An heiress is selling her Annex property for $5 million—house not included

An heiress is selling her Annex property for $5 million—house not included

61 Roxborough Street West, as it looks today. Photograph by Michelle Nunes

Most home buyers expect certain niceties in exchange for their money: four walls, a roof, floors. A new listing at 61 Roxbrough Street West, in the Annex, includes none of those things. For the $5-million asking price, the buyer gets a 32-by-158-foot plot of land with a foundation on it—no house included.

The property belongs to Elise Latner-Assaraf, daughter of Albert Latner, the real estate developer and business magnate who died in 2015. (His heirs’ bitter struggle for control of his estate was the subject of a Toronto Life feature in 2011.) Elise’s husband is the fashion designer Patrick Assaraf.

Latner closed on the Roxborough property for $2.8 million in 2015. At the time, there was a house on the land: a three-storey detached home with a red-brick facade and bay windows. A year later, she applied for permits to demolish the existing structure and replace it with a new three-storey home with a detached garage. As of April 2017, Latner had a building permit, but she only got as far as levelling the old house and laying the foundation for the new one before putting the property on the market. It’s now listed for $4,999,999, which is about $2.2 million more than she paid two years ago.

A rendering of what Latner’s house would have looked like, when complete. Image courtesy of Michael McLachlan

The average price of a Toronto detached home has increased by about 52 per cent since Latner closed on the property. Her $5-million asking price represents an increase of almost 79 per cent, and it doesn’t cover the cost of a house.

By way of explanation, Michael McLachlan, one of the listing agents, pointed out that his client has already sunk a significant amount of time and money into the property. “The foundation itself was $1.2 million to install,” he said. “That side of Roxborough Street has very temperamental soil conditions. And in addition to that you’ve got all the permits in place. It’s ready to start building.”

The property comes complete with variances, which would allow the buyer build a structure slightly larger than what’s normally allowed under municipal zoning bylaws. Getting variances from the city’s committee of adjustment is an onerous process that can take several months and thousands of dollars in legal and consulting fees to complete.

McLachlan wouldn’t discuss Latner or her precise reasons for abandoning the house mid-build. “Not a lot of people are unloading properties before they’re actually done construction,” he said. “But in this instance the client has had a lifestyle change. They need to be moving into a condo instead of building their own home.” He acknowledges that the partially completed property will be a challenge to sell. But, in a market where multi-million-dollar teardowns are increasingly normal, it’s entirely possible that a buyer will appreciate being saved the hassle of demolition.

The Hunt