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New in Toronto real estate: The Britt

Posted by Robyn Urback / October 18, 2012

The Britt Condos TorontoThe Britt condo launch proves that the Sutton Place Hotel at Bay and Wellesley really is gone for good. Sorry nostalgia-fiends — but there's still time to pray (read: futilely lobby) for the salvation of the Princess of Wales Theatre! Anyway. The building that once played host to visiting starlets and swanky tourists will be scraped to its foundations and built anew, emerging as a British-inspired glass tower of urban elegance. Or so say Lanterra Developments. Equipped with a two-storey lobby, eight-storey podium, and yes, even a pet spa, The Britt makes it clear that sophistication isn't leaving this downtown address. Or hefty price tags, for that matter. Here is a closer look at The Britt.

The Britt CondosSPECS

Address: 955 Bay Street

Exterior: Glass

Number of floors: 41

Number of elevators: 7

Number of units: 729

Type of units: Studio, 1 bedroom, 1 bedroom + den, 2 bedroom, 2 bedroom+ den, 3 bedroom

Unit sizes (in square feet): 339 - 844 (Executive suites, pending height approval, will be on levels 32 to 34, and range from 334 - 1190 s.f.)

Ceiling height: 9'

Price range: $274,900 - $651,900 (Executive suites priced over $1.1 million)

Parking: $45,000 (for suites 790 s.f. or larger)

Locker: Waiting list

Maintenance: $0.58/s.f.

Maintenance fees exclude: Hydro, water

Architect: Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects

Interior design: Munge Leung

Amenities: 24-hour concierge, lounge, meeting room, fitness centre, outdoor terrace, spa, theatre room, outdoor pool, pet spa, bicycle room, auto share program

Expected occupancy: Spring 2016

Britt Condos TorontoTHE GOOD

Never overlook the small particulars. While many soon-to-be-homeowners blissfully squeal at one porcelain floor sample after another, they neglect to consider details such as garbage chute location and elevator activity under stress. This is a mistake. As someone who has lived beside a garbage chute and currently suffers in a building with only one elevator (first world problem, I know, whatever), I can't overstate just how awful it is to carry groceries up endless flights of stairs. The Britt will have seven elevators, which, simply, is awesome. Other, taller condo projects are planning to get away with just four or five, which seems meager in comparison to The Britt's generous seven. Scoff if you like, but it really does make a difference; if you plan your travel time close to the wire as I do, you know elevator-waiting-time can factor into your commute. And it's just plain shitty to have to wait around for an elevator after a long day of work.

If you're already sensing a theme, I'll confirm — The Britt seems to be all about luxury. Timeless, elegant luxury, that is, rather than the tired, minimalist "sophistication" that's prevalent in nearly all other new Toronto condo builds. The Britt has nixed the starkly modern in favour of marble floors and a fantastic grand staircase just waiting for your best take on Scarlett O'Hara. The lounge has a carved fireplace, old celeb photos from The Sutton Place's former glory days, and the feeling that you can actually get away with kicking off your shoes and curling up with a book. I'm not one to gush over amenities or aesthetics, but The Britt seems to have found that sweet spot between elegance and livability. You can even opt for marble flooring and/or finishes in your suite, just in case you want to carry that Scarlett O'Hara feeling to your unit (but only if you're equipped with that lush O'Hara capital).

Most units, too, come integrated dishwashers and refrigerators as well as generously sized balconies; the latter of which is good for when the pool, two hot tubs, fitness centre, party room, yoga studio, theatre room, and second- and ninth-floor lounging areas become just too crowded.

The Britt Condos TorontoTHE BAD

Luxury comes at a cost, however, and that cost is approximately $800 per square foot. Wait — what?! $800 Per square foot!? That's one hell of a going rate, and keep in mind that I'm citing just-launched, pre-construction, base-design-package prices. They'll only go up from here, most likely. Parking costs here, too, are on the higher end of downtown pricing at $45,000 per spot, along with maintenance fees starting at $0.58 per square foot. And with The Britt boasting everything from a pet spa, to an outdoor pool, to saunas and hot tubs and more (all of which demand regular upkeep), chances are those fees won't stay at that level for long. Thus, it seems The Britt is much better suited to a pair of wealthy downsizers than a lowly prospective first-time homeowner. I guess... I should just stop right here...

But let's say, for the sake of... I don't know... "trust fund babies" or something, that you decide to go with your basic one bedroom suite. Cool. Except your bedroom won't have a window, and it'll be closed off by a pair of sliding pseudo-doors. The bedroom probably won't be enough room for a dresser, and unless you snag one of the suites with a walk-in closet (which, granted, is a pretty nice perk), your room might feel more like a box than a living space. The layouts and limited square footage (under 500 square feet) of most of the one-bedroom units means you'll have to choose between a couch and a functional dining table, and counter space is confined to "that little square" beside the sink. Good thing the main floor lounge is so nice and comfy, because you'll have to saunter outside your door to get a feeling of a little more living space. Or you could just fork over an extra $50,000 or more for a larger unit — whatever works.

And brush this one off as silly nostalgia if you must, but it would've been nice to see a little more of the ol' Sutton in the new Britt after all is said and done. Yes, they're keeping the pictures of celebrity hotel guests, but would it have killed them to salvage an old mantle or the piano that went to auction? This is not a from-scratch build, after all, so a couple nods to its former days might have been nice. Then again, I guess I'm just an old softie.


