Tag Archives: In Conversation With

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In Conversation With Niall Collins, President of Great Gulf Residential

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In Conversation With Niall Collins, President of Great Gulf Residential

Fresh off a milestone 2018 filled with multiple industry awards and groundbreakings at signature projects, Great Gulf is poised for another, well, great year in 2019.

From landmark highrise developments in Toronto, to expanding its footprint south of the border, Great Gulf has no plans to rest on its laurels.

Niall Collins
Niall Collins

We spoke with Niall Collins, president of Great Gulf Residential, to get his take on what lies ahead for this leading developer.

Condo Life: Great Gulf’s tagline is, “At Great Gulf, we do more than just build — we transform.” Please elaborate on what exactly that means.

Niall Collins: We are continuously researching new opportunities to add more value to our products. Investing in innovation is at the core of our business.

CL: Last year was a huge year for Great Gulf – winning Highrise Home Builder of the Year at the BILD Awards, then Builder of the Year at the OHBA Awards of Distinction. What are you doing for an encore in 2019?

NC: Great Gulf is launching three highrise residential projects in Toronto. We’re also starting construction in the spring of La Clara, a luxury condominium building in West Palm Beach; we’re currently building a 10-storey mixed-use, multi-family development in Washington, DC’s vibrant Union Market District; and we’re registering Monde by Toronto’s waterfront.

One-hundred per cent of Great Gulf homes and midrise buildings are being manufactured by H+ME Technology. The entire production process at H+ME Technology is entirely controlled through the complex computer design of every single element of home structures, which are CSA approved.

357 King West
357 King West, at the corner of King Street West and Blue Jays Way in Toronto.

CL: You had three major groundbreakings in late 2018 – 357 King West, 8 Cumberland and Home at 48 Power. How is the sales pace going for these projects?

NC: Sales are ongoing for all three projects.

CL: And how is construction coming along?

NC: Construction is progressing well with shoring and excavation work well underway on all projects.

CL: 357 King West is interesting in that, being in a downtown location, it includes a bike storage, dedicated bike elevator and wash and repair area. What are some similar inclusions at some of your other new projects that speak to how purchasers live, specific to that area?

NC: We’re a vertical city and should respond to purchasers’ needs. First-time buyers, families and those downsizing will have different requirements. We are building larger units to accommodate families. Home Condominium provides expansive rooftop amenities that people value, creating the experience of outdoor space.

Great Gulf executive team
The Great Gulf executive team at the 8 Cumberland groundbreaking.

CL: What is the status of the project at the Mirvish+Gehry site at King and Duncan – such as name, notable features and launch date?

NC: The Gehry project will feature the tallest residential tower in Canada at 92 storeys, with the second tower at 82 storeys. It is notable because it also represents the coming home of famous architect Frank Gehry. We are currently working through the building program and will have details available in the near future.

CL: We understand you have a luxury condo planned for the Yonge and St. Clair area? What can you tell us about that?

NC: We are planning a launch this year for the Yonge and St. Clair development. The project, with exterior and interior designed by Siamak Hariri, will feature large luxury units ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 sq. ft. and include large balconies and terraces.

CL: What’s next for Great Gulf, in terms of upcoming projects?

NC: Great Gulf currently has 18 highrise projects being developed across North America. We’re working towards completing permit design and process to start construction on three highrise residential buildings in Dallas and Atlanta.

PORTFOLIO

  • 357 King West 357 King St. West, Toronto, Now selling
  • 8 Cumberland 8 Cumberland St., Yorkville, Toronto, Now selling
  • Monde Queens Quay and Lower Sherbourne, Toronto, Under construction
  • One Bloor Yonge and Bloor, Toronto, Now selling
  • 401 King & Spadina 401 King St. W., Toronto, Coming soon
  • Yonge & St. Clair 1421 Yonge St., Toronto, Coming soon
  • Mirvish & Gehry Condos King St. and Duncan St., Toronto, Coming soon
  • Spadina 101 Spadina Ave., Toronto, Coming soon
  • Home 48 Power St., Toronto, Coming soon

 

greatgulf.com

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Great Gulf and partners break ground on Yorkville condo 8 Cumberland

Great Gulf breaks ground at 357 King West

 

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In conversation with… Deena Pantalone of National Homes

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In conversation with… Deena Pantalone of National Homes

With a mission that You are the blueprint, National Homes is laser focused on what new-home buyers want, the things they love and how they want to live. Having built more than 5,000 homes across the GTA, with increased focus on the highrise market, National doesn’t just strive to build quality new homes. Just as critical is exceptional customer care, and a market-leading embrace of technology every step of the way.

We spoke with Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation Deena Pantalone to get her insights on just how National connects with today’s discerning homebuyers, and what lies ahead in 2019.

Deena Pantalone

HOMES Magazine: As Director of Marketing & Innovation at National Homes, how has what you do changed over your time in the role?

Deena Pantalone: The largest change has been the evolution of our marketing to digital communications, and smart phones in particular. My role has expanded from Managing Partner and Director of Marketing, to Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation over the years, as I am constantly looking for innovative ideas to set National apart from everyone else, whether it be in our designs, technology or our customer service. We want to be at the forefront.

We are focused on keeping up to date with state-of-the-art technology and seeing how it can apply to National Homes. Keeping an open eye and mind approach to any new property technology and be willing to explore and implement if it will benefit the homeowners, potential buyers and us.

