Deciphering life at the Code Condos

Deciphering life at the Code Condos

For Brian Brown, it was a return of sorts.

Developer Brian Brown, left, enjoys a chat with Village restaurateur Nino Turano: “Buyers want local amenities in established neighbourhoods.” Darren Calabrese/National Post

As a kid growing up not too far away, his father would take him to Sir Winston Churchill Park to go tobogganing in the wintertime. Today, the principal of BLVD Developments and vice-president of Lifetime Developments, is revisiting the same park. This time he’s looking uphill.

Lifetime and BLVD are developing Code Condos, a boutique building directly north of the park Mr. Brown once visited as a child. The nine-storey contemporary brick-and-glass building designed by the renowned Hariri Pontarini Architects will look out onto the homes of Forest Hill to the north and the 21-acre park to the south.

“We really wanted to do something special for the neighbourhood, and something that would almost be like a jewel when you looked at it from the park,” Mr. Brown says. “We wanted it to have a strong presence, to both blend with the neighbourhood, but at the same time be something memorable and recognized.”

Despite his ambitions and familiarity with the neighbourhood, the site’s St. Clair and Parkwood location — just minutes away from Forest Hill Village — makes The Code a departure for Mr. Brown and his team. Previously, the developer has concentrated on such downtown buildings as Liberty Market Lofts in Liberty Village and INDX at Bay and Adelaide. He approached The Code with a different mindset.

Darren Calabrese/National Post

“Over the past 10 years, we’ve really tried to inject residential growth into areas and sectors that didn’t have residential living … so we had to make sure the buildings themselves had proper amenities to satisfy people living there,” the developer says. “Now we’re recognizing a desire from a different type of buyer that’s looking to live in established neighbourhoods. And they want to benefit from all the amenities in those neighbourhoods — the schools, the parks, the mega grocery stores, which you won’t find downtown.”

That’s not to say The Code is completely amenity free — there’s a gym, a lounge and a terrace, and even a pet-washing station — but for the developers, those aren’t the site’s main selling points. Instead, it’s the amenities that surround the building that stand out, prominent among which is the park, with its active tennis club with 10 courts, its large children’s playground and its vast off-leash dog area.

But influencing the project is the Forest Hill neighbourhood itself. After all, “The Code,” in this case, stands for the site’s postal code.

“Forest Hill as a neighbourhood is very distinguished,” says Barbara Lawlor, president of Baker Real Estate, who’s heading up sales for the site. “It’s probably one of the most distinguished neighbourhoods in Canada.”

What makes this building stand out, Ms. Lawlor says, is that it offers a range of suite types well below the price point of most of the large homes throughout the Forest Hill area. While units range up to more than 2,500 square feet, they start at 430 square feet and are priced from the mid $200,000s. Mr. Brown expects a variety of buyers: everyone from young purchasers (perhaps with roots in the neighbourhood) to downsizers moving from some of the larger homes nearby.

Long-time Forest Hill fixture Nino Turano, for one, is happy about the new mix of residents expected. As owner of Pizza Banfi in Forest Hill Village, he’s been working in the neighbourhood for 26 years and expects a new influx of people living in buildings like The Code will help add vitality, boosting business at local retail and restaurants like his. “A lot of people in the Village leave in the winter,” he says. “If more people come to the area, it’s better.”

Others throughout the neighbourhood will be happy to see something new on the property The Code will call home (occupancy is set for June 2016). While the lot, with its park views, may seem like prime property to developers like Mr. Brown, it sat stagnant for years.

Now, he hopes The Code will make that site — and its postal code — proud.

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