Recently, the Toronto Star’s NewInHomes.com took a trip up to Yorkville to meet with Jason Fane, the founder of 45 Charles Ltd. and the developer behind CHAZ.yorkville. We learned more about his vision for CHAZ, as well as his background in the real estate game!
Enough with us, on to the interview!
1. What brought you into the real estate industry?
I grew up in New York where my grandfather had an apartment house, and starting from when
I was about five years old, I would sometimes go with him when he made his bi-weekly visits to the building to collect the rents and to speak with the superintendent. Then, when I was a student studying business at Harvard, I leased a large house and rented out most of it to other students and I was able to live free.
After that, I moved to upstate New York and started buying small apartment buildings and then built several. I still have buildings I bought about 40 years ago and that long term experience has taught me what pleases residents and what makes trouble-free buildings.
2. What brought you into Toronto?
In 1971, I wanted to spend time somewhere more vibrant than upstate New York, and over a period of six months, I developed a list of 25 features that I personally would like to see in my ideal city. Then, the next year, I collected statistics on cities around the world. At that time, Toronto scored the highest with 22 points and the next best city scored only 17 and the others were all less than that.
I came here and found that Toronto also has a delightful culture and a quality population and friendliness and constructive and positive philosophy that I didn’t find in the statistics. Over the last 40 years, Toronto has become even better than I had hoped.
3. What was the vision behind CHAZ?
The idea was to build a superb building that is a balanced product, where the outstanding location is matched by superb architecture, apartment design, quality features and interiors, lavish amenities, and first class work. To this end, I selected from Canada’s very best professionals and contractors.
The National Association of Home Builders selected CHAZ as their 2010 International Project of the Year, which is their way of saying the best project in the world. This does not mean the most expensive or the most luxurious project, but the one that, overall, makes the most sense with the pieces working together the best. It means that the CHAZ purchaser gets a superb value.
4. What are some of your highlights of the project?
In addition to the common luxuries that many new condos have, CHAZ condos have larger closets, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and much larger medicine cabinets than other apartments.
The amenities include Toronto’s first computer gaming arena in any condo and it will have the latest and best equipment available at the move-in time. Of course, we will also have guest suites, an array of athletic facilities, the fabulous CHAZ Club with panoramic views, a demonstration kitchen for events or cooking classes, and dozens of other features.
The CHAZ Club has views equal to the best of the top-floor bars in Yorkville, but because the CHAZ Club BYOB, four people could save several hundred dollars in an evening. If they go once a week, the savings will be about enough to pay the mortgage interest on the average apartment in the condo. In addition, the CHAZ Club has outside space and excellent facilities that the others don’t have.
5. How important is the location to you?
Our superb location right near Yonge and Bloor, but on beautiful and quiet Charles Street is an important part of what makes CHAZ.yorkville one of only a handful of condos in Toronto that truly stands out.
CHAZ is surrounded by Canada’s best! The best part of Bloor Street, Canada’s best shopping runs from Avenue Road to Church Street, just above us. We are a short walk to the University of Toronto, top museums, the subway station with both the Yonge and Bloor lines, Queens Park, and the new Four Seasons Hotel. There are about 100 restaurants within a five-minute walk, it’s just a few minutes to Canada’s best hospitals, and a six minute subway ride to the Financial District. It’s a five-minute walk to the Village.
In addition to the extraordinary convenience of the CHAZ location, there is an investment aspect to our location that is special in Toronto. Yorkville is moving toward us, and as various projects are completed, Charles Street prices will rise to reflect this improvement in our part of the neighbourhood. Thus, over and above the general increase in Toronto condo prices of about 7% per year, I estimate that CHAZ will see an additional increase of about $200 per square foot by the time of the first condo association meeting.
6. What’s next for you and 45 Charles Ltd.?
My first business priority is to make sure that CHAZ.yorkville is completed successfully and becomes the first class reality that I and the entire team have worked so hard to produce. I’d like every CHAZ buyer to say, at least to themselves, “I’m glad I bought at CHAZ.”
After that, I’d like to do another condo – it’s been great fun – but I don’t have a suitable site yet and the competition for sites is much tougher than when I signed the contract for the CHAZ site in 1996.
45 Charles Ltd. will change its name to something less specific to a particular project so it is appropriate for a range of real estate activity. I’ve been approached about it being a public company, but I don’t see that in the next few years.
The team at the Toronto Star’s NewInHomes.com would like to thank Jason for his time, and we look forward to seeing what 45 Charles Ltd. has to offer the Toronto real estate industry, now and in the future. For more information on CHAZ.yorkville, visit chaz.yorkville.com, or drop by the sales centre at 101 Yorkville Ave.