HM: Technology is an increasingly important part of home building these days – in everything from construction to sales and marketing to what customers expect in home tech. How prevalent is National involved in keeping up with these trends?

DP: Technology is central to everything we do at National. As homes and families get more and more integrated with the new digital revolution, National Homes is in the thick of it all – bringing ever more bright ideas that help our homebuyers stay on top of their lives. More choices. More options. More devices. At the end of the day, it’s about making our homebuyers’ lives easier, smarter and richer.

We do market research and workshops to determine what our buyers would like to have in their ideal homes and how they would feel if we implemented certain things, because it goes back to our core values – You are the blueprint.

We hold cutting-edge events such as our Blueprint Workshop at the IBM Innovation Space, which brought together 70 participants in discussions, presentations and interviews, learning about innovative products from building and design professionals and sharing their thoughts in a thinktank format. This way, our customers have a direct input into ideas that are reflected in our home designs. Because our philosophy has always been that, as a customer, you are the Blueprint.

We’ve brought virtual reality into our sales offices so buyers can walk around and explore their future homes, and we’re constantly looking for ways to be energy efficient and more sustainable.

 

 

National Homes Focus Group
Pantalone leading a customer focus group discussion

HM: And in the next five to 10 years, what will be the biggest change or opportunity in these areas?

DP: Property Technology is expanding at an exponential rate. That means your home will be smarter tomorrow than it is today. We will be seeing more of smart buildings, cities and communities, driverless vehicles which will affect the way that homes are designed.

Right now, smart home technology is just in its infancy, so in five to 10 years, everything will be connected not only in our homes, but our construction processes and development work.

HM: How important is social media at National Homes, in terms of connecting and communicating with customers – particularly Millennials, who have grown up in the digital age?

DP: Digital communications are key to everything we do today. Prior to a sale, it starts with social media on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Houzz and Facebook. We search out the latest innovations in architecture, design, technology from around the world and share them with our community. And, of course, we also speak to our followers about upcoming neighbourhoods and other news.

HM: National is building in a variety of communities in and around the GTA. Where do you see the next hot market – in terms of either geography or product type?

DP: There’s no question that affordability has become the biggest issue in the GTA housing market, and land prices are right at the heart of the matter. Everything starts with the needs of our customers, and if price is even more of an issue today, then we have a responsibility to find answers.

This is why we are bringing on new communities in Brampton, Courtice and Burlington, where lower land prices can make homes more affordable. And we are expanding our product design mix to include midrise condominiums that give people better prices.

National Homes Forest Phase 2
Forest Phase 2 Model Home

HM: What can your customers expect from a National home?

DP: Our customers can expect a home that is designed with their needs in mind. We put an enormous amount of effort into research, workshops, focus groups and questionnaires.

Our customers can expect exceptional customer service. Our Customer Care program has been designed to make the entire home purchasing experience a positive one. Some of the highlights include a New Home Workshop and seminar to prepare you for the homebuying process, the National Care Kit, a wealth of information on how to care for the finishes inside your home, innovative framing walk-throughs, detailed customer surveys and a homeowners’ portal communication hub where they will find everything they need to know about their home.

HM: Please finish the following statement. For National Homes, 2018 was a year of:

DP: Innovation. From the home designs we have been developing for our new communities, to the products and technology we are incorporating into our homes, this year we have been pushing the boundaries behind the scenes to ready ourselves for the launch of our next communities.

HM: And 2019 will be a year of:

DP: Introduction and implementation. In the new communities we introduce this year, all the research and development we have been working on behind the scenes will start to be available to our new buyers. And that makes this coming year a very exciting time for us.

Portfolio

  • THE FOREST, detached homes, Bradford, Final phase coming soon
  • STATION TOWN, townhomes, Markham, In registration
  • THREE RIVERS CLAIREVILLE, townhomes, Claireville, In registration
  • COURTICE, townhomes, In registration
  • BURLINGTON, townhomes and condos, In registration
  • BRAMPTON, townhomes, In registration

nationalhomes.com

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In conversation with Jim Ritchie of Tridel

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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.

PORTFOLIO

  • 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

Tridel.com

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In conversation with David Bunston, president of Georgian International Land Corp.

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In conversation with David Bunston, president of Georgian International Land Corp.

By Gale Beeby

Georgian International started as a small aeronautics company, founded in part by Jamie Massie and David Bunston. The company has grown since it was founded in 1984 and now Air Georgian operates 19 aircrafts on scheduled passenger and charter flights, is a partner with Air Canada Express and also performs aircraft maintenance, management and training services. Based at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, it is now ranked as its fourth largest user by traffic frequency.

That’s a success story.

And from that storied beginning, Georgian International has taken off with automotive and real estate businesses, as well.

Bunston — who is executive vice president, real estate, for Georgian International, as well as president of Georgian International Land Corporation — has been friends with Massie since they were kids. He also carries a pedigree as a third-generation member of a real estate family.

He’s also a really nice guy.

Georgian’s commitment to quality and craftsmanship — as well as unique designs — has landed Georgian numerous awards, including being awarded the Best New Home Community in Canada by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association for Braestone Estates in Horseshoe Valley in 2016.

Georgian International took a very holistic approach when developing Braestone and the result is a unique. What Georgian calls Remarkables are amenities that have grown naturally out of the community’s own landscape. That includes a 566-acre working farm that includes a fruit orchard, berry patch and Christmas tree farm. Other Remarkables include are horseback riding, Nordic skiing, a maple sugar bush, beehives, a pond that is used for ice skating in the winter, a toboggan hill, a treehouse and a hilltop observatory called Starfall.

