Tag Archives: Altree Developments

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In Conversation With… Zev Mandelbaum, President and CEO, Altree Developments

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In Conversation With… Zev Mandelbaum, President and CEO, Altree Developments

Imagine growing up – quite literally – in the development industry, and becoming a third-generation builder. The lessons imparted by your father, and grandfather before him, and how such family mentoring would help shape who you are today and how you view not just developing projects but growing communities. Zev Mandelbaum, president and CEO of Altree Developments, is one such builder. We caught up with him to discuss two of the company’s new signature projects, and more.

Condo Life: What made Altree decide to choose The Queensway area in Etobicoke for your latest project, Thirty Six Zorra? Was it more a product of land availability, or is there something about the area in particular?

Zev Mandelbaum: Altree chose The Queensway for two principal reasons – ability for high-density development and ample surrounding amenities and entertainment for the public.

As Toronto expands and becomes a larger and more metropolitan city, fewer places are designated to allow for high-density development, and The Queensway was an area we could develop a community of this size. The land that spans from The Queensway to Islington, trickling into the Gardiner, is designated to allow for high-density condominium towers. So, when I saw that opportunity, I knew we would have the ability to build an entire neighbourhood from scratch.

In addition, the neighbourhood already has ample amenities, including the Cineplex Cinemas and Sherway Gardens just down the road, many restaurants and a tremendous parkland that was already planned and under construction at the time. We felt The Queensway would be the most optimal neighbourhood to live, work, play and grow a family. It’s the perfect opportunity to expand on a loyal community that was already present within the area.

CL: What do you foresee as the typical buyer profile? Singles, young families…?

ZM: As urbanization increases, condominium living will become the norm for the city dweller and lead to a whole new way of living. As people change their mindsets to own a home with a white picket fence and large backyard, the shift will be to a more urban lifestyle where amenities are at the tip of ones’ fingertips, with less worry about the maintenance of the property.

Thirty Six Zorra is going to contain a wide selection of amenities that will target all different types of buyers, from singles, to young couples, as well as those looking to downsize. This building will also cater to a larger mix of buyers because of the price point and affordability that will come with these units (compared to those found in the downtown core). Toronto is seeing a year-over-year increase in price per square foot of condominiums within the core, making condo options downtown less and less feasible to many working Torontonians. As a result, we also see a lot of Millennial demographic and end users gravitating to this particular building.

CL: Amenities are becoming an increasingly important part of any condo project – features that speak to the character of the local area and the target buyer demographic. What are the key differentiating amenities at Thirty Six Zorra?

ZM: The way we’ve approached this project is recognizing that The Queensway already has a great mix of retail amenities. For Thirty Six Zorra, we wanted to communicate that this building is really somewhere where prospective buyers can live, work and play on a daily basis. The Queensway offers a plethora of shopping and culinary experiences, and we wanted to bring this vibe into the building. We wanted to create something that really unites people by adding amenities focused on enjoying the company of others – getting off our phones and tablets and hanging out with one another. The building features a gym, a dry sauna, outdoor pool, and a rooftop patio ideal for throwing a great summer party.

The most unique amenities include a rec room that features a social space with various games for everyone to relax with friendly competition after a long day of work. We also added in a demonstration kitchen to allow for a communal space for future homeowners to share their passions and creativity through cooking. With the freelance working economy becoming so popular, there will also be multiple cohesive working spaces where buyers can base their office and hold meetings from the co-working space, the lounges, outside patio or parks that surround the project.

CL: You recently entered into a strategic partnership with EllisDon for Thirty Six Zorra. What are the reasons behind this decision, and how will it benefit the project? 

ZM: As a developer, ever since childhood I have loved to watch buildings being constructed and grow. I sought a partnership with EllisDon Capital – the best to do just that – build this community. My goal has not been to merely build a building, but to team up with someone as part of a strategic partnership where we could align our values and goals, leading to a long-term working relationship.

EllisDon is the number one leader in the construction industry in Canada, has built more buildings than anyone else and is set on building the best buildings for communities. Being able to have a strong alliance with EllisDon, not only as a constructor, but also as a fully dedicated partner in the project, gives us the longevity not only to do this project spectacularly well, but also to create more fantastic buildings in the city of Toronto.

