Tag Archives: In Conversation With


In Conversation With Frank Clayton, Centre for Urban Research and Land Development, Ryerson

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In Conversation With Frank Clayton, Centre for Urban Research and Land Development, Ryerson

Builders and developers have long been calling for the Province and municipalities to loosen up on land supply and approval processes to allow more new homes to be built, and more quickly. To the uninitiated, however, this seems a self-serving request, since, of course, they believe these companies want to build more and make more money.

But now we have more and more third parties, without any vested interest, expressing the same concerns, and citing hard, objective numbers. One of them is Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development.

“Toronto’s booming economy has brought with it housing affordability challenges that will continue throughout the next decade,” Frank Clayton, PhD and senior research fellow, said at a recent Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) event. The Centre’s recent study, An Economic Outlook for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and What it Means for Housing Affordability, examined the economy and its impact on housing to 2031.

We spoke with Clayton to explore the issues discussed in the study, what government and the industry can do, and what it all means for homebuyers.

HOMES Magazine: Your recent report doesn’t exactly sound like good news for those still looking to buy a home. What positive news can they take from your findings?

Frank Clayton: The affordability picture painted in our report means that, comparatively, more prospective buyers will have to devote more of their budget to housing, rely on parents for down payment assistance or reduce their housing expectations in terms of location, size and type of structure. On the positive side, many prospective buyers (especially double income professional couples) will still be able to afford to purchase a home. Also, once prospective buyers purchase, they will benefit from the appreciation in home values.

H: Given the findings of your study, where do you see the most promising opportunities for prospective homebuyers – in terms of location and housing type?

Clayton: This is not an easy question to answer, as it depends on where people work, household composition and lifestyle preferences. Durham Region is the most affordable of the 905 areas, and has become more attractive with the extension of Hwy. 407 and improved GO train service. For buyers who want to locate closer to Toronto’s central area, there are wide swathes of existing low-density housing in the city’s post-Second Word War suburbs, such as much of Scarborough, which are priced much lower than neighbourhoods closer to the core.

Unit types depend on lifestyle preferences and affordability. The housing choice menu that I have seen over the years goes like this: Many households prefer a single-detached house, but if they can’t afford it, they move up the density ladder until they can afford to purchase. So, if a single-detached house is unaffordable, a semi-detached house, followed by a townhome becomes the targeted housing type. If a townhouse is not affordable, then a stacked townhouse unit, followed by other types of lower-rise condos (four storeys of less) are preferred. If a prospective buyer is considering purchasing in a highrise, they should look at new units being built in a mixed-use project such as those being built on redeveloped shopping centre sites.

H: You note that average home prices and rents are to rise four to five per cent over the study period. This seems low, given that TRREB forecasts home price growth to hit 10 per cent for this year… Why the disparity?

Clayton: Our home price and rent forecasts represent average annual per cent increases from 2019 to 2031. If prices rise by 10 per cent per year early in the period, it will likely be due to irrational exuberance like in 2016-17, when home purchases exploded as buyers and investors rushed to buy before prices rose more. By doing so, they pushed prices up even higher. Typically, these price surges are unsustainable and are followed by stagnant or slightly lower prices. So, if prices rise by 10 per cent for a year or two, there will be years when prices may rise only slightly, if at all.

H: If figures such as TRREB’s are accurate and continue for a couple of years, and are not just an anomaly for 2020, what does that mean for housing affordability? How much worse could it get?

Clayton: It would be very damaging for affordability, and the picture would be bleaker than what our study predicts. Even more potential buyers would be relegated to the rental market, which would put added pressure on rents. If prices were to rise by 10 per cent per year for several years, we could expect to have a rather serious market readjustment so that prices would cease to rise or even decline moderately as they did following 2016-17.

H: What kinds of things can or should builders and developers do in the short-term to deal with these challenges?

Clayton: There isn’t a lot builders and developers can to increase the supply of housing in the short-term. It is important that the industry continue to pressure municipalities to expedite development applications for all kinds of housing, to bring developments to market much more quickly than at present. Builders should be exploring ways to bring more affordable units to market by reducing unit sizes and finding locations where underlying land values are lower, such as in Scarborough and Durham Region.

H: And what can or should municipalities do?