Also in development are Windfall at Blue and Mountain House at Windfall, both located in the Town of Blue Mountains.

Q: How did Georgian International move from the aviation industry to real estate?

A: We were well positioned to add real estate development to what we do — there is still a lot of runway left. Aviation is, obviously, a large part of what we do, but real estate is becoming a bigger part of our focus. Jamie Massie and I were childhood friends and over the last 30 years our friendship has evolved into a partnership.

Although I grew up in the GTA, I had a lot of connection to the area of Collingwood and Blue Mountains, where as a family we spent a lot of time. It’s an area that is close to my heart.

Q: Whose idea was the holistic approach to the development of Braestone?

A: It really was a team vision. In the early days we knew we had a unique property and that we could create something remarkable and do something different and capture the imagination of buyers.

Braestone is unique in that it appeals not just to the 705 area, but also the 905. It’s close to the GTA but still remote and we embraced the architectural style of the farmhouses, barns and sheds that are common in Oro-Medonte. Each of the lots are 3/4 to 1 1/4 acres lots.

As exciting as Braestone is, I’m excited by all three of our current projects — Windfall and Mountain House condos, as well.

Q: Who are your buyers?

A: Geographically, most of our buyers don’t see themselves living in this area until they come and see it. It’s a great place and once they experience it, they want to spend the rest of their lives here, and that includes parents, kids and grandparents. The multi-generational aspect of our buyers is quite unique.

There is a great sense of community here and we appeal to those who embrace an active lifestyle. Georgian has continued to keep the management under their banner, and we organize a number of social functions to get residents involved and connected.

We are committed to Simcoe County and Collingwood and the Town of Blue Mountains are our backyard. It is more accessible to the GTA than other resort areas, and there is so much to do — it’s an interesting place to be during all four season.

Q: Do you think that the real estate market is going to slow down?

A: We haven’t seen any pull back in market activity, but here we are still benefitting from the high prices of homes in the GTA, where many people are feeling disenfranchised. Plus the traffic congestion and other issues facing large urban areas and sending people out of the GTA in search of community.

I believe in Simcoe County, its got lots of growth potential and we are well positioned to take advantage and create other remarkable communities.

Q: Georgian is known for its philanthropic endeavours. How does that align with the company’s philosophy?

A: We believe we should invest in the community and the people who support it and not just by writing a cheque. The executive team and our employees are encouraged — and do — volunteer hundreds of hours to community initiatives. We embrace the importance of community and philanthropy.

Portfolio

GeorgianInternational.com

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In Conversation With: Alan Hirschfield

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In Conversation With: Alan Hirschfield

Design is fragile, but it is the most important element in a liveable community, says the driving force behind The Uplands in Courtice

By: Gale Beeby

Every once in a while, you might meet someone who makes so much sense you wonder how it is possible that most people don’t think that way.

Alan Hirschfield is one of those people.

I had the distinct privilege of sharing lunch with him at the Richmond Hill Golf Club earlier this year, where our wide-ranging conversation touched on so many topics that we barely got a chance to discuss his newest project, The Uplands in Courtice. So, we had to talk a second time and — strictly — only about The Uplands.

Hirschfield, who was born in South Africa and has lived in many countries around the world — including nine years in the United States — was an architect and founder of UD+D Incorporated, an urban design and development consulting firm.

He is also the driving force behind High Street Courtice Inc., the development company behind The Uplands, which will include many housing forms — including townhomes and condos — all designed with a modern flair.

High Street has embraced a design forward approach and is the development manager for two $100 million projects, in addition to a 110-acre lowrise and midrise development in Wellington.

Hirschfield’s experience in the architectural world has enlightened him to one hard fact: Canadians have always had a more enlightened and modern take on the world. However, he notes, Canadians have not been offered much more than the same old, same old, and when they see something unique, they embrace it.

Q: How do you envision the design of homes evolving?

A: Local people are driving design, and that’s the way it should be. Canadians haven’t being offered much, just more of the same. When I lived in the U.S., I thought that Americans were trying to do history cartoon style. You know, overly done Tudor and Victorian-era homes that just seemed, well, cartoonish. Trying to make the dead look good.

Unfortunately, that sensibility exists here as well, but when Canadians were offered something different, they sucked it up and bought. People are now seeing a greater variety of housing styles

— an explosion of available and timeless designs.

There seems to be a historical gap in architecture here. There were the great old architects and then a gap, but now I see some great young architects doing really interesting things and the public is totally accepting.

There is a really big change in the kind of people who are doing development, a changing of the guard, challenging the previous order. That’s a really good thing.

As a company, we don’t want to do work we don’t like ourselves. It takes five to 10 years to get approvals, so we need to love what we do. There is a new philosophy to development, the City Beautiful Movement.

As Toronto was built out, in order to make it work the lots got smaller and individual house styles became unworkable on those tight lots — it became a cacophony. But people still need — and want — individuality.

There was also a need for different kinds of housing, traditionally in different areas of the city. But not anymore. Families don’t want to be separated by housing form. People are now buying a townhouse or house for themselves and a condo for their kids, which they will eventually retire to. And they want them all together, not in different areas. No longer is the house in the suburbs and the condo in the urban core.

As a philosophy, I think showing how condos and townhomes work together on one site is critical, tying them together by design.

Q: How modern do you think you can go and still be acceptable by the buying public?

