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In Conversation With, Anson Kwok, Vice-President, Sale & Marketing Pinnacle International

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In Conversation With, Anson Kwok, Vice-President, Sale & Marketing Pinnacle International

Toronto is blessed with a number of signature high-profile condo projects, forever changing the landscape and city skyline. Few are as noteworthy as what’s about to rise into the sky and pierce the clouds in the heart of the downtown area – Pinnacle One Yonge from Pinnacle International.

One Yonge, as a location, is notable in its own right, as the address of the landmark Toronto Star building, built in 1970 and acquired by Pinnacle in 2012. The property was in the news again recently, when in May the Star itself was sold to a private equity firm, leading some to again wonder what the plan was for the area.

And an opportunity for Pinnacle to again discuss its vision for One Yonge.

The plan is a nothing short of a spectacular master-planned complex of residential, commercial and retail space, that over the years of its development will reshape that area of downtown.

The first phase of Pinnacle One Yonge involves The Prestige, a 65-storey residential tower with 497 condominium units, a community centre and extensive retail space. Phases 2 and 3 will add SkyTower, a 95-storey tower, and then an 80-storey tower, significantly contributing to the densification of the block. Phase 4 will develop the south parcel of the land, introducing an additional three buildings, including a 12-storey addition to the existing Toronto Star building.

Designed to densify and enhance the urban streetscape, Pinnacle One Yonge links to public transit, improves and widens sidewalks and provides prioritized pedestrian and cyclist access.

And this is just one project Pinnacle has on the go in the GTA.

Condo Life sat down with Anson Kwok, vice-president of sales and marketing at Pinnacle, to discuss the progress at Pinnacle One Yonge, how the company is adopting to the COVID-19 pandemic, and other topics.

When we spoke to you at the beginning of the year, things we very different. Pinnacle had four active construction sites in the GTA, and you mentioned possibly increasing that to six projects by the end of the year. Generally speaking, where is all that now, in this unprecedented COVID-19 world?

Our four active construction sites have continued during COVID-19 with some delays, and we are still looking to deliver three of those projects for our purchasers to get their keys in the next 12 months.

Our sites are ready to go for both Pinnacle Toronto East and SkyTower at Pinnacle One Yonge. We are just finalizing approvals and future permits to proceed.

You also mentioned at the time that lengthy municipal approval processes were resulting in longer completion times. How hopeful are you that this will improve? During the pandemic, governments have demonstrated that they can and do move more quickly when they really have to…

Fundamentally, I don’t see the process speeding up, as the system is set up so that all city staff, especially planners and reviewing departments, are working on projects for years, with new applications and resubmissions continuously ending up on their desks. The complexity of projects is also increasing, resulting in additional consultant reports and more detailed drawing sets. This all leads to longer processing times, and it perpetuates the constant cycle.

Even having city staff working on the same file at the same time, would help improve efficiencies and to expedite timelines.

How did COVID-19 affect your projects, in terms of both construction and sales?

Our construction sites have continued to operate, but we did experience about a six-month delay due to new procedures onsite with social distancing, inspections and supply chain delays.

Our sales program took a pause for about four weeks, and then we have been pretty active with inquiries and sales since.

Working from home is expected to become more prevalent in future. How might Pinnacle address this trend in future condo designs and amenities?

We have been offering larger product in the marketplace, so we will continue with that strategy, as I think this has benefited people who have been working from home. Also, providing amenities such as study rooms, business centres and boardrooms will be in higher demand.

How are things coming along at The Prestige at Pinnacle One Yonge?

We have built out the extensive podium of our first Phase 1, and now reached our typical floorplate at The Prestige at Pinnacle One Yonge, so you will start seeing the building really rising quickly. We are on schedule for our first occupancy in May 2022.

And with SkyTower?

Sales have gone extremely well at SkyTower, and we are in position to start construction and will be mobilizing in the near future.

Besides a pretty unbeatable location, how will The Prestige and SkyTower stand out from other projects in the area?

