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Courtyard home of vibrant textures

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Scott Norsworthy

14455 Woodbine Ave., Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ont.

Asking price: $5,998,000

Taxes: N/A

Lot size: 200 by 257 feet

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Agents: Kimberly Wake and Natasza Tyzler, Hammond International Properties

The backstory

Architect Prithula Prosun Roy began her career working for some of Canada’s large architectural firms, where she designed a day school, a church and other institutional buildings. In 2016 she launched her own practice and began to focus on residential projects.

Two of her first clients were her parents, Sudhir Saha and Kalyani Sudhir.

The couple was living in Richmond Hill, Ont., but they wanted to build a large house surrounded by land. They were unable to find a suitably rural property in the area, so they moved their search farther north to Whitchurch-Stouffville.

About four years ago, the couple purchased a 1.3-acre parcel with a view of the rolling hills of the protected Oak Ridges Moraine. Zoning regulations permit commercial as well as residential use amid a mix of farms and industrial sites, Ms. Prosun Roy explains.

Ms. Prosun Roy’s design started around the concept of a central courtyard, reminiscent of houses in Bangladesh, where her parents were born.

“Courtyards were a very important concept within the vernacular architecture,” she says of their home country.

The couple wanted plenty of room for entertaining and visits from extended family, but they left the design to their daughter.

“They gave me creative control,” says Ms. Prosun Roy, who graduated in 2011 with a master of architecture degree from the University of Waterloo.

The house today

  • Home of the Week, 14455 Woodbine Ave., Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ont.Scott Norsworthy

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Ms. Prosun Roy created a house of more than 10,000 square feet, with rooms on one side of the courtyard meant for business and entertaining, and rooms on the other side devoted to family and privacy.

Visitors arrive to a foyer with a wall of greenery. A variety of plants improve the air quality and hidden irrigation keeps them healthy, Ms. Prosun Roy says.

A Bengali quote reproduced on the wall is a line from her parents’ favourite song. The words, by the late Manna Dey, translate as The name that is written on the heart will remain forever.” Nearby, a feature wall is lined with colourful panels of Jamdani, a fine muslin textile woven in Bangladesh.

“It’s a personal touch for my parents and their history,” Ms. Prosun Roy says.

On the more public side of the home, a formal living room with a gas fireplace has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the street. The architect’s father, an immigration consultant, has a two-storey home office where he can meet with clients.

For guests, there’s a powder room overlooking a tiny outdoor garden. Privacy isn’t an issue because a patterned Corten steel screen outside hides the room from the outside while also allowing light to filter in.

The weathering steel panel also provides interest to the white stucco exterior of the house.

“I wanted it to age and rust,” Ms. Prosun Roy says. “It gets nicer through time.”

The use of wood on the exterior also prevents the façade from appearing monotonous, she explains.

At the rear, an edgeless indoor swimming pool and hot tub provides views of the landscape.

The more private side of the home is centred around a large kitchen and dining area on the main level, with access to the bedrooms on the second storey.

The main kitchen has built-in appliances and an oversized island with a marble top and waterfall sides. In order to make the room an inviting place to gather, Ms. Prosun Roy says, a secret passage leads to a separate butler’s kitchen hidden from view.

“That’s where all the kitchen prep and cooking takes place.”

The nearby family room also provides a spot for casual lounging.

Upstairs, the primary suite has a large bedroom and an expansive bathroom with a stand-alone tub, walk-in shower and doors that open to a rooftop terrace.

A chunk of black rock in the shower provides a place to sit and adds texture to a room of sleek, hard surfaces, says the architect.

“The rock kind of acts like a bench,” she says.

Throughout the house, the use of stone, greenery, wood and weathering steel adds warmth to the black and white interior, she says.

“Because it’s a very modern design, I like to bring in natural elements,” says Ms. Prosun Roy, who also lined walkways with river rocks both inside and out.

Ms. Prosun Roy says the home’s five bedrooms accommodate extended family, including her own two children, who love to run around the home’s open spaces.

Outside, the rear garden has a large patio and an outdoor kitchen.

Ms. Prosun Roy says the finished project reflects her parents’ modern lifestyle but also their traditions.

“It was a personal project for me for sure. It was important for me to have that connection to their history.”

The best feature

Scott Norsworthy

The home’s central courtyard is well-suited to the Canadian climate because it provides more year-round shelter than the typical front yard and backyard, says Ms. Prosun Roy.

Large expanses of glass bring natural light into the centre of the dwelling and allow a feeling of connection with the weather, even from the interior rooms.

“As it snows, as it rains, you see that through the house,” Ms. Prosun Roy says.

During parties in the warmer months, guests often spill out from the kitchen when the lift-and-slide doors are moved away to create an indoor-outdoor space.

On the opposite side of the courtyard, the same system allows residents to open the indoor swimming pool to the elements.

Ms. Prosun Roy says the courtyard, with a tranquil garden at the centre, provides a secluded spot for relaxation.

“It’s a lot more intimate because the house wraps around it,” she says. “You don’t have any neighbours looking in.”

