Location can be everything when it comes to real estate. But even a quality project on a great site needs to be marketed well to maximize results. For a new condominium development in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that meant going the extra mile in a dramatic way.
Canderel-Stoneridge, Toronto, is developing a 500-unit condominium project that is being constructed in two phases; Phase I will open in late 2004. The developer decided that it needed to aggressively market the project in a way that would set it apart from the competition. The answer was to create DNA—Downtown's New Address—a vibrant, 4,125-square-foot marketing center that opened in August 2002.
Canderel-Stoneridge asked Toronto-based II BY IV Design Associates, Inc. (II BY IV) to design the center. The firm is also providing design services for the condominiums themselves including the review of all suite layouts, design for all standard and finish upgrades, and the design of all public spaces including interior lobbies, public corridors and suite entries, the public business center and the mailrooms.
"This was both an adventurous and an advantageous project," says Dan Menchions, II BY IV partner. "It was an interesting opportunity to design a space that would allow Canderel-Stoneridge to stand out from the competition. It's an approach that's been used before, but DNA is on a more vibrant and grander scale than what is often done."
The project is targeted toward the 25- to 35-year-old market, so II BY IV and the developer knew that a unique approach was required. While some real estate marketing offices might be more corporate in appearance, this one departs through the use of large graphic images, varied seating solutions, multi-media presentations and the incorporation of a model condominium into the space. It's a marketing brochure come to life.
Visitors enter the split-level building through a signage canopy-topped surround that is illuminated with color-changing fiber optics. Glazing that is two-stories high on one side is fronted with a metal shutter detail. The adjacent corner is completely wrapped in a full-height light box that houses fluorescent tubes. The graduated color pattern of the tubes ranges from deep plum to pale violet.
"The two-story glazing allows natural light to flow throughout the center," says Menchions. "For this reason, we chose to keep things as open as possible to capture the light. It serves to warm the space and to highlight much of what we've done. At night, the view into the interior coupled with the fiber optics is very striking."
Menchions notes that the center is actually two distinct pieces: a two-level model suite and the marketing spaces themselves. Upon entering, visitors pass a reception desk that is internally lit on their way to a theater that will accommodate up to six persons at a time. Rather than keeping the ceiling, wall and seating as separate components, II BY IV used a cantilevered structure surfaced in black upholstered rolls that integrate the three components. "Dina," the center's animated spokesperson, hosts a multi media show that introduces potential owners to the benefits that the project offers.
The concept for the 925-square-foot model suite has been so well received that all available units in Phase I have already been sold, quite an accomplishment since the project won't open for almost another two years. (Most of the units in the development will be one level.) The model's lower level features a bedroom, dining room, four-piece bathroom, laundry and storage. The upstairs has a guestroom, which could also be used as an office, a walk-in-closet and a three-piece bathroom. Access to the upper floor is provided via a staircase with a translucent railing that allows light to pass through.
The model features either standard finishes or one of the options that will be available in the condominiums. All bathrooms will use granite vanities, glass mosaic tiles, sandblasted and/or clear glass, a floating mirror with hidden lighting above and below, and high-quality chrome fixtures. In the kitchen, "plug and play" cabinets will allow owners to configure cabinets as they like since they can be moved up or down using grommets. All appliances in the kitchen are stainless steel. Surface-mounted tract MR165 incandescent lights are standard in all units, and the baseboards are solid wood. All floors will be polished concrete, and owners may select from four colors each in either hard surfaces or carpet.
The informal sales or "Discovery Center" is located adjacent to the lower floor of the model suite. The room features a 10- by 10-foot table that supports the model of the condominium complex. Two computer work stations are recessed into the table so that salespeople can work with prospective purchasers in close proximity to the model. Large, striking backlit graphic images, like the one found near the theater, reinforce the architectural detailing, landscape architecture and amenities that will be found in the complex.
While everything within the DNA marketing center captures the imagination, the event gallery certainly is the centerpiece. The gallery features a 22-foot-high ceiling that is furnished with custom, all-white tables, designed by II BY IV, which are complemented by all-white seating. Salespeople use the gallery when they are closing the deal, but it is also used for numerous promotional and social gatherings. Events are often held in association with other businesses targeting the same market. For example, bankers have used the room to hold seminars on financing. The ability to reconfigure the room in a variety of ways makes it perfect for hosting a wide range of events. A retail wall at one end of the room, which is concealed by sliding doors, can be used as a bar or a display area for condominium retail items.
II BY IV has created a space that is helping to market the project in a way that captures the imagination. Colors, materials and flexible features have been combined in a space that successfully reaches the intended target market.