I’ve written before about the unacceptable manner under which pre-construction buyers were, and continue to be,
“short changed” on the vision that was sold to them at College Park.
For a decade now, this developer has continually boasted about all of the splendours of their mega project (consisting of three main towers, one of which, “Aura at College“, being the highest residential tower in Canada is the equivalent of two towers and some 2,000 units, PLUS their highly touted “Parkview Townhomes“) will deliver.
It was to be “a dream community” in the concrete jungle that is downtown living.
The developer actually contacted me through its President and Marketing Director, way back when I put over 48 of my buyer clients into The Hudson, in the Entertainment district.
They had noticed that I had been showing College Park Phase 1 & College Park Phase 2 repeatedly, but had never written about it or brought any deals (showed me that their academic credibility might be sound but their worldly knowledge of what they were doing was limited) and they wanted to know why.
The answer was such a “no-brainer“!
Their units were decidedly inferior under “competitive analysis“, to Hudson which gave me the ideal “ugly eyed sister” (a biblical reference used in professional selling meaning that you need a couple “dogs” to justify the quality product.
Hudson was also being legitimately sold to “owner occupants” where College Park was structured for speculators meaning that the end result would be a high rise rental in which those foolish enough to buy, would end up living in the equivalent of a rental building.
There simply was no comparison in product and College Park had eight foot ceilings, at least on the first 24 floors or so and then buyers got cracked with a $1,000 – $1,500/floor premium for nine foot ceiling heights.
You would have had to read all the fine print to learn of any of this, but read the fine print I always did before recommending any buyers to purchase.
Hudson’s finishes were superior as well and the one plus den units (den large enough to accommodate a futon) had a second bathroom (critical for when guests stay over) and was priced better per square foot than College Park.
When I started to run out of inventory at Hudson, I went looking for the next best investment alternative for my global investor clients.
There were lots of projects but not much “quality” and specifically no competitive product in my usual haunt (the downtown core).
So, I pushed the geographic envelope out to King West Village when College Park’s developer approached me and asked me to work with them to sell of the top three floors of remaining units.
So, I put around 30 buyers into their upper floor units in the one “upgraded” suite style that they offered (I din’t like the project or product mix but investors were hungry for investment and the numbers worked, and this “Jade Package” elevated the finishes package, gave nine foot ceilings, and were priced right for this “entry level” area.
The developer’s President at the time and Marketing guy, then once again contacted me and invited me to meet them for lunch where they asked me about “what to do with the staging area immediately behind College Park’s towers“.
They were thinking stacked townhouses but I was quick to show them the unique opportunity they held to deliver “a truly unique collection of quality townhouses”
Now, I was born at night . . . but it wasn’t last night!
t challenged them that if they gave me “exclusive sales rights to sell” what I shared with them, I would guarantee to sell them all (or buy them) within 30 days.
They agreed to grant me the exclusive rights to sell them and I sat down and laid out a design for “extra wide townhouses with 10 foot smooth ceiling heights, windows on front and back, and quality finishes“.
Now, their marketing guy, an amateur and an academic who sees salespeople as Herb Talek on “WKRP in Cincinnati” and who misinterpreted the image of the pathological “lying salesmen“, as representative of real life salespeople.
He observably felt that “if salespeople were liars then so must be marketing people thus he comfortably and continually lied” to everyone!
When I discovered (by finding their ad for the “Gardenview Townhouse” in the local Condo Guide ad rags) I quickly called this marketing guy and gave his voice mail my consistent line used when I discovered unethical practices in Condoland . . . . “I’m going to make you famous“.
For a decade and a half I published blogs when developers were trying to screw my clients, most time having to fend of ruthless litigators paid by developers to shut me up.
I found the challenge of fighting with these highly educated but highly unethical lawyers refreshing and as a unique opportunity to challenge my lack of education in the real world.
I prevailed in absolutely every assault!