Clayton: Municipalities first have to recognize that they are a primary cause of the shortage of housing. Their land use planning systems have bogged down the production of new and innovative types of housing. The planning system is burdensome, uncertain, time-consuming and costly. What is needed is a change of priorities. The rapid increase in the production of a range of new housing by unit types and price ranges should become the number one priority of all municipal councils and staff in the GTA. Without this, a shortfall of new housing will continue to keep prices much higher than need be.

H: What kind of response or reception has your study received from the Province or City of Toronto?

Clayton: The Province is aware of the causes of high and rising housing prices and is doing what it can to persuade GTA municipalities to increase their housing production sharply. Unfortunately, many municipalities aren’t on side, so it will be a struggle to greatly increase housing production.

Many councillors at the City of Toronto, for instance, fail to recognize how the city’s planning system, along with those in neighbouring municipalities, is a primary cause of the current housing shortage in the GTHA. While the City’s efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing over the next decade is in the right direction, this will not get at the root cause of the affordability crunch – not enough new housing is being built, particularly, non highrise varieties.

H: ReMax is citing Ontario markets as already some of the least affordable in Canada. Even with the economic growth in the GTA, how well will household incomes be able to keep up to housing costs?

Clayton: Our study is clear that average incomes are very unlikely to keep up with rising average prices and rents in the GTA. The only sure-fire way to change this projection is to significantly increase the supply of new housing in the GTA.



GTA home price growth to hit 10 per cent this year: TRREB

Get ready for a hot market in the GTA this spring

The Power Seat – building industry CEOs call for government change



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In Conversation With… Rob and Ed Lucchetta, Lucchetta Homes

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In Conversation With… Rob and Ed Lucchetta, Lucchetta Homes

It’s no secret more and more homebuyers are heading out of the GTA to points west, including the Niagara Region, set to become one of the hottest markets in Ontario this year. For Lucchetta Homes in Welland, Ont., the appeal of this area is nothing new. In fact, the homebuilder has focused on delivering top-quality construction, design, value and exceptional customer service for more than 60 years. Second generation principals Rob and Ed Lucchetta discuss proudly carrying on the tradition of their father, Ugo.

HOMES Magazine: How’s business at Lucchetta Homes these days? How are you building differently now than you were, say, 10 or 20 years ago?

Rob Lucchetta: As a boutique builder in Niagara, we have always tried to stay true to our roots by giving our customers a white glove experience when putting together the endless combinations available in a home. Building a home can be very stressful, and our team of designers and concierges work hard to make the experience an exceptional one.

We have become more environmentally conscious. Leaving a smaller carbon footprint is important. We are doing our part through building science. We have always tried to stay ahead of the building code and home science technology. All our homes are built and certified to Energy Star levels and higher. We offer Net Zero and Net Zero-ready performance for those who want tomorrow’s technology today. We waste less material through a program to consciously use all materials wisely.

We also have systems in place to streamline the process. We are in the process of implementing a customer portal that will allow for almost endless choices when we build their home. It provides a point of communication with the customer and the staff, so everyone is on the same page.

Making our customers’ experience exceptional doesn’t end once they purchase. It continues when they move into their home, from educating them on the systems and addressing any issues in a timely manner. We focus on excellent customer service as part of our success story, since there’s no better referral than a satisfied customer.

HOMES: Lucchetta Homes has been building in the Niagara Region for more than 60 years… an area which is seeing increasing interest, as buyers move westward out of the GTA in search of affordability and value. ReMax, in fact, projects Niagara will be one of the top markets in Ontario in terms of home price growth this year…

Ed Lucchetta: Our father, Ugo Lucchetta, was trained by European craftsmen as a furniture maker. In the late 1950s, dad emigrated from northern Italy to the Niagara Region to join in a small homebuilding company of a relative. Over the years, after going on his own, he gained a reputation as a builder of quality homes, building one home at a time. My brother and I joined the firm in the late 1980s following dad’s retirement. We began investing in unique and special enclaves to build our own sites. Working with a great team of consultants and staff, we’ve had some very successful projects. We have also teamed up with reputable developers for larger communities.

Our key focus has always been the empty nester. We began building bungalows principally since the early 2000s, focusing on the empty nesters here, and then the trickle from the GTA began and has become a larger segment of the market.

HOMES: And how you do foresee this market performing over the next few years?