CL: Etobicoke certainly as a price point advantage over downtown Toronto and elsewhere in the 416. How long do you think this will last, given more and more developers are seeing the potential of the area?

ZM: As Toronto and the downtown core continues to grow and pierce new heights within the price range of condominium projects, the affordability of units in this area becomes a farther stretch for many people. The multiplier effect means that once a city gets more attention, it gets more amenities and attracts more people who want to live there, just like New York City.

An economist once told me, 30 years ago Manhattan was overpriced, 20 years ago Manhattan was overpriced, 10 years ago Manhattan was overpriced and it’s still overpriced today. I believe the lesson in that was when you have a city that is desirable and continues to g row, it just builds upon itself. As it happens, when the price in Toronto becomes more and more unaffordable, people are starting to look just outside the core to acquire something that is within their price range. Since the pricing in the downtown core is so high, it is only reasonable to think that a market just outside the city, where average square foot prices are in the mid $8 00’s per sq. ft., there is more room to grow.

However, even with this room to grow, these areas will still remain at a $300 to $400 per sq. ft. discount from the downtown core. This is exactly where The Queensway market is, and future homeowners will see this value as well.

CL: Altree has plenty of other projects in the Toronto area. What are the common qualities or characteristics about these that speak to Altree’s mission, vision… that really say, yes, this is an Altree project? 

ZM: Altree is all about understanding neighbourhoods! When we decide on a neighbourhood, we place importance on understanding the character and feel that is already in place, so we are able to blend in. The common denominator of all our projects is that we are generally not coming into an area where there are other buildings in the immediate vicinity, meaning that the architecture of the area really has no identity. We need to create an identity within that building that is unique to the character of that neighbourhood. Essentially, we marry a building with the neighbourhood around it.

The most important vision to Altree, is we look for where a community is going to be in the next five to 10 years, not where it is today. It is difficult to do this, as humans are very “touch and feel,” where if something is not there, it’s hard to visualize. When we first look at a site, we analyze the area and really understand the core values and characteristics of a neighbourhood and build on how we understand it to be in the future. Once we understand this, the sky’s the limit. So, if you look at all our projects, we are entrenched in neighbourhoods that have the fibre of growth already existing.

CL: Forest Hill Private Residences is another milestone project from Altree Developments, in a high-profile neighbourhood. What is it about Forest Hill that will stand out from other projects in the area?

ZM: Forest Hill Private Residences is a unique building. When we first saw the project and the piece of land and understood how the zoning would come to be, we noticed that this was a project that would not only be on the cusp of Forest Hill but would be a statement to the neighbourhood.

Seeing that every floor from the third to the ninth has terraces – units with tremendous outdoor exposure – this aspect is one that is missing in buildings in the area and elsewhere in Toronto. Usable personal outdoor space while not having the responsibility of a lawn or backyard. There seems to be quite the gap between condominium and lowrise housing living. There are towers that span up 30 to 40 storeys with great views and exposure, but without much personal outdoor space. There are lowrise houses that have large lawns and backyards, but have become completely unaffordable. Forest Hill Private Residences is a project where we are marrying that outdoor and indoor space. Merging that indoor-outdoor lifestyle together in condominium living is a type of living that is missing in Toronto. It’s the missing middle between a home and a condo, and we are so happy that Forest Hill Private Residences will be able to bring this happy medium to the future homeowners.

CL: What is the current status, in terms of planning, sales launch, suite sizes and price range? 

ZM: Currently Forest Hill Private Residences is at the tail end of its zoning. We hope to have that completed by the end of the year and be in the market early next year, with units starting from 900 sq. ft. and up, so there are units catering to everyone.

On a Personal Note…

CL: You’re a third-generation developer… how has essentially growing up in the industry, with a strong family legacy, formed who you are and what you want Altree to become?

