Before Jason Fane became something akin to a household name in Providence, he was better known as one of the biggest landlords in another U.S. college town.
And in Toronto, he is one of many developers in a market that has exploded with luxury high-rise buildings.
In a recent interview, he said Hope Point tower, which raises eyebrows in Providence for its proposed 46-story height, is almost the same height as his Toronto building, which is one of the smaller buildings in its neighborhood. “In Toronto, at 47 stories, I’m the fifth-tallest building on the block, not in the neighborhood, the block. There is a building going up 500 feet away that is 85 stories,” he said.
The Fane Organization, based in New York City, started with individual purchases that Fane made in Ithaca, N.Y. The small city is home to two acclaimed colleges, Cornell University and Ithaca College.
From the early 1970s, while still in graduate school, through the 1980s, Fane acquired more apartments, then buildings, then engaged in new construction in Ithaca. His business, which operates under Ithaca Renting Co., is among the largest property owners in the student-housing market, according to a profile of the developer published in 2017 by the Ithaca Times.
In Collegetown, the center of the Cornell area, Fane renovated or built three substantial buildings of student apartments from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. The most substantial was Collegetown Center, which opened in 1999, and has 154 units, primarily studio apartments.
Fane, president of The Fane Organization, branched out by the 1980s, developing apartments, condominiums and commercial tenant buildings through new construction and redevelopment.
The most-recent development completed by the company in New York, The Style, is a newly constructed building in East Harlem, according to Daria Fane, vice president of The Fane Organization, who oversaw the project.
‘At the time, I was shocked at how high the prices were.’
BEN MYERS, Bullpen Research & Consulting Inc. president
The project was completed in 2017, following a three-year construction schedule. It consists of 31 condominium units across two buildings. The interiors include all-white kitchens and a sleek, modern style, according to the website, that is aimed at a young, professional market.
The company is in the preapproval phase now for two mid-rise residential buildings in Manhattan, in the area of West Harlem. These structures would be eight and 10 stories, according to the Fane website.
In Toronto, where Fane built his 47-story, luxury condominium building in 2015, he found success.
His building, called the Chaz Yorkville, for its address at 45 Charles St. East, is on the edge of the Yorkville neighborhood, the most affluent area of downtown Toronto, according to Ben Myers, president of Bullpen Research & Consulting Inc., and a consultant on the Toronto residential condo market.
The building, which has 526 condo units, was built by Fane with partner Edenshaw Homes Ltd.
Myers, who toured the building before it opened, said he was surprised at that time that Fane expected to get sales in the neighborhood of $750-$850 a square foot. (Editor’s note: Values are in Canadian dollars.) “At the time, I was shocked at how high the prices were,” he said. “He was selling at $750-$850 a square foot when a lot of similar projects with a similar finish were selling at $150-a-foot less.”
The building was outside the traditional bounds of Yorkville, Myers explained, but the developer successfully branded it as being in Yorkville. The high prices notwithstanding, the market responded. The building effectively was sold out on opening, which Myers said is not unusual for Toronto.
“Last year, 99.8% of all condo units that were completed in the Toronto … metropolitan area were sold at the time the building was completed. Very different from a lot of U.S. markets,” Myers said.
In the years since, the city population has continued to swell, to 6.3 million. And new condos enter the market at a fast clip, about 20,000 to 25,000 a year, Myers said.
The Chaz, Myers said, has appreciated along with the rest of the downtown buildings. He said the units, now being resold, would be commanding prices in the range of $1,100 per square foot.
Mary MacDonald is a PBN staff writer. Contact her at Macdonald@PBN.com.