Ed Lucchetta: The influx of homebuyers from the GTA has meant a big change to the region. The area has a lot to offer – wineries, casinos, excellent shopping close to the border – it’s all here, minus the traffic and congestion. For empty nesters, Niagara offers great value. Our Hunters Pointe site, for example, has 1,400-sq.-ft. townhomes starting in the low $500,000s, and singles in the low $600,000s. This is excellent value. We see strong sales continuing, as long as the price gap between the GTA and Niagara continues.

HOMES: What about the Niagara Region and Lucchetta Homes would you want prospective new-home buyers to know?

Ed Lucchetta: Niagara is the perfect place to call home. We have easy access to great shopping, fun events, it’s close to Toronto and has easy access to Buffalo. We have more than 130 wineries and more than 30 golf courses in the area. There’s less traffic, so as you come here, you feel the stress just slip away.

Lucchetta Homes is the premier award-winning boutique builder of the Niagara Region. We offer a quality and experience like no other. Our team of sales specialists, architectural designers, interior design specialists and purchasers all work together to help buyers customize their home just the way they want it.

We offer great locations with different lifestyles. Hunter’s Pointe, our active adult lifestyle community, offers a full community centre complete with an indoor swimming pool and library, banquet facilities and a fitness centre. All this with singles and towns, all bungalow style. It has won a number of provincial and local awards and has been named Canada’s Community of the Year by Canadian Home Builders’ Association.

Our flagship site, national and provincial award-winning Davis Heights in Fonthill, features opulent finishes with soaring 10-ft. ceilings, metal and copper roofs and stone stucco fronts, linear fireplaces, engineered hardwood floors and spa-like ensuites with a large tiled shower. The quality and standards are exceptional.

HOMES: New home supply and affordability, due to land availability and approval processes, have been a hot topic over the last few years in the GTA. How are things on that front in the Niagara Region?

Rob Lucchetta: The Niagara region is open for business. The influx of GTA homebuyers who were driven out of the GTA by rising or unreachable home prices have flocked here and found better value and quality of life. With expanding GO train service and a new hospital planned for southern Niagara Falls, this area will have even more to offer.

As a unique and environmentally sensitive area, with large Greenbelt areas and fruit lands, Niagara’s regional government and local municipalities have a lot to contend with. We also have a two-tiered system in Niagara, so developers have to deal with both the regional government and the local municipality. However, there truly is a cultural change occurring here. The region wants to see growth and intensification, and some municipalities have opened their doors to help streamline the process. Land is available, and it’s less expensive than the GTA.

HOMES: You’ve had some success in home science, in terms of building Net Zero homes. How readily available, on a production basis, is such new home technology… without adding too much to the purchase price of these homes?

Rob Lucchetta: Lucchetta Homes is one of the leaders of advanced technology for the Canadian homebuilding industry. We are a certified builder of Net Zero, R2000 and Energy Star homes.

We built the first Net Zero-ready home for the Canadian Home Builders’ Association pilot program in 2017. To get there, we teamed with Enbridge Utilities and its “savings by design” program to help create and implement a higher standard for all of our homes – while adding only a few thousand dollars to the cost and achieving 20-per-cent increase in energy efficiency.

We build Net Zero housing on a made-to-order basis. In many cases, customers will opt out of the full certification but get the better triple-pane windows or air source heat pumps to boost their home’s efficiency. As our energy costs continue to rise and better methods and products come to the market, Net Zero-ready homes will become the norm.



Our greatest inspiration in this business is: Our father came to Canada in the late 1950s with a borrowed suitcase, and worked hard for many years to create the foundation of our company. He was an avid sportsman, but his family was always his first priority and brought him the most joy.

When we’re not at the office or on a job site, we: Spending time with family and friends. We enjoy golfing and cycling and a little hockey and curling during the winter months.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer is an important cause to you because: We love how it unites so many touched by this terrible disease. We do it for our father, since cancer cut his life short a few years ago.


  • Davis Heights – Fonthill – Now open
  • Lusso Urban Towns – St. Catharines – Register now
  • Riverside at Hunters Pointe – Niagara – Now open
  • Ryan’s Grove – Fonthill – Now open


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Shakir Rehmatullah, President, Flato Developments Inc.

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Shakir Rehmatullah, President, Flato Developments Inc.

New lowrise home supply and pricing are causing some buyers to look elsewhere – specifically north and out of the GTA. One company intent on catering to this demand is Flato Developments Inc., with projects in locations such as Beeton, Dundalk and Shelbure.

President Shakir Rehmatullah explains why, and what homebuyers can expect from Flato, this year and beyond.

