A Toronto developer facing a $6.5 million lawsuit is defending its decision not to use a prominent interior designer, even though brochures about the property used the designer's name.
Freed Developments Ltd., a well-known developer in the city, said in a marketing brochure and on its website that the Six50King building, at King and Bathurst, would have Munge Leung Design Associates as part of the project's "dream team" of designers. But Munge Leung never worked on the building, something residents didn't learn until the summer of 2014.
"When you find out the great designer was never hired it felt like a bait and switch," said resident Aaron Crangle, who said the idea of a Munge Leung interior was one of the key reasons he chose to buy a unit in the building back in 2007.
In the lawsuit against the developer, residents who are part of the condo corporation say the marketing materials: "take advantage of, and associate Six50King with, Munge Leung's world class reputation."
Crangle admits he had "lofty expectations" for the building, but said he has been disappointed in the results, including an area billed as a zen garden with a water feature that doesn't work.
Freed, in a statement to CBC News, said the lawsuit is "without merit."
In its statement of defence, Freed said it never promised to include Munge Leung in the building's design. Further, the statement said, it was a "business decision" not to involve Munge Leung in the project, but that decision was made after the marketing brochures had been produced.
Freed also said residents signed an agreement acknowledging that it may "change, vary or modify" the design at its "sole discretion."
Wait for finished buildings, realtor advises
Toronto real estate experts say the best way for buyers to avoid a situation like this is to wait until buildings are finished before buying a unit.
"You wouldn't buy a pair of jeans in a store if you couldn't see them, touch them, try them on … so why would someone buy a pre-construction condo at half-a-million to a million dollars when it's the exact same situation?" said David Fleming, of Bosley Real Estate.
Crangle said that's not an entirely fair analogy in this situation. For many consumers, buying a pre-fabrication condo is an option that lets them save thousands of dollars.
But, Crangle also warns, shoppers who buy a sweater have far more consumer protection than those who invest in a condo.
The lawsuit by the condo corporation against Freed, meanwhile, is still in its early phases.