How consumer tech is changing the way developers build condominiums

When the future residents of Toronto’s Line 5 condo building order home delivery of groceries or a bite from Uber Eats or Foodora, there will be no need to rush home to ensure their food isn’t left at the front desk to get cold.

Instead, the products will wait in designated hot and cold food storage rooms — just one of the ways developers are kitting out their projects with technology-driven designs.

A rendering of the Line 5 condo coming to Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto. Image via  Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties
A rendering of the Line 5 condo coming to Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto. Image via Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties

In addition to the haven for grocery and food delivery, Line 5 will have a designated spot for Uber and Lyft rides, a high-tech shared working space for those who want to work from home and an exercise room outfitted with a gym system that mixes arcade-style activities with fitness.

Such features are slowly becoming more common as developers across the country contend with technology that is redefining how people live, work and play, creating a demand for new kinds of condo features and amenities.

That demand has pushed developers from Vancouver to Halifax to reserve parking spaces for autoshare companies, carve out delivery spaces, develop condo-focused social networking apps and install high-tech Peloton exercise bikes that are outfitted with screens to let users cycle alongside celebrity fitness instructors.

This tech-based condo revolution has come in the last two years and is changing quickly, said Shane Fenton, the chief operating officer of Reserve Properties, who attributed the shift as the reason why his company has grown obsessed with what thousands of future occupants of the Line 5 towers will want in their condos when they start moving in around Sept. 2022.

“A lot of condo developments have to catch up to the way we are living,” Fenton said. “In two more years, God knows how different it is going to be.”

Experts are already expecting autonomous car, electric scooter and bike companies to invade Canada in the coming years, giving condo developers and operators a whole new set of challenges. They could be joined by drone-based delivery services, pet-sharing companies or businesses centred entirely on delivering products like cannabis or medicine.

Those tech-based services haven’t made significant inroads in Canada yet, but auto-sharing, food delivery and home rental services have, said Fenton.

Car-sharing service Car2Go, for example, has eyed partnerships like one it struck with Knightsbridge Homes at Calgary’s first condo development without parking, the N3. The partnership involved Knightsbridge purchasing Car2Go minutes and splitting them amongst tenants in the building’s 120 units, eliminating the need to own a vehicle.

Car2Go has also worked with real estate company Strategic Group on their one6 building in Calgary to offer two dedicated Car2Go vehicle spaces and with Austeville Properties and Seylynn Village in downtown and North Vancouver to offer similar Car2Go spaces.

Condo developers are also dabbling in the social media world when building new units. In 2014, condo developer Tridel partnered with Vancouver-based social networking business Bazinga, which runs a platform that lets residents chat with each other and building staff, book amenities, access important documents and receive news about their community. Bazinga said it is currently used in more than 1,000 buildings across Canada and close to 100,000 units in Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario.

When rolling out tech-based offerings, Fenton said developers often think about the features they most yearn for in their own homes. Sometimes they’ll even turn to tech companies for advice on what they can do to make their space more conducive to newly emerging services.

Uber Canada’s director of public affairs Adam Blinick said the company is aware of a developer behind a Los Angeles project making an effort to ensure parking areas are flat and rampless, so they can be repurposed as gyms or other amenities when condo dwellers own fewer cars and rely more on ride-hailing services.

Blinick said Uber has had recent conversations with Canadian developers around how to make buildings more tech friendly, but they have mostly been of an “exploratory nature.”

However, he added, “I do anticipate these will be things we see more and more of and they will become more concrete as time goes on.”

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