HOMES Magazine: You have said that 2020 is looking to be a strong year for Flato Developments, and you’re focusing on developing communities outside the GTA. How much of a trend do you think this will be – people buying outside the GTA in order to afford a home they truly want?

Shakir Rehmatullah: I see a big trend of people living outside the GTA, basically because affordability and the new mortgage rules have made it very difficult for people to qualify for a mortgage. The average annual salary in the GTA is $36,573, household income $73,146. The maximum mortgage they can get is $350,000 to $400,000, so with a 20-per-cent down payment, the house price couldn’t be higher than $500,000. How many $500,000 homes are available in the GTA? Condos can be an alternative, but not everyone wants that type of home. Therefore, moving outside of GTA will be the choice for many young families and downsizers.

HM: You’re developing communities in Dundalk, Beeton and Shelburne. Why these areas, other than the above point. Specifically, what is it about these towns that appeals to Flato?

SR: Beeton is close to Hwy. 400, and Dundalk and Shelburne are connected to GTA by highways as well. Our projects in Dundalk and Shelburne are located along Hwy 10, so the commute won’t be a problem for homeowners. These areas are not over developed. On the contrary, with new homes being built and more people moving in, infrastructure will improve because the towns are growing the population and economy. In Dundalk, for example, because we are building big communities there, we will also build an apartment for seniors, and a commercial plaza for retailers. On one hand, people can live in a more convenient neighbourhood; on the other, more people will find jobs there. Towns grow this way. Moreover, these areas are calm, quiet and beautiful. People can enjoy their life there by living in a nice environment, with kind neighbours, and most importantly, living in a decent townhome or single-detached home. Flato is happy to help the towns grow, build decent homes for new families, downsizers and everyone who wants to live in a bigger home with an affordable price.

HM: What are you able to offer buyers in these communities, that you can’t in the GTA?

SR: We offer great value for the homes by offering large size lots and quality finishes. We believe in complete communities where people have good schools, good parks, walking trails, clean air to breathe, away from the hustle and bustle of a heavily populated city. We are able to offer bigger homes at lower prices, well-planned communities with schools, parks and trails close by. Our design caters to an older generation which likes the heritage style, as well as younger buyers who like modern style. Every homeowner is not just moving into a house, they are moving into a well-established community.

HM: What are you learning about building in these communities that, say, might differ from projects in the GTA or parts of Toronto? Whether it’s home sizing, pricing, amenities or…

SR: Home sizes are certainly larger, as our goal is to build good quality, decent sized homes at affordable prices. Our price per sq. ft. is much lower than in the GTA. Our communities are in the core of each area, with all amenities close by. For example, our projects in Beeton, Beeton Village and GreenRidge, are on and close to the main street, where all the restaurants, grocery stores, banks and other amenities are located. In Dundalk, our projects also sit right in the heart of town, with the amenities within walking distance. We plan them out when we plan the whole communities. That’s why we say we are building communities, not homes.

In addition, we are learning that people are okay to drive further north to get the home that they really want, in a community where they can live and grow their families.

HM: What’s next for Flato Developments… where might you build next, after Dundalk, Beeton and Shelburne?

SR: Planning and then building a master-planned community is a large undertaking, and we are currently very busy in delivering on the vision we have for these areas. But we also have other plans; our first senior apartment building will launch in Dundalk this year. We will also launch commercial projects in Markham, Mississauga and Dundalk this year. We have more plans down the road, but I can’t discuss them just yet.

HM: Flato is very active and involved in the community, through activities such as your sponsorship of the Flato Markham Theatre. Why is this so important to you?

SR: We strongly believe in working with the communities in which we build, that it’s our corporate responsibility to give something back. You can’t go wrong by giving back to your community, and as a community developer, Flato is proof that we keep our promises.


If I wasn’t in the homebuilding industry, I would: Otherwise work towards making life better for people.

When I’m not at the office, I am: With my family. I enjoy my time with my kids! But during weekdays, I’m on the road for different meetings with municipalities and business partners to plan our next community.

My greatest inspiration for doing what I do is: My dad. I always watched him working hard in his construction business, and I just want to be like him.


• Beeton Village, Beeton, Now open

• Carriage House, Dundalk, Coming soon

• GreenRidge, Beeton, Coming soon

• Canvas on the Rouge, Markham, Now open



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In Conversation With… David McComb, President & CEO Edenshaw Developments Ltd.