The location and address of this master-planned community definitely speak for themselves. What also stands out is that it’s part of a true master-planned community. At its completion, it will comprise:

  • Three residential towers, including the tallest residential building in Canada at 95 storeys
  • 80,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor residential amenity space
  • 50,000-sq.-ft. community centre with a six-lane swimming pool and gymnasium
  • 1.1 million sq. ft. of office space
  • 160,000 sq. ft. of retail space
  • Two future hotels
  • PATH connected
  • Next to a future a 2.5-acre park.

So, there is a lot to be excited about!

The Prestige and SkyTower are two of the three towers planned for One Yonge. What is the third, and what is its status?

We are currently working on the final design of the 80-storey tower planned on the north parcel, as we review the suite layouts.

What’s next for Pinnacle, beyond these noted signature projects?

We are currently working on rezoning our Pinnacle Etobicoke and Pinnacle Uptown Communities which will consist of eight future residential towers and three residential towers, respectfully.

We are also looking forward to start leasing our new office building at Pinnacle One Yonge.

And on a personal note…

When I’m not at the office, I am:
In my condo, enjoying time with my wife and our two young boys.

My greatest inspiration in this business is:
My mom, Grace. She brought the concept of preconstruction sales to Vancouver and is dubbed as BC’s First Lady of Pre-Sales. She has been consistently leading successful sales programs in all different market conditions.

If I wasn’t in the new condo business, I would:
Be pursuing my previous passion of running a hotel.

Portfolio

Amber at Pinnacle Uptown
Move in now
Mississauga

Cypress at Pinnacle Etobicoke
Under construction
Etobicoke

PJ Condos
Under construction
Toronto

Perla Towers
Under construction
Mississauga

Pinnacle Toronto East
Pre-construction
Toronto

SkyTower at Pinnacle One Yonge
Pre-construction
Toronto

The Prestige at Pinnacle One Yonge
Under construction
Toronto

pinnacleinternational.ca

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GTA homebuilders upbeat, foresee post-COVID-19 recovery

GTA homebuilders upbeat about post-COVID-19 recovery

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GTA homebuilders upbeat about post-COVID-19 recovery

The beginning of 2020 was looking especially bright in the new and resale home markets in and around the GTA. The economy was sailing along, interest rates were low, homebuyer appetite looked insatiable and everything that was built or put up for sale seemingly was snapped up in an instant.

Then COVID-19 hit, and everything changed.

Here we are now, mid-year and a few months into the pandemic, and while some insecurity remains, there are growing reasons for optimism.

The Conference Board of Canada, for example, reports that while major metropolitan economies may contract in 2020, assuming the virus’ spread is contained and companies can return to normal operations over the summer months, a recovery should begin in the second half of the year. Sharp rebounds should follow, and in the case of Toronto, GDP growth of 3.2 per cent from 2021 to 2024 could lead the country.

Another source, Altus Group, points out that the unique nature of this economic slowdown means the impact on housing markets will likely be mild and short lasting.

Altus Group Vice-President and Chief Economist Peter Norman says a relaxing of containment measures through early summer should bring a sharp resumption in new home sales activity.

Later in the year, home prices will likely return to their upward path, and expectations are for a five- to 10-per-cent year-over-year gain, nationally, by year-end.

The pandemic has been a challenging time for the homebuilding industry, an important economic driver. Construction was halted for a period, and though now allowed to resume, there is still some uncertainty in the market. Builders, however, remain largely upbeat.

Here’s how GTA area homebuilders are feeling:

Altree Developments

Jordan Debrincat
Director of Operations

We are very excited that construction can now continue on our sites. For our Thirty Six Zorra project in Etobicoke, we were at the point in our construction where we were just about to begin shoring and excavation before the shutdown took place, and we have to make some adjustments to our daily operations for this site. Now that construction is back up and running, we are ready to begin – full steam ahead. We were already ahead of schedule, so the provincial shutdowns didn’t affect our timing at all.

Construction resuming has put a lot of people at ease. This has allowed a number of people to return to work, developers to continue their operations, and purchasers the comfort that their home is going to be delivered on time.

