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It was Gus Weinhart’s profile picture of himself swimming with a dolphin that caught Lorella DePieri’s eye as she scanned the Tinder dating app a few years ago.
“I love swimming with dolphins,” says DePieri. “I have been to Hawaii . . . I can’t even count how many times now. After we met, we’ve been to Hawaii a couple of times together, and Gus fell in love with Hawaii as much as I did.”
“I guess we both swiped right,” says Weinhart, laughing.
Their mutual love for being on the water was a deciding factor in the couple’s purchase at Vita on the Lake, a 53-storey condo tower in south Etobicoke. Their 1,544-square-foot suite on the 51st floor, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, will overlook Lake Ontario and Humber Bay Park, as well as Toronto’s skyline to the east, from their L-shaped balcony.
Weinhart and DePieri also love to bike and hike, and say they look forward to being on the “trails, both east and west along the lake or northward up the Humber River.”
The new home, and shared ownership, are part of their retirement preparations and start of a life together.
“We plan on Vita being the summer cottage, while we winter in Hawaii,” says Weinhart, who has been with Toronto Fire Services for 34 years. DePieri is the principal of Results by Design Consultants Inc., a firm specializing in sales performance and leadership training. She’s also the program director for the Centre of Excellence in Sales Leadership at the Schulich School of Business, at York University.
“We hope Lorella will be able to semi-retire soon,” says Weinhart.
“Or at least slow down,” DePieri interjects.
“The way I’m going to time it … by the time we get the occupancy, I would definitely be retired and Lorella can be working anywhere in the world. We would travel,” says Weinhart.
Although the pair didn’t have immediate plans to buy a place together, Weinhart last fall visited the sales centre for Vita on the Lake — and was intrigued. He told DePieri about it and they went back to the sales centre together.
“I love where I live right now,” says DePieri of her condo in the Yonge St. and Davisville Ave. area. “The only thing to move for would be if the place was right on the lake. So it was a pretty quick decision — the unit we bought has no obstructions; we can see the Toronto skyline on one side of the balcony. The other side is Lake Ontario.”
There’s no denying the draw of the water, says Emilio Tesolin, Mattamy Homes’ GTA condos division president. A summer vacation hot spot in the 1950s and ’60s, Humber Bay was the destination for visitors who stayed at motels that once stretched along Lake Shore Blvd. W., says Tesolin.
The construction of the Gardiner Expressway, starting in 1955, and the diversion of traffic drew families and business away. “Sometimes after that, the motels were used for a different purpose,” says Tesolin.
The motel strip became a haunt for prostitution, drugs, gambling and criminal hideouts — including the Boyd Gang bank robbers in the early ’50s. It provided the seedy backdrop for Hollywood movies True Romance, Blues Brothers 2000 and To Die For.
The area, however, has transformed in the last decade, says Tesolin. With all the condo development and a growing population base, Humber Bay Shores has grown into a community.
“It has a really nice feeling — there’s a village court with benches, where people can walk and sit. Some of the (restaurants) have patios. There’s a pub down there,” Tesolin says. On the north side of Lake Shore Blvd., a grocery store, LCBO, drugstore and retail outlets cater to homeowners. “If you love the water, it’s a great place to be. If you are active, it’s a great place to be.”
As well, Vita on the Lake will include a party room, a pool and gym.
“It gives the residents the option to save on gym membership, and I think most people would rather that those couple hundred dollars go toward the mortgage,” Tesolin adds. There will also be a dog wash area, “because many condo owners are also pet owners now.
The highlight, though, is the condominium’s location.
“When you look out the windows, you can see the hustle-bustle of downtown Toronto, but in the other direction there’s the calm of nature,” says Tesolin. “It really does play on your emotions.”
It’s a view that Weinhart and DePieri plan to make the most of.
VITA ON THE LAKE
Builder: Mattamy Homes and Biddington Homes
Architect: Graziani + Corazza Architects Inc .
Location: Lakeshore Blvd. W., east of Parklawn Rd.
Building: 53-storey highrise with suites from 524 sq. ft. to 1,544 sq. ft.
Pricing: From $ 422,990 to $ 1,316,990
Contact: mattamyhomes.com, 647-347-5930, sales centre at 2167 Lake Shore Blvd. W., Etobicoke.