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In Conversation With… David McComb, President & CEO Edenshaw Developments Ltd.

Edenshaw Developments prides itself on being a different kind of developer, applying philosophical statements such as “Artistic, Mindful, Natural” across everything it does.

And it shows, once you learn a little about the company’s latest signature project – Tanu, in the Port Credit area of Mississauga, Ont.

We spoke with President and CEO David McComb for further insights into Tanu and Edenshaw.

Condo Life: You must be pretty excited about your Tanu project, in the beautiful and improving Port Credit. How are things coming along there?

David McComb: Yes, we’re very excited to be delivering Tanu to Port Credit. Sales began in late winter of 2018, construction commenced in July of 2019, and occupancy is slated for spring of 2021 – things are moving along very well.

CL: Where does the name Tanu come from?

DM: From the island, Tanu, located in Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands), BC. It’s a beautiful, wildlife-rich place, with a temperate rainforest, and a collection of stunning totem poles carved by the Haida people. Having lived in BC for many years, I developed a deep fondness for Haida art and culture, and I knew the next condo I developed would bear the name Tanu, as a nod to this very special place and the people who inhabit it.

CL: What design features or amenities at Tanu speak to the area, neighbourhood or surrounding history?

DM: Our lead architect, Mansoor Kazerouni, from IBI Group, incorporated building materials and colours that complement the natural attributes of Port Credit, such as the abundant, tree-lined trails, the Credit River and Lake Ontario. For example, walnut-toned longboards on the exterior facade provide a sense of warmth and character that fit in well with the surrounding landscape. Our interior finishes, such as hardwood floors and natural stone countertops, were similarly inspired by these elements. On a historical note, during the late 1880s and early 1900s, Port Credit supplied much of shale stone for the construction of buildings in downtown Toronto.

CL: Port Credit is such a prized location, given its proximity to Lake Ontario, Credit River and highways. What else drew you to build Tanu here?

DM: I’ve been a resident of Port Credit for more than 20 years now, and one of the many things I really love about it is the sense of community. There’s a charming, village-like quality to Port Credit – it’s the sort of place where people greet each other on the street as they walk their dogs; and shop and restaurant owners know you by name. It’s also a wonderful place to raise a family. There are a lot of great schools here… parks, trails and year-round community festivals. You’re also just 20 minutes to downtown Toronto via the GO train.

CL: How did the project change as a result of community feedback during the planning process?

DM: There really weren’t many changes at all – we actively engaged the community and local stakeholders throughout our design and planning process, with the goal of delivering a building that would be strongly supported not only by the city’s planning staff, but also by the residents of Port Credit. An interesting note, however, was the comment by some residents that our suite areas we too large, but our sales performance has proved our assumptions correct.

CL: What is Edenshaw doing to address the challenges facing homebuyers – namely affordability?

DM: Edenshaw has proactively engaged the City of Mississauga to identify opportunities to deliver affordable units within our new developments. In Tanu, for example, we designated two units that meet the criteria for affordable housing guidelines, which we sold to a local school teacher and young man who grew up in the area, but never thought he’d ever be able to afford to move back.

CL: How is Edenshaw changing its approach – for example, to location selection, housing type, size and pricing – as a result of the ongoing issues and challenges in the homebuilding industry?

DM: The industry has been facing numerous obstacles in supplying affordable housing, as rising construction costs and development taxes make it very challenging to bring new projects to market. The GTA, especially, is in desperate need of purpose-built rental buildings, however, extremely high land and construction costs, coupled with rent control policies, have made it more feasible for developers to build condominiums instead of apartment buildings. Edenshaw changed its approach of building only condominiums in 2012, when we developed a strategic partnership with Sunlife to design and build purpose-built rental housing in Toronto. At the time, Edenshaw was one of the few developers in the GTA building purpose-built rental product. The result was Alto, a six-storey, LEED Silver Certified apartment building located on Dundas Street in Toronto’s Little Portugal neighbourhood. The project was a tremendous success and winner of the FRPO’s Rental Development of the Year, in 2016. Notably, Alto was also Toronto’s first 100 per cent smoke-free building.

We also make a point of selecting sites that are located within vibrant communities and in proximity to high-order public transit. Many of our current and upcoming developments are along the forthcoming Mississauga Light Rail Transit Hub and the Port Credit GO station, which is a real draw to people who are getting priced out of Toronto – you’re just a 20-minute GO train ride downtown, yet the price per square foot for a condo in Port Credit is hovering around where downtown Toronto pricing was almost a decade ago!

