The crowd had gathered at the sales centre to hear about Backstage condos, a 36-storey point tower planned for the southeast corner of Yonge and The Esplanade behind the Sony Centre.
But Sam Crignano, president of Cityzen Development Group — a project partner — realized that the gaggle was sticking around to sample the gourmet lunch (crispy grilled tofu steak, anyone?).
The meal was prepared by chef Toben Kochman, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris who has worked at Susur Restaurant and cooked for the Dalai Lama and Bill Clinton on their visits to Toronto.
“I know you didn’t come here to listen to me, you came to eat,” Crignano acknowledged in his remarks. “So I’ll keep it short and sweet.”
Backstage is a sister project to The L Tower, a 58-storey condo designed by Daniel Libeskind that’s being built just to the north and adjacent to the Sony Centre.
The sales office is used by both developments and as such required “interesting technology” to give the space the necessary flexibility, Crignano said.
That would be touchscreens, which line the walls of the presentation centre.
At the touch of a button, Backstage’s sales environment — designed by Munge Leung and advertising agency Blackjet Inc. — morphs into a presentation centre for L Tower, using the large touchscreens to show floorplans, renderings and 360-degree views from the building.
The touchscreens function as a virtual interior design studio, as well, Crignano noted, allowing buyers to peruse finishes. “We’ve created what we think is a sales office of the future,” he said.
Backstage has 284 units that range from $326,900 for a one-bedroom to $514,900 for a two-bedroom suite; as of late January, 200 had already been sold via preview events.
The project goes on sale to the general public later this month, but Crignano says no grand opening hullabaloo is planned.
“We don’t line people up around the block any longer,” he says in an interview. “When you bring everyone in at the same time it’s difficult to service them all.”
Interiors at Backstage are designed by Munge Leung. All suites have Bosch appliances, granite countertops and engineered hardwood flooring.
The tower, designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, will be built on what architect Gianni Ria describes as a “rather challenging site.”
Architecturally speaking, there’s Libeskind’s L Tower to the north and 25 The Esplanade, an iconic Flatiron-style skyscraper, to the east. In terms of logistics, there’s the railway lands directly to the south, and Yonge St. on the building’s west side.
“It’s a pretty tight site,” Ria says. “But the design concept turned all these challenges into positive forces. It made the best out of the situation.”
He notes that Backstage’s north side has a curved-glass form that “responds to the adjacent buildings” by avoiding a direct visual connection, offering privacy while maintaining panoramic views of downtown. On the south side of the building, the architects opted for a glass-box design that better withstands the vibrations from the railway tracks below, Ria explains, and takes full advantage of the lakefront vista.
Backstage will have a four-storey podium, incorporating two floors of retail and some residential space. The rooftop of the podium will have an outdoor pool and cabanas. Other amenities include saunas, a party room, lounge, yoga room and theatre. There will also be two guest suites.
Plans are for Backstage to eventually be connected to a future expansion of the PATH system, linking it underground to Union Station. And the condo is in close proximity to the financial district and St. Lawrence Market.
The development attracted attention last year with its “Name Our Condo” campaign, which invited the public to submit and vote online for potential project names.
“Normally we sit around the table with the marketing team and throw around names until we find something we all like,” Crignano says. “By holding this competition, we felt we could bring some attention to the project and come up with a unique name.”
The response from the public was robust: 3,200 names were submitted, some great, some not so great (“Yesplanade” and “Esplanade’s Emerald,” for example).
The list was ultimately winnowed to 10 finalists and in the end Backstage was chosen as the winner.
“It’s an appropriate name when you think about it,” Crignano says. “Backstage is more or less phase two of the L Tower project, which is (part of) the redevelopment of the Sony Centre.”
The contest achieved its other aim, too, helping to generate early buzz for Backstage.
“Over the course of the months we ran the contest, we registered a lot of prospects,” says Crignano. “It definitely helped propel the project.”
Developers: Fernbrook Homes, Cityzen Development Group and Castlepoint Realty.
Architect: Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects
Interior design: Munge Leung
Landscape design: Claude Cormier
Size: 36 floors.
Units: 284, ranging from $326,900 one-bedroom suite to $514,900 two-bedroom suite; 200 have already been sold through preview events.
Amenities: Outdoor pool and cabanas, saunas, party room, lounge, yoga room and theatre. Two guest suites. Eventually will be connected to PATH expansion through to Union Station.
Sales centre: 22 The Esplanade, Monday to Thursday noon to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays and holidays noon to 5 p.m.; closed Fridays, 416-777-2533,www.backstagetoronto.com