Rising importance of design in condominium market

“Ottawa developers and builders have to sharpen their design pencils,” Columnist Derek Nzeribe of Milborne Group who is also the Regional Director of Ottawa branch of Milborne says.

Milborne Group is Canada’s one of the most successful and largest new development sales and consulting agencies. With up to 20% market share in Canada, the group has a say in the country’s new condominium marketplace.

The regional director believes “being bold and offering something totally new” is sometimes the best approach. Developers face the challenge of designing a landmark building that will look as striking in 20 and 30 years as they do today.

One example is  Arthaus Condos which came onto the market in 2016 at $550 per square foot. Today they cost approximately $610 per square foot due to the freshness in architectural design, something which was new for Ottawa. Purchasers are happily paying extra bucks for the unprecedented development. The mixed-use development includes residential, retail, Ottawa Art Gallery, entertainment and the city’s first  Le Germain hotel.

The Montreal-based DevMcGill took up the charge of this exceptional design. According to Stéphane Côté, president of DevMcGill, “It had never been done in Canada to have an art gallery and hotel with residences above it; therefore it’s very appealing”.

Other developers say condominiums are getting smaller and require much more creative space planning. David Thomas and Associates say condominium interior design is also important to make the unit feel larger.

It is the age of micro smart houses and developers have to take into account both the size of the unit and development environment.

“Architecture is an art form that must be created within parameters determined by market demands, as well as municipal and provincial guidelines. Developers need to consider how people will use buildings and make them as functional as they are aesthetically pleasing, while of course building for profitability,” the regional director says.

The expert says with the increasing demand for urban condominium residences it makes sense to get to the extra expense for the best architectural solutions. He believes developers will have more chance to sell projects if they build exteriors and suite layouts that satisfy markets. He is sure the additional costs of hiring high-cost architectural firms will be compensated from the market by developers.

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