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GTA developers tour New York City for land-use and design inspiration

GTA developers tour New York City for land-use and design inspiration

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GTA developers tour New York City for land-use and design inspiration

Representatives from GTA builders and developers recently toured New York City as part of the latest Housing Innovation Tour from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

Tour participants met with industry experts from speciality fields and explored new housing, innovative use of land, various product types and learned about new sales and marketing strategies – all intended inspire participants for their projects back at home.

The BILD Housing Tour group, against the backdrop of Manhattan, from River House rental property in Port Imperial, N.J. Photos: Mike Suriano, Suriano Design Consultants
The BILD Housing Tour group, against the backdrop of Manhattan, from River House rental property in Port Imperial, N.J. Photos: Mike Suriano, Suriano Design Consultants

Highlights of the three-day tour included visits to:

• Hoboken, NJ’s revitalized waterfront, which included a tour of a former Maxwell Coffee House factory site. There, Toll Brothers and Hoboken Brownstone Company have built a lively neighbourhood with midrises, townhouses, parkland and views of Manhattan along the Hudson River.

• DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and Domino boroughs in Brooklyn. Both areas are formerly hubs for industry and warehouses, as the Hudson River was once the main transportation artery for coffee, sugar and other goods. Over many years, these neighbourhoods have been converted to luxury residential and mixed-use properties. In fact, DUMBO has become New York City’s fourth-richest community.

• Hudson Yards, NY. A must-visit when in New York City, Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development in the U.S. by area. Upon completion, 13 of the 16 planned structures on the West Side of Midtown South will sit on a platform built over the West Side Yard, a storage yard for Long Island Rail Road trains. The community is home to more than 100 diverse shops and culinary experiences, offices for leaders in industry, significant public art and dynamic cultural institutions. It is also expected to host more than 55,752 workers on a daily basis. Hudson Yards is seen as a cutting-edge model for the future of so-called smart cities – those that leverage data to monitor and manage urban areas.

“Thanks to our trip sponsors, participants had opportunity to enjoy some of the Big Apple’s many cultural elements by experiencing fine culinary foods, visiting historic A&D Building, neighbourhood walking tours and attending an NHL hockey game,” says BILD President Dave Wilkes.

Tour sponsors comprised: Cassidy & Co., Coast Appliances, Figure3, Fisher Paykel, Maroline Inc., My Design Studio and Spectrum Realty. Tour hosts comprised: George Vallone of Hoboken Brownstone Company; Jack Chui of Douglas Elliman Real Estate & Fortis Property Group; Marina Trejo of Two Trees Development; and Natalie West of Related.

Photos: Mike Suriano, Suriano Design Consultants


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Development in the GTA

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Development in the GTA

Recently I completed 16 months as the President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association of the Greater Toronto Area (BILD). With 1,500 member companies, BILD GTA is amongst the largest local home building associations in Canada, and with the level of residential and commercial construction occurring across the region, the time has flown by. A consistent occurrence during this period, however, has been the number of questions I get from members of the public about development and homebuilding in the region. Residential and commercial construction is highly visible, cranes dot the skyline from Mississauga to Pickering, and so it’s only natural that residents want to know what’s happening in their communities and why change is occurring. They have questions, such as “Is all this development necessary?” (Yes, we have a housing shortage in the GTA), “Who decides what gets built where?,” “Why in my neighbourhood?,” and perennially “Why is new development so dense?”

After all, that is a primary role of an industry association, to act as conduit between media, the public and the industry. Invariably, two things come out of these interactions. The first is that we get a better understanding and appreciation of the perspectives, concerns and questions of the nearly seven million residents of the region. We use this to inform our communications, columns, and interviews, as chances are the perspectives and questions are more broadly shared. In fact, we often reflect these perspectives in our interactions with municipal and provincial governments. The second is, in our responses we are able to provide answers and information. The development and construction process is complex, lengthy and highly regulated, and more often than not these inquiries are informed by perceptions and information people have gathered through the “grapevine.” Following our interactions, BILD GTA frequently receives a follow-up thanking us for the response, indicating we provided information that was not previously known. While the interaction may not change the concerns that gave rise to the inquiry in the first place, it always leads to a more informed discussion and debate.

The reality is that while the pace of development will ebb and flow year to year with economic cycles and other factors, the long-term trajectory will be for more residential and commercial development across the region. With the population of the GTA expected to grow 40 per cent by 2041 or approximately 115,000 new residents every year, providing places for all these new residents to live, work and play will require a concerted and prolonged development effort. This will require unprecedented levels of co-ordination and partnership between all levels of government, the industry and residents, and key to that is informed discussion and debate. The past 16 months have gone by in the blink of an eye, and I look forward to continuing to work with this dynamic industry for many years to come. Please keep asking us your questions and we will continue to answer them to the best of our ability. Together, we can have constructive dialogue that ultimately helps to inform and shape our region as it assumes its rightful place as a world class city.

DAVE WILKES is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Bild.ca

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