CL: What’s next for Edenshaw, after Tanu?

DM: We have several new and exciting projects in the pipeline. This year, we’ll be launching two projects adjacent to the Port Credit Mobility Hub and GO station, and a further development about a 10-minute walk to the Cooksville GO station and a couple of LRT stops to Square One Shopping Mall and Mississauga City Centre.


21 Park St. E, Port Credit, Ont.
Under construction

625 Yonge St.
625 Yonge St., Toronto
Coming soon

Gordon Woods
2130 Hurontario St., Mississauga, Ont.
Coming soon



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In Conversation With… Johnathan Schickedanz, General Manager, FarSight Homes

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In Conversation With… Johnathan Schickedanz, General Manager, FarSight Homes

In homebuilding, foundations are obviously critical, for if not for solid grounding, homes simply can’t stand the test of time. The same can be said for homebuilders, the very companies that construct the quality homes and condos GTA residents demand.

At FarSight Homes, built by three generations of the Schickedanz family, foundation is everything. We spoke with General Manager Johnathan Schickedanz, incoming president of the Durham Region Home Builders’ Association, for his thoughts on all this and more.

HOMES Magazine: How’s 2019 shaping up for FarSight Homes, and how does 2020 look?

Johnathan Schickedanz: It has been a slow start for FarSight in 2019 on the sales front, but we are not alone. As the market is finding its resting spot from the recent rise, fall and pause in home pricing, consumers are sitting on the sidelines to see where the floor is.

It looks like change is in the air, though. Over the past few months, traffic has picked up at our Alliston sales office, where we are marketing our newly released Beeton Creek at West Country project. Consumer confidence seems to be returning to the north GTA market, and sales numbers are on the rise. FarSight is optimistically looking forward to 2020 as an all-round better year, as we continue to sell and build in Beeton. Also, the hope is that we will be bringing our new Alliston site, an infill site located in the heart of Alliston, to market. It’s a condo project that will offer a more price effective option to the local market.

HM: FarSight Homes has some great communities in areas outside the GTA core, such as Beeton, Alliston, Bowmanville and Pickering. Why these locations?

JS: FarSight is a family owned and operated business that has benefitted from generations of knowledge and expertise on knowing how to select developments that will not only offer value to our customers, but be a great investment for our purchasers.

HM: Where do you see the next opportunities for lowrise homebuyers?

JS: The future is looking good for future homebuyers of lowrise product. The provincial government is committed to seeing growth in the housing market to assist with the ever-increasing demand. It has also placed an emphasis on the industry to look into options on how we can supply more varying housing types and styles. So, future projects will likely be comprised of a greater mix of housing styles and price points to meet the needs of the different byers.

The other interesting policy piece is the ability and support the province is offering for the development of secondary suites. This will bring the opportunity for homebuyers to gain revenue off a portion of their home they wouldn’t otherwise, providing multi-generational housing where families can live together.

HM: You were just honoured by the Durham Region Home Builders’ Association (DRHBA) at the President’s Ball. What does this honour mean to you?

JS: It’s a truly humbling moment to be honored as the 68th president of the DRHBA. This association is rich in history and many presidents who have preceded me are people I look up to in the industry. I look forward to the year ahead and can honestly say that I have little to be worried about. This is due to the support I have from both the board of directors and DRHBA staff. With this much expertise in one place, only great things will be accomplished. Also, I am thankful to be able to give back to an industry that has provided so much for me and my family. I am a third generation builderdeveloper, and I and can say there is no other business that I could imagine being involved in.

Photo: Sabrina Byrnes

HM: In your view, what qualities and characteristics did DRHBA honour you for?

JS: Hard working, and a commitment to the association and industry.

HM: What have you learned from growing up in a family of developers that led you to where you are today?

JS: The market is cyclical and it will go through ups and downs, so be prepared.

The best way to learn about the business is a hands-on approach from the bottom up. I wasn’t handed an office position right out of school, but was challenged to learn as many trades and skills as possible. My family believes that the best leaders lead by example.

HM: What’s next for FarSight Homes?