A: Our designs are modern but still look like a house with pitched roofs. How modern can we do it in a suburban environment? Quite modern, but comfortably modern. And we’re doing modern designs with traditional materials because we have hard weather conditions here, so it just makes sense to use tried and true materials. The materials we use are chosen not only because of their great looks, but for longevity as well. It can still look good and hold up to the outside elements. Design is fragile, but it is the most important element in a liveable community.

Q: How has building design changed over the years?

A: First, designers are responding to what they see and hear. The buyers know what’s available and they’re not willing to take cookie-cutter anymore. Good designers do good work and good construction. For instance, we’re using fiberglass front doors. They insulate better and look good longer.

We’re also responding to new public knowledge of design, energy-efficient homebuilding techniques and warranty requirements.

Q: Tell me more about The Uplands.

A: It’s a master-planned community of townhomes and condos overlooking the Farewell Creek Valley with absolutely stunning views and direct access to the trail system in the valley. The townhomes are spacious and feature smart home designs with contemporary exteriors of brick, stone and stucco and the condo building will mirror those design elements.

The architecture is being handled by Naylor Architect Inc. and Turner Fleisher Architects Inc., with landscaping by Strybos Barron King and interiors by Johnson Chou Inc.

It’s a great team and I’m thrilled to be working with them.

Q: What’s on the drawing board?

A: Something I’m really very excited about, but can’t talk about in detail just yet, but it will be a $500 million master-planned community in Etobicoke that will include townhouses, multi-tower highrises, a seniors residence, retail and office space.

Stay tuned!

MyUplands.ca

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In Conversation With: Dave Wilkes

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In Conversation With: Dave Wilkes

The new President and CEO of BILD

By Gale Beeby

Dave Wilkes has the municipal election at the top of his mind.

The new president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) believes that it is imperative for his industry to inform the candidates and the public about the main issues surrounding housing. And he wants to remind everyone that the GTA is growing, and growing fast.

“There are two numbers everybody should remember: 9.7 million and 2041.

“Those numbers represent the population of the GTA in 2041. All that growth is good for the economy, but the municipalities in the GTA have got to start thinking about rezoning for all that growth and make sure that we can live, play and work in communities that work.

“I am impatient to do more,” said Wilkes, who grew up in Scarborough and was most recently the senior VP of the government relations and the grocery division at the Retail Council of Canada.

Needless to say, Wilkes has a passion for government relations.

“We’re going to be very aggressive in the coming municipal election, which will be held on October 22. We want to make sure each candidate is educated on housing issues. We’re going to ask them to sign a ‘Housing Pledge’ and hold all-candidates meetings and virtual town halls so the public knows where each candidate stands on the issues of affordable housing.”

BILD has 1,500 members, including builders and developers, renovators, manufacturers, suppliers, trade contractors, service and professional companies as well as financial and legal providers.

Q: What are some of the things BILD is going to undertake in the upcoming election?

A: Well, I have a column in a number of GTA-area media outlets (including this magazine), so they will be focused on the issues surrounding the election as they pertain to housing. It’s not just about development charges and the various land transfer taxes, it’s also about the types of housing that we need to build in order to house the 100,000-plus migrants into the GTA every year.

Q: Beyond the election, what else do you have planned?

A: I want to tell the story of the GTA. BILD can certainly take a leadership role in telling the civic building story. We have already produced one video and plan on making many more. (You can see “Creating a Community – The Challenge” on BILD’s YouTube). It’s not just about creating housing, but also healthcare, road, greenspace, education and parks.

We need to speak louder — I need to speak louder — and use every opportunity to get our voice out there and make an impact on consumers and come up with real world solutions.

Q: What is going to be the focus of that messaging?

A: Well, first we have to determine what we should own; everything can’t be a priority. Land availability, the cost of developments and proper infrastructure are our priorities. And we need to align those policies across the regions so that we can have smart growth into 2041.

BILDGTA.ca

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In Conversation With: Darren Steedman

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In Conversation With: Darren Steedman

By Gale Beeby

Don’t let the affable manner and big smile fool you; Darren Steedman takes his role as chair of the board of directors at the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) very seriously.

Still, it’s hard not to like him.

Steedman, who is vice president at DG Group Development (formerly Metrus Development), has his work cut out for him with a mandate that takes on several local and provincial policies, including the review of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), the Growth Plan the proposed inclusionary zoning scheme, and development charge reviews.

Q: First, let’s find out a little bit about you. Where did you get your start and how long have you been in the industry?

A: I graduated from Laurentian University in 1998 with an economics degree. I started as a summer student with Metrus Development (now known as the DG Group as of April 2015) in 1997, doing anything and everything. They rehired me during the winter break and the summer of 1998 and offered me full-time work when I graduated. I applied to the Ontario Professional Planners Institute under the affiliated degree program and got my Registered Professional Planners Designation in 2004.

I recall very early in my life, heading into the office with my dad, meeting the guys, watching the draftsmen, helping where I could and even going on site visits. I have been around this industry my entire life and some would say that it’s even in my blood.

My father Allan Steedman, president of Schaeffer Consulting Engineers, is my mentor as a father and as an industry leader. This was where it began, where I started to figure out what I love to do, where I started to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up.

The real estate portfolios I manage are as far north as Barrie and as far south as Niagara Falls. I’ve worked on a number of projects, from brownfield, greenfield, residential (low, medium and highrise), commercial and employment.

