The listing: 500 Sherbourne St. Suite 2303
Asking price: $1,517,500
Taxes: $6.297.23 (2017)
Maintenance: $1,209.15 (monthly)
Unit size: Approximately 1,700 sq. ft (interior) and 1,485 sq. ft. (exterior)
Listing agent: Jen Tripp, salesperson, HomeLife/Realty One Ltd., Brokerage
Stuart Charlap knew he wanted to make his mother’s 80th birthday memorable. So, he threw her party in a very special place: his Toronto terrace in the sky.
Mr. Charlap and his partner, Bradley Greaves, own a condo on the 23rd floor of 500 Sherbourne St. on the east side of Toronto’s downtown. Beyond featuring two bedrooms and two bathrooms, the unit has exclusive use of a 1,500 square foot terrace. That is where they feted Mr. Charlap’s mother, Joan.
They rented tables and chairs for the terrace and hosted a sit-down dinner.
“There were 40 people there for the buffet,” he said.
At one point, guests who brought their own musical instruments set up in a corner and had an impromptu jam, with the city’s skyline as their backdrop.
“It was magical,” said Mr. Charlap.
The back story
Before they landed in this condo, the couple’s search was motivated by the simple desire to have more space. They were already living in the neighbourhood and had watched the old Princess Margaret Hospital get torn down at 500 Sherbourne St.
In its place, a 34-storey glass tower rose up and after Mr. Greaves and Mr. Charlap visited it a few times during open houses, they knew they wanted to live there.
“We decided pretty quickly it was the right place for us,” said Mr. Greaves. Specifically the couple could see themselves in the unit on the 23rd floor: “We would imagine how grand it would be to have our friends over and celebrate on the terrace.”
They bought the unit in fall of 2011 for under the listing price of $799,000 after it had been on the market for 129 days.
“I couldn’t believe all of the space was in one apartment and that that terrace was actually exclusive use for one unit,” said Mr. Greaves.
Beyond the massive terrace, the unit also features a living room at the west end, a den in the middle and a master suite at the east end.
“You’re on one half of the building,” said Mr. Charlap, adding that there are only three units on the 23rd floor. “You don’t hear any neighbours. It feels private and yet you have windows opening up onto the city on two different sides.”
Over their six years in the unit, they’ve made many changes, including upgrading appliances, installing new floors – they removed the original laminate flooring and put in engineered hardwood – and adding built-in wardrobes for the master walk-in closet. They also worked with Toronto artist Mark Jeremy Gleberzon to perfect the unit’s decor and colour scheme.
The terrace saw a few additions too.
“We’ve had some rolling planters built for the outdoor space,” said Mr. Greaves. “So we can reconfigure the space depending on how we’re going to use it.”
“Basically, we took an empty shell and made it a home,” he added.
The goal for pricing this unit was to place it at market value as opposed to undervaluing it to manufacture multiple offers, said agent Jen Tripp. The rationale being the context of the Toronto market this spring.
“It’s an unusual market,” she said. “I think agents and buyers – specific to the freehold market – are trying to wait for hiccups [opportunities].”
“Plus, the condo market in Toronto is very brisk because condos are the new starter home.”
The price for the unit also came down to some standard factors: size, additions and neighbourhood.
Both Ms. Tripp and her clients say the area – the border between Toronto’s Upper Jarvis neighbourhood and St. James Town – is undergoing a rapid gentrification.
“It’s a neighbourhood in transition from a sleepiness to a faster pace,” said Mr. Charlap, who has lived in the area for more than two decades, adding that from his terrace they can see four cranes building towers nearby.
The other major factor in Ms. Tripp’s equation was pricing the terrace. To do so, she canvassed the opinions of other agents. They all noted that it’s as big as a unit
“So you need to put $150,000 on the value,” she said. “And I think I can count on one hand the number of condos that I’ve been to with a terrace in the air like that.”
Ms. Tripp summed up her feelings on her website: “Best. Terrace. Ever.” She fell in love with the outdoor space the first time she stepped out onto it, on a cold March night:
“I walked out there and was like ‘Oh my god,’” said Ms. Tripp, describing how breathless she was left by the view. “The twinkling of the city lights was just so beautiful.”
She added that the extravagance of the terrace tends to outshine the other exterior space: the balcony along the north side.
“In condos like this, you might have balcony that spans the [length-side] of your unit and that would be considered a huge terrace,” she said. “And because the terrace is also huge, you walk by the balcony and kind of forget about it.”
Inside the unit, Mr. Greaves and Mr. Charlap have come to really love their den; calling it their ‘end-of-the-day spot’ with its fireplace and view of the Rosedale valley.
“Every once and a while, I’ll feel like reading a book and I’ll go there,” said Mr. Greaves. “It’s very comfortable and cozy and it’s a space where you’re not distracted by anything else.”
“That tree canopy is a beautiful tapestry of colours in the fall,” added Mr. Charlap.
Despite everything the condo has to offer, the couple has decided they are looking for a different living space for the next chapter of their lives. But they are grateful for their time on the 23rd floor of 500 Sherbourne St.
“We’ve had some magical moments and made some great memories here,” said Mr. Charlap. “This place was an adventure, but it is time to seek out the next one.”