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Amin Todai was already living the lofty life at the Merchandise Building on Dalhousie when he started hunting for a new pad to address its one major shortcoming.
"It was just under 1,700 square feet, but my biggest issue with it was that there was no balcony," says the president of digital design agency OneMethod and co-founder of College Street taco spot La Carnita.
So he set his sights on Context's Tip Top Lofts, which not only delivers on outdoor space but provides waterfront views across Lake Ontario. Todai quickly set to customizing it with features like a wall fashioned from reclaimed wine crates, a custom-designed kitchen and staircase and some technical upgrades.
"I tried to make the place Bill Gates-worthy," says Todai. "I can control everything including audio, video, lighting, heating and AC from my phone. That's just me geeking out."
Original budget: "I was looking for a space just under a million, because I knew I was probably going to have to put in another few hundred grand to get it looking and feeling the way I wanted it to."
Unit price: $900,000 (in 2006).
Wish list: A BBQ-ready balcony, a killer view that wouldn't be replaced by another glass building in the future, high ceilings, close to the core and the opportunity to customize the unit.
Number of properties checked out: "I looked at a couple of other new builds just to make sure I was making the right decision, but nothing was as interesting or unique as Tip Top."
What he got: An 1,850-square-foot sixth-floor, two-bedroom and two-and-a-half-bathroom unit with southwest views and a 300-square-foot terrace.
What he says about his neighbourhood: "It's definitely built up since my move-in day. It's a weird part of town, though, because a lot of condos have come up, but none of the supporting neighbourhoody-type establishments. But having the lake and the park right there is a huge plus, as is being able to walk over to BMO Field for Toronto FC games and the Molson Amphitheatre for all those summer concerts."