Condominium and Industry Profiles

October, 12 2018 Published by Toronto and Area Chapter - By James Russell

Condominium Profile: Applewood Landmark

From the Fall 2018 issue of the CCI Toronto Condovoice Magazine.

Although it took Applewood Landmark two tries to win CCI's Condo of the Year Award, the board, management and the residents built a thriving, well-run community on their very first try.

Last year, Applewood Landmark's entry for Condo of the Year was rejected. Not by CCI but by the email server. It seems as if Applewood Landmark made a tiny typo in CCI's email address and their entry bounced back.

"This time I hand delivered our entry to CCI's office," says Jennifer Lawther, Applewood Landmark's Property Manager the past four years.

"We were thrilled," says Jennifer when they received the congratulatory email from Vic Persaud, Chair, Membership Committee of CCI Toronto.

CCI's annual Condo of the Year contest rewards the winning condominium not only with a custom street sign confirming their achievement and a formal presentation at CCI's AGM, but a $1000 credit towards hosting the winning condominium's own celebration party for residents and staff.

Applewood Landmark's big win is serendipitous as 2018 marks their 40th anniversary and the board and management had already begun plans for their festive celebration.

Applewood Landmark sits on what was a fruit orchard through much of the 19th and first half of the 20th century. Back then, Torontonians would pack a picnic lunch, secure the kids safely in the back of the horse drawn wagon and drive out into the wild lands of what is now Mississauga to pick apples and purchase fresh garden vegetables.

Those 'wild lands' earned town status in 1968 and became incorporated in 1974. Mississauga now ranks as Canada's sixth largest city.

Located at 1300 Bloor Street, in the southeast quadrant of Mississauga, Applewood Landmark occupies a full city block of what was once a portion of the Palace Apple Orchard Farm. Its twenty-six storey tower, built in the shape of an isotoxal polygon, offers luxurious living in vertical community suites with spectacular views. Unlike the 'shoe box' size suites of downtown Toronto, Applewood Landmark's one, two and three bedroom suites range from 1030 sq. ft. to 1798 sq. ft. Their six penthouses, one of which was once owned by Harold Shipp, founder of the company that built Applewood Landmark, range between 2860 and 3293 sq. ft. "As you can tell, we're not crowded," says Gerry White, one of Applewood Landmark's three directors.

Applewood Landmark's interior amenities include a well-stocked library that boasts nearly thirty different jigsaw puzzles, two billiard rooms, laundry room, pool, sauna, guest suite, fitness centre, a craft room complete with a weaver's loom, and a carpentry workshop stocked with hand and power tools. The Butler's Pantry, their ground floor tuck shop run by Mohammad Bandali, has supplied residents with everything from pasta to paperclips since the first residents began moving in back in 1978. Applewood Landmark's Tower Lounge, located on the 26th floor, has one of the GTA's best views of downtown Toronto and Lake Ontario.

Applewood Landmark's exterior boasts: extensive lawns, three tennis courts, garden-side patio, BBQ, and three shuffleboard courts. Why three? "Our two courts were always booked," says Director Wayne, so the board had a third built.

Forty years ago, it was common practice for developers to commission a logo for their new condominiums. Applewood Landmark's original logo, still displayed prominently on their street signage features a woman and man, dressed in 19th century attire, sitting beneath an apple tree. Behind them is the image of a silo similar to the actual silo that was within sight of Applewood Landmark back in 1978.

Applewood Landmark boasts an active social committee that organises bingo, aqua fit, bridge, shuffleboard, snooker, weekly movie nights, holiday events and regular bus trips. Their Gardening Club, Library Club, and Investment Club have no trouble attracting residents. Their Shuffleboard Club alone has more than 150 members, hence the need for an extra court.

