If you’re a buyer in today’s marketplace, don’t get caught up in the condo name hype. Once you’re actually living there, you’re more likely to simply use the address.
I live at George Street and Adelaide in Vü, a building pronounced “voo” by some and “view” by others (the name is almost never written with the proper umlaut). I often wonder who’s in charge of choosing condominium names. My cynical side pictures a boardroom with a bunch of marketing geniuses throwing out random words, because basically any word in the English language can become a condominium name. That explains the meaningless monikers chosen for a cluster of condos in CityPlace: Luna, Montage, Neo, Parade, Optima, and Panorama.
Selling pre-construction condos is about selling an idea and an image of a certain kind of lifestyle, and this hangs on the name of the building itself. For instance, it’s easy to sell anything if the word “loft” is in the title, which means that most condo-lofts have basic, senseless names (see: Quad, Electra, and Jade Lofts). And when “loft” is part of the name, the price of a building automatically increases, whether it’s an actual loft or not.
Quite often, the name has little to do with the building. Take 183 Dovercourt Rd., for instance, which dates back to 1873. Originally, it was a grocery store and bakery owned by John Dempster, and later it became the Ideal Bread Factory. Instead of coming up with a play on words about bread (Upper Crust, maybe?), the developers called it Argyle Lofts. Why, exactly? Because Argyle Street is nearby.* Clever. For anyone who actually does care about the history of buildings, have a look at Tip Top Lofts, Robert Watson Lofts, Wrigley Lofts, Massey Harris Lofts, and a slew of others that are named for the building’s prior use.
Maybe I haven’t given enough credit to Toronto’s condo marketers. Sometimes they don’t just pick any old word from the dictionary; sometimes they simply invent them. Mozo, Rezen, and Burano: all condo names and all inventions, much like the ice-cream Häagen-Dazs, which are two nonsensical words that look Scandinavian (note the umlaut) and help justify the premium price.
Just as “the” is often put in front of a condo name to make it sound more important—The Monarch, The Orion, The Republic—we’re now seeing a movement in condo names to denote renown. King’s Landing, Bohemian Embassy, Bloor Walk—it’s like how court, woods, and crescent sound more affluent than road, street, and avenue.
One of the more troublesome and annoying fads is the improper use of punctuation, as in SP!RE and Elev’n21. The condo 9T6 doesn’t quite make it into that category, but it can’t make ordering a pizza very easy either.
The goal of a developer, or the marketing team behind the property, is to come up with catchy names that bring people into the sales centre. That’s why I could never figure out that awful period a few years back when every single condo was a three-letter word: Zed, Zen, Zip, Fly. How do you market Zed Lofts? Are we talking about the infamous character from Pulp Fiction? Geez, I’d hate to go in the basement of that building.
Some names have crashed and burned, like DNA, which stood for Downtown’s Next Address, and promised to play off of residents’ own DNA by having fingerprint scans instead of door keys. That failed miserably, and residents now have to endure the hardship of putting a key in the lock like the rest of the world.
Here’s the lesson: If you’re a buyer in today’s marketplace, don’t get caught up in the hype. A condo name gets a lot more attention during the sales phase, but once you’re living there, and eventually selling your unit, you’re more likely to say “21 Balmuto St.” than you are “Crystal Blu.”
David Fleming is a Realtor with Bosley Real Estate in Toronto, and author of the best known real estate website in the city: www.torontorealtyblog.com. A constant thorn in the side of condominium developers, David’s sarcastic, opinionated, outlandish thoughts can be read daily, although for some people, that’s far too often.
CORRECTION, JULY 25, 2012: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect assumption about the origin of Argyle Lofts’ name. The article has since been updated.