JS: FarSight has just completed its first “Savings by Design” workshop, sponsored by Enbridge Gas Distribution. In this program, the coordinator brings together the trades, suppliers and the building scientists in one room where we are able to discuss opportunities for FarSight to build better-than-code homes. Through this program, I was made aware of the new developments in insulating products and air barrier systems that will allow us to build next generation homes. Also, this program has provided us the road map on the required steps to take our homes from where they are and to get them to net zero ready. Over the next year, we are looking to implement numerous new practices into our building program and are committed to building better-than-code homes for our purchasers.


HM: Your uncle Bob is the new president of the OHBA. How exciting is that for the family?

JS: It has been an exciting time for our family! Today, we have three generations involved in the development and building business in Toronto. And now that Bob has been elected as the latest OHBA president, it has allowed our family to start to give back to an industry that has given so much to us.

In 1951, my grandfather and his cousins opened Schickedanz Brothers Ltd., with the goal of developing exceptional communities and quality homes. And now three generations later, we are still following the same dreams. Having Bob now meeting with industry leaders around the province gives testament to the dedication our family has to this industry and the betterment of communities and homes for the future generations.

HM: What are you doing when you’re not at the office or on a development site?

JS: I’m an outdoors and cottage kind of person and look forward to time spent with my wife, two daughters and dog.

I have my pilots licence and enjoy time in the air.

I also usually have a number of projects on the go that involve metal fabrication and welding, fibreglass and paint work or mechanical repair and/or restoration.

I’m a true do-it-yourselfer. Never afraid to get my hands dirty and take on a project.

I enjoy travelling to different places to see different types of architecture – preferably warmer places!


  • Beeton Creek at West Country, Beeton, Now open
  • Greenfields, Alliston, Now open
  • Timber Trails, Bowmanville, Coming soon
  • Forest Creek, Pickering, Coming soon



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In conversation with Gary Switzer and Noorez Lalani of MOD Developments

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In conversation with Gary Switzer and Noorez Lalani of MOD Developments

They say teamwork makes the dreamwork, and at MOD Developments, the management team of Gary Switzer and Noorez Lalani provides as solid a one-two combination as anywhere in the development industry. Switzer, with a background as an architect, a city planner and developer, and Lalani, with a law degree and MBA, provide unique leadership and deliver some standout properties.

We spoke with Switzer and Lalani to explore their partnership, and what makes MOD what it is today.

Gary Switzer Chief Executive Officer, MOD Developments
Noorez Lalani President, MOD Developments

Condo Life: Let’s start with an easy one… What’s 2019 shaping up like for MOD Developments, and what’s your outlook for 2020?

Noorez Lalani: This year has been great for us. First, we’ve seen the occupancy and registration of Massey Tower, the culmination of seven years of hard work. Secondly, we completed the rezoning of our development at 55-63 Charles St. E. and successfully launched it as 55C Residences in the spring. Finally, Waterworks is well under construction and is looking great.

Twenty-twenty will be another busy year for us. 55C will start construction in the spring, and occupancies for Waterworks will begin in the fall. We’re also looking at a few new sites, which we will be able to discuss in a few months.

CL: Your projects in downtown Toronto all seem to be centred around key landmarks and signature locations, focusing on statement architecture as opposed to master-planned communities. Why this strategy?

Gary Switzer: While our projects have all been on unique sites downtown, this has been a combination of opportunity and our ability to see potential in sites that had been overlooked or perceived as too difficult (Massey is a case in point). Our strategy in acquiring sites has always been to find transit-oriented sites in the best locations. This does not preclude us from one day doing a master-planned community.

CL: Any interest in expanding elsewhere, say in Vaughan or elsewhere in the 905 where condo demand is also growing?

Lalani: Quite simply, yes. It would depend on the location and site itself.

CL: What signature MOD features exist in all your projects… say, key qualities or characteristics that speak to your mission and say, ‘Yes, this is clearly a MOD development’?

Switzer: Architectural excellence, attention to detail (both on the exterior and interior), livability in the suites and an urbane presence in the neighbourhood.

CL: What have you learned from previous or current projects that you’ve made note of for future projects?

Switzer: In the end, the focus has to be on the suites and the future homeowners. We’re in the business of building homes for real people. All design decisions revolve around that.

CL: How much is purpose-built rental a part of your business – currently and in the near future?

Lalani: We have co-developed two purpose-built rentals to date and are currently looking at another opportunity. We believe that a healthy housing market has to include purpose-built rental.

CL: What are the challenges and opportunities in the rental business?

