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Outlook 2020 – Angela Marotta, Director of Sales & Marketing, Solmar Development Corp.

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Outlook 2020 – Angela Marotta, Director of Sales & Marketing, Solmar Development Corp.

Part of our series of Outlook 2020 Q&As with building industry executives

Condo Life: What is the outlook for the new home industry in 2020?

Marotta: We’re very optimistic, as national averages increase together with market demand and population growth, especially as employment opportunities increase. We see growth in the outer cores of Toronto, namely Mississauga, Vaughan and Scarborough, as price surges in Toronto make it unaffordable for some to own. We see an increase in lower density housing, as condo prices continue to increase, making a townhouse, semi or detached in some municipalities more affordable and desirable to own.

Angela Marotta
Angela Marotta, Director of Sales & Marketing Solmar Development Corp

CL: And for Solmar?

Marotta: We have almost 1,000 units across two highrise projects hitting the market this spring – Oro at Edge Towers in Mississauga, and our final tower at Park Avenue in Vaughan. The first two towers at each of these projects are sold out, so these new towers at each project are the final ones. We’re planning new mixed lowrise density developments for 2021 and into 2024 in various areas across the GTA, including Niagara on the Lake, Caledon and Erin – all of them master- planned communities.

CL: What is your company doing to address the issues facing the homebuilding industry – namely, affordability and new home supply?

Marotta: We are building in various parts of the GTA and surrounding areas, which allows us to plan and build various types of housing at various price points. Master-planned communities are in preliminary stages in Caledon and Erin, which sees us building mixed lowrise, together with employment lands which will continue to attract new homebuyers. Some of our other lands within the GTA will be designated highrise density, as we foresee this continuing to be a growing market.

It will be interesting to see how the First-Time Buyer Incentive program impacts the market, as most properties in the GTA cost more than $525,000 and with a minimum required income of $120,000, I’m not sure if these homebuyers can afford to carry the property, even with the assisted down payment of 10 per cent. It would require a lot of lifestyle changes that perhaps most people are not willing to make. Increasing the RRSP withdrawal cap to $35,000 is a great incentive for first-time homebuyers, as down payment is an issue even if qualifying for a mortgage isn’t.

Solmar will continue to promote homeownership, as it remains a stable investment opportunity for all and gives great sense of pride.

CL: What more could the industry do to address these issues?

Marotta: It’s difficult because there are a lot of regulatory costs, increased development levies and other costs that are not unique to us as a developer and builder. The end consumer will ultimately be affected by growing end costs, and this results in increased prices across all housing types, regardless if they’re high- or lowrise.

At Solmar, we try to be as efficient as possible during the planning stages of development, but we are all at the mercy of regulatory and political authorities. As an industry, we also need to look at providing more product that is more “affordable” to encourage homeownership across all sectors. This would push development out of the city core, so municipalities need to focus on infrastructure and transit to allow for this expansion, which in turn could allow for growth of more affordable product.

CL: What should prospective new-home buyers know about your company for 2020?

Marotta: Oro, the third and final tower at Edge Towers in Mississauga, is set to open in early spring, with pre-registration now open. It will rise to 50 storeys and have 630 residential units. Indoor and outdoor amenity space stretches over two floors with views over the city. A mix of one bedroom, one plus den, two- and three-bedroom suites are available, including three luxury penthouses across the top floor. It is the only new project that borders the future LRT transit line.

The third and final tower at Park Avenue in Vaughan is slated to open this spring, with more than 24 floors and about 250 suites, located in a prime area of Vaughan surrounded by a park setting. It is a luxury condo project with a similar mix of suites as Oro at Edge.

Bellaria Phase 2 in Vaughan will be an exciting project, following in the footsteps of Bellaria Phase 1, which was the first highrise condominium project in Vaughan, with four towers. We are in design stage and plan for launch in 2021.

CL: Why should prospective new-home buyers consider buying from your company in 2020?

Marotta: Solmar homeowners have seen healthy increases in overall value, which has them purchasing from us again and again. This is based on the location of our communities, proximity to transit, design and quality of their home, our continued in excellence with Tarion Warranty Corp. and referrals from past Solmar homeowners. Our reputation with the industry and consumers alike is very important, and we have worked very hard over the past 30 years to attain it and cherish it!

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In Conversation With… Angela Marotta, Director of Sales & Marketing, Solmar Development Corp.

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In Conversation With… Angela Marotta, Director of Sales & Marketing, Solmar Development Corp.

For more than 30 years, Solmar Development Corp. has focused on excellence, whether it’s building highrise projects in the GTA or lowrise communities in Niagara-on-the-Lake, or delivering on its promises of exemplary customer service.

Director of Sales & Marketing Angela Marotta shares her insights on what the company values most, and where it plans to go next.

Condo Life: Solmar has been in business for more than 30 years. What have been the keys to your success over this time?