Q: You’ve become chair of the board of directors with a two-year term. What are your mandates?

A: My top priorities while working with BILD staff are the province’s Growth Plan, the review of the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board), inclusionary zoning and affordable housing.

We will continue to work hard, get engaged and advocate for our industry on these critical issues that will shape our future.

As well, we will be preparing for both the provincial and municipal elections next year. It’s our chance to remind the province that it’s time to get serious about housing and that we will continue to advocate to make housing an issue.

Q: With over 100,000 people moving into the GTA each year, what do you think the biggest challenges are facing in the industry in creating safe and liveable communities?

A: We have a huge housing supply challenge in the GTA. There is not enough of it and there are not enough of the types of housing that people really want. To fix the infrastructure crisis we need to address several issues.

First, over the last 10 years lack of infrastructure has gone from being a challenge to a crisis, and that severely hinders our ability to develop land, build employment spaces and communities and increase housing supply.

We spend a lot of time talking about transit and transportation in the GTA because it is our most visible infrastructure challenge.

Across this region we are facing other infrastructure crunches that are impeding growth and development. Chief among them is insufficient water and wastewater systems and services. I’d be willing to bet that for most builders and developers in Ontario, lack of water and wastewater infrastructure is currently limiting our ability to build homes and develop land. In some cases, the necessary servicing won’t be in place at least for another decade.

To make things happen and to build more houses and employment spaces we need adequate water and wastewater infrastructure. The land might be out there but it is not shovel-ready.

It’s critical that government invests in the water and wastewater infrastructure needed to accommodate our growing population and explore viable funding models and solutions.

Second, the length of the approval process and the amount of red tape needs to be addressed. Over the past 10 years, we have seen a very lengthy approval process. A study completed in 2016 by the Fraser Institute found that development approvals in the GTA are delayed by an average of 18 months and play a significant role in the rapidly decreasing housing supply and add to the growing price of new homes.

And third, many municipalities across the GTA are operating with badly outdated zoning bylaws that don’t align with provincial policies.

Out-of-date zoning makes the already long approval process even longer. Municipalities are required to review their official plans every five years and update their zoning bylaws no later than three years after a revision.

It’s time for the province and municipalities to start enforcing this rule so that zoning bylaws can be used as an effective tool for implementing provincial intensification policies and help deliver the development that is needed to house our growing population.

Q: The province has been looking into disbanding the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) as a place for developers and builders to appeal decisions made by the municipalities. What are your thoughts on that, and what would you do instead of repealing?

A: BILD strongly supports the essential role of the OMB as an impartial, evidence-based, administrative tribunal that is responsible for handling appeals of land-use planning disputes. In this administrative authority, the OMB serves to ensure that provincial land use policies and objectives are achieved and that municipalities employ consistency in the application and implementation of land use legislation.

OMB reforms will create an environment where municipal councils will have no incentive to make tough but better decisions that will support provincial plans and good planning.

I would allow municipalities greater time to make a decision beyond the current standard (270 days), staff the OMB for mediation and full hearings and dire ct public funds to ensure that all parties at the hearing are fairly funded.

Q: DG Group (formerly Metrus Development) has a well-earned reput ation for planning and developing communities in a sustainable manner. What names does the DG Group build under and what is the philosophy behind that mandate?

A: We look at sustainable communities beyond simply the green nature of the statement. The ConDrain Group of Companies, which DG Group is a part of, is one of the few companies that operates in the residential, office, retail and ICI space. While we pride ourselves on building green infrastructure that lasts, we take pride in our communities and how they operate in real life conditions.

We ensure that our resident’s children can walk to school; we ensure that they have greenspace and parks for everyone to enjoy. We ensure that employment lands are vibrant and well designed for our client’s needs and our retail spaces that meet the demand of the community.

Q: What has made you the proudest?

A: What I love the most is touring one of our complete communities and watching the kids walk to school, playing in the park and enjoying the greenspace. I feel a sense of satisfaction seeing in real life the solutions to the issues that we came up against along the way and how we made it happen.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge so far?

A: OMB reform, Inc lusionary zoning and the Fair Housing Action Plan.

Q: What is your pet peeve?

A: The lack of priority housing has b een given by our various levels of government.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: Anything outside; I hate being indoors. Camping is one of my favourite ac tivities. We did a two-week camping trip in our Airstream trailer to Quebec City, Halifax and the Bay of Fundy. My wife Kelly and I want to show the kids Canada. I also enjoy golfing, skiing and I play a little hockey. I love the Toronto Maple Leafs and I have great hope this is the year.

Waterdown Meadows by Aspen Ridge Homes

DG GROUP PORTFOLIO

  • New Barrie, Barrie
  • Bond Head, Bradford West Gwillimbury
  • Dreamfields, Bradford West Gwillimbury
  • Springdale Community, Brampton
  • Mayfield Village, Brampton
  • Cleaveview Estates, Brampton
  • Lakeshore Woods, Oakville
  • Mayfield Employment Centre, Brampton
  • Hometown, Guelph
  • Caledon East, Caledon
  • Humberside, Caledon
  • Credit Manor, Brampton
  • Waterdown Meadows, Hamilton
  • Confederation Heights, Thorold
  • Lyons Creek, Niagara Falls

DGGroup.ca

AspenRidgeHomes.com

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In Conversation With: Fred Losani

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In Conversation With: Fred Losani

The CEO of Losani Homes has a passion for making the world a better place.

