In conversation with Jim Ritchie of Tridel
It’s always a pleasure to spend time with the smart and insightful Jim Ritchie, executive vice-president of sales and marketing at Tridel, one of Canada’s largest and best condominium builders. In its eight decades, Tridel has built more than 80,000 homes, and that’s something to celebrate!
Tridel was founded by Jack DelZotto in 1934, when he built his first single-detached home near Dufferin and Bloor Streets. Jack, who arrived in Canada from Italy in 1927, was a stonemason by trade who worked in the mines in Timmins before coming to Toronto. (He helped lay the bricks at the Park Plaza Hotel. How’s that for history?).
Jack’s three sons — Angelo, Elvio and Leo — were brought into the company, and continued to grow the organization into what it is today. The name of the company evolved to Tridel (after the three DelZotto brothers).
The DelZottos have always been known as innovators and built their first rental apartment complex in 1961, featuring twin towers, a swimming pool, a recreation centre and landscaped grounds — quite luxurious for the times — the forerunner of today’s modern condo.
Today, the DelZotto brothers and their lifelong business partner Harvey Fruitman — along with their families — have carried on the tradition set by Jack of complete communities, environmental awareness and technical innovation. And it has grown.
As Ritchie tells me, Tridel manages every part of the development of a condominium project.
“We handle the entire process — land purchase, planning, approvals, marketing, selling, building, customer service and management. Overall, we control the customer experience from purchase to residency.”
In fact, in addition to Tridel, the Tridel Group of Companies consists of Deltera (construction services and management), Del Realty (real estate brokerage), Del Property Management (condominium property management), DelSuites (long-term furnished executive accommodations), Del Condominium Rentals (full-service condo rentals), Delmanor Retirement Living (seniors’ accommodations), Delcare (long-term seniors’ care facilities) and Del Management Solutions (residential and commercial property management).
Q: Did Tridel make a conscious decision to move from ground related housing to apartments and condominiums?
A: The transition from single-family homes to building rental apartments was an evolution. Tridel built a rental apartment complex complete with amenities and landscaping, which essentially became a model for the condominium we know today.
In 1967, when condos became a legal entity in Ontario, Tridel embraced the concept and started developing its first condominium the following year.
Q: What are your thoughts on the condo market in the GTA?
A: Toronto has the largest new condo market in North America. The market was outstanding in 2017, which was an exceptional year fuelled by many factors. But that record-breaking year couldn’t be sustained, and with a number of government interventions, including new mortgage rules, the market has levelled somewhat as compared to previous years.
We see consistent and long-term growth in the GTA housing market, especially with a strong economy and continuing growth in population. But it’s really very difficult to make predictions.
The success of the industry is predicated on relative affordability and more recently condos have become very popular because of the increasing cost of other forms of housing — 25 per cent of the cost of a home is various fees and taxes.
Q: What is Tridel’s philosophy of building condo communities?
A: We are city builders — actually all highrise builders are city builders — and at Tridel we put more focus on architecture and the public realm. Architecture matters and consumers understand that. Today’s consumers are well informed on these matters.
But it’s not easy, there are no easy projects anymore. No longer can we raze a parking lot and build a condo. There just aren’t any of these types of sites left. And creating real communities, which means mixed-use developments, brings more complexity.
Q: How have you seen suite design and amenity space changed over the years?
A: Architecture matters to Tridel and that includes suite designs that can optimize the use of space, and user-friendly amenities, which have changed over the years and now include more family-oriented spaces.
Evermore at West Village in Etobicoke offers some of the most current amenities and suite designs, including two- and three-bedroom suites for family living with larger entrances and bigger laundry rooms with more storage.
Some of the more in-demand amenities include shared workspaces and study pods, kids and youth zones and large outdoor terraces.
We’ve also found that putting the larger units in one area of the building — at Evermore they are in the podium — means that families can live near each other and that creates a sense of community.
Q: Tridel has a reputation for being in the forefront of green technology. Has that always been the case?
A: Tridel has always been on the leading edge of new construction methodology and energy-efficient building practices. These include the fundamentals of building design, including the building envelope and mechanic al systems. In 2005, we brought our first LEED building into the marketplace, and now we lead sustainable residential condominium development in Canada.
Q: What new innovations does Tridel have in the works?
A: I’m very excited by Tridel Connect, an innovative range of integrated smart home features, which we recently rolled out very successfully at our Ten York community. Some of the features of Tridel Connect include the ability to set the temperature, security alarm and receive notifications about community events through an in-suite wall pad or remotely with a smartphone app. Suite locks are also dig ital, opened with a personalized code, and additional codes can be programmed for service people, like a cleaner or dog walker.
You can also use the wall panel to connect visually with the concierge and select common areas, and you can open common-area doors with your smartphone, so no more key fobs. That also applies to the garage door, where a camera uses license plate recognition to provide entry.
We had this technology developed about six years ago, but we wanted to make sure we had worked out all the kinks before announcing it. It will be included in many Tridel condos going forward.
- Evermore at West Village, Eva Road & Hwy. 427
- Aqualuna at Bayside, Queens Quay & Sherbourne
- Auberge on the Park, Leslie & Eglinton
- Auberge II on the Park, Leslie & Eglinton
- Bloor Promenade, Bloor & Islington
- Bloorvista, Bloor & Islington
- Islington Terrace, Bloor & Islington
- Bianca, Dupont & Bathurst
- Via Bloor, Bloor & Parliament
- Via Bloor 2, Bloor & Parliament
- Aquabella at Bayside, Queens Quay & Sherbourne
- Ten York, York & Harbour
- Alto and Parkside at Atria, Sheppard & Hwy. 404
- Trio at Atria, Sheppard & Hwy. 404
- Parfait at Atria, Sheppard & Hwy. 404
- Aqualina at Bayside, Queens Quay & Sherbourne
- Aquavista at Bayside, Queens Quay & Sherbourne
- Alter, Church & Carlton
- 101 Erskine, Yonge & Eglinton
- Avani 2 at Metrogate, Kennedy & Hwy. 401
- Selene at Metrogate, Kennedy & Hwy. 401
- SQ2 at Alexandra Park, Spadina & Queen
- FORM, Queen & McCaul
- Scala, Leslie & Sheppard
- Sherwood at Huntington, Bayview & Lawrence