Angela Marotta: We are family owned and operated, and as key family members, we have continued to share the same philosophy and vision for the company for all these years. Each project is thoughtfully designed with the buyer in mind. From our amenity spaces to landscape and surrounding greenspace, and ultimately to the suite and home designs.

When we acquire property, we always have the big picture in mind, which has allowed us to navigate through any difficult zoning and planning issues, and consolidation of various parcels of land. We have a very strong planning department and consultants that have been with Solmar from inception. They understand and continue to support the long-term vision to bring our projects to final stages. As principals, we are involved every step of the way. My father, Benny Marotta, is a visionary and has a very keen eye for design and architecture. No architectural plans are redesigned or enhanced without him and then flowed to myself and brother-in-law Giuseppe Paolicelli for final review, always with the buyer in mind.

CL: The homebuilding industry is undergoing a lot of change these days, with increasing government involvem ent, policy issues and other challenges. How do you see all this playing out in the foreseeable future?

AM: Regulatory changes within the Planning Act have given municipalities more local power to facilitate change in zoning bylaws, and thus hopefully allow for economic growth within their communities. As developers, we have faith that the governing bodies take into consideration the future economic growth, together with quality of life of residents. There has to be a balance.

However, changes to the Ontario Municipal Board are somewhat troublesome, as they may restrict the tribunal to propose decisions based on the best planning solutions, as the process has now been fast-tracked. It’s complicated, and I’m still trying to come to grips with the pros and cons. There will always be complex appeals, which make the process difficult to navigate. We will always try to push higher density on proposed developments, as it increases their viability. Giuseppe works very closely with our inhouse planner to ensure that we do.

CL: Affordability is a growing concern for homebuyers in the GTA, but much of what determines end costs – land use policy and availability and approvals processes – are out of builders’ control. How does Solmar address the affordability challenge?

AM: Everything boils down to timing and the span from inception of a project to construction to proposed occupancy. We never rush developing our proformas without having a clear understanding and comfort level of the market and future costs that are at times not completely defined. We are careful, but still take on a level of risk that we are comfortable with. We never want to sell out a project that quickly. Allocations are determined and timelines for release are defined so we always have a contingency whereby we retain flexibility with pricing over time to protect us against any instabilities or change.

We also try to price ourselves at or just above market without being “out of” market. Our projects are higher end, with various luxury amenities and features that attract a consumer that appreciates value and may be willing to spend a little more as a result. We attract a lot of end consumers, and any investors purchasing in our projects feel comfortable knowing they have a secured investment based on our reputation as a builder.

CL: Where do you see the next homebuilding – and therefore, for customers, homebuying – opportunities in the GTA, in terms of geographic area and housing type?

AM: Consumers are finding pricing within the downtown core to be very high and competitive. Projects such as ours at The Edge in Mississauga allow consumers to have homeownership at much more reasonable pricing, gain equity over time and still be able to work in the city due to the great transit infrastructure in Mississauga. The LRT is along Hurontario right at The Edge. With higher density projects outside of the downtown core, you’re seeing more and more buyers looking there. Our project at Park Avenue Place in Vaughan, which is sold out, saw buyers coming from all across the GTA. Again, municipalities that have planned and developed transit infrastructure well have seen economic growth and a superior quality of life in their community as a result.

CL: How are things coming along at Edge Towers in Mississauga?

AM: We’re excited to see the development come to life. It took great perseverance to consolidate individual lots to comprise what is now three luxury buildings with more than 1,400 units. Tower 1 is currently under construction and nearly sold out. Tower 2 is not far behind, with construction starting before the end of the year and nearing 80 per cent sold. Tower 3, launching this fall, will be the pinnacle of the project, with 50 floors of luxury suites and amenities that will make this tower a unique place to live.

CL: And at Park Avenue Place in Vaughan?

AM: Park Avenue is currently under construction with occupancy set for fall 2020. This has been an amazing project, as it is referred to as the sister project to our now completed highrise, aptly called Bellaria, which was the first development of its kind in Vaughan. Park Avenue comprises two towers of beautifully designed suites located at the south east corner of Jane and Rutherford. This project saw lots of end users as buyers, many of whom were referrals from Bellaria – a major source of pride for us.

AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE:

If I wasn’t involved in homebuilding, I would:

Be in the hospitality industry, as my passion is wine and food. Together with our family, my sister Melissa Paolicelli and I own and operate Two Sisters Vineyards.

My greatest inspiration in this business is:

My father. I have seen him take on such high levels of risk and navigate through them in the most decisive and intelligent way. He has accomplished great things and built or developed many landmark communities that we are very proud of.

When I’m not at the office, I:

Am enjoying quality family time with my three teens and the rest of our close family in Niagara-on-the-Lake, preferably at the Vineyard! We live part time in NOTL, and it has become such a special place for us all.

PORTFOLIO

Edge Towers
Downtown Mississauga
Under construction and register now

Park Avenue Place
Vaughan
Under construction

solmar.ca

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