Volume 24, Issue Number 4, Summer 2019
Condominium and Industry Profiles


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Condominium Profile: 55 Prince Arthur

Good Governance in the Heart of the Annex

By James Russell | Other articles by James Russell

Prince Arthur was born exactly five hundred years before his namesake, 55 Prince Arthur, entered the world. And although the man, alternately referred to as the Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester or Duke of Cornwall, never ventured across ‘The Pond’ to visit the once pristine site that is now Toronto’s Annex, Prince Arthur’s legacy of good governance and kindly community lives on.

“Our AGM is well attended,” says Roslyn, and their Town Hall, held immediately after the AGM, “gives residents the opportunity to present ideas and voice concerns.” Both their AGM and Town Hall are held in the Prince Arthur Lounge, which has benefited from a recent and now frequent visitor – the elevators!

Prince Arthur was born exactly five hundred years before his namesake, 55 Prince Arthur, entered the world. And although the man, alternately referred to as the Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester or Duke of Cornwall, never ventured across ‘The Pond’ to visit the once pristine site that is now Toronto’s Annex, Prince Arthur’s legacy of good governance and kindly community lives on.

The sixteen storey, 55 Prince Arthur sits on the south-west corner of Prince Arthur Avenue and Bedford Road, a slap-shot’s distance from the Bedford Road exit of the St. George subway station. Their strategic location affords 55 Prince Arthur’s residents access to the north-south Yonge/ University and the east-west Bloor subway lines.

MTCC 717 is comprised of sixty-three high-rise units and five town houses. The units, twenty-eight furnished with fireplaces, are one or two bedrooms of approximately 1800 to 2400 sq ft. each. Built in 1984 and registered in 1986, 55 Prince Arthur enjoys an exceptionally golden reputation not only in the Annex but within the real estate industry as well. Decked out with the usual amenities: gym, inviting lobby and pool, the residents of 55 Prince Arthur also enjoy unique perks like valet parking for guests and an elegant guest suite that more resembles a full size one bedroom suite. Their regal, sixteenth-floor party room and outdoor deck offers a breathtaking, panoramic view of Hogtown.

Fifty-Five Prince Arthur is nestled comfortably amid the fabled Annex with its mix of world famous cultural institutions such as: the ROM, Royal Conservatory, Gardiner Museum, and Hart House, “And yet we don’t feel as if we’re in a concrete jungle,” says Roslyn Levine QC the board’s secretary for one year and an owner for eight.

“This is it,” said George Hanus’s wife Paula when they first visited 55 Prince Arthur years ago. “It was beyond our budget,” says George, the board’s treasurer, but “In hindsight it was an excellent decision.” It would seem as if George and Paula’s neighbours agree. All sixty-three units but four are owner occupied, a ratio unheard of in Toronto but a testament not only to “location, location, location,” but to the board’s good governance. A fair share of the 55 Prince Arthur’s success story however must be attributed to the level of participation by their engaged owners. “That’s one of the strengths of the building that so many residents are actively involved,” says George. In appreciation, at the AGM last year, the board recognized the fifty-six owners who belong to the building’s various committees – thirteen in all - some ad hoc and some permanent, thanking them for having, “provided countless hours of review and discussion together with feedback and recommendations to the Board for the various projects.” Of course, as in any condominium, some owners serve on multiple committees but nevertheless, one would be pressed to find a condominium, even in ‘Toronto The Good’, with a comparable level of civic participation. The range of committees are pretty standard for condominiums – library, newsletter, social – but some are quite unique, such as the ‘Electric Vehicle Charge Review Committee’ and the ‘Prince Arthur Speakers’ Corner Committee’, that organises intimate evenings with guest speakers like TVO’s Steve Paiken, Celtic harpist Eithne Hefferman and Massey College Senior Fellow in Urban Policy, Patrick Luciani.

Anne has been 55 Prince Arthur’s property manager for twelve years but her longevity is not unique, “Most of our staff have been with us five years or more,” says Hugh. All of 55 Prince Arthur’s cleaning, security, concierge, and supervisory staff, with the exception of one midnight security position, are employed by the corporation.

