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Home of the Week, 1 Belsize Drive, PH 09,

1 Belsize Drive, PH 09, Toronto

Asking price: $3.5-million

Taxes: $13,591.99 (2023)

Monthly maintenance fee: $2063.40

Agents: Andrew Wells and Lisa Shirriff, Shirriff Wells Real Estate Group

The backstory

When John and Josie Harlow began looking at floor plans for a yet-to-be-completed condo building at 1 Belsize Dr. in Toronto, they’d been living in a house in midtown.

They liked the location, far enough south that it felt more downtown, but out of the chaos of the construction at Yonge and Eglinton. “We’re in a city now where families can live in condos, but developers aren’t building units big enough.” Mr. Harlow says.

There was no single condo with enough room to convince Josie and their two children to switch from a house, so the couple asked the developer if they could buy two units and combine them. The developer agreed, for a fee.

“Which is kind of funny because at this point, it wasn’t even a hole in the ground, right?” Mr. Harlow says of the preconstruction, nine-storey build. Once the extra paperwork was in order, the couple purchased two penthouse units, one that was meant to be around 800 square feet and another that was around 1,300 square feet.

The house today

  • Home of the Week, 1 Belsize Drive, PH 09,

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The enlarged, 2,100-square foot penthouse has three bedrooms, a den, three full bathrooms and a powder room.

With more space to work with, the Harlows were able to separate the sleeping quarters. The primary bedroom is isolated on one side of the unit while the children’s bedrooms are down the hall on the other side of the kitchen.

The home features three outdoor patios, one off of the children’s bedrooms, an outdoor eating space off of the kitchen, and a more shaded terrace off of the primary bedroom which Mr. Harlow says they use the most.

“The nice thing about these terraces is there’s no balcony above you, so you don’t feel like anyone is on top of you,” he says. That’s because the only thing above their penthouse is the rooftop terrace, to which the owners have exclusive access.

The terrace is 1,200 square feet of private outdoor space, surrounded by rooftop shrubbery. It’s situated on the northwest corner of the building and has almost unobstructed views of the city.

Another perk of combining the units is the added parking space. “[When we move] I’ll miss having my car always warm and dry,” Mr. Harlow says.

The family has four side-by-side spots with an EV charging station. The underground lot also provides storage space, conveniently located at their parking stall so the family can unload things directly from the car.

The building has saunas, a gym on the main floor and a party room.

The best feature

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Now that they’re moving to a house, Mr. Harlow will miss the ease of condo living. The 24-hour concierge gave them peace of mind whenever they left the building, whether for a couple of hours or a whole weekend.

“Half the time we don’t lock the door,” he says, “I never have to think about this place.”

The departure from the more suburban feel of their previous neighbourhood and house was an adventure that gave his children independence.

“As you kind of change the mindset and said, okay, let’s actually live like city dwellers, we started using the things around us way more.”

Mr. Harlow says his son, 13, and daughter, 11, could venture outside to grab a baguette around the corner at the bakery.

After living in the building for the last three years, he says the kids grew to love the convenience of it, despite having to take an elevator downstairs to walk the family’s French bulldog.

Living along the Yonge Street corridor meant easy access to fresh fruit and vegetables as well as quick access to the subway when they wanted to get downtown.

“I didn’t grow up in an apartment building, I grew up in the suburbs. So to see my kids transition to being kids that live in a condo was interesting to watch,” he says. “It’s changed our life.”

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