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Aoyuan International

Vince Santino
Senior Vice-President of Development

M2M in North York is actively under construction. We’ve learned some great lessons about best practices and how to interact with each other when it comes to social distancing and providing a safe, informative sales experience. Part of that is adopting virtual sales tools, and leaning a little more on digital technology. We’re optimistic, and have plans to release a collection of townhomes and upper tower suites at M2M as part of M2M Spaces. These will be larger, more livable units, with a variety of outdoor spaces depending on the suite. There is a real emphasis on wellness, and pairing more spacious suites with the urban setting at Yonge and Finch.

The 8.6-acre M2M development will be one of Aoyuan’s largest master-planned communities in Canada and really gives us the opportunity to bring our healthy lifestyle vision to life. Everything from our amenity package, which includes a yoga and fitness area, indoor and outdoor kids play area and infinity pool, to our urban location, is geared around promoting healthy, active lifestyles. This corporate-wide focus on health and wellness positions us well in our collective, new reality. We’re thinking about the people who will be living at M2M, offering a range of suites sizes to accommodate a diverse cross-section of residents. We’re even providing homes for multi-generational families. I think space is going to be a cherished amenity for a lot of buyers, and we’re proud to be bringing a range of options to market.

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Carriage Gate Homes

Nick Carnicelli
President

Construction continues at Gallery Condos + Lofts in Burlington, with occupancy scheduled for 2022.

We moved the launch date for the first phase of our new large masterplanned community in Hamilton – Roxboro – from spring to the fall. Like many builders, we are continuing to plan for our launch, and may begin to change the way we launch projects in future. More virtual technology, no large crowds, with all appropriate COVID-19 measures in place.

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Flato Developments

Shakir Rehmatullah
President

We are very optimistic, as we’re already witnessing renewed confidence from homebuyers. We’re increasing our use of technology, as meeting virtually will become the new norm. For us, it’s business as usual. Our sites are under construction as planned, and more sites are beginning construction as per the government’s direction. We have been active in marketing, even though we couldn’t do physical sales events, and we have been conducting online webinars with good results. For new launches, we’ll likely adopt new technologies such as virtual openings for certain projects, to make sure vulnerable groups such as seniors are safe.

We believe the demand for lowrise homes and small buildings will increase as people embrace social distancing. And since more people will be working from home, many will invest more in their homes. Home offices will be a must.

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Menkes Highrise

Jared Menkes
Executive Vice-President

We are seeing signs of pent-up demand and positive sentiments among buyers, with the number of inquiries and people resuming their housing research growing every week. We expect that as the economy continues to reopen, buyers will regain confidence in their financial stability and capacity to buy.

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NATIONAL HOMES

Deena Pantalone
Principal

We have taken the COVID-19 situation very seriously, with offices open only via video or telephone. Now that the provincial government has opened up construction, we will continue to put the safety of our employees and our buyers first with strict protocols and social distancing.

Construction servicing is beginning at The Forest in Bradford, and in Brampton at Three Rivers Claireville. We are also beginning to book design studio appointments for this summer, with an even more personal, one-on-one approach to keep us all safe and healthy.

The demand is clearly still there for real estate. If anything positive can be said to have come from COVID-19, it’s that this virus has refocused our attention on the importance of our families, and the homes we live in.

Many people just need more from their residence; more space, different features, or even a different neighbourhood. That’s why we expect to see a strong market come back later this summer and fall. In fact, we have two new communities we are working towards launching, in Burlington and in Courtice, and we are incorporating unique features and technology that we believe people will want post-pandemic. So, homebuyers should look forward to not just new launches, but new innovations.

From recycling to renewable materials to energy-efficient features and Green products, to innovative new prefabricated wall systems, National is helping our buyers reduce their “Greenprint.

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Pinnacle International

Anson Kwok
Vice-President, Sales & Marketing

The market definitely took a quick pause to look both ways but people are now back to crossing the street, which is positive for the marketplace. Our construction teams were active and our projects continue to rise.

