281 MUTUAL ST., UNIT 2801, TORONTO
Asking price: $1,595,000
Taxes: $8,095 (2012)
Unit size: 2,700 square feet
Listing agent: James Burtnick and Andy Taylor, Sotheby's International Realty
Unit 2801 in the Radio City towers – the condos near Jarvis and Carlton Streets – has a rich history. Beyond being a part of the rebuild of Toronto's old CBC Radio studios, it was also home to one of Canada's most famous publicists, Gino Empry.
After Mr. Empry died in 2006, one of his friends, Warren Shepell, bought the unit from the entertainment giant's estate. Mr. Shepell had worked with Mr. Empry, who used to do publicity for his consultant group. Through their working relationship, he got to know just how special Mr. Empry's custom-built condo was.
"I really loved all of the space of this condo," said Mr. Shepell. "And the views."
The back story
Part of the reason why unit 2801 has such an impressive view is because Mr. Empry merged a few units to make one big supersuite, all on the same floor.
The result is the perfect combination of office area, homey nooks and prime entertaining space – which doesn't surprise Mr. Shepell, since he's sure Mr. Empry entertained many A-list celebrities there.
But when Mr. Shepell took ownership, he decided to do away with the segmented nature of the suite and turn it into a much more open space. One of the first things he did was convert the den, which Mr. Empry had used to house his entertainment memorabilia including records, theatre posters and other treasures, into a guest bedroom that had its own seating area.
Next, he took down a wall that closed off the office in order to open up the space and share some of the view that the other rooms had.
"After I did this, the suite had a beautiful layout. The north and east side have the bedrooms, whereas the south and west sides have the office, living room, dining room and kitchen," said Mr. Shepell. "There is a flow to it that is really comfortable."
He also made a few aesthetic changes, including taking out the carpeting and putting down Lapacho hardwood flooring. A number of pot lights were added to help feature the art on the walls.
Mr. Shepell also added radiant flooring in the master bedroom and bathroom, as well as the kitchen, and installed a bigger walk-in closet in the master suite. And he spent around $40,000 on blackout, electric blinds so that he could have the great views and a good night's sleep too.
In total, he spent $250,000 in renovations.
And yet, despite its expansive size and luxurious nature, unit 2801 is not a penthouse. It's just below the penthouse units, which are like vertical townhouses, said Mr. Shepell, insofar as they are spread out over two or three floors. The fact that unit 2801 has comparable room all on the same floor, though, is one of the reasons why Mr. Shepell's agent, James Burtnick, thinks it will make a unique home for a family who are looking to live downtown.
"It's one of the few condos that can accommodate families," said Mr. Burtnick. "A three-bedroom condo is so rare and yet the demand is picking up.
"People are coming to realize that we can raise families in condos, much like people in Manhattan do."
Another similarity the condo shares with New York is its urban view. Because it was originally several smaller units, it has views in three directions: south, east and west. And most rooms open up to a balcony.
"The views are one-of-a-kind in Toronto," Mr. Shepell said.
Mr. Burtnick agrees. And because the building is not smack in the middle of the city there is a bit of breathing room between neighbouring towers.
"I feel like I'm in Manhattan, except in New York City you're looking at another building across the street," Mr. Shepell said.
Even at night – with the lit-up bank towers, the CN Tower and the moon – the view is "spectacular," said Mr. Shepell.
On a clear day, you can even see the Scarborough Bluffs if you gaze east. "The tree canopy is impressive," said Mr. Burtnick. "In this condo, you can see way more than just Toronto's concrete jungle."