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Dedicated urbanites

New Kent Street neighbours include young professionals, investors and a mom opposed to taking out the garbage

A divorced mother of two, a trio of young professionals and two office colleagues come from diverse backgrounds, yet will live under one big roof when Charlesfort opens the first of two condo towers on Kent Street in August 2008.

Until then, Donna Bush is counting the days she has to put out the garbage or shovel snow, if it ever gets cold enough.

"I vowed that I was not spending another winter in the house," says Bush, who sends frequent care packages to her son, Jacob Monsour, who is 20 and in second-year engineering at the University of Toronto and picks up after her daughter, Mackenzie Monsour, 17, who lives at home and is in her last year at Hillcrest High School.

Bush knows full well that her new home, which isn't even a hole in the ground yet, won't be ready until 2008.

"I don't care. I can't stand having a house with a long driveway that gets a lot of shade and is always icy and I can't stand putting out garbage anymore.

"My father taunts me that he only has to walk down the hallway and drop his garbage down a chute," says Bush, who recently helped her 79- year-old father, Harry Bush, relocate from a home in Alta Vista to a nearby apartment.

"My dream is to walk down the hall and drop my garbage down the chute," says Bush, who bought a 687- square-foot condo on the sixth floor of the southern tower of the Hudson.

Bush will rent an apartment if her house sells quickly and distribute the furniture, keeping a dining room table for her son. "Thankfully, it fits neatly into the condo."

Daughter hasn't decided which university she will attend this fall, but there will always be room for her to sleep on a pull-out bed in the den and son will find a good night's sleep on the living room couch.

"He sleeps on the couch all of the time," says Bush, who helped her former husband operate five Ritz restaurants in the city.

Now he is in Paris and she is a client service hostess overseeing catering and special arrangements for a large legal firm with offices in the World Exchange Plaza, a short walk from her future Kent Street condo.

"I am happy downtown and I want a condo downtown," says Bush, who instantly fell in love with the hardwood, stainless steel and granite finishes of the kitchen, but confessed she doesn't expect to do too much cooking. "The nearby restaurants look very appealing."

She also intends to walk to work, although she did buy a $27,000 parking spot when negotiating the deal on the $235,000 condo which is one-third the size of her two-bedroom home.

"This will be like a dream come true," says Bush. "I will be able to keep it clean and organized."

Financial Sense

Buying a condo seems the right financial thing to do, says Dale Leach, a 33-year-old accountant who joined forces with his girlfriend, Jennifer Harrison, 25, also an accountant, to buy a two-bedroom condo in the Hudson that will have a clear view over St. Patrick's Basilica.

"We are both renting downtown and it seemed silly that two rents were going out," says Leach, who grew up in Stittsville.

The two prefer walking for groceries and to see friends, instead of slipping into a car and driving.

"We were looking for a condo and both liked the design of the Hudson," says Leach, who is committed to saving a 25-per-cent down payment on the 900-square-foot condo, which will likely end up costing more than $300,000.

"The mortgage payments will be about the same as our two rents," says Leach, who decided to modify the floor plan, combining two small bedrooms into one large master.

"We can always put the wall back in when we want to sell," says Leach, who says there may be a day when they decide to have a family and move out of the urban core.

The condo is on the 10th floor with a clear view over St. Patrick's Basilica to the west.

"Nothing is going to get in the way of our view," says Leach, who describes himself as a patient, careful man. "Right now, we are focused on saving the down payment."

The couple looked at other urban condos and prices started to look similar comparing Charlesfort's standard finishings of hardwood, granite and stainless steel.

The also liked the idea of walking to work, walking to buy groceries on Bank Street and using the Hudson's gym. "That is going to save a gym membership for us."

Peer Pressure

It was peer influence that prompted Aaron Marsaw, a new lawyer working in the Department of Justice, to look at his financial future and trade renting downtown for buying a 900-squarefoot condo in the Hudson.

The 33-year-old, who lost 98 per cent of his sight when he was 12 and underwent surgery to remove a tumour behind his optic nerve, had no desire to live outside the city core or to continue paying rent for a downtown apartment.

He can seen shapes and colours and likes to walk through the downtown.

His friends were starting to buy urban condos and he liked the idea of central living and being able to walk two blocks to work.

He also liked what he saw when Charlesfort built The Gardens, twin condo towers on Bronson Avenue.

He paid $315,000 for a seventh-floor condo. He too is saving to boost his down payment. "Two years is going to go very fast."

Investment Smarts

Finances are also vital to Susan Irwin, who along with a business colleague, bankrolled a baby condo on the fifth floor of the Hudson. The two women paid $158,345, plus $27,000 for a parking spot, with the intention of renting out their 463-square-foot Berkley unit.

"We bought a condo in east market on the eastern edge of the Byward Market a few years ago as an investment and it worked out," says Irwin, 49, who lives on a comfortable street in an older community inside the Greenbelt.

"It makes good financial sense and will rent immediately for about $1,450 a month," says Irwin. "It's a great building in a great location."

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