By the time Fred Losani had finished talking about his life’s passions, there was very little time to discuss the latest projects in his company’s portfolio.

“They speak for themselves,” Losani says.

That pretty much sums up the man.

The CEO of Hamilton-based Losani Homes is one of those rare people who not only writes cheques for children’s charities and hospitals in the communities where he builds, he believes that you have to also walk the walk.

That’s why Losani has skied to both the North and South Poles and walked the entire length of the Bruce Trail (about 865 kilometres) as fundraisers for the Losani Family Foundation.

Founded in 2003, the foundation has been honoured with many awards, including a 2017 Gold Award for Building Community Spirit from the Washington-based National Association of Home Builders and the 2017 Stephen Dupuis Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

We are joined on this day by another passionate Losani, Fred’s nephew John-Anthony, who raves about his father, Lino, and his uncle’s passion for building quality and accessible homes, as well as their charitable endeavours.

“We’re really a close-knit family and we are all involved in these projects. When we partnered with WE (formerly known as Free the Children), we sponsored a village in Kenya and went there to build 10 schools and water irrigation systems.”

Since then, Fred notes, the school population has doubled, there is irrigation in the newly planted corn fields, a water tower and an empowerment program that allows the women of the village to sell their handicrafts to help raise money for the village and their families.

“Most recently, we were in a small village in Ecuador near the Amazon River, where we built a water filtration system and are now building a school. Water is the most important aspect to long-term sustainability. Clean water is key,” says Fred, who points out that we here in Southern Ontario are very fortunate to live on such a vast amount of fresh water.

The Losanis are also passionate about the homes they build.

“We’ve been building homes for over 40 years and we are dedicated to quality craftsmanship and well-planned designs. It’s why we have repeat customers and a great loyalty program,” Fred says.

“We have a truly loyal base of homebuyers,” John-Anthony adds. “We’ve had three generations of families buy from us because they know we are committed to quality construction and customer service.”

“It’s really quite extraordinary, Fred notes. “Their loyalty cuts across generations and cultures.”

Q: Tell me about how you got into the building industry.

A: My father John and mother Maria came to Hamilton from Abruzzo (Italy) in 1960. My father founded his homebuilding company in 1976 and then my brother Lino incorporated it as Losani Homes in 1980.

We both worked for my dad during our younger years and I wasn’t at all sure that this was the industry I wanted to work in. My parents have always encouraged their children — and their grandchildren — to follow their own paths and find their own destiny. My father is a very modern man and generous of spirit, so I felt very supported. Actually, I really thought I was going to be a lawyer.

But as it turned out, somewhere along the line I realized that how you make your living is not as important as how it makes you feel, what you can contribute. And I felt I could be both effective and satisfied in the family business.

I joined in 1985 doing land development. And then in 1996, my dad retired and he gave his portion of the company to Lino and me. He trusts us, but he still carries the torch at 82.

Q: What are some of the things that Losani Homes is doing differently from other builders?

A: One of the things we’re doing is building fully accessible homes, including zero-entry doorways, wider doorways, roll-in showers, wheelchair-friendly kitchens with lower cabinets and roll-under cooktops and prep areas, lever handles instead of door knobs and lower light switches and thermostats. The townhouses are also ready to have elevators installed.

Our newest Hamilton master-planned community, Central Park, is located in a hotbed of conservation lands with the Eramosa Karst right next door. The nine-kilometre-long East Mountain Trail Loop features seven paved kilometres, making it accessible for everybody. And there will be connection to it from the multi-purpose trail that will run through the heart of Central Park.

We’re also moving away from the traditional style of homes with crown mouldings and oak pickets and stairs to a more modern style of architecture, both inside and out. We’re finding that buyers are liking these styles a lot more.

Q: You’ve been known primary as a Hamilton and Niagara lowrise builder. Are there plans to expand?

A: Hamilton is such a cool place and a lot of people don’t know just how big the art and culture scene is here. It’s so close to the GTA and with GO Transit it’s now closer to downtown Toronto than ever. We’re ahead of the curve and on the fringe of the GTA, which means it’s hot territory ready for development.

Hamilton has a very affordable housing market and we’ve always wanted to be in that affordable sector. In order to maintain our affordable price points, we have to move farther afield. It’s a complicated industry and difficult to navigate and keep prices down. So, we’ve been building along the Niagara Peninsula in Grimsby and Beamsville, for instance.

And now we’re building in Southwestern Ontario — Kitchener, Waterloo, Brantford, Paris, Caledonia and St. George. But low-density housing is still hard to do. The singles sell out very quickly so we’re focused more on medium density with two- and three-storey townhomes.

Q: What about midrise or highrise construction? Is that in your future?

A: Oh yes. We’ve got a midrise and highrise building planned for the Grimsby waterfront, Viva on the Lake. It’s new for us but it is in high demand and does create a more affordable housing option.

Q: What are the strengths of Losani Homes?

A: That’s easy! It’s community building. But we’re also very strong on our architectural designs, our quality construction and our customer service. We appre ciate and respect our homebuyers and it’s that connection from our enterprise that drives us to give back to the community.

Corporately — and for me personally — this is more than just working on building family wealth. What good is all that wealth if you’re not going to do some good with it?

