One of Toronto’s quirkiest homes, the angular blue property at 1 Bond Ave. that made waves in cookie-cutter Don Mills when it was built in the late ’90s, is on the market.
The house, along with its fraternal twin property at 3 Bond Ave., drew the chagrin of neighbours when it was built at the turn of the millennium.
“People here are very used to the brick and if you don’t have an asphalt roof and brown brick they think you’re crazy,” recalls architect Zak Ghanim. “Their eyes are used to that.”
Real estate agent Nick Bernhard, “was looking for something really very funky” says Ghanim who was hired by Bernhard to design both properties off Leslie St. between Lawrence Ave E. and York Mills Rd.
Ghanim, who was born in Egypt, was inspired by the colours found in that country’s architecture, unlike the Canadian suburbs where it’s all “beige, beigey beige, beigey grey, and grey beige.”
He wanted to do something “non-traditional” with the wood, concrete and stucco homes “rather than just follow the same stream, whatever you see around you, copy and paste.”
But there was “big opposition in the community for the design and shape.”
It took a long time to get the plans approved by the then North York’s building department. City inspectors doubted the homes could even be built and dropped in on construction just to double check, the Star reported in 1997.
In a 1998 Canadian Press article, one neighbour compared it to “Disneyland going up on the corner.”
“People were swearing at me,” Ghanim recalls with a laugh.
However, once the homes were built, they slowly came around, he said — even when they were painted bold shades of blue and yellow.
“They thought that this would destroy their community. Meanwhile, once it was finished I got so many offers,” Ghanim said.
All the media attention at the time didn’t hurt.
The property at 1 Bond Ave., which has since been painted a softer shade of blue, has been on the market since September and is priced at $2,950,000.
Realtor Marco Chiappeta says there’s “nothing quite like” the 3,800 square feet, four-bedroom five-bath home, calling it “an aspirational property,” that’s “iconic for Toronto.”
“There’s no straight walls in the home, it’s all curved walls, angled and everything, but it’s extremely functional,” he said.
Chiappeta notes the “in-law suite” or office in the basement has a separate entrance, and that hedges and perennial gardens give the lot “maximum privacy.”
It includes eight parking spaces and, just in case you don’t own a car, there’s a bus stop right outside.
Another of Toronto’s most architecturally distinct homes, the green cubes at Don Valley Parkway and 1 Sumach St. sold for condo redevelopment over the summer. The Star reported in August tenants were told to relocate and that the structures would be dismantled and possibly auctioned off. They were built in the style of Dutch architect Piet Blom’s Rotterdam cube homes in 1996.
But despite the few months on the market, Chiappeta, a realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty, said he doesn’t think there will be any trouble finding the right buyer for 1 Bond Ave.
The naysayers speak “more toward the consumer in the ’90s where the market was catered more toward the more cookie-cutter subdivision kind of homes,” he said, adding the house is ideal for “somebody with an imagination, with a creative spark.”
Owner Gabriel Talasman, who purchased 1 Bond — the larger of the two properties — from Bernhard in 2005, reassures potential buyers that “inside it is very ‘normal.’ ’’
“It’s not with slanted floors or walls that are hitting you over the head,” he said.
Talasman, a retired architect, has always appreciated the non-conformist design but “respects” it might not be to everyone’s tastes.
He and his wife are selling because they’re now empty-nesters and looking to downsize.
But, he admits, “it’s a hard act to follow.”
Over the years curious onlookers have stop by to take pictures. A few have even asked for a tour.
“People think it’s a museum or a Russian church.”
May Warren is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11