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New in Toronto real estate: Dragon Condos

Posted by Robyn Urback / September 20, 2012

dragon condo torontoDragon Condos, of course, is the name of the new 10-storey property slated for the heart of Toronto's Chinatown (and yes, the building will come with red exterior accents). An Ideal Developments project, this condo may yet be a few years away, but it has already hopped on the hot issue du jour by promising a free bike and bike parking for each unit purchased — or maybe it's just that cycling is the most efficient mode of transportation on this stretch of Spadina (that must be it). With just over 100 units and its own swanky rooftop patio, here are all the details about Dragon Condos.

dragon condos torontoSPECS

Address: 270 Spadina Ave

Number of floors: 10

Number of units: 103

Unit sizes (in square feet): 412 - 901

Ceiling height: 9'

Prices start at: Mid-$200,000's

Number of parking spaces: 40

Parking: $39,000

Bicycle parking: One free spot per unit (includes bicycle)

Locker: $4,000 (Premium lockers for $5,000)

Maintenance: $0.55/ sf

Interior design: LUX Designs

Architect: Young + Wright/IBI Group

Amenities: Rooftop patio, theatre lounge, party room, fitness centre, 24-hr concierge

Expected occupancy: Early 2015

dragon condos torontoTHE GOOD

Well, you certainly won't be short of options if you're in the mood for dim sum. Dundas and Spadina is always bustling, and thus, ideal for those who can't get enough flashing neon signage and year-round sidewalk sales. In all seriousness, though, the area has virtually everything a downtown dweller might need, including easy access to two transit lines, and plenty of dining and nightlife options. If you find yourself among the all-too-prevalent "house poor" after dotting the i's on your spankin' new condo, you can — at the very least — rely on the super-cheap Chinatown shopping options to sustain you during that 25-year amortization period. Better develop a taste for watercress.

dragon condos torontoNow, onto the floorplans. While many Dragon Condo's suites sorely lack in terms of livability (more on that later), it has at least provided one example of how to make use of a small urban space. Applause for you, Dragon; you've earned it. Its one-bedroom Opal 4, is, in my humble opinion, the best example of how to lay out 560 square feet of space. The kitchen is an actual "kitchen" — a designated cooking/preparing/snacking space — rather than simply a wall of appliances.

This means residents are afforded actual counter space, a complete breakfast bar, and the luxury of being able to wash raw chicken in their kitchen sinks without also being in their living rooms. The plan also includes a sizeable living/dining area, a bedroom with a window (yes, unfortunately that characteristic has become laudable in new suites), and a bedroom fixed with an actual hinged door. So simple, yet so rarely seen in upcoming condo builds. In this case, Dragon has it right.

And another quick (if somewhat superficial) plus. While rarely am I swayed by over-glossed renderings, I must say that Dragon's rooftop patio does seem quite swank. All the lights, sounds, and wooden-beamed-canopies of Toronto's best rooftop patios, without the gaggles of bachelorette parties and abundance of Maison Mercer sheer leggings (sorry, Mercer).

dragon condo torontoTHE BAD

This area doesn't have an off switch (and I'm not just referring to the blinking neon signage, but that too). While a home right on a major street does have its advantages (and a streetcar stop outside your door just gets better with winter), the honking, the sirens, the drunk sing-alongs after last call — they never stop. I anticipate some real-estate-minded investors might see a Dragon purchase as an ideal option for renting, not living. Because hey — those unattached hospital residents need a place to crash, right?

The area itself offers another unknown. While certain Toronto neighbourhoods are clearly on the up (Dundas West is a prime example), this area of Chinatown seems in its prime. That's not necessarily a bad thing, unless, of course, you're hoping on a quick flip and return. And there's also the ominous evolution of Toronto's more ethnic neighbourhoods of late to consider. For instance, Greektown seems to be welcoming one corporate chain after another, Little Portugal is becoming a "little stretch of clothing boutiques," and Little India, well, it's hard to say exactly what's happening there, but it's certainly hosting much less activity than it did 10, or even five years ago. Obviously, it's impossible to foresee what will happen to Chinatown over the next few years, but the questions of its fate would weigh heavily on my mind if considering a Dragon Condos purchase.

dragon condos torontoBut let's say I get over my neighbourhood qualms and decide Dragon is for me. Super. Except some of these floor plans just simply wouldn't cut it. A good number of units are unbelievably narrow, resulting in bedrooms without windows and kitchens as corridors. Granted, some of the larger units offer kitchen islands, cornered countertops, and bedrooms that let you see outside (squee!), but you'll likely have to shell out a lot more dough. Damn 1-percenters and their access to natural light...

