Harry Stinson

Harry Stinson

Harry Stinson is a well-known entrepreneur and innovator.

Stinson first business was launched in 1967 as a catering company that handled private dinners and banquets in Toronto, as well as a seasonal (summertime) café in Muskoka.

In 1971, he created The Groaning Board Restaurant, Toronto´s first ‘healthy-food’ and non-smoking restaurant, which was successfully operated by the Stinson family for over 25 years, an unusual lifespan in the restaurant business.

The company expanded from a small restaurant into several major supper clubs, offering an eclectic program of live entertainment (including major artists in folk, rock, blues, jazz and comedy). Stinson also developed a unique and very long-running feature at the restaurants known as “The World’s Best Commercials” (diners could view reels of prize-winning international ads). The Canadian rights to these films were owned by Adfilms Ltd., another Stinson family company (which has since relocated to Hamilton).

Stinson also owned and operated a 500-seat, art-deco revue cinema, at which Stinson periodically produced live concerts.

Through his involvement in entertainment, Stinson also became involved in co-producing and/or catering major concerts and live music festivals, including such diverse artists as Dire Straits, Harry Chapin, The Kingston Trio, Mort Sahl, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Rogers, The Nylons, Howie Mandel, George Thorogood, Mendelson Joe, Bard, and many others.

Another Stinson creation was the Mad Hatter´s Tea Party, a restaurant specializing entirely in children´s birthday parties. During the 1970’s the Mad Hatter also operated a 200-seat, fully-equipped auditorium, producing its own family-oriented live theatre offerings. The business remains popular after 30 years in operation, although Stinson sold his interest in 1990.

Stinson collects antique cars which he uses in his business interests.

He is a frequent headline speaker at business conferences, including appearing onstage – and holding his own - with such ‘interesting’ personalities as Donald Trump. Stinson personally hosted a late-night infomercial for ten years.

Stinson was one of the first Toronto developers to recognize the potential for urban condominiums, to develop residential lofts, to convert old office and warehouse buildings and to utilize computer animation and television infomercials in the sale of real estate.

Stinson founded and operated Harry Stinson Real Estate, which he built throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s to become Toronto’s leading condominium resale brokerage. Although independent, Stinson’s brokerage eventually held the largest residential market share in the central downtown core of any individual or franchise brokerage office.

In 1998 he sold the company to Jamie Johnston (founder of Family Realty) and the brokerage is now known as RE/MAX Condos Plus.

Over the years, Stinson became increasingly involved in condominium development, acting as a principal, joint venture partner and/or consultant in a wide range of projects, the common thread being that each project was comparatively unique and/or posed unusual challenges of design, marketing or construction.

Although not a high volume developer (relative to such Canadian condo builders as Tridel, who have actually hired Stinson for advice**), Stinson enjoys a high public profile and widespread industry respect for his visionary market instincts and ability to carry out difficult and unconventional projects. Other developers and marketers frequently consult with or engage Stinson to resolve problematic development situations.

Harry Stinson with the legendary developer, Robert Campeau
Harry Stinson with Donald Trump

 

Click the image above to view the presentation by Harry Stinson to young entrepreneurs.

 

Among the projects Harry Stinson has designed or developed are:

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The Candy Factory Lofts
The city´s first major loft conversion project, The Candy Factory warehouse covered an entire city block. It is still widely acknowledged as the catalyst to the redevelopment of the downtown west district and the inspiration for the explosive growth of Toronto’s downtown residential condominium lifestyle.

In June 2006, Toronto Life Magazine listed Stinson’s Candy Factory project as one the “Ten Most Important Events in Toronto’s History.

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The Knitting Mill
Stinson Realty was originally the marketing co-ordinator for this loft project, but ended up taking over and completing the development on behalf of the Laurentian Bank.

