With Two St. Thomas, Yorkville gets a chic rental building with hotel-style amenities

With Two St. Thomas, Yorkville gets a chic rental building with hotel-style amenities

Designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects, the 26-storey structure has a timeless quality and is built to last

When Bentall Kennedy and KingSett Capital partnered to launch a new residential project in Yorkville, the location itself demanded something special.

On a quiet street just off Bay and Bloor, the property might be one of the city’s most central addresses, with a high walkability score, and easy access to shops, services and cultural institutions along Bloor West, including the University of Toronto.

But the approach the partners chose for the project—a high-end purpose-built rental experience offering the style and amenities residents would find in a luxury hotel—clearly distinguishes Two St. Thomas from the city’s condo boom.

“We felt there was an underserved market for people who choose to rent, but demand a high-quality product that’s professionally managed,” says Gary Lee, Senior Vice President, Residential, Bentall Kennedy. Despite the neighbourhood’s high desirability as a place to live, there had been no new rental development in the area for almost 15 years.

The building, by Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini Architects, has a timeless, modern design of glass, stone, wood and copper finishes that fits seamlessly amongst its equally elegant neighbours. The architects are also responsible for several other standout buildings nearby, including 5 St. Joseph, One Bloor and 7 St. Thomas (a commercial and office development that’s literally across the street), and will be working with Bentall Kennedy on three other projects. “They have a unique understanding of the luxury market,” says Lee.

With a 26-storey and a 12-storey component, Two St. Thomas offers more than 30 floor plans for its 248 suites, with one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom and penthouse suites ranging in size from approximately 550 to 1,800 square feet. Already 35 per cent leased, remaining suites start from $2,600 for a one bedroom, $3,600 for a two bedroom. Occupancy is scheduled for Spring 2018.

Toronto-based design firm Cecconi Simone, which has worked with Hariri Pontarini on several other projects, was able to bring the building’s chic sensibility to the interiors, not just in the suites, but in the striking two-storey lobby and other common spaces. “They were brilliant to deal with because they understand the difference between a rental building and a condo,” says Lee. “Condo design typically doesn’t focus very much on the durability of the materials or on the ease of maintenance. We really wanted beautiful interiors, built to last.”

The pleasures of luxury hotel living are conjured in the long list of amenities, including a 24/7 concierge, a fireplace lounge in the lobby, a 12th-floor outdoor lounge, a dining room with gourmet kitchen, a fitness studio and an in-house pet spa. Hotel-style service has informed the approach to staffing. “We have chosen staff to be very customer-service focused,” says Lee. “We really want people to feel connected to the area and to the building.”

Two St. Thomas also embraces recent trends, and some of the latest technology. Destination dispatch elevators—users enter the floor number before getting in—make for less waiting and faster travel times. The designated parcel room and parcel management system eliminate a common frustration of the online shopping trend—misplaced packages. In the suites, programmable smart thermostats can be controlled remotely, while smartphone keyless entry means not managing a pocketful of keys and fobs.

Though renters may typically pay less attention to energy conversation than owners, Bentall Kennedy and KingSett have targeted LEED Gold and Toronto Green Standard Tier II for Two St. Thomas, with features like dual-flush toilets, double-glazed windows, Energy Star-rated appliances and well-planned bicycle parking. That will make the building more efficient and help residents lead a greener lifestyle. “Environmental performance is one of our core values,” says Lee.

While the condo rental market has given Toronto tenants more opportunities to live in stylish downtown properties, condo rentals typically lack the security of tenure offered by rental buildings. Management services and policies in condo buildings might also make renters feel like outsiders.

At the same time, research suggests that both downsizing baby boomers and upwardly mobile millennials have an appetite for renting. After years of home ownership, many boomers want something low-maintenance for their retirement. For their part, millennial professionals may not be in a position to buy their own home, but still want a highly connected urban lifestyle. “Both demographics share a desire for sophisticated living,” says Lee.