Pinnacle has a diverse offering of projects that can suit any prospective homebuyer. We have four active constructions sites and pre-construction developments, so there are opportunities to move in as early as this fall to the next five years. These master-planned communities are located in desirable neighbourhoods in Toronto, Etobicoke and Mississauga.

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Regal Crest Homes

Art Rubino
Contracts Manager/Marketing Manager

Construction has never stopped for us since the province declared residential construction as an essential service. New construction starts only follow up last year’s sales. The real story will be the coming weeks, as we slowly open up sales offices.

We are here to fulfill homebuyers’ dreams, and with interest rates still so low, it’s an excellent time to buy.

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Solmar Development Corp.

Angela Marotta
Director of Marketing and Sales

We are fortunate that our current projects are more than 80 per cent sold, as we launched well before COVID-19. The other projects we have coming up are still in preliminary stages, however they have been pushed back as consultants and city officials have yet to resume full-time scheduling. We are focusing on the planning process for Park Avenue Tower 3, and Bellaria Phase 2 in Vaughan, as they’ve been delayed.

We are continuing with the construction of Edge and Oro towers in Mississauga and Park Avenue towers 1 and 2. Our goal is to catch up and get our purchasers moved in. Many of them are renting, so this investment is giving them something to look forward to. It’s evident that as other markets show so many variables and uncertainties given the current climate, real estate remains a secure investment.

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Tridel

Samson Fung
Vice-President, Marketing

We were fortunate to be able to continue construction and delivering homes to our homeowners. We implemented strict enhancements to our health and safety protocols on our construction sites to help safeguard the well-being of our employees and the communities we’re building, and these will remain in place as things begin to open up. Generally, we remain optimistic and see the industry as a whole preparing to adopt new measures and stabilize within this new environment. We’re proud of our efforts over the last few months, and our resilience as we come back stronger as leaders in both real estate and construction, and we’re looking forward to a strong finish in 2020.

As we move into the second half of 2020, we’re eagerly preparing to bring new communities to the marketplace. In the meantime, our design appointments and pre-delivery inspections with homeowners have continued through the spring and we’re looking forward to welcoming our homeowners back when we can. This new era forced us to be innovative in a different way. We are putting new safety measures in place for all of our customer-facing environments and discovering new ways to connect with our audiences. Our new digital experience, called Tridel Live, brings more information directly to the consumer; from a live chat with our sales team and virtual tours of our model suites, to access to more digital assets for our sales team, and more. This is just the beginning of a new way of meeting our clients’ needs and finding new ways to meet them.

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SkyTower at Pinnacle One Yonge

Pinnacle raises the bar at SkyTower at Pinnacle One Yonge – a legendary address

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Pinnacle raises the bar at SkyTower at Pinnacle One Yonge – a legendary address

The wait is nearly over for those hoping to make Pinnacle One Yonge their new residential address. Coming soon, Pinnacle International‘s striking new 95-storey development, now in pre-construction, will rise up from the very heart of downtown Toronto at the foot of Yonge Street – where the storied thoroughfare meets the lake.

The impressive project and the tallest residential building in Canada, with its 2,500 condominium homes, will pump even more life and excitement into this desirable area. Pinnacle One Yonge’s 4.4-million sq. ft. community with 1.5 million sq. ft. of office, 160,000 sq. ft. of retail space, and a 250-room hotel with meeting spaces and a ballroom will certainly strengthen the pulse of this iconic waterfront neighbourhood. Plans further include 2.5 acres of park space, and 50,000 sq. ft. of community centre. This famous address will have everything a sophisticated urbanite could desire.

Transit arteries will run directly from the landmark location to a PATH connection and a variety of travel options, awarding SkyTower at Pinnacle One Yonge a Transit Score of 100 out of 100. And with some of the city’s finest cultural offerings within walking distance, SkyTower will be the most perfectly located community in the city.