And a final note on transit. While Dragon was obviously designed with non-car-modes of transportation in mind (see: "free bike," "40 parking spaces," above), if you do happen to have to putter out there in a car, count on one hell of a traffic/parking/stopping jam. And thus, be sure to tip the pizza delivery guy.


That Opal 4 layout does look mighty fine. But remember what happened to Kramer when Kenny Rogers Roasters chicken restaurant moved in across the street, flashing its red neon chicken to no avail? I'd be concerned about my sleeping patterns.

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

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PK / September 20, 2012 at 11:49 am
Looks like they're tearing out a chunk of the Dragon City mall?

j-rock / September 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm
I try not to complain or be too negative when commenting on blogTO, but these "New in Toronto Real Estate" are my least favourite of all the regular features.
Alex / September 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm
I've read a lot of these condo reviews by you, and they're really good. Do any of the developers mention anything about stores on the ground floor though? In my current apartment our basement convenience store is one of my favourite things about the building. I know a lot of condos are being built with ground level retail, but they never seem to mention if there will be any interior stores, or if the ground level retail can be accessed from the inside (e.g. I don't want to put my boots on in winter and walk around outside my building just to buy milk if I can help it). If any ever do mention stuff like that, could you please mention it in the reviews?
Hmmm / September 20, 2012 at 01:18 pm
I want a unit on the 4th floor!

Gimme 404...
Erik replying to a comment from j-rock / September 20, 2012 at 01:19 pm
Agreed. Feels like I'm reading Toronto Life.
Susan replying to a comment from Erik / September 20, 2012 at 01:35 pm
agree with you both - please get a realtor or similar professional writing these real estate related posts!

btw, I love reading TL's real estate articles!
j / September 20, 2012 at 01:39 pm
Any write-up with a reference to Seinfeld is gold... gold Jerry gold.
Annie / September 20, 2012 at 01:42 pm
Unlike two of the previous commenters, I really like these reviews because they highlight both the good and the bad, where pretty much anywhere else they sound more like ads than objective reporting. Keep saying it, Robyn. Maybe if you say it often enough, the developers will start listening.

As for Dragon condos, looooove the fact that bikes and bike parking are part of the building plan. I'd love to see more of that.

Alex's comment about ground floor retail is an interesting consideration I'd never thought of. Another issue I wish was more transparent is what is included in the condo fees. It's hard to compare across developments when the utilities and services covered by the condo fees are not consistent. Not that the condo fees in the ads have any relationship whatsoever to what the condo fees will eventually be anyway, but still, it would be nice to know.
jameson / September 20, 2012 at 03:03 pm
Condo fees are included in the writeup, $0.55/sf

I actually like these articles a lot. They just seem to have a very narrow perspective...
Stu / September 20, 2012 at 03:16 pm
No swanky condo would me wanna live in Chinatown.
Lisa / September 20, 2012 at 03:37 pm
Nope they're not taking a chunk out of Dragon City Mall. They're just removing the Pho 88, the DVD/ bubble tea store and the theatre. Dragon City Mall isn't affected at all.
Rick / September 20, 2012 at 03:50 pm
They forgot to mention the "stink" in the bad section.
If you like smelling pi$$, fish, and rotting garbage on a 30+ degree day right outside your door, then you are in heaven. Do you think that smell will linger up to the top patio? Sounds like a real score.
Sandman / September 20, 2012 at 04:35 pm
The good and the bad -- Fair article.
Binky / September 20, 2012 at 07:54 pm
Buyers from HK and mainland China will snap up these units. Condos such as this are the future of Chinatown. Asians will dump condos elsewhere in TO to buy into this development. It's likely a better investment than any number of others south of Spadina and Front. In Chinatown you exit your front door and you're immediately exposed to city life (with all the warts). You're close to the AGO, Kensington Market, U of T, Dundas West, Rogers Centre, Entertainment District, etc., etc. I'd buy one.
feh. replying to a comment from j-rock / September 20, 2012 at 08:15 pm
I know right? If I wanted to read shills for Condos, I'd go to UrbanToronto.
krullicious / September 21, 2012 at 02:19 am
The whole area between Augusta and Cameron up to Dundas is going to be getting the Regent Park treatment in the next few years, so the Dragon is just the first of many new housing developments in the neighbourhood. I can't imagine Chinatown is going anywhere soon.
Annie replying to a comment from jameson / September 21, 2012 at 02:06 pm
Jameson wrote "Condo fees are included in the writeup, $0.55/sf"

