This is a story about how the one per cent live.
On Tuesday, a special condo sales event is being held in Toronto where invited guests will be able to purchase pricey downtown condo units for as much as $8 million and get a chance to spin a wheel for prizes that include a new Porsche, a Rolex watch, ultra expensive Hermes Birkin handbags and shopping “sprees” at Holt Renfrew.
The Lunar New Year party, set to take place in the evening in a third-floor ballroom at the upscale Shangri-La hotel on University Avenue, is being hosted by the people behind the planned King Toronto project, a luxury condo development slated for the King Street and Spadina Avenue area.
Based on the idea of a mountain range, the shape of the King Toronto building will feature a “pixilated design” that forms four mountain peaks. The design calls for foliage to be running up the sides of the building, and units with tree-lined terraces.
Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, the plans call for the peaks of the building to be made out of glass blocks. This means construction will be substantially more expensive than your typical condo tower and that’s why the King Toronto units are pricier, says the developer, Vancouver-based Westbank, which is working with Allied Properties REIT.
Due to be completed sometime around 2023, King Toronto will feature about 480 units, the majority already sold except for about 30 units on the west “mountain” that have been held back for sale by the developer. Sales were staggered because with 480 units and so many different floor plans, it would be “overwhelming” to customers if all the condos were on sale at the same time, the developer says.
Invitees to the one-night-only party will get a chance to buy one of these remaining units and guests are being asked to bring their chequebooks and identification.
In a telephone interview, Michael Braun, director of sales and marketing for Westbank, said the value of the prizes on the spinning wheel will depend on how much a guest spends on a condo unit.
“There will be certain prizes for units $2 million and under, other prizes for $2 million to $3 million units, and $3 million and up,” Braun explained.
“I imagine most people who own a $2 million to $3 million condo can probably buy a luxury car,” Braun said, referring to the Porsche 911 prize that buyers who purchase a penthouse suite, listed at just under $8 million, are eligible to spin the wheel for.
(There will be suites on sale starting at $850,000 but you don’t get a chance at the prize wheel at that price point).
Toronto realtor Jackson Wong, one of the people helping to organize the event, described invited guests as “professionals and clients in our database who are interested” in high-end products like the condos.
The event is not an auction.
“It’s no different functionally from when a developer offers bonus commission or free maintenance fees or a car as an incentive or when a store gives you a gift or gift card when you spend a certain dollar amount,” Braun said in an email.
But Desmond Brown, a veteran Toronto realtor with Royal LePage Estate Realty, says it isn’t common to see condo sales events in Toronto where expensive prizes such as luxury cars and watches are up for grabs.
“For the people who will be attending this event and possibly purchasing one of these units, winning a fruit basket just won’t cut it. So why not a Rolex?” Brown said.
“Frankly, I think the prices they’re asking for these condos are a bit ambitious, but then again I’m blown away by the amount of money there is in this city and what some people are willing to pay,” Brown added.
The Shangri-La event promises a traditional lion dance and complimentary dim sum buffet. Last year 1,000 people attended a similar event put on by Westbank during which King Toronto condos were for sale.
The idea for the Lunar New Year party is based on a similar but much smaller event Westbank began putting on in Vancouver starting a few years ago, Braun says.
The Vancouver event was launched due to the influence of that city’s thriving Chinese community, Braun pointed out.
The community makes up about 20 per cent of Vancouver’s population, statistics show.
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Braun explained that Westbank’s Vancouver party draws a large crowd — about 13,000 attended last week’s event at Oakridge Centre, a Westbank-owned shopping mall. (Westbank also built the Shangri-La hotel in Toronto).
“Most people are there (at the Vancouver event) to party and experience the festival — dragon dances, ballet performances. There’s also an auto show. For people interested in purchasing a condo they can spin a prize wheel, but it’s more of a big community celebration than selling condos,” Braun says.
The Toronto event, meanwhile, features people of various ethnic backgrounds, and in addition to clients the invitees include realtors and architects, he says.