PORTFOLIO

Current Communities

  • Vista Ridge, Beamsville
  • Madison at Central Park, Hamilton
  • Augusta Encore, Ancaster
  • Woodlands, Ancaster
  • Fallingwaters, Hamilton
  • Astoria, Ancaster
  • Astoria Grand, Ancaster

Upcoming Communities

  • Madison Phase 2 at Central Park, Hamilton
  • The McKenzie, Caledonia
  • Brant West, Brantford
  • Lincoln Estates, Lincoln
  • The Peninsula, Paris
  • Simply Grand Encore, Paris

Future Developments

  • Waterworx, Hamilton
  • Midtown at Central Park, Hamilton
  • Winona, Stoney Creek
  • Soho at Central Park, Hamilton
  • Viva on the Lake, Grimsby
  • St. George
  • Winona Barton & Glover, Stoney Creek

LosaniHomes.com

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In Conversation With: Michael Dipasquale

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In Conversation With: Michael Dipasquale

Dunpar Homes specializes in building high-end townhomes in vibrant neighbourhoods

Dunpar Homes has made a name for itself by cornering the market on luxury townhouse living.

For more than 30 years, Dunpar has been building high-end townhomes that are characterized by quality engineering, craftsmanship and timeless design.

Just ask Michael DiPasquale, the vice president of operations for Dunpar Homes. He’s been living in a Dunpar-built townhome for several years and embraces the easy lifestyle.

“I like the convenience of it, the low maintenance and because Dunpar builds infill projects in vibrant communities, my Etobicoke home is near everything I need.”

Dunpar was founded by John Zanini in 1981, who had been renovating older homes in the Cabbagetown area and admired the fine craftsmanship. He learned the techniques, which are now found in all of Dunpar’s homes. Zanini’s first townhomes were built near Dundas and Parliament Streets, which is how he came up with the name Dunpar.

The concept of building thoughtfully planned homes on commercial and industrial sites in prime areas has resulted in the company building more than 2,000 homes — all of them townhouses.

“When Dunpar selects a location for a community, we only choose vibrant neighbourhoods in sustainable communities with easy access to shopping, schools, parks, highways, transit and green space,” Zanini says.

DiPasquale, who has been with Dunpar since 2009, agrees. “Townhomes are ground-related so you have the best of the easy maintenance of condo living without the cramped feeling you can get in a highrise tower.”

Q: What kind of people are purchasing townhomes?

A: Townhomes have been on the housing scene for decades, but they used to be considered an entry point to home ownership. Now, however, with the changing marketplace and higher housing costs, they are a viable alternative for most homebuyers. We’ve been selling to all kinds of people — young families, professionals and empty nesters.

The empty nesters are coming from detached homes and are looking for less space and an easy lifestyle. We also offer the option of installing elevators so they can age in place. However, the young professionals and families are looking to move up from a condo or apartment and want more square footage.

Q: What are purchasers looking for in a luxury townhome?

A: These are educated and refined purchasers and they are looking for elegance and craftsmanship. We build an upscale product with stone and brick exteriors, bay windows, cedar shake roofs, dormer windows and topfloor master suites with luxurious ensuite bathrooms.

We hit on a winning brand but with each subsequent project we refine and improve the design process. For instance, eight-foot ceilings on the upper floors became nine feet. It’s an evolutionary process, but we’ve made no big changes over the years. Dunpar has been doing it right from the beginning, so there is just some tweaking as we go along.

Q: Will Dunpar remain a townhouse builder only, or are there plans to expand the portfolio?

A: Up to this point, it has been townhomes only. However, we are about to bring to market an eight-floor midrise building in Etobicoke at Prince Edward Drive and Dundas Street West, just a couple of blocks east of Royal York Road. The units will be a luxury product in keeping with The Kingway neighbourhood where they are located.

We’re also planning back-to-back townhomes, which will feature rooftop patios. The smallest unit is 1,600 square feet.

Q: How can prospective purchasers get a feel for your product?

A: We’ve kept a couple of units in an older project to use as a sales office. Buyers find it hard to visualize space from a floorplan and they want to see and feel the finishes, so by setting up in an actual unit, purchasers can see the quality of the product and use of space and our well thought out designs. There are very few new homes being built that are over 2,000 square feet — especially infill projects — so our buyers are happy they can see just how great these units are to live in.

We also think about how the space will be used and make sure there are electrical outlets and cable outlets placed in the appropriate place, for instance. We think about everything — there are gas hook-ups on the decks for barbecues and all of our units have two-car garages. Of course, our buyers can also customize their unit. For example they can take a three-bedroom second-floor plan and change it to a two-bedroom.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: Golf. And travel. My wife and I also consider ourselves to be foodies, so we enjoy trying out all the great Toronto restaurants. We’re close to GO Transit so we can get into the city very quickly.

PORTFOLIO ACTIVE PROJECTS

  • Trafalgar Ridge, Oakville
  • Streetsville Centre, Mississauga
  • Lakeshore Village, Etobicoke
  • Heritage Gate, Mississauga

COMING SOON

  • Townhomes in Oakville
  • Midrise in Etobicoke
  • Luxury rentals on Ossington

DunparHomes.com

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In Conversation With: Barbara Lawlor

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In Conversation With: Barbara Lawlor

Don’t let Barbara Lawlor’s calm exterior fool you; she thrives on the competitive nature of selling real estate, especially in the GTA’s hyper-driven market.

“I love a good fight,” she says. “It’s the Irish in me!”

Plus she’s a really fun dinner companion! Something about those sparkling Irish eyes and striking red hair that makes Barbara stand out in the crowded real estate field — although she is not only a broker, but also a Real Estate Institute of Canada Fellow. And now, she is the 2017 winner of the prestigious Riley Brethour Award.