ZM: I have learned everything I know from my family. It all started with my grandfather, Sandy Hofstedter, who started H&R Developments 70 years ago. All I remember from a young boy was talk about buildings, neighbourhoods, construction and development. Dinner table talks were all about neighbourhoods in Toronto, the planning context and what we were doing to change it. So, to me, the only thing I have ever dreamt of was building buildings that add to Toronto – buildings that have names that people would look at. The satisfaction of being involved in developments that added to the city skyline, is something words can’t describe. My goal is to make sure Altree continues that legacy for my children for generations to come.

CL: You’ve had some other executive level stops in your career, at Marlin Spring and Lanterra Developments, for example. What did you learn – about development, housing or homebuyers – that aids you in your current role at Altree?

ZM: I started off working in all the family businesses, from H&R Developments to Lanterra Developments, until I formed Marlin Spring along with my two brother-in-laws. In each role, I specialized in the development industry, from acquisition to zoning to marketing to sales to construction to registration to warranty and all the way to the end. At each phase, I was able to delve deep into each aspect of condominium development. Anyone who regularly develops land can tell you that, when you’re a builder it’s all about perfection! It’s all about specialization, working the kinks out of the design, taking that design and tweaking it until it’s perfect.

Working at Lanterra allowed me to see massive projects at macro levels and being able to work alongside the team. When I formed Marlin Spring, I was able to take everything I learned from my family and work on different projects and partnerships. Now with Altree, I’m able to work on specific projects that interest me, allowing me to put my own stamp on this world.

CL: Your greatest inspiration in the development industry is:

ZM: My father and grandfather. For as long as I can remember, I have been inspired and awed by what they have accomplished – from so many great buildings in Toronto and so many artistic styles, to communities that have changed the landscape of the way we live. From ICE Condominiums to Maple Leaf Square, which has totally changed the south core of Toronto, to Murano and Burano that has completely changed the Bay St. strip, to many other areas that both H&R Developments and Lanterra Developments have been involved in shaping.

CL: When not at the office or in the field…:

ZM: I’m spending time with my three children and wife, exploring Toronto’s neighbourhoods and parks and exploring off beaten tracks of Toronto’s gorgeous ravine systems.

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Thirty Six Zorra

Thirty Six Zorra – Altree Developments and EllisDon Capital come together to set a new standard

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Thirty Six Zorra – Altree Developments and EllisDon Capital come together to set a new standard

Thirty-six storeys of colourful and contemporary condominium living – that’s the vision for Altree Developments‘ latest project with EllisDon Capital, Thirty Six Zorra, set to make its debut to Toronto’s Queensway in Etobicoke this fall. Encompassing a series of modern condominium suites ranging from 440 to 1,306 sq. ft., Thirty Six Zorra promises to expand the condominium offerings currently available within this rich Toronto locale, all while bringing a splash of colour to residents looking for the same lifestyle they know and love in the city.

Thirty Six Zorra invites you to get your colour on. This dynamic residence is positioned to provide a robust offering of more than 9,500 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor amenities, giving residents more than enough opportunities to express themselves and explore entertainment and ingenuity in their on- and off-hours. For those who like to stay close to home, Thirty Six Zorra will act as more of a lifestyle destination than just a residence.

For its indoor amenities, residents can choose from a series of offerings catering to any type of pastime, including a bright and spacious rec room with games and tabletop sports that will keep them on their toes in friendly competition. For options to work from home or host friends, a robust co-working space and social club are perfect for solo lounging or group gatherings. Offered alongside the location’s TV lounge and hobby room, residents of Thirty Six Zorra can also entertain their families in play in a fun-filled kids club, conveniently groom their pets in the pet wash area, or engage in an invigorating workout in the expansive gym and weight room. With its full demo kitchen, residents can also host exciting dinner parties with friends and family, all while surrounded by options for group seating or one-on-one dates.

The outdoor amenities are equally as engaging, featuring a luxurious rooftop pool with sun loungers and cabanas primed for relaxation, cosy fire pits, quaint barbecue dining areas, a vibrant on-site park, and a robust pet run for animal lovers. When they’re done basking in the sun and taking a dip in the pool, residents can head to any of the local parks in the area to enjoy Etobicoke’s many greenspaces and trails.