Knowing of my global outreach to condo investors I received an immediate call back from this clown, apologizing and dumping the responsibility onto the President (more than likely another lie as I had learned if this guy’s lips are moving he is probably lying).
He informed me that they had already sold five of them (so much for their promises of exclusivity)!
He was apologetic and committed the remaining seven townhouses to me which I already had buyers lined up for, so I agreed as I wanted one for myself.
Since taking possession of my townhouse I (and all buyers of these townhouses and probably condos) have experienced nothing but a free fall of confidence in the developer and/or the City officials involved in this College Park fiasco.
The main issue rests with their obvious inability to deliver a “quality product“.
In an industry that challenges developers to deliver “ONLY THE MINIMUM STANDARD“, this developer has consistently reached new depths!
They built these townhouse over their existing parking garage but apparently no one told them about Canada’s winter weather.
They left a crawl space under under each townhouse and did not insulate the concrete of these cement structure townhouses so you can imagine how cold the floors and walls got in the winter.
Strictly as a result of their poor workmanship which caused a toilet water flood in our brand new “luxury townhouse“, I discovered the crawl space and observed the bare cement walls.
As required under law, I reported the massive and material deficiencies built into these townhouses by the developer to Tarion!
I will document that fiasco in an upcoming blog, but suffice to say that after an extended fight and threats of being made famous, I got them to cut a hold in the crawl spaces and insulate, but they even screwed that up!
The entire decade following owners getting title, with the developer selling thousands of condo units (for hundreds of millions of dollars) and the City making its tens of millions in building permits, licenses, etc., has literally been a nightmare for buyers.
The City government actually partnered with the developer in that the land immediately in front of the townhouses is “city property“, which created another level of fiasco in that the condo board (owners) had no say about the land forming their front door.
As required under the Condo Act (hey! one good thing I guess) the developer is tied into the project for the first year after Registration of the condominium corporation.
They quasi honoured that obligation for the year and then immediately upon being cut lose, in partnership with the City (a clear example of how City Officials accommodate development in Condoland) the shut off all irrigation to the park and front lawns of our townhouses!
The park has remained desolate for six or seven years now and finally the cavalry showed up and demolished everything!
They had originally promised front yard fences to townhouse buyers, right up until the day before I took Occupancy, despite me telling the President and Marketing guy that “they were lying to me“, there has never been a fence!
So this is the level of confidence that the developer has instilled in me about their integrity!
They have now assumed control of the park following a very impressive total demolition of all the concrete in the park.
Obviously, a professional demolition company (“Priestly Demolition“) was hired and I have blogged a couple time recently about how impressive this union outfit was at demolishing everything while keeping everything clean and organized.
I have an unobstructed panoramic view of the park and daily I watched a finely orchestrated and choreographed construction dance in the park.
In just four or five weeks, these pros tore everything apart and put the remnants back into order.
And now I’ve learned that the original developer has taken over construction. The pros were just the demolition part!
That’s enough to make anyone worry.
You see, they showed up about six weeks back and built a plywood wall around the entire part, a wall that restricts access to our front doors in the townhouses.
We owners and tax payers (I’m suggesting all owners seek a tax rebate) have no say in all of this.
The city councillor spend our tax money publishing full colour brochures that she mails out to all residents in her constituency, bragging about having “negotiated” the $3.5 Million in park renewal, knowing full well that the money “allegedly contributed to the City to renovate the park” has always been a line item on the books of the developer “to fix the membrane of their parking garage below“!
Since the demolition pros exited over a week ago and having seen only one or two guys playing around of the site picking up stuff, my confidence level that there will be any consideration extended to the owners at all!
The developer has gotten all their money out.
There is no reason whatsoever that this park renovation (accurately stated “the renovation to the developer’s parking garage“) did not take place at the same time the last tower (“Aura“) was being constructed (a construction site, is a construction site, is a construction site)!
Simply another clear example on how the consumer gets shafted in Condoland.