When Shane Baghai launches his newest project this weekend, he'll be one step closer to his dream of creating energy self-sufficient buildings.
On Saturday, the first phase of St. Gabriel Village, a multi-tower development on Sheppard Avenue East near Bayview Avenue, opens for business with 23 luxury townhouses and a 19-storey tower crafted to advance the builder's admittedly far-away energy objective.
The tower's solar panels have been positioned to mesh with the architecture.
And four whisper-quiet rooftop windmills, each measuring six feet (1.8 metres) in diameter, won't be visible from the street.
Baghai said the power generated from these two sources of non-polluting energy would be used to help operate common areas in a condo building. He expects they'll reduce the energy costs of running the common areas — included in monthly maintenance fees — by 10 per cent.
Incorporating these two sources of power translates into much lower maintenance fees, Baghai says.
He pegs the monthly fees at 26.6 cents a square foot, well below the GTA average. He suggests savings would be even more significant as hydro rates continue to climb over the years.
Jeanhy Shim, president of Urbanation, a publication that follows the GTA condo market, says maintenance fees range from 36 cents to 40 cents a square foot in buildings where owners pay for utilities.
They jump to the low 40s when utility costs of everyone in the building are included in the monthly maintenance fees.
St. Gabriel purchasers will pay for their own utilities. Baghai says individual metering encourages people to pay more attention to how much energy they consume.
To help buyers save energy, the project comes with products that have energy conservation features, including the highest efficiency heating and cooling systems available and low-e windows to improve thermal performance.
Baghai says water-saving plumbing fixtures will be standard, including a combo toilet/bidet with a seat warmer and programmable water temperature. Energy-saving major appliances will also be part of the standard package.
The condo units cost $450,000 to $900,000 and range from 1,200 square feet to 2,100 square feet. Penthouse apartments are $1 million to $1.5 million.
Baghai says prices include so many upgrades "there's hardly room" to add more: granite and marble finishes, hand-woven Australian carpet, imported cherry and walnut hardwood and more. A consultation with an interior designer is also part of the package.
St. Gabriel is the type of development likely to attract move-down buyers, Baghai says. To help them adjust to the condo lifestyle from big houses, he says huge lockers (the smallest of them is 60 square feet) seemed "absolutely necessary."
Baghai is especially proud of the 23 townhouses that will sit on the northern border of the land.
These units cost $990,000 to about $1.1 million for 3,300 square feet to 3,500 square feet. They have 10-foot ceilings and two-car garages. There will be an an elevator in each of these three-storey units.
Baghai says Phases 2 and 3 would be released in June and September, respectively. St. Gabriel Village — all five towers containing almost 600 units — will be completed in 2008.