Almost 4 years ago I first announced in Outspoken! magazine that a GTA builder was going to start selling pre-construction wheelchair accessible condominiums in Mississauga and Toronto.
That was big news back in 2017 as it had been close to 20 years since a condo builder had offered floor plans with wheelchair accessible layouts.
I’m happy to share with you that these condos are now built and ready to occupy, and my clients are excited to be moving into their new homes. They’re telling me that it’s all about the beautiful roll-in showers! But first, let me circle back to the beginning…
“We both had our own ‘wants’ in a condo. For Natalie, a bathroom door (for privacy); for me, a roll-in shower. But more than that, we both wanted a great neighbourhood and a sense of community.”
– Tim Rose
I received a phone call in January 2017 from Steph Bonic from Daniels Corporation. She told me that Daniels was launching a new program to design and build accessible condominiums and they wanted my input.
A meeting was organized with myself, Luke Anderson, Executive Director from StopGap.ca, Lorene Casiez, Associate with Human Space, and a number of staff from Daniels. There was excitement in the room surrounding this new initiative. Things moved quickly and by the time August arrived the first Accessibility Designed Program (ADP) suites were launched in Mississauga near Square One in a building called the “Wesley.”
One, two and three-bedroom suites were available and key accessibility features were being offered throughout the units. They included:
- Bathrooms with roll-in showers, roll-under vanities, 5’ turning radius and grab bars
- Roll out balconies
- 34” wide interior doors
- Roughed in power door openers
- Optional kitchens with lowered counters, roll under sink and cooktop, wall ovens with side opening door, and drawer dishwasher were also available
Eric Mukendi was my first buyer to purchase an ADP suite. As a person with a disability, he recognized the rare opportunity that was being offered.
“There is a real need for wheelchair accessible rentals in the GTA and I decided to buy a one-bedroom suite as an investment property” – Eric Mukendi.
A month later, Daniels launched their DuEast condominium in Toronto’s Regent Park. Similar to the Wesley, there were a range of wheelchair accessible condo suites with the same features being offered. Demand was considerably greater for the Toronto development located beside the brand new and accessible, Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre.
In addition to my DuEast investor buyers who will be renting out their condos, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of buyers who purchased for themselves.
Tim and Natalie Rose were two of my enthusiastic buyers. I asked Tim what his first impressions were back in 2017 of the Daniels DuEast opportunity. He said they were immediately interested and excited and being true to his great sense of humor he said “it was almost as if we had heard of a unicorn on the loose, in a nearby neighbourhood, after years of searching for unicorns. It didn’t take us long to decide we had to jump at the chance.”
“We both had our own ‘wants’ in a condo. For Natalie, a bathroom door (for privacy); for me, a roll-in shower. But more than that, we both wanted a great neighbourhood and a sense of community. A neighbourhood that we could grow with and that still had easy access to downtown. As the building ticked all those boxes and then some, it was an easy decision.”
Patience is needed when you purchase a pre-construction condominium. In the case of Wesley and DuEast, it took over three years to get from purchase to occupancy. A lot can happen in that time. For the buyers who were able to wait, like Eric, Tim and Natalie, their patience has paid off. For others, whose circumstances changed over that time and decided to sell, it created opportunities for other buyers. One such buyer, who asked to remain anonymous, purchased an ADP condo via an “assignment” earlier this year. This is where the original buyer sells their agreement of purchase and sale to a new buyer. It’s a fascinating part of real estate that is very distinct from a traditional re-sale transaction.
“I’m incredibly excited to be moving in. It feels like such a huge milestone. The end of a long road. I can’t wait to be able to just exist and relax in a space that truly works for me.”
– Tim Rose
When I asked this buyer to share their thoughts, they responded “I’m incredibly excited to be moving in. It feels like such a huge milestone. The end of a long road. I can’t wait to be able to just exist and relax in a space that truly works for me.”
I reached out to Dominic Tompa, Vice President of Sales at Daniels and he told me, “Since our launch in 2017, we’ve implemented the Accessibility Designed Program into five Daniels communities and we’ve been thrilled with the response. We’ve found that purchasers have been receptive, excited, but also honest to tell us what more they would like to see. When we launched, there was a significant lack of new residences designed for people with mobility needs and we’ve been proud to be able to help fulfill this.”
Visitability is another benefit that these condos provide. Jess and Chris bought an ADP condo in Daniels Artworks building, which is just a block away from DuEast. Although they don’t personally need the accessibility features, they chose to buy an ADP Suite because it would be a visitable home where they could welcome all of their family and friends, including the ones with disabilities.
Having accessibility throughout the building, a roll-out balcony, wide doorways and an optional accessible kitchen are great features but it really is all about the roll in showers. They are one of the rarest features to find in a home and for many, it can be the most important. Tim told me that “on that first day, I just parked my wheelchair in my bathroom and just looked at the roll-in shower, almost in tears.” Another buyer said “it’s the most beautiful shower I’ve ever seen.”
I’m pleased to report that Daniels is building more Accessibility Designed Condos in Toronto, Mississauga, Thornhill and Brampton. “In the next four years and beyond, we’ll continue to implement the program into each of our communities and continue to create suites where everyone can truly love where they live” – Dominic Tompa.
If you’d like to see a video tour of an Accessibility Designed condo, and details on upcoming locations I’ve got all of the details, my website:
Jeffrey Kerr, Broker, Barrier Free Real Estate Specialist
RE/MAX Unique Inc., Brokerage