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New in Toronto real estate: Picasso on Richmond

Picasso on Richmond has made itself conspicuous with a showroom right amidst the action on Queen West. While many of us know the space as that of the former Pages Bookstore, the Monarch Group has overhauled the space in the essence of its four-year-away Richmond Street masterpiece. I'll insert a line break to allow for dramatic pause.

The new tower is set to soar at 39 storeys, complete with a "Sky Suite" collection of units more recently added to the design. This will be one fully-stocked structure featuring plenty of amenities and good-sized units, with prices starting in the high $200's and climbing up past $800,000 (for the penthouse suites, of course). And though the Entertainment District is nowhere near the AGO, we'll see if this art-inspired project lives up to its venerable name.

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SPECS

Number of units: 402

Number of floors: 39

Unit sizes (in square feet): 398 - 1231

Starting price: $288,990

Parking: $45,000 (for suites 661 sq. ft. and larger)

Storage locker: Not released yet

Maintenance: $0.52/ sq. ft.

Hydro/heat included?: No

Amenities: Green roof(s), 24/7 concierge, party room, fitness centre/spa, hot tub

Expected occupancy: December 2016

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THE GOOD

Real, livable spaces at last! Well, some of them, at least. Almost all of the units with bedrooms (read: not the studios) come equipped with actual bedroom doors, which unfortunately is actually a cause for celebration. Whereas too many new structures in Toronto come with closet-sized bedrooms where sliding panels act as doors, Monarch seems to understand the importance of the hinge. Good on them. Many of the units, too, offer kitchens that turn a corner, allowing for a bit more counter space.

Architecturally, it's nice to see a diversion from the standard glass tower. Whether you like the aesthetics of the design or not, the Picasso structure does allow for more than one green "roof," which is a plus however you look at it. And on the green topic, Picasso also plans to host a car sharing program for its residents, which purportedly cuts down on the number of cars on the road. Balconies and/or terraces on almost all units are also a plus, and so too is the range of suite styles. With studios right up to three-bedroom units, you're bound to get a good mix of different types of people.

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THE BAD

Can I legitimately call out poor SEO as a project drawback? I'm not sure. But it is interesting that an independent realtor named Ryan Abbassi managed to snag the first Google result for Picasso Condos and "Toronto." Good planning, Ryan.

Now, let's talk about location. For some, living next door to a wide array of Toronto clubs (and a bowling alley, and movie theatre, and bars) is a boon. Your barefoot, heels-in-hand walk home from the club is much safer based on limited concrete exposure alone, and you're guaranteed to never be too far from the action. For me, however, the Entertainment District seems an awful, awful place to live. Don't get me wrong — I enjoy me some sidewalk entertainment in the form of neon spandex and mascara tear stains as much as the next person, but I don't think I could deal with it every weekend, especially in my backyard. There's just something about a lineup of Hummer limos that doesn't really give me that "homey" feel, I suppose...

And for those who are keen on a parking spot, $45,000 is a little steep compared to the $25,000 or $35,000 you may pay for a less central location. Of course, with a unit right so close to Osgoode Station and steps to the Queen Streetcar, a car becomes of very little use.

THE VERDICT

My decision begins and ends with the area —I could never do it. Rent, maybe (and there probably will be plenty of renters in the building based on the location and unit sizes), but I could never tie myself down to a neighbourhood where piggyback rides are a legitimate form of weekend transportation. Picasso would likely offer an ideal pied-a-terre for downtown business people and/or OCAD students looking to rent during the year, but it doesn't inspire images of white picket fences.

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What do you think? Would you live here? Add your comments to the thread below.


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