Good for baby boomers with little patience for elevator waits, lots of money, and a fleeting sense of nostalgia.

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

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Ben / October 18, 2012 at 10:35 am
Looks awesome. It was obviously going to be an expensive building given the location, so why not make it a little more opulent? I'm not sure I'd pay that much for a condo, but here's hoping the more elegant touches start to become a trend in Toronto real estate and migrate their way into more affordable developments in the future.
Huh / October 18, 2012 at 10:39 am
4 floors???
Call the editor.....
Rick / October 18, 2012 at 10:51 am
I've never been able to get a clear answer on this: Are they tearing down the entire Sutton Place and building a new tower or building additions and major renovations on the existing building?

I live nearby so I'm wondering how much chaos this will cause. It certainly looks nice though.
cathie / October 18, 2012 at 10:54 am
Lovely building but this new trend of bedrooms with no windows is the dealbreaker. I must have fresh air, and closing those sliding doors would cause major claustrophobia.
mezimeen / October 18, 2012 at 11:09 am
45g's for parking! Yowzaa!
Shogo / October 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm
This worries me a nearby resident as well.

"The building that once played host to visiting starlets and swanky tourists will be scraped to its foundations and built anew, emerging as a British-inspired glass tower of urban elegance."

That sentence points to the entire being ripped down and the owners starting from scratch. This will mean those people in the condos above the stores on Wellesley and the ones next to the greenspace on Wellesley will be in for a treat. ;)
Gul Jassad / October 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm
Glad that this is being built on Bay St. and not on Queen or King or anyplace else that has a vibrant neighborhood culture that would be upset by this kind of building. And at least another luxury building is being destroyed.

Now, the only thing is, what the frack am I (as a buyer of the single unit apartment) supposed to do with no windows in my bedroom? Do I set up a system of cameras and a group of monitors in my bedroom so that I can get sun and light?
Paul / October 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm
339 square feet? That's like a bachelor pad at the Robot Arms.
bunny replying to a comment from Shogo / October 18, 2012 at 02:10 pm
Yeah, they totally botched that. It's being torn down to the skeleton, not foundations. New cladding, new levels, etc. More eco friendly, according to the builder.

Bird Deterrent / October 18, 2012 at 02:12 pm
Looks pretty impressive but the small size of the units worries me a little.

Condo prices and fees in this city are rediculous
bubble boy / October 18, 2012 at 03:58 pm
Wait a couple years people. Condos in toronto will be much more affordable.
Jer / October 18, 2012 at 04:45 pm
"Foundations" means something very specific in terms of construction.

You should change the wording, the "structure" left behind is not the foundations. It is the skeleton of the building and new cladding/etc put on top as others have said already.
seanm / October 18, 2012 at 06:30 pm
I hate this proposal. The Sutton Place is a nice understated example of International design from the 1960s that could just use a bit of a freshening up. Mid-century Modernism is unfortunately being demonized and destroyed, much like Victorian architecture was 50 years ago, and we're going to deeply regret the destruction of yet another important era of architecture in Toronto. It'll take a while for a lot of people to come around, but I'm certain it will be lamented.

Certainly a lot of Modernist buildings leave something to be desired from an urbanity viewpoint, but this can be remedied with thoughtful ground level renovations. This re-clad is nothing but a schlocky hack-job by a second rate architectural firm.
charalique / October 18, 2012 at 07:06 pm
i can't believe the size of new condo units these days!

i used to live in a bachelor that was 400sqft and that was small enough. bare bones-i'm staring into my kitchen-turn my head look at my front door kind of small. how in the world can anyone live in a 300sqft closet?

i completely understand all amenities are just a short walk away, but don't people actually want to enjoy their living space when they're at home?

not to mention this article states that 3 bedroom units are available and that the largest size unit is about 850sqft. you have GOT to be kidding me!!!!!

i just don't understand.
James / October 18, 2012 at 07:17 pm
I am curious, is the suite shown considered a 1 bedroom or a studio? There isn't a whole lot of space between the kitchen and the living area. I guess it might be ok if you are really lazy and want to reach from the couch to the fridge.

Also, no storage locker (or at least a wait list for a locker) in a unit that size is pretty ridiculous.

I also live in the area and there is already a ton of disruptive construction going on. St Joseph Street will be a mess until the Seven building is finished and the building across from the Sutton place will be torn down for condos as well.

I agree with the poster about preserving non-designated heritage but architecturally representative buildings.
Robyn Urback replying to a comment from Huh / October 18, 2012 at 07:19 pm
Indeed. Fixed
Robyn Urback replying to a comment from James / October 18, 2012 at 07:21 pm
And @James: one bedroom, believe it or not
John Kenn / October 19, 2012 at 01:31 pm
Every person want a beautiful home in a friendly atmospher and Markahm real estate is the situated an ideal loction that attract those who want to buy property in North Canada region.
bubble boy replying to a comment from Robyn Urback / October 20, 2012 at 04:46 pm
I'm curious to know why blogto doesn't do a story about Toronto's condo bubble. It's clear it will happen if you can post a new development every week.
Statto replying to a comment from bubble boy / October 25, 2012 at 01:40 pm
Agreed 100% with bubble boy. Amazing how some people don't know (or care) about the importance of price per square foot in a building before they make a purchase. Crazy. Check out you can actually analyze and compare price per square foot for all resale condo buildings.....
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