Lawlor, the president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc. — one of the most successful real estate companies in the country — provides sales and marketing expertise to new home and condo projects here in Canada and overseas.

Lawlor won the Riley Brethour Award during the annual Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) Awards. It’s an honour she is especially proud of because the award celebrates not only outstanding achievement in sales and marketing, but also for exemplary leadership and for being an outstanding role model for other industry professionals.

“Winning the Riley Brethour Award means I follow in the footsteps of an amazing roster of industry professionals who were honoured in the past,” Lawlor says. “I am humbled and gratified to be acknowledged by my peers in this way.”

Lawlor, who was born and raised in Dublin, had a first career as a model, actress and singer, working professionally from the time she was just 12 years old. During her teens, she sang with an Irish group called Maxi, Dick and Twink and also cut a solo record.

It was while she was touring North America that she landed a television show in Toronto. “I just kept coming back to Toronto, so I guess it was meant to be,” she says of her permanent move to this city.

Q:Who would you consider your mentor?

A: Many people have inspired me over the years, but the role of “mentor” definitely goes to Pat Baker, founder of Baker Real Estate Incorporated. During the 1980s and early 1990s, I saw a bright future for condominiums in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. I looked around at who was making strides in the industry, and Pat was at the top of the list. I approached her and joined her team in 1993. She has been a constant in my life since then.

I respect Pat as a businesswoman, and I have learned a lot from her over the years. Her business acumen and professionalism continually inspire me and help to mould my leadership style. She holds the philosophy that people are everything — something I learned early on from my father. Pat set the example of caring about our clients, their buyers and each other. Baker Real Estate is very much a team, and like Pat, I listen to my team members and consider everything they say when I make decisions.

I am grateful for the opportunity Pat gave me, plus she is great fun!

Q:What has made you the proudest?

A: Oh my, I would have to say being honoured with this year’s Riley Brethour Award from BILD is my proudest achievement. This pinnacle award is for excelling in leadership, which is something near and dear to my heart. I first learned about leadership from my father, Regimental Sergeant Major Henry Dixon, who was honoured with the Nobel Peace Medal in Ireland. He stressed to me that in business and in life, people are everything.

When I met Pat Baker, I was thrilled that she also held the people-first attitude toward business. Through my father and Pat, I saw firsthand what a dedicated work ethic could achieve. A leader must work hard, establish credibility, engage in open communication and care about everyone around her. A true leader brings out the best in her team.

Winning the Riley Brethour Award means I follow in the footsteps of an amazing roster of industry professionals who were honoured in the past. I am humbled and gratified to be acknowledged by my peers in this way. Thank you, BILD, Pat Baker and Dad. And by the way, I still remember how to salute!

Q: What is the hottest new trend in condos today?

A: I would have to say families in condominiums. The appeal of raising children in a condo in an urban setting has long been the norm in major cities around the world, and we are finally catching up here.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and a condominium is an inviting, engaging and safe community that lends itself to family living. A condo is essentially a vertical community where neighbours get to know each other in the shared areas such as elevators, hallways and amenity spaces.

Parents are phenomenally busy nowadays, so they appreciate that the condo lifestyle provides them with more quality time to spend with their kids. Even empty nesters opting for condos appreciate having wonderful amenities under their roof to share with their grandchildren when they visit. Condos are close to parks, museums, schools, entertainment venues, shopping, public transportation and more, which makes accessing these local amenities convenient. And remember, condominiums offer built-in security, with the concierge providing eyes on the street. To address the increased demand, developers are including more two-bedroom + den and three-bedroom designs into their suite mix, as well as kid-friendly amenities such as kid zones. Some even offer daycare facilities.

A sure sign that families in condos is a major trend is the recent publication of The Condo Kids — Adventures with Bob the Barbary Sheep by Jackie Burns, who highlights the lives children lead in condos. Jackie felt there was a lack in the children’s literature marketplace for these kids.

Q:What is the next up and coming neighbourhood?

A: In Toronto, we have seen tremendous growth in the west end. Etobicoke, for example, almost joins Mississauga, which is highly developed. I find Toronto’s east end to be the up-and-coming frontier for master-planned condo development. We are already seeing fascinating success for places such as Leslieville, Riverside and, of course, the Canary District. I see this trend continuing, and it makes sense. The east end is still connected to downtown and is mere minutes to Lake Ontario, the Gardiner Expressway and DVP. In addition, purchasers find exceptional value in the east end, where there is still a lot of land left for development. The east end has a lot of legs to grow!

Q: Where do you see the real estate market headed in the next 20 years?

A: In 20 years’ time, I see the continuing popularity of condominiums. People already immigrate here in massive numbers, and that attraction will grow in time. We are known for our peaceful coexistence with residents of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures. Toronto also continues to win international awards for quality of life, business environment and even natural spaces. Toronto is definitely a City of the Future!

I also foresee a huge influence of technology in design. We will build smarter buildings with advances in energy efficiency, home automation and green elements. The ease of maintaining these buildings’ exteriors and amenities will increase, making them more comfortable and sustainable for everyone. Greening is important in order to create a cleaner, better world for future generations.

Topping it off, architecture will know no bounds, as we will see undreamed of buildings in the future. It will be an exciting time for real estate in Toronto and the GTA!

Q:What do you do for fun?

A: I love to travel. My husband is Portuguese and I’m there a lot. I love the beautiful beaches, the wine, the music. It’s all exceptional!

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