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Film Studio Lofts destined to remain an eyesore

Posted by Chris Bateman / March 26, 2014

toronto 1003 queen eastDon't expect the shell of the half-finished condo building at Queen and Pape to spring to life any time soon. A lengthy legal battle between a real estate developer and a prominent diet doctor has cast the immediate future of the building, and several others in Toronto, in serious doubt.

In a storyline that wouldn't be out of place in a made-for-TV movie, the development company that promised to finish the stalled Film Studio Lofts teamed up with Dr. Stanley Bernstein, better known simply as Dr. Bernstein, the founder of a nationwide weight-loss clinic, but ended up fighting it out in a bitter legal dispute over an alleged theft of mortgage proceeds.

According to court documents, The Rose & Thistle Group, led by Norma and Ronauld Walton, bought the shell of 1003 Queen Street East on June 7, 2012. Bernstein invested $800,000 in the company set up to finish the condos and provided a mortgage of $400,000. Over the next year, the company worked to shore up the leaky shell of the 10 residential and two retail units, building much of the metal shell and installing windows.

They expected to make between $100,000 and $500,000 on the building once it was fully occupied.

The project started life in 2006 as the Film Studio Lofts and had a targeted completion date of Fall 2007. Construction stalled and down-payments on the units were refunded by the original developer.

toronto 1003 queen eastThe Rose & Thistle Group Ltd. started buying property in Toronto in 2001 and averaged about three purchases a year until 2013. Dr. Bernstein, a neighbour of the Waltons, began investing in the company in 2008. In total, he put more than $100 million into some 31 properties, including 1003 Queen Street East.

Bernstein took legal action last summer when the proceeds from $6 million in mortgages, taken out by the Waltons on two joint-owned properties without his knowledge, ended up in Norma Walton's personal bank account. An Ontario Superior Court judge ruled that the Walton and Bernstein properties, which included the Red Door Shelter on Queen East and a former Salvation Army building on Pape, should be placed in receivership and sold.

Last year, Norma Walton told me she expected the building to be complete by April 2014. Since then, only some of the bright yellow cladding, damaged by exposure to the elements, has been replaced. Judging by the state of the exterior and lack of interior fittings construction is some ways from completion.

The building is now up for sale once again. If it's sold, the new owners will become the third company to attempt to build condos on the site.

The Norma and Ronauld Walton are appealing the judge's decision. Expect this one to drag on.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.



Ron / March 26, 2014 at 12:01 pm
Wonder if Walton knows who he's playing around with?

More shockingly, in 1992, Bernstein and a pair of acquain-tances were arrested for hiring an assassin to murder a business colleague. The police also searched Bernstein’s house and charged him with possessing 24 stolen Rolex watches. While his two associates were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and were sentenced to five years in prison, the charges against Bernstein were with-drawn due to lack of evidence, as were the stolen Rolex charges (the search warrant was ruled invalid). Bernstein made headlines once again in 1998, when thieves ransacked his Post Road home, stealing $200,000 in jewellery and cash while he and his wife were locked in the trunk of their Mercedes. Though Bernstein wouldn’t discuss these epi-sodes with me, he did say they have had no effect on the popularity of his diet.
Qaf / March 26, 2014 at 12:50 pm
These issues will affect whether or not The Red Door shelter continues to operate in this location (as mentioned above). This is an important shelter for families, and I hope that it doesn't get forgotten in all this mess.

For more information:
Theodore Jones / March 26, 2014 at 01:45 pm
Wasn't Bernstein also involved recently in a law suit with a former partner in his clinics. Man this guy should get a lawyer educated family member on staff to save dough if he's only got $100 million .
Les / March 26, 2014 at 02:26 pm
More info on the issues being faced by Red Door Family Shelter, if you're interested:
Orson / March 27, 2014 at 12:01 am
Wow, no one? Really?

"Film Studio Lofts destined to remain an eyesore"

...and no one comments on the quality (more like lack-thereof) of the design?
Rick / March 27, 2014 at 03:54 pm
Isn't Dr. Bernstein a bear?

Like how the hell are bears getting in on the condo market?
Jean / August 13, 2014 at 08:56 am
What's happening now at 1003.
Brett / October 21, 2014 at 08:41 am
Looks like things might be getting underway at this site again. I am heading there today for a site visit to discuss interior insulation solutions with the General Contractor who's taken over. Good to know the history of the project though. Definitely not getting into a paid-if-paid on this project!
Bill / December 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm
Brett, how did your site visit go? Is this building actually going to be completed? They did brick the ground floor, but then stopped. I see the occasional person on site but never a full team. Any intel would be appreciated.
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