Dawn, Applewood Landmark's Security Supervisor for the past twenty-five years, says, "It's the people," that make her job so rewarding. Dawn is one of Applewood Landmark's contingent of thirteen security staff, two cleaners, and a senior and junior superintendant - all contracted. Because the board agrees with Dawn that its residents are the single most contributing factor in Applewood Landmark's success, the board and management host Resident's Appreciation Day every year. The much-anticipated event features gifts, entertainment and catered food and refreshments. "Last year we had a turnout of about 240," says Gerry.

"Our approach is to be proactive, not reactive," says Director Wayne Arthurs, "we strive to be innovative."

It was that innovation and foresight that led the board to draft a bylaw in 2015 banning smoking, of any kind, throughout the building, including within suites. "We were spending up to $15,000 per year for odour abatement alone," says Jennifer. The residents not only supported the board's move but the measure passed handily at a subsequent meeting of owners. Residents who insisted on continuing to smoke in their suites were required to register in the office and then grandfathered for one year, giving them an opportunity to quit smoking or move.

Applewood Landmark's board, made up of: Mark Aitchison, President; Lew King, Vice President; Carol Thomas, Secretary; Sharbel Dalal, Treasurer and Directors Wayne Arthurs, Gerry White and Jan Duff, " are a pleasure to work with," says Jennifer who adds, "It's an excellent board."

Prior to their Annual General Meeting, the board holds a Meet the Candidates meetings where perspective board members are given the opportunity to stand before the assembled owners, introduce themselves, talk about their skills and experience, detail their vision for the building and explain what they hope to bring to the board.

Cognizant that effective communication is one of the hallmarks of a well-run condominium corporation, the board and management of Applewood Landmark make effective use of: hand written notes, email, Applewood Landmark's website, town halls, electronic notice boards, phone and their full-colour, twice-yearly newsletter, Landmark Living.

Approximately five years ago the new board and new management company sat down and worked out an aggressive plan for upgrading the building. "A five year vision," as Gerry describes it.

That 'vision' resulted in a now completed:

  • Fan coil retrofit in every unit
  • Full window replacement
  • Booster pump replacement
  • Boiler and chiller refurbishment
  • and LED lighting retrofit

Each of those major projects produced a significant operating expense savings, as did replacing their inaccurate water flow valve. As Jennifer explains, "We were being billed not only for the water flowing through the City's pipes into our building but the air as well."

As a testament to the board's good governance, fiscal responsibility and shrewd negotiating skills, their projects have resulted in not only a 30% utility savings, says Wayne, but Jennifer points out that, "Our condominiums..... has increased somewhere between 20 and 25% in value in the past twelve months."

In addition to the 'unseen' improvements to the building's health and efficiency, the board has also initiated projects that:

  • Renovated the garden
  • Added that third shuffleboard court
  • Replaced two sections of the membrane over the parking garage

Additionally, Applewood Landmark's lobby, main corridor and concourse level are currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment.

Applewood Landmark's maintenance fees not only includes media but as a result of the board's protracted negotiations with Bell, last December the board closed a bulk deal in which the utility company will bring high speed fibre internet into each suite.

The board plans to begin renovating the sundeck next year and has begun looking into installing charging stations for electric vehicles after an owner made a presentation at a recent town hall on the economic and environmental advantages of electric cars.

Although the garbage rooms on each floor of Applewood Landmark contain recycling bins for cardboard and metal they don't separate wet-waste. They cannot, as the Regional Municipality of Peel only picks up organics from single-family homes.

Wayne is proud of the success of the board's 'Five Year Vision' but adds, "It's important that you mention that Whitehill Residential (Applewood Landmark's property management company) was instrumental in the success of all our projects, as were the previous board members: Ken Dearlove, Irene Pelz, Doug Coombs and Candace Sharma."

Ian Campbell, an Applewood Landmark resident for more than twenty years says of his neighbours, "Our residents are consistently wonderful and the building is well maintained."

Although it took Applewood Landmark two tries to win CCI's Condo of the Year Award, the board, management and the residents are to be commended for having built a thriving, well-run community on their very first try.

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