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March 16, 2006

Walking the walk

Condo seller sold on luxury downtown lifestyle

Colleen Seto

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Robert Moroto is all about bringing his work home. But in a good way. That’s because his home is his work! He built his first condo (and first owned home) with ProCura—the real estate developer he works for. Robert, 29, is the Calgary marketing manager for the company, and built his 957 square foot condo right in the heart of the beltline district.

“Since I was working for the company, I had the opportunity to pick my ideal suite in the building,” he asserts. He wound up with the corner unit on the 11th floor of the classy Emerald Stone high rise. “Primarily, it has a fantastic view. You can see both downtown and the mountains. I wanted to be high enough to be above the buildings around me, but not too high since I am a little scared of heights.” he confesses.

Even though he worked for ProCura, that wasn’t reason enough for him to choose that building. Having just started in the building industry six months earlier, he had to learn a lot about the market. As a result, he did his due diligence for his own home and looked at other places. It just happened that after he’d looked around, it was his own company that offered everything he was looking for. He wanted an upgraded appliance package (no white!), air conditioning and nine-foot ceilings for starters. He also wanted something new.

“I did look at some older buildings, which were beautiful, but they were always missing something. Not very many older buildings have air conditioning for instance, or they didn’t have a balcony. This place has everything. I didn’t sacrifice anything choosing it.

“I also wanted a concrete place with a lot of glass—that was important,” he adds. And glass he got. That’s the first thing you notice when you walk into the two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite. You can’t help but gasp a little when you see the floor-to-ceiling windows offering amazing city views. Robert also has a giant mirror on the adjacent wall making the space appear even larger. The concrete also greatly minimizes noise. “The construction materials they used here really cut the street noise. I mean, you can see the traffic on the street, but you can’t hear it. A friend of mine used to live a few floors down, and during the Flames playoffs, we couldn’t hear the crowd unless we opened the windows. I’ve never heard my neighbour here, and thankfully, they’ve never heard me!”

The biggest deciding factor for Robert however was location, location, location. “I have lived in this area since university, and it’s the only district I want to live in.” Having moved from Banff, Robert was used to walking everywhere and having things centralized.

“I can’t get away from that so I wanted the same thing when I moved to Calgary. The best place for that is the beltline. I’m close to Safeway and a multitude of restaurants including my favourite, Ric’s Grill and Bar, which is right downstairs!”

Robert took possession during Stampede week of 2004, and moved into the 23-floor, 162-unit trés chic building, which is the first high rise in the beltline area in the last 20 years. “I could see the fireworks from my balcony,” he remembers. Since that time, he has gotten very comfortable living the condo life. “ I can go on vacation without worrying; it’s secure. Being in a condo takes care of all those little things.”

Speaking of security, the Emerald Stone has that aspect covered. “The building is wired for security so that only people who live on this floor or our guests can access this floor,” Robert explains. That means no one can wander around where they don’t belong, and with the building being so close to several bars, it’s important that not anyone can just enter. But being close to Calgary’s nightlife areas also holds a lot of appeal for Robert. “I like being able to call up my friends, and meeting them for dinner or drinks along 17th avenue, 4th street or even downtown. And regardless of where we go, it’s only a $5 cab ride each way, making it very convenient.”

Robert also works in Mount Royal Village making it a two-minute walk to work. Plus, he frequently goes home for lunch, since there’s no commute. “I’m not very good with road rage so you don’t want me commuting!”

Prior to building his condo, Robert did consider a house.

“My parents owned a bit of property in Banff, and it required a lot of maintenance—even just remembering little details like changing filters. Because I grew up that way, there’s nothing that makes me want to live in

a single family home. I know what’s involved. Plus, people who have houses tend not to leave their houses, or if they do, they visit their neighbours at their houses. They don’t come out; that’s not me. I don’t like being housebound. My condo is comfortable enough
to stay in, however, the location provides me the freedom to go out, and I do.”

In addition to being comfortable, the open-concept layout of Robert’s home makes the condo  quite roomy. The bedrooms are separated (ideal for roommates or guests) and there’s space for all of Robert’s martial arts gear, since he teaches martial arts to children.

The gear is “more for show than anything,” he laughs.

“The place is a good fit for a young professional or for downsizers. Size-wise, it’s perfect for me. The architectural style is new enough to cater to the younger generation but also classic so any generation can appreciate it. We have a very good mix of people here—families, MBA students, lawyers, doctors, nurses, and retired or semi-retired couples.”

Beyond Robert’s unit, the common areas of Emerald Stone are also worthy of note. The front entrance features a slate waterfall and vaulted ceilings making it clear that this is one well-kept residence. He has access to an exercise facility, a lounge area for playing pool, darts, and getting to know his neighbours as well as a golf simulator. “It is quite enjoyable…” he says. “But I’ve discovered I’m not very good at golf. It was an embarrassing way to find out I need lessons!”

When it comes to building management, the Emerald Stone has both a property management company and a condo board. “We have a very dedicated and knowledgeable board ensuring that the best interests of the building are looked after. The management company also helps the board to make the right decisions. The people here are very committed to keeping up property values. Since moving in, my property value has gone up substantially and I expect it to keep on rising.”

So is Robert ready to sell his place to capitalize on Calgary’s hot real estate market? Only time will tell, but for now, he’s not going to rush into anything. “The realtor offers are there, but I’m not going to sacrifice this product or location to make money. There’s nowhere else I could go right now that I would enjoy as much.”   CL

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