When it’s time to get out into the city for work or errands, residents of Thirty Six Zorra will also enjoy the benefits of a direct shuttlebus service to Kipling station offered in the morning and evening, for convenient and exclusive access to those living at this one-of-a-kind address. Known as a main artery between the downtown core and Toronto west, The Queensway provides high connectivity to downtown Toronto via local bus routes, as well as Islington and Kipling TTC stations and GO Transit. Prefer to drive? Get to downtown Toronto in 15 minutes with quick hop on the Gardiner Expressway.

Beyond its multitude of transit options, The Queensway is home to popular retail destinations such as Sherway Gardens Mall, IKEA, HomeSense, as well as local cafes, restaurants, and entertainment. Mainstays such as the local Cineplex Theatre and Bouldlerz Climbing Club offer faithful weekend activities within six minutes of Thirty Six Zorra. Other community hot spots include Tom’s Dairy Freeze, Sanremo Bakery, and California Sandwiches. A beacon for cyclists, runners, and park enthusiasts, Toronto’s expansive waterfront and Humber Bay are 10 minutes away by car.

Seasoned Torontonians or newcomers to the city will appreciate the lifestyle opportunity growing in Etobicoke. Thirty Six Zorra invites buyers to live larger when it comes to the financial perks of purchasing a suite in this burgeoning west end neighbourhood. That’s right: Residents get more square footage than their downtown neighbours while still reaping the many benefits of living in “the 416.” Etobicoke boasts prices of $850 per sq. ft., making costs for this area comparatively low against $1,200 per sq. ft. in the downtown core.

Backed by two of Canada’s leading highrise residential builders, third-generation developer Altree Developments and the visionary team at EllisDon Capital, Thirty Six Zorra is sure to be an iconic project, poised to set a new standard for The Queensway and Etobicoke living alike.

Learn more about how you can get your colour on at Thirty Six Zorra. Register today.


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Altree Developments announces two new marquee projects

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Altree Developments announces two new marquee projects

Altree Developments, led by third-generation developer Zev Mandelbaum, previously of Marlin Spring, Lanterra and H&R, is pleased to announce the company’s two new projects in the GTA, 2 Forest Hill Rd. in Toronto and 44 Zorra St. in Etobicoke. Plus Altree has just launched another development in Jersey City, N.J. — West Side Arts.

Following the acquisition of six properties at St. Clair Ave. and Forest Hill Rd., the Altree Forest Hill development will be a luxury nine-storey midrise building with approximately 75 units, spanning 1,000 to 4,000 sq. ft. The majority of each exclusive unit will feature expansive terraces, introducing outdoor areas to every living space.

Providing renowned inspirational residential, commercial and retail projects built with integrity, Altree Developments, is committed to connecting communities through the development of iconic projects. Altree is guided by Mandelbaum’s vision to seamlessly integrate projects into the existing culture of the neighbourhoods in which they develop, while uncovering opportunities to enhance communities and build with integrity. “It is a great privilege and honour to be able to bring these three iconic projects to life, creating beauty among three distinct neighbourhoods,” said Mandelbaum, president and CEO, Altree. “At Altree Developments, we are dedicated to seeking out projects that allow us to build a meaningful experience within each community we enter, offering residents a locale to live, dream and thrive.”

The Zorra St. development, located at The Queensway and Islington Ave., will be comprised of a 35-storey tower that spans across 340,000 sq. ft. of gross residential floor area, offering a diverse mix of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units. It will be a landmark for the established and easily accessible community that delivers top-notch retail offerings and public green spaces for residents to enjoy. Only minutes away from downtown Toronto and Pearson International Airport, this development will serve as a hub for millennials and young families.

Altree Developments, launched in late 2018, continues a 70-year multi-generational family legacy in the development industry, including H&R REIT, founded by his grandfather Sandy Hofstedter, and Lanterra Developments, founded by his father Mark Mandelbaum. Prior to the launch of Altree, Zev previously held roles as co-founder, chief operating officer and principal at Marlin Spring, and commercial division lead at Lanterra Developments.

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