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The Trump Hotel and Tower

Posted by Guest Contributor / February 20, 2010

Trump TorontoYou'd be forgiven for thinking the Trump International Hotel & Tower had been built already, or had been canceled outright. First announced by Donald Trump in 2001, the building at Bay and Adelaide is finally set to be completed this year. However, with about forty more stories to go, and at a pace of roughly 6 days per floor, it will likely be somewhere around the tenth anniversary of Trump's first announcement that we'll see the building fully completed.

Trump TorontoIn those ten years, there have been plenty of speed bumps. Donald Trump was initially set to partner with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company among others, but that deal fell through when the Toronto Star reported that one of the developers in the partnership had embezzled funds. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company eventually decided to go it alone (their skyscraper is currently nearing completion on Wellington Avenue), and Trump relaunched his project in 2004. His Canadian partner in this project is Canada's youngest billionaire, Alex Shnaider.

Trump TorontoOriginally 68 stories, the Trump Tower's enormous height encouraged local developer Harry Stinson to start some rivalry over who could build the tallest residential tower in Canada. Over a period of a few months, both towers kept revising their heights upward. Stinson, however, was fated to lose this match: his Sapphire Tower project was rejected by City Council because it would have overshadowed Nathan Phillips Square. Stinson's project eventually had to be cancelled when he didn't pay his bills to David Mirvish.

Meanwhile, by 2007, Trump Toronto still had not broken ground. Without Stinson to compete with, the project dropped several floors and downgraded the size of their units to help improve sales. Shnaider now admits that concern about the project's future was a problem. "The hotel part of the sales was always doing well," he said. "Residential sales were a problem. A lot of buyers were buying for themselves, usually people working on Bay St. and, because of the skepticism, when they didn't know a date they are quite reluctant. This is especially true for the larger, more expensive units because you have talk on the street that it won't be built."

Trump TorontoGround was finally broken in late 2007, but the challenges remained. Even building the tower is more complicated than what is required for a regular tower. The building has a tiny footprint: it is only 15,000 square feet, which can hamper construction. It is crammed into an already dense area. The construction crane for the Trump Tower has only 45 cm clearance when it needs to swing past the Bay-Adelaide Centre across the street. The building's density also means that there are several floors of parking above ground. The Zeidler Partnership Architects-designed structure will hide behind a stone and glass facade that mimics the bank buildings around it. The parking spaces are so tight that residents of the building will not be allowed to park their own cars. Instead, valets will take them up a steeply inclined ramp to put them in "bunk beds for cars" - two storey car storage units.

Trump TorontoBut it's the height we'll all notice: when completed, the Trump Tower`s roof will sit at an estimated 257 metres, slightly higher than Commerce Court West. It will be noticeable in almost any part of the city that First Canadian Place can be seen. Although it might not have seemed likely at many times over the last ten years, the Trump Tower will soon have a major impact on Toronto's skyline.

Writing and photos by Matthew Harris



Matthew / February 20, 2010 at 01:42 pm
great summary
bob / February 20, 2010 at 04:00 pm
Im surprised nothing was written about the new 1 Bloor east condos yet, it isnt as appealing as the original. I hope somehow the original design gets built somewhere else.

As for the trump tower, the planning wasnt that great, I don't understand why that certain location was so important.
Crappy City / February 20, 2010 at 04:05 pm
And what a skyline it is, it should go really nice with the Cockandballs tower.
MichaelM / February 20, 2010 at 06:05 pm
Richard Moldovanyi / February 20, 2010 at 07:47 pm
I haven't been by the Trump site in a while so I had no idea that they had actually started building. It's good to see it finally going up. Regardless of whether or not you like the design, it's better than having a pit there.
Serena / February 20, 2010 at 10:41 pm
i don't see the appeal in these condos. the nicest i've seen is the parade tower residences.
Daniel / February 20, 2010 at 11:53 pm
I'm not sure but the way it has been reported it seems like everyone thinks Trump "owns" the building. I think he just sold his name to the project and has nothing to do with it. That is what I heard.

Daniel .......... Toronto
jarchitect / February 21, 2010 at 01:36 am
The model/illustrations of what the building is going to look like are pretty hideous. It looks like something that would have been impressive in 1991.

And condos <i>can</i> be nice looking! Just look at <a href="";>One St. Thomas</a>
iSkyscraper / February 21, 2010 at 09:42 am
Yes, certainly has taken a while to get going but this may be a reflection of several things:

- in the US, condos tend to be premium products whereas in Toronto they are mostly starter homes. There is a 180 degree difference between how a condo is designed and marketed in New York, say, compared to Toronto. In NYC that 1 bedroom may have 1.5 baths, high ceilings, walk in closets and anything else to justify the $1M price. In Toronto, condos will advertise like used cars -- cram two bedrooms into the thing and sell it for $249,999. Therefore, although Toronto is THE top condo market in North America, it is not primarily a premium condo market and a product like this is hard to get going

- the hotel-residence combo slows things down. Trump Chicago only recently opened and it was also a pre-2001 project.

- it's an awkward location for a condo, which slowed sales. Yes, there are condos all over Toronto but in terms of neighbourhood this is not on the same level as, say, Yorkville. The building is marketed heavily to non-Torontonians, who assume or are told that the centre of business is the most desirable location for a residence. Not quite true for most people.

- the partners may not have been up to the job of getting the project done quickly. Typically, Trump has no real involvement in most "Trump" buildings. Trump Toronto is no different than Trump White Plains, Trump Tampa, Trump Atlanta, etc. For a fee, he licenses his name to other developers who have the land and the building drawings. All you get from Trump is a name for the front door and a management contract and the obligatory PR event or two. There is probably some review of specs also to meet a certain cover-it-in-mirrors-and-gold Trumpian standard. It's no different than going to Marriott with a set of plans, letting Marriott review them, then paying them a management fee to operate the building and slap their name on the front door. See under "Real Estate Licensing" for more details. (Note that most of these have either stalled or been massively delayed.) Toronto may be slightly different because it is a "hotel and tower", and Trump is reported to have a small shareholder stake, but essentially this is a local project with a licensed name.

joe / February 21, 2010 at 07:18 pm
um, Ritz is on Wellington Street West, not Wellington Avenue.
Daniel / February 22, 2010 at 02:08 am
Is there any indication when it will be finished and up and running or are they having trouble selling the units/rental space?

Daniel ......... Toronto
Jesse / February 22, 2010 at 10:34 am
When the Trump Stump is complete it's going to cast some serious shade on an otherwise awesome and sunny park, Cloud Gardens. Not looking forward to that.
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