Last week we were at the launch party and pop-up concert for 109OZ by Reserve Properties. Today we bring you the conversation we had with Shane Fenton about the 6-storey project designed by RAW Design and II by IV Design Associates

Shane Fenton speaking with interviewer Dumitru Onceanu. Image by Ed Skira.

For this project, RAW is relying on dark brick and zinc cladding, and the building is moving away from the all-glass designs that we've become accustomed too. Tell us about the design choices that were made here.

What was fun for us about this project is that we sat down with II by IV and with Roland Rom Colthoff at RAW Design, and we said "let's picture everything that every other deveolper is telling you that you can't do, and let's throw them on the table. Let's see what fun things we can do that are out of the box and creative." That was really the premise of what we discussed. We gave him some direction in which we wanted to go, but we also gave him free reign. The great thing about working with RAW is that Roland lives three or four blocks away. Even when we were coming up with the concept of this project, we divided Roland's staff in half and said "here's a competition. All of you are going to take a week and you're going to come up with a design, then we'll come in to sit down and discuss." It was fun because it brought forth a lot of interesting and creative ideas, and then we actually pulled a little bit of everything that we saw from those different parts, and brought it together in this. At the end of the day it resulted in a modern day interpretation of the exiting streetscape in terms of the dimension. You see a lot of the existing buildings, lower forms, taller forms, set back from the property line, not set back, the dimension and depth of our own building and how it undulates back and forth and cantilevers. You also look at the colours of the street. It's generally a muted colour scheme with random pops of colour. That's what encouraged us to bring in the random pops of colour - yellows and greens - into the inset areas of the balconies, and the soffit areas. It was a fun way to reflect the existing street.

I don't think it's actually been done before, customer driven exterior customizations.

The concept was how can we involve our buyers more, but in a reasonable way to participate in the process. Giving that sense of participation and ownership of that process gives you a new sense of pride in your own space. So that's what really inspired us. For us as a deveoloper, it's exciting to be putting a mark on a streetscape through the next 100 years, and I think other people appreciate it. It gives them a little bit of ability to participate in that process.

109OZ scale model, closeup of terraced showing some custom colour choices. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

How many colour choices do they have?

For the different options, they're going to have three colour choices. We still had to keep a bit of control on it so that it still made sense at the end of the day.

What is Roland's idea or your idea?

It was a combination. It actually stemmed from the concept that colour in itself is very much a personal taste. We were sitting there looking at different concepts, I'd like one colour, he'd like another, Jessica would like one, another architect in the office would like something else, and that's how it evolved into "why don't we try to incorporate the buyer into that process." So it gives them that sense of flexibility.

So who chose what colour? What's you, what's Roland, and what's Jessica?!

{laughs} I liked the yellow, Roland's very much into the green, and Jessica is very much a muted more sophisticated shade of purple. It was a good way to do it, made it fun.

How many suites will get that opportuity, and it is mostly just on the Ossington side?

It's only on the front facade, and a dozen to 14 will have that oppotunity.

Do you expect that those might sell faster because of that opportunity?

I think buyers will appreciate it. Will it sell first, who knows. Let's have that conversation in a week and I can tell you. Our previews and registration start on Saturday and Sunday, our grand opening is in two weeks.

Tell us a bit about the unique opening you have going on here. Members of Broken Social Scene, the Stills, the DJ's. How did you decide to use this approach?

The whole concept that we're trying to show people is that we're a family and a group of business people that get the communities we're developing in. We understand you, we want to embrace the community, we want to be a part of it, and we don't want to try and be a thorn in the side. The whole concept was to look for new and interesting ways to relate to the existing fabric of this street, to relate to the people who are already here, and to show that we want to support the growth of this community. We want to support the businesses in this community, and to look for interesting and exciting ways that allow for fun experiences both for our buyers and for people who are residents and business owners to be part of. It's about having fun. At the end of the day you live where you want to have fun. Where we work we want to have fun in everyting we do, and what better way to do it is to have this type of vibe and feel. We'll find out tonight how successful the event was, but based on how much demand we have today, I think it will give a group of people a reason to go out, experience the street, experience the space, and it's a new and intereting way to drive people to the location.

Tell us about Ian Keltie, the artist who designed the murals and some of the marketing on the outside of the building?

We were looking at what our overall campaign was, and we wanted to do something that was reflective of the street. It's a very creative neighbourhood. It's a neighbourhood that appreciates art, that appreciates out of the box thinking, and it was somehing that we hadn't really seen done before. So many developments are just painting themselves black. This was a new way of doing it. The whole concept of the art and the mural was to take a mashup of the existing streetscape and use a different interpretation of what it is today, where it's been in the past, and where it's going in the future. That's what we said to the artist. Then that's been a key part of the overall marketing campaign.

109OZ scale model, showing some custom colour choices. Image by Dumitru Onceanu.

Tell us about the units, and how does this particular infill differ from Motif, Lakehouse, and Bellefair?

All of them are very location specific. In terms of the unit types, it is somewhat similar to Motif because of the knowledge we acquired about what people wanted to buy just two blocks out. We got all the feedback both good and bad, and we were able to incorporate that into what we are developing here. What we learned and what we believed from the outset is that this is an end-user driven neighbourhood. You're not catering to the investment market. You're catering to the people who are buying the spaces to live in. We learned that people wanted larger spaces, even in terms of a 1 bed. We don't have studios in our spaces. Our smallest unit is 500 sq ft, so it still offers affordability to an entry level buyer. We found people want usable and functional spaces. One bed and den around 700 sq ft is our typical suite style which is probably about 200 sq ft larger than what you're seeing in most towers today. About 25% of the suites are 2 bed + den, and about 20% are 1Bed, and the balance are 1Bed + den which are generally in the range of 700 to 780 sq ft which is a typical 2 bed in a lot of places.

Because you're marketing mostly towards end users, what kind of demographic are you looking for?

We're getting someone in their late 20s, early 30s who has been scraping their cash together to use this as their first purchase. For the larger suites we're getting the couples who want to live the urban lifestyle, and don't want to leave the neighbourhood. They are still looking for an opportunity to have that space to have their child, and use that as their starter home for their family rather than buy a conventional single family residence.

What about the amenities. What will purchasers come to expect from this property?

When it comes to the boutique projects like this one, our mentality has been that the true amenities are really the location, Trinity Bellwoods Park, accessibility, so many amazing restaurants to go to. There are gyms, art galleries. What we took from Motif was that people still liked to have some form of entertaining space to hang out with their friends that's slightly larger than their own spaces. We created a gorgeous party room with indoor and outdoor space that has about 2000 sq ft. What's not an amenity but a key feature for us was the fact that we have a concierge.

You don't typically find a concierge in a boutique buildings.

It's difficult because you have to justify it. It's a balance finding a maintenance fee that's reasonable. What it came down too was that we found a lot of our female buyers had resistance to buy in buildings that don't have that sense of security. We said that it's the key feature that we wanted to have here to open ourselves to both female and male buyers, so we incorporated it into the overall plan.

Thanks to Shane for sitting down to talk with us about the project. Tell us what you think about it, and see what others are saying in the associated forum thread and dataBase entries

Related Companies:  59 Project Management, Drive Agency, GCB interior architecture inc., Graziani + Corazza Architects, II BY IV DESIGN, Kim Graham & Associates, Live Patrol Inc., Paul Johnston Unique Urban Homes, PMA Brethour Realty Group, RAW Design, Reserve Properties, Strybos Barron King