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The Victorian
Trilet Developments had originally hired an alternate firm to market this high-rise tower at Richmond and Yonge. When the developer realized that his previous broker had sold the suites too inexpensively, the developer hired Stinson to reposition and remarket the building. Although the building was already half-built, Stinson cost-effectively redesigned and repositioned the project, raising the sale values by over $150/sq.ft., thus allowing the builder to complete the project profitably.

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**Grangetown
Canada’s major condominium developer, Tridel Corporation, engaged Stinson to co-ordinate the conversion of a complex, and functionally obsolete retail mall into a residential community. Stinson repositioned the project and was able to sell the suites at prices that were higher than being achieved by nearby luxury highrise towers

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Graphic Arts Building
Working with The Sheppard Group, Stinson rescued the historic 1912 Graphic Arts Building in the heart of Toronto’s Financial District, which had been abandoned and approved for demolition by a previous developer. This imposing building once served as the commercial art studio for the legendary Group of Seven painters, as the editorial office and printing plant of Saturday Night Magazine, the home of the Press Club, and as the original baronial Hy’s Steakhouse where many business deals were hatched. Stinson redesigned the building into live-work lofts, and retained the ground floor as corporate office for the Stinson companies, in the process restoring the wood paneling, white marble and wrought iron features.

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High Park Lofts
Launched in the year 2000, this 93-suite mid-rise, new construction building was Toronto’s first major residential condominium project to utilize geothermal heating. While considered eccentric at the time, the energy-conserving design proved visionary in its timing and resulted in the project achieving above-average sale values.

Similar to the impact of the earlier Candy Factory Lofts project impact on the downtown Toronto warehouse district, High Park Lofts has rejuvenated the Roncesvalles Village neighbourhood as a fashionable address.

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One King West – Condominium Hotel
Initially this pencil-thin 51-storey condominium/apartment-hotel project in Toronto´s downtown financial district was considered structurally impossible to build, and Stinson’s proposed pricing ($500 + per square foot) regarded – by ‘experts’ – as unattainable in Toronto in the year 2000. Nevertheless, Stinson built the building and sold the suites.

1 King West is now regarded as the most impressive new structure on the Toronto skyline (including statements to this effect by Mayor David Miller and a publicly-voted award as the most admired residential building in Toronto). The project led to a whole new market for premium residential properties in the downtown core, and was in fact cited as the ‘proof precedent’ by the sponsors of the Trump International Tower (which has only recently begun construction).

Although independent (without a major brand name flag), “The Suites at 1 King West” rapidly became one of the most popular hotels in the city.

Stinson personally set up the hotel operations ‘from scratch’, and directly operated the hotel for two years.

Although control of the hotel business subsequently became the subject of an intense and very public legal battle, the hotel operations themselves have been very successful. The legal dispute in fact relates to the disintegration of the partnership between the original building developers.

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Sapphire Tower
In 2004, Stinson launched the Sapphire Tower development, located within 1 block of City Hall, the Eaton Centre shopping district, and the downtown financial district.

After the usual lengthy political process, approval was obtained for a 60-storey, half-million square foot, mixed-use tower.

In 2007, Stinson decided to sell the site, receiving more than triple the purchase price;

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CURRENTLY….

In 2008, Stinson relocated his business and family to Hamilton, Canada, and began work on acquiring and redeveloping property in the downtown core of Hamilton.

Canadian Business Magazine

The Globe & Mail : Call of the Condos

Toronto Life : November 2006

New Homes & Condos for Sale: The Candy Factory: True New York-style lofts on Queen St. West

Toronto Star : Old club re-engineered as condos

Toronto Star : Heroic building has human proportions

Article : Grangetown

The Globe & Mail :  A project that's worth watching

High Park Lofts: Loft project heated by geothermal system

The Globe & Mail : Condo by day, a hotel by night

The Globe & Mail : A downtown in search of a high-rise attitude

Ontario Home Builder Magazine : The challenges of building  Canada's tallest condo

The National Post : Builder may stretch his tower to top Trump's

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