Condos of a different colour

Artist's rendering of office condos
NEW COMPLEX: This is expected to be the final look of the office condo project coming on Wicksteed Avenue.

It’s not uncommon to hear about a condominium development in midtown. But on Wicksteed Avenue, at the bottom of Leslie Street, there’s a different kind of condo development: office condos.

Bosley Real Estate agent John Robb, who who has worked in Leaside for more than 20 years and is selling the units, says this development, the first of its kind in Leaside/North Toronto area, was “a long time coming.”

“Probably about 10 years ago we identified that there was a real demand for people being able to buy their office space and it was never really readily available,” he said, adding that every fourth or fifth call he’d been fielding for the last several years had been from people not interested in leasing an office space, but in buying one. “I guess it just took that long for a developer to see the need as well.”

Developer Rockport Group is building the project, with the first occupancies expected in late August or early September. CEO Jack Winberg says the development allows more people to work in their local neighbourhood.

Winberg and Robb on Wicksteed
COMING SOON: Rockport Group CEO Jack Winberg and Bosley Real Estate agent John Robb outside of their office condo project on Wicksteed Avenue in Leaside.

“If you live in Leaside and you work on Wicksteed you’re home and back in five minutes,” he noted. “That’s become very desired [since] travel time is the biggest issue we face in Toronto.”

With office condo projects happening downtown and in the 905 region, Robb said it was frustrating that nothing had been going in midtown.

“Our demand was more localized by residents who see value in being able to walk to work,” he said. “So who we cater to is the local residents of Leaside, North Toronto, Don Mills and Rosedale.”

The project is “about 95 percent” user-buyer, according to Robb, meaning investors aren’t the ones buying most of the units. Winberg agrees, saying “this is not an investor’s product.” He added that at a cost of $320 a square foot it’s not much higher than the price of renting a space, making it attractive for potential buyers.

“Our clients are rational business people,” he said. “Your home may or may not make economic sense, but your business has to.”