their dreams – and the plants, too.



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