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This North York home caused an uproar when it was built in the ’90s. Now, it can be yours for a cool $3 million

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One of Toronto’s quirkiest homes, the angular blue property at 1 Bond Ave. that made waves in cookie-cutter Don Mills when it was built in the late ’90s, is on the market.

The house, along with its fraternal twin property at 3 Bond Ave., drew the chagrin of neighbours when it was built at the turn of the millennium.

The design and colour of the properties at 1 and 3 Bond Ave. caused an up roar in the Don Mills neighbourhood when architect Zak Ghanim was hired to design something “funky” in the 1990s. The house at 3 Bond Ave. has since been painted a more subtle earth-tone and 1 Bond is a softer blue.
The design and colour of the properties at 1 and 3 Bond Ave. caused an up roar in the Don Mills neighbourhood when architect Zak Ghanim was hired to design something “funky” in the 1990s. The house at 3 Bond Ave. has since been painted a more subtle earth-tone and 1 Bond is a softer blue.  (Zak Ghanim)

“People here are very used to the brick and if you don’t have an asphalt roof and brown brick they think you’re crazy,” recalls architect Zak Ghanim. “Their eyes are used to that.”

Real estate agent Nick Bernhard, “was looking for something really very funky” says Ghanim who was hired by Bernhard to design both properties off Leslie St. between Lawrence Ave E. and York Mills Rd.

Ghanim, who was born in Egypt, was inspired by the colours found in that country’s architecture, unlike the Canadian suburbs where it’s all “beige, beigey beige, beigey grey, and grey beige.”

He wanted to do something “non-traditional” with the wood, concrete and stucco homes “rather than just follow the same stream, whatever you see around you, copy and paste.”

But there was “big opposition in the community for the design and shape.”

A bathroom at 1 Bond Ave.
A bathroom at 1 Bond Ave.  (Mark Beauchamp)

It took a long time to get the plans approved by the then North York’s building department. City inspectors doubted the homes could even be built and dropped in on construction just to double check, the Star reported in 1997.

In a 1998 Canadian Press article, one neighbour compared it to “Disneyland going up on the corner.”

“People were swearing at me,” Ghanim recalls with a laugh.

However, once the homes were built, they slowly came around, he said — even when they were painted bold shades of blue and yellow.

“They thought that this would destroy their community. Meanwhile, once it was finished I got so many offers,” Ghanim said.

All the media attention at the time didn’t hurt.

The property at 1 Bond Ave., which has since been painted a softer shade of blue, has been on the market since September and is priced at $2,950,000.

Dining area at 1 Bond Ave.
Dining area at 1 Bond Ave.  (Mark Beauchamp)

Realtor Marco Chiappeta says there’s “nothing quite like” the 3,800 square feet, four-bedroom five-bath home, calling it “an aspirational property,” that’s “iconic for Toronto.”

“There’s no straight walls in the home, it’s all curved walls, angled and everything, but it’s extremely functional,” he said.

Chiappeta notes the “in-law suite” or office in the basement has a separate entrance, and that hedges and perennial gardens give the lot “maximum privacy.”

It includes eight parking spaces and, just in case you don’t own a car, there’s a bus stop right outside.

Another of Toronto’s most architecturally distinct homes, the green cubes at Don Valley Parkway and 1 Sumach St. sold for condo redevelopment over the summer. The Star reported in August tenants were told to relocate and that the structures would be dismantled and possibly auctioned off. They were built in the style of Dutch architect Piet Blom’s Rotterdam cube homes in 1996.

But despite the few months on the market, Chiappeta, a realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty, said he doesn’t think there will be any trouble finding the right buyer for 1 Bond Ave.

A bedroom at 1 Bond Ave.
A bedroom at 1 Bond Ave.  (Mark Beauchamp)

The naysayers speak “more toward the consumer in the ’90s where the market was catered more toward the more cookie-cutter subdivision kind of homes,” he said, adding the house is ideal for “somebody with an imagination, with a creative spark.”

Owner Gabriel Talasman, who purchased 1 Bond — the larger of the two properties — from Bernhard in 2005, reassures potential buyers that “inside it is very ‘normal.’ ’’

“It’s not with slanted floors or walls that are hitting you over the head,” he said.

Talasman, a retired architect, has always appreciated the non-conformist design but “respects” it might not be to everyone’s tastes.

He and his wife are selling because they’re now empty-nesters and looking to downsize.

But, he admits, “it’s a hard act to follow.”

Over the years curious onlookers have stop by to take pictures. A few have even asked for a tour.

“People think it’s a museum or a Russian church.”

May Warren is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11

This home at 1 Bond Ave. in Don Mills is for sale for $3 million.
This home at 1 Bond Ave. in Don Mills is for sale for $3 million.  (Mark Beauchamp)

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Anglais

‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Anglais

Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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