Honey and Barry Sherman’s new house would have been filled with light.
The property at 91 Old Forest Hill Rd. is desolate now — an empty 25,000 square-foot lot where a house once stood, near Eglinton Ave. W. and Spadina Rd. The plot of land has been registered in Honey’s name since November 2016, and the old house had been demolished to make way for something new.
Though it’s unclear to the public what will happen to the property now, architectural plans submitted to the City of Toronto reveal the intricate details of the 16,000 square-foot home the billionaire couple was set to build before their bodies were found this month — under what police call “suspicious” circumstances.
The drawings show a home with five skylights, ranging from six to 17 feet in length, letting light pour in across the roof of the main brick-and-stone residence. Another massive skylight, 41 feet in length, would slide open from the centre, over an indoor pool.
There would be sliding doors on both floors, and a 207 square-foot glazed opening that spanned across both. Tucked on a slice of land at the corner of Old Forest Hill and Gardiner Rds., plans for the project — involving work by Holbrook + Associates Landscape Architects, Brennan Custom Homes Inc. and Villa Villa Architects Inc, according to the plans submitted to the city — spared no details.
A “large shredder” was specifically designed into the office upstairs, beneath a bookcase. A gym on the same floor was to have a weight machine, an elliptical, a treadmill, a reformer and a television. The two-storey house would have an indoor pool in a one-storey building set to the side.
There were three bedrooms in addition to Honey and Barry’s. The master bedroom — which transitions into a sitting room, divided by pocket doors with a pop-up TV in the middle — includes dressing spaces for both of them. His would have one of the skylights inside. Her dressing room would have a bench in the middle, and a three-pane mirror to one side.
They wanted tray ceilings in their bedroom, where the centre is slightly higher than the rest. A whole room was designated for luggage.
You could take the elevator to the main floor, where a breakfast area would have sliding doors leading outside. The pool area would have an air lock and a change room, with a “jets area” on one end. A stone staircase would weave around the side of the house. There would be concealed doors behind the servery (as well as a set upstairs), and a television hidden behind an “art lift mechanism” near a double-sided fireplace.
The basement was to have a space for staff — a sitting room, a bedroom and a bathroom — as well as a bar and an event room.
Outside, gardens would wrap around the house, with spots designated for sculptures. An outdoor dining area had a barbecue station planned, trailing over to a concrete path, another sculpture and a high garden wall. Stepping stones would lead you to the driveway. Three vehicles could fit in the garage, which included a car lift.
There would be canopies around the sides of the house. And they’d proposed a combination of hedges, seasonal deciduous trees and perennials, to fill the property with greenery.
The Old Forest Hill Rd. property was transferred to Honey for $0 in 2016 from Abraham J. Green Ltd. The property was once owned by another prominent couple in philanthropic circles and the Jewish community, the late Al and Malka Green. Honey and Malka were both directors at the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.
Real estate lawyer Mark Weisleder reviewed the property transfer record for the Star, and explained that the Shermans would have paid the provincial and municipal land transfer taxes directly to the Ministry of Finance and the City of Toronto before the sale closed to avoid having the cost of the property show up on property records.
Some people don’t want the price they paid for their home to be readily available to the public, he said.
The Shermans bought their home in North York, at 50 Old Colony Rd. near Bayview Ave. and Highway 401, in 1985. The 12,000 square-foot home included indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, a tennis court and underground parking. It was listed for sale this month at $6.9 million.
Litigation against the house’s designers and builders for problems they noticed after moving in ended up recouping $2 million of the $2.3 million the Shermans planned to spend on building their dream home.
Their bodies were found together this month by the indoor pool. The cause of death has been deemed ligature neck compression, and an investigation is ongoing to determine further information about the circumstances surrounding their deaths.
The Bernard Sherman Family Trust, which Honey is a trustee, bought a property in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., six years ago. The property was granted to the family trust for $10, according to a warranty deed from 2011.
A previous real estate listing for the unit, on the 34th floor of a 37-storey beachfront condominium, includes sprawling ocean views, statues on the porch and floor-to-ceiling windows.
A neighbour in Florida, Mikhail Pikover, told the Star that the couple was very quiet and nice, but only came to their place there twice a year. The Shermans weren’t conversation starters, he said, and they liked to keep to themselves.
He said the pair didn’t flaunt their wealth, and seemed to live a simple life. Pikover said he spoke to Honey shortly before she died — an uncomplicated conversation about how the renovation of their unit was finally finished. She told him to have a nice day, Pikover said, and that she was going back to Canada.