This bold and progressive vision by Pinnacle International will draw residents who want the ultimate lifestyle with every transit option, major sports venues and the entire financial and entertainment districts right outside their door. It’s a landmark address for a true landmark building.

“There’s an importance to this site,” notes Pinnacle’s Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, Anson Kwok. “We appreciate the history of the location and so we wanted to embrace it. As a result, we’ve worked with the city for seven years to ensure that we could plan something really special for Pinnacle One Yonge.”

That measure of planning has paid off, as the design of Pinnacle One Yonge is as extraordinary as its location.

The impact of SkyTower, springing up 95 storeys from the ground, will be to transform Toronto’s skyline, providing unparalleled views for its residents and earning the distinction of being the country’s tallest residential tower at more than 1,000 ft. high.

As designed by architects Hariri Pontarini Architect, the curved structure won’t just impress from the outside. The elegantly appointed lobby will feature a 24-hour concierge and suites will have impeccable finishes with functional and creative layouts.

SkyTower’s suite design will be second to none. In addition to the breathtaking views that are unmatched in the country, the suites will be bright and airy. Elegant and distinctive interior features include custom kitchen cabinetry, sleek integrated appliances, smooth ceilings, and wide plank laminate flooring.

Living this large is worth sharing with friends and family, and SkyTower’s chic kitchen design affords residents the space and aesthetic to entertain in style. The custom kitchen cabinetry is sleek and smartly designed for maximum storage. And with the track lighting and under-cabinet lighting, concealed hood fan, brand name appliances, quartz countertops and backsplashes, and pull-out pantry, prepping meals will be an inspired event.

Pinnacle understands that active residents want more than simple comfort and the chance to entertain. Today’s discerning homebuyer expects an amenities package that accommodates their healthy, active lifestyle.

“We’re standing behind Pinnacle One Yonge being more than just luxury buildings,” says Kwok. “In addition to the large units and phenomenal views, residents will enjoy a community that one would expect for modern conveniences.”

Pinnacle has indeed delivered on that promise, as SkyTower will feature not just an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, but a serene yoga room, a terrace with barbecue facilities, a games room and a designer-decorated party room with a kitchenette.

True to its word, the developer has recognized the value and potential of the surrounding land, envisioning a build that is both community-oriented and forward-thinking.

Future developments also include Pinnacle’s commitment to designing 2.5 acres of public-access green park space.

Says Kwok, “One of the things that defines Pinnacle, and the Pinnacle One Yonge project in particular, is our ability to locate and build upon huge parcels of land. We like to work on large-scale projects: Mixed-use communities that enhance not just the residential sector but address the greater community needs as well.”

To be one of the first to learn more about this lifestyle opportunity, register now online.


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Outlook 2020 – Anson Kwok, Vice-President Sales & Marketing, Pinnacle International

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Outlook 2020 – Anson Kwok, Vice-President Sales & Marketing, Pinnacle International

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?

Kwok: The outlook is strong, as demand is still outpacing the supply that is coming to the market for sale and the delivery of finished product. The approval process is taking longer at the municipal levels and, in general, buildings are more complex and taller, which require longer completion times.

Anson Kwok
Anson Kwok, Vice-President Sales & Marketing, Pinnacle International

I would also expect new home pricing to be better paired with location and product in the marketplace. This will definitely help purchasers in their decision-making process.

CL: And for your company?

Kwok: Pinnacle International currently has four active construction sites in the GTA, and we are looking forward to increasing that to six projects under construction in 2020.

We are excited to welcome new members to our Pinnacle Uptown community in Mississauga, as Perla begins occupancy in the summer of 2020.

We are actively refining our master-planned communities in the GTA, with Pinnacle One Yonge, Pinnacle Etobicoke and Pinnacle Uptown in Mississauga.

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

Kwok: Our first step is developing and creating transit-oriented communities that provide the opportunities to increase new home supply, as well as provide homeowners with the flexibility of no longer requiring a vehicle and all the associated costs.

Another focus for our company is to build larger units both in terms of square footage and the number of bedrooms. This might create higher initial costs but increases livability and reduces the need to move multiple times to get to your desired size, which reduces additional transaction costs.

