NO-ONE EVER REALLY DEVELOPS: Pharrell’s Condo Announcement Ruffles Toronto Feathers.

Untitled brings criticism, but does Pharrell's attachment to the project have real ramifications to the affordable housing crisis?

NO-ONE EVER REALLY DEVELOPS: Pharrell’s Condo Announcement Ruffles Toronto Feathers.


Jared Marshall

11/11/2019 7:30 AM

It’s been an interesting week for Pharrell Williams’s public image in Toronto. The acclaimed singer and record producer recently announced his new backing of Untitled, twin condominiums that begin sale this January. Last Tuesday, a homemade video screening across Dundas Square projected his youthful visage on multiple billboards as he spoke behind heart-shaped glasses. The 750-unit property will be built by Westdale Properties and Reserve Properties in the heart of Yonge and Eglinton, while a splashy marketing campaign from Toronto multimedia strategists Gladstone has also reportedly been brokered. While Williams is clearly excited about the project, not all Toronto residents have shared his sentiment:

The reaction comes in wake of some of the highest housing prices the city has ever seen. Studies show that low-income workers can’t afford rent in 91% of Canadian cities, a fact highlighted by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

In response to scolding criticism from Singh and many Torontonians, noted real estate agent Jackie Chan provided her opinion on the matter, “They’re under conditions put up by the city for approval,” Chan said in a quote prepared for Smack Media this week. Chan believes that Westdale Properties were most likely put under strict conditions to give back to the community in order for the condo to be built. “I guarantee you [the construction of Untitled] includes a massive amenity tax that Westdale had to pay to get the building up, money that’s likely going back to the community.”

While this may be true, any amenity tax that Westdale may have provided fails to address the sky-high rates of housing among Toronto and other Canadian cities. In response to Singh’s comments on affordable housing, Chan’s analysis is not hopeful, “It is already established what hoops have been jumped through,” she said. “There will likely not be any affordable housing added to the Untitled condos.”

While this may be a hard pill to swallow for Toronto residents, Chan doesn’t believe that Williams should be taking all of the blame for any short sightedness in regards to Untitled. “Pharrell is simply a name the developer is using to add brevity to the project. It doesn’t hurt that he’s made a name for himself as a designer as well.”