Part of me thinks 'I don't even need to write this article'. 383 Sorauren is a beautiful little building proposed for a great neighbourhood… and a lot of people have already figured that out. I know that because this project has one of the most oversubscribed registration lists I've heard about in ages: there are 160 suites in the building, but enough registrants to sell the building several times over. I'll be really surprised if sales this opening weekend are not spectacular.
So, why should I bother writing this, and why should you bother reading? Well, for my part, I want this building to succeed: this is the kind of beautifully executed mid-size project that this city needs plenty more examples of. For your part: if this appeals, the suites aren't sold yet, so get in there this weekend! These will go fast.
That's the back of the building in the image above. We would start things off with the front, but the back is handsome enough, and I love the intent that's evident on the face of the woman in the back right. She was at a Friends and Family event at the presentation centre on Wednesday night. Spin one photographer around, and that event looked like this:
The crowd turned out because there's a lot about 383 Sorauren that appeals. That starts with the units, so we took a walk through the model suite, designed by Johnson Chou. The entry hallway: wide enough to comfortably hang a very hot bike. Details include a niche in the wall for art… or your keys.
The kitchen features top-flight European appliances, Corian countertops, stainless steel backsplash and undermount modern farmers-style sink.
The Master Bath gets more stainless steel and Corian along with a glass shower surround, while the second bathroom gets a soaker tub. Polished chrome plumbing fixtures all 'round.
Amenities are handsome, but not endless: there's a party room and a landscaped terrace, but not a lot more because when you have all the fantastic new places in Roncesvalles Village on your doorstep, your don't need to pay high monthlies to keep you entertained.
I had a little time to talk with Bill Gairdner, the driving force behind Gairloch Developments, one of three companies behind the building. This is the first building with the Gairloch name on it, but Bill brings a lot of experience with him to his new venture. I asked him about that background.
"I was always an entrepreneurial guy. I did Poli-Sci at Western, and competed in track. I wanted to get into the business world and I've always had passion for Architecture and Development. If you’re good… you can leave your mark on the city.”
Bill had a serendipitous meeting with Peter Freed in an elevator after moving into a condo at 66 Portland. It took some convincing, but Gairdner eventually got a job with the maverick developer, and rose to become Freed's Vice President of Development. “It worked out well. Freed provided me with good insight into the business, well beyond my years”.
Now with his own company, Gairloch's first building would indicate that design is paramount at the company, as is finding the right property. “It’s getting harder and harder to acquire good sites at the right price. Vendors and landowners are very challenging. Property is not cheap. It’s very competitive. The size of this building is in a bit of a gray area: 100 to 200 units is a little small for the big guys. All their soft costs are exactly the same—the sales centre, marketing, legal—you just have that many less units to amortize the cost over. So it becomes more and more challenging to make money doing these smaller sites, which is a big driver for a lot of these big developers. They have big teams and more mouths to feed. They’d rather be developing 300 and 400 unit projects. My main intention is to acquire strictly residential, or mixed-use properties with retail, and redevelop and reposition then to better their communities. This was an abandoned commercial site. To create a 10-storey building is very appropriate here. It will provide homes for approximately 300 people, and provide jobs."
While it may be a smaller building, there did not appear to me to be any 'cheaping out'. The textures and patterns make for a finely machined, post-industrial chic feel: detailed, not pampered.
“That’s the look we are going for here. We’re not trying to sell Shangri-La here. This is not a downtown core site. I have a modern aesthetic and I want it to be conveyed in this project. Peter Clewes and I spent a lot of time coming up with the design for this building. He’s a really interesting guy and has a great design aesthetic, I feel. We're working with red brick, a traditional material which is not often considered to be a cool, modern thing, but we're putting a modern twist on how it's used. We have interesting design details on corners of the building, and a particular frit on the glass balconies.”
Gairdner is reffering to the angled corners with a "missing brick" pattern scattered in a grid acorss the wall. Talking later with Clewes and his associates Adam Feldman and Heather Rolleston on the architectsAlliance team, they tell me this was their reinterpretation of the brick detailing of nearby heritage buildings. The frit on the glass balconies is clever too. A ceramic frit will be baked on to the glass balcony panels in a brick pattern that continues the architectural theme of the building, while providing some privacy for those behind it.
Gairdner says Clewes has taken a particular interest in this building, focusing on the materials. The brick, it turns out, will be the iron-spot type used recently on Paintbox in Regent Park. It's a purplish-reddish colour with some depth and even a slight irridescence in the right light. At ground level, it will be married with a zinc panel cladding at the entrance.
How has it been received so far? It comes back to the regsitration list.
"Public interest has been huge. We’re offering a wide range of units from about $280,000 to $800,000 in a comfortably scaled building. The spaciousness you want is there in the units, it’s brand new space, in a beautiful old neighbourhood with a young spirit."
So Saturday and Sunday are the opening here, and you are welcome to wander in and get a feel for it. If this is the kind of home you see yourself in, you probably shouldn't put off an early visit.
Want to know more about 383 Sorauren? We have several more renderings in out dataBase entry, linked below. Want to get in on the conversation? Choose an associated Forum thread, or leave your comments on this page.