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

Kwok: There is a still a lack of supply to meet the current demand, so we still need to continue to work with municipalities to streamline the development process.

The industry also needs to provide supply that may be more size appropriate to the changing demographics in the GTA. This would require some incentives such as development charge reductions and changes to the financing model in the marketplace.

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

Kwok: In 2020, we are looking forward to launching the tallest residential tower in Canada – SkyTower at Pinnacle One Yonge, which will be 95 storeys.

CL: Why should prospective new-home buyers consider buying from your company this year?

Kwok: Location, master-planned communities and suite layouts. We have projects located in strategic, transit-oriented locations in Toronto, Etobicoke and Mississauga, and we are focused on providing master-planned communities for families to grow in. And when it comes to suite design, we are extremely proud of our layouts and have many family-friendly options.

Special Report: Outlook 2020

Outlook 2020 – 5 things you need to know about real estate this year

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

Outlook 2020 – Jared Menkes, Executive Vice-President, Menkes High Rise

Outlook 2020 – Samson Fung, Vice-President Marketing, Tridel

Outlook 2020 – Nick Carnicelli, President, Carriage Gate Homes

Outlook 2020 – Fan Yang, Deputy General Manager, Aoyuan

Outlook 2020 – Jordan DeBrincat, Director of Operations, Altree Developments

 

 

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SkyTower

SkyTower – the latest phase of Pinnacle One Yonge aims high at 95 storeys

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SkyTower – the latest phase of Pinnacle One Yonge aims high at 95 storeys

With so many condominiums being created across the GTA, some developers feel they need to keep themselves front of mind for prospective buyers. They hope that a high-profile team means a trusted team.

That isn’t always the case. Sometimes, it’s the companies working quietly that are doing the most notable work and building the most solid reputations.

For more than 40 years, Pinnacle International has let the quality of its buildings do the talking. A leading builder of luxury condominium residences, masterplanned communities, hotels and commercial developments, Pinnacle has more than 25 projects in the Vancouver area alone. And with more than 10 million sq. ft. now under development in North America, Pinnacle’s output speaks volumes.

“Our projects are large in scale, and they can take up to 10 years to develop,” explains Anson Kwok, Pinnacle’s vice-president of sales and marketing. “As a result, the residents in our master-planned communities stay loyal to us. It’s a big repeat-customer base and we, in turn, commit to staying engaged with them.”

That measure of relationship-building allows Pinnacle to build its brand organically, through word of mouth from satisfied clients. That satisfaction stems not just from the care that Pinnacle puts into suite layout and amenities. The team really does remain involved with its buildings, even after completion.

“Many of us at Pinnacle are residents of highrise buildings and we understand the lifestyle,” says Kwok. “I’ve been living in condos for 16 years and, like me, everyone on the team can relate to the nuances of what makes a building a great place to live. We understand the importance of good maintenance and management, so we remain hands on.”

It’s a corporate philosophy the company believes serves it well, as Pinnacle looks to further enhance the Toronto skyline. And plans for Pinnacle One Yonge in Toronto are creating a lot of buzz. “Pinnacle One Yonge is such an exciting and important project for us and for the city of Toronto,” says Kwok. “From the magic of the location, where the lake meets the foot of Yonge Street, to the history of that parcel of land (site of the Toronto Star building), we knew we had to develop in a way that not only delivered upon and improved the luxury residence experience, but serviced the greater area in progressive ways.”

Pinnacle One Yonge does exactly that, with plans for more than 50,000 sq. ft. of community centre space, and 2.5 acres of park space.

But it’s the bold design of SkyTower, the most recent offering at Pinnacle One Yonge, that really affirms Pinnacle’s place as an elite developer. SkyTower’s expansive 840 units will rise to an unprecedented 95 storeys, making this beacon of luxury living the tallest building in Canada.

With distinctions like these on display, need Pinnacle say more?

To be among the first to learn about SkyTower, register online.


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