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Irish Real Estate Returns Drop Amid Higher Interest Rates – Bloomberg

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Irish Real Estate Returns Drop Amid Higher Interest Rates  Bloomberg

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Bank of Canada comments offer light at the end of the tunnel for real estate, mortgage markets, experts say

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Canada’s struggling real estate sector is breathing a sigh of relief, but it wasn’t so much the size of the Bank of Canada’s Jan. 25 rate hike as the language that came with it that was cause for optimism.  

That’s because while the central bank boosted its benchmark overnight interest rate by 0.25 basis points to 4.5 per cent, its eighth consecutive increase, it also signalled it would put the hiking cycle on pause — at least for now.  

“A 25-basis-point increase or no increase was what we needed, along with the kind of language … that indicated we were essentially where we needed to be” Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper said in an interview. “What’s important at this stage is that we’ve clearly come to a point where interest rates aren’t going to be in the news.” 

Soper said the realization that rate hikes will be stopping or slowing should draw what he called the “missing transactions” — those with the capacity to buy but who have remained on the sidelines — back into the market, though it may take some time. 

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Those buyers, he said, have been reluctant because they understand the link between rising rates and prices, and “they don’t want to buy a house today that will be worth less tomorrow.” 

Having some price certainty will make it easier for them to enter the market, but they’ll still need to be comfortable knowing they are paying five or six per cent on their mortgages while others are locked in at two per cent.  

“There’s still many, many people out there with two per cent mortgage rates. Your sister or your cousin might have a two per cent mortgage rate but you’re going to have to pay five,” Soper said. “This will harm consumer confidence until the market has more time to adjust to it.” 

As a result, he said he saw a “muted recovery” in the cards for the spring. 

The pause also signals a light at the end of the tunnel for variable-rate holders, according to James Laird, Co-CEO of Ratehub.ca and president of mortgage lender CanWise, even if it means another dose of short-term pain. 

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Clearview Commercial Realty’s investment funds help expand portfolio

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After 22 years in the Calgary office of a global commercial real estate firm, Steve Vesuwalla started his own company, Clearview Commercial Realty, in 2019. A year ago, he established Clearview Industrial Fund, with all capital raised though Alberta investors.

Its success has been remarkable, with the closing of the first three funds that brought Clearview a portfolio of 300,000 square feet, comprising a 260,000-square-foot building anchored by the north campus of CDI College and a 35,000-square-foot industrial building in South Foothills

The third fund launched in 2022 resulted in a residential project in partnership with NAI Advent.

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Mission 19 is a luxury 67-unit apartment block that will welcome tenants this fall, designed by Gravity Architect and being built by Triumph Construction in the trendy Mission District at 320 19th Avenue S.W.

Last month, Vesuwalla embarked on a fourth — the Clearview Alberta Opportunity Fund — with a goal of raising a pool of equity that will allow his company to act quickly when commercial real estate opportunities arise.

“Successful real estate ventures result from being able to find appropriate investments and having the ability to purchase right away,” says Vesuwalla. “And cash is still king.”

Acumen Capital Partners handled the equity raise and the first round of financing closed last month. A second round is scheduled to close at the end of this month.

The first purchase — in cash — by the new fund is the former Economy Glass building at the corner of 17th Avenue and Centre Street S.W. in the Beltline district.

The 11,500-square-foot building on a .33-acre site has drive-in overhead/roll-up doors, existing office and retail showroom improvements, and highly usable and accessible lower level space.

Vesuwalla is working with a restaurant group and fitness operator to take over the spaces, but the location is ideal for future development as a multi-storey commercial-residential building. That will be planned on the completion of the extension of 17th Avenue across Macleod Trail, giving direct pedestrian and vehicular link access into the Stampede grounds, the BMO Convention Centre expansion and the Victoria Park/Stampede LRT station redevelopment.

No doubt that connectivity will invite further commercial, retail and entertainment-oriented development along 17th Avenue and in the immediate area.

Doug Johannson, executive vice-president at Clearview who joined the company in 2021, has also been busy completing some commercial real estate deals.

Explosive growth in development of commercial real estate in the Balzac area has continued with the sale of 33.85 acres on the south side of Highway 566.

Located between the successful developments of High Plains and Wagon Wheel industrial parks, it was sold by Johannson on behalf of the Abbotsford, B.C., owner to a local developer for $8.8 million.

He was also the broker for the sale of a 17-acre parcel in Frontier Park to Remington Development, and has an unconditional contract to close on the sale of a 43,500-square-foot building on Enterprise Way, between Stoney Trail and the eastern city limits.

Last year was a good one for Clearview and it has started 2023 full of confidence for even better results from commercial real estate transactions, as well as opportunities the new fund will bring.

Vesuwalla and Johannson continue to look for interesting value-added opportunities to increase Clearview’s rewarding portfolio.

Notes:

President and CEO of Bow Valley College, Dr. Misheck Mwaba, has been appointed to the board of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce for a three-year term. “I look forward to working closely with the board on strategic initiatives to address the evolving needs of the Calgary business community,” says Mwaba. “I am acutely aware of the urgent need to develop and retain a world-class talented workforce, nurture a diversified economy and grow our digital ecosystem. Mwaba is a champion of Workforce Integrated Learning (WIL), re-skilling and up-skilling, and takes pride in liaising with Calgary businesses to understand their labour demands.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at info@davidparker.ca.

 

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