Prince Arthur, the boy, not the condominium, was educated firstly by the celebrated and blind poet Bernard Andre, then by Thomas Linacre, physician to Henry VII. Arthur’s education covered not only the standard curriculum of that era – grammar, rhetoric and history – but Homer, Ovid, Cicero and Virgil. According to historians Steven Gunn and Linda Monckton, Prince Arthur also learned to dance “right pleasant and honourably.” The board members of 55 Prince Arthur, while not known for their dancing abilities, are nevertheless both skilled and knowledgeable as their ranks include an orthodontist, two lawyers, a marketing specialist, and an investment professional. “It is an extremely balanced and professional board,” says Hugh Furneaux, the board’s president. “A thoughtful Board with so many talents,“ adds Roslyn. George agrees, “when projects are discussed you want people who can look at it from their perspective areas of expertise.” In addition to serving on their board, George represents 55 Prince Arthur at the Annex Residents’ Association (theara.org), an organisation that monitors various proposed developments in their neighbourhood. Additionally, George and Hugh are the board’s designates to the East Annex Condominiums Association, which represents four neighbourhood buildings and a total of approximately 550 units. “One of the board’s challenges is being aware of new buildings coming onstream,” says Hugh, who adds that over a dozen condominiums are in the planning stages in 55 Prince Arthur’s immediate neighbourhood. Both Hugh and George report back to the 55 Prince Arthur board, made up of: Hugh, President; Jesse Glass QC, Vice President; Roslyn, Secretary; Dr. Aubey Banack, Director; and George, Treasurer.

“We have an obligation to look very, very carefully at how the building is being managed,” says George, who prepares financial statements monthly to keep the board constantly apprised of the corporation’s financial status. Roslyn says that the board understands not only the importance of asking, “Can we afford this? Can we afford that?” but also, “The importance of asking big questions such as, “Where do we see our building? How do we compete? How do we want our building to be thought of? What are our priorities?”

On the board’s list of priorities is ‘effective communication’. Their website (55princearthur.com), is used by the board to post the minutes of meetings and by residents to check the availability of the Prince Arthur Lounge, BBQs, and guest suite. Newly acquired operations software not only allows the concierge desk to notify residents when their packages have been delivered and are awaiting pickup but facilitates improved management record keeping as well. Their Annual General Meeting also provides communication opportunities as well.

“Our AGM is well attended,” says Roslyn, and their Town Hall, held immediately after the AGM, “gives residents the opportunity to present ideas and voice concerns.” Both their AGM and Town Hall are held in the Prince Arthur Lounge, which has benefited from a recent and now frequent visitor – the elevators!

Up to this year, 55 Prince Arthur’s two elevators stopped on floor fifteen, an ongoing problem for physically–challenged residents, guests, parents with strollers and caterers as the building’s Prince Arthur party room was only accessible by stairs. The board began struggling with a solution long before the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was enacted to identify, remove, and prevent barriers for people with disabilities. After nine months and three-quarters of a million dollars, the task of punching the two elevators through to the top floor is now largely complete leaving only the installation of fire doors and modifications to the Prince Arthur Lounge’s washroom to ensuring accessibility. For that portion of the project, “We engaged an architect who is an expert in accessibility conversions,” says Hugh.

Other recently completed projects are:

  • Cooling tower replacement
  • Complete renovation of their corridors
  • Retrofit of all common area lights to LED
  • Replacement of Make-Up Air units to include humidification in corridors
  • Booster-pump replacement
  • Relining and retiling their pool

“Fabulous!” is how Hugh describes 55 Prince Arthur’s property manager, Anne Gerger. “Anne is extremely able in project management,” then adds, “she knows the in’s and out’s of our building and she keeps us thoroughly onboard. Anne has been 55 Prince Arthur’s property manager for twelve years but her longevity is not unique, “Most of our staff have been with us five years or more,” says Hugh. All of 55 Prince Arthur’s cleaning, security, concierge, and supervisory staff, with the exception of one midnight security position, are employed by the corporation. MTCC 717 was Anne’s first full-time property manager position although she’s been in the industry for twenty-four years. Anne loves working at 55 Prince Arthur, “there is a real trust,” she says of the relationship between residents, board and management.

Looking to the future, the board is studying the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, and, sometime before year-end expects to begin renovating and expanding their smallish gym, in part, “ to remain competitive,” says Hugh, who adds, “Fitness wasn’t the rage when the building was built in 1986.” The year Canada cemented its reputation as ‘nice’ when we won the Nansen Medal, the highest distinction bestowed by the United Nations for aid to refugees.

“It’s a very nice building with very nice people” says Jorge – Head Concierge, on staff for the past twenty-three years.

Prince Arthur, the man, was described by Mr. Gunn and Ms. Monckton, as having a “amiable and gentle” personality, qualities Jorge would agree make the Prince a perfect candidate for residency at 55 Prince Arthur.

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Summer 2019
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