But what does that include? In some condos (older ones?), the fees cover heat, water, power or some combination of those.
Sam Elgohary / October 3, 2012 at 07:10 am
seems like a nice new project. due to the location as it's close to almost everything .

Sukee / December 19, 2012 at 11:29 pm
This is a review of the Grand Habour: 2285 Lake Shore Blvd. West, Toronto

The people who manage the condo here are useless. They are very quick to wag fingers at the unit owners but it takes them months to fix anything. There are so many contractors working here without any supervision. The workers take their sweet time because they get paid by the hour. There are so many units with water damages. The building envelope gets penetrated by rain and strong wind and result in water leaks inside the walls. The cleaners take hours, all day, to clean and polish the elevator cars. There are 3 elevators and it takes 5 minutes for an elevator to arrive because the cleaners put it on service. The people in management office communicate very very poorly with building staff so when something screws up they just blame each other and the office does not take any responsibility for any wrong doing.

Management spend the condo money on useless things instead of fixing real problems. The president of the board got a brand new door just because he didn't like the colour of it.

Management focus their time covering their asses. When you try to speak to one of them because you have a problem they will try their hardest to avoid you. I personally have seen the two women who run management hide and ran away from a concerned unit owner.

When you have a concern and they ignore you a few times the next time you push your concern the board will send you a letter from their lawyer stating that you have to stop harassing them and that you are an "impossible " person. People get on the board to get favours for their own units. They do not care about other units. They are corrupted. They will never show their contact info. They avoid transparency and accountability.

I thought the views here were fantastic. But after a while and you get to know how this place is ran the fantastic view will start to look secondary.

I am glad I sold my unit and moved to a house. The grand harbour was and is a nightmare and life is too short to be living in a place that is so full of misery.

Overall I rate this place very very very poor. It is looks good on the outside but this building is build very poorly and the owners suffer the most losing money and time.

The conditions look ok on the outside, but wait till you open the dry walls. You are either missing parts of a vapour barrier or you have mould growing inside and you do not even know you are getting sick. My husband developed respiratory problems because the mould gives off cancerous carcinogens. The people who developed this building cut corners and ran out of money so therefore everything that was not finished in the walls are left and now missing: vapour barrier, pipes, holes drilled in the concrete floor ( so when your neighbour above gets flooded you get flooded.

Maintenance: as far as cleanliness it is excellent because the workers take their sweet time cleaning and socializing and don't even care if an old lady in a wheel chair needs an elevator.

Security is useless. In the summer prostitutes will try to convince anybody entering or leaving the back door that they either forgot their keys or their clients said to meet them there. When there is fire alarm and it happens on the night shift, it tales them hours to figure out how to shut it off and turn on the elevators.

Location is beautiful, but after a while you will want to move out when you experience how management runs this place.

I do not recommend living in a condo simply because the government laws are in favour of the corporation and not individual owners.
The companies who manage condos have a lot of money to hire lawyers so that individual unit owners do not a chance to argue successfully. There is also a loophole in the condo act that must be turn around to morally correct bias and to have stronger rights for owners. After all the unit owners are the building owners and management companies work for owners.
New Launch Condo / February 9, 2013 at 08:56 pm
I am not much into reading, but somehow I got to read nice information on your site. Simple to understand and helpful. We will look forward for your future updates. I will visit here very often.
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