Lalani: There are financial challenges in developing purpose-built rental in terms of equity requirements, which have made for-sale housing much more attractive to developers, to date. At the same time, the demand for new rental is so great, owing to immigration and high employment, and the development community has responded with more rental housing being built within the last few years than in the previous decade.

Artist’s rendering of tower at 55C Residences

CL: What’s next for MOD Developments?

Lalani: More and more great buildings!

And on a personal note…

You seem to have a unique partnership as CEO and president, with complementary skillsets. How does this benefit MOD Developments?

Lalani: Between my background as a lawyer, a banker and obtaining my MBA with a specialization in real estate finance and development, and Gary’s background as an architect, planner and developer, MOD has the total “in-house” package: Experience in design, urban planning and development combined with sound business acumen and financial knowledge.

Gary, your background as an architect, city planner and developer is unique in the industry. How does this experience show up in your projects – say, in building inclusions, amenities, locations?

Switzer: My experience has helped MOD develop a reputation for producing buildings of the highest quality in terms of design, construction and customer service. We’ve learned how to push the envelope with respect to entitlements and produce buildings that set new standards in terms of not just height, but also suite design and concepts in amenities.

What insights did your time as a city planner provide you, say, in terms of how the ‘system’ works or ways to do things better, now that you’re on the development side?

Switzer: It’s much more difficult to develop buildings today as opposed to when I was a planner. When I was at Great Gulf and we won the Ontario Association of Architects Award of Excellence for “The Morgan” in 2005, this was at a time when there were no development charges, no Section 37 charges, park levies were half of what they are today, and approvals in the King and Spadina neighbourhood could be done through the committee of adjustment. Today, routine approvals can take two years. When I worked as a planner in the 1980s, it was much easier for planners to fast-track good projects. Unfortunately, today, city staff is laden with an overly-complicated approvals system that puts as much stress on them as it does on the developer. Focus has to be on simplifying the current process and emphasize good design.


55C Residences
55 Charles St. E., Toronto
Coming soon

57 Spadina (rental)
57 Spadina Ave., Toronto
Coming soon

The Massey Tower
197 Yonge St., Toronto
Under construction

The Selby (rental)
592 Sherbourne St., Toronto
Under construction

505 Richmond St. W., Toronto
Under construction



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In Conversation With Joseph Alberga, Director of Sales & Marketing, Lindvest

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In Conversation With Joseph Alberga, Director of Sales & Marketing, Lindvest

Standing out from the crowd – for the right reasons – is sometimes easier said than done. For Toronto based developer Lindvest, with lowrise communities around the GTA and condo projects in the city, it’s now a mission. To Do it Differently. Everything… Director of Sales and Marketing Joseph Alberga explains.

HOMES Magazine: Lindvest recently launched the Do it Differently campaign. What is the genesis of this program, and what do you hope to achieve with it?

Joseph Alberga: The DID campaign is part of a refresh of our branding and coincided with the launch of our new website. The goal is to get across the message that, at Lindvest, we approach every decision with the simple question “Is this good for the homebuyer?” An overarching desire to ensure that we design, sell, build and service a product that is geared to the needs and wants of the homeowner. The campaign aims to help the company stand out from the crowd. Hopefully we generate enough curiosity and interest which then translates into people exploring Lindvest and our communities to determine if we can deliver the home they are looking for.

HM: The homebuilding industry is undergoing a lot of change these days, with increasing government involvement, policy issues and other challenges. How do you see all this playing out in the next three to five years?

JA: Without question, the future looks to be an interesting one, to be sure. The amount of time that the whole development and building process takes is certainly a hot topic. The changes and challenges will require builders and developers to be adept at maintaining flexibility, while still achieving the objectives required to deliver new homes and condos in new and exciting communities both within and outside the GTA.

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

JA: It is one of the greatest keys to how we approach our business. Striving to develop and build homes and condos in areas that we can add value to you by effectively and efficiently delivering the right home at the most affordable price possible.

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

JA: The expansion along both the east and westerly limits of the GTA will continue, as well as up the Hwy. 400 corridor. At the same time, new and interesting conversions of office/ industrial within the city limits will also provide options for homebuyers who desire something closer to the core. In short, we are blessed with a multifaceted and ever-changing real estate landscape. Kudos to our industry for always tackling challenges with gusto and continuing to find unique and creative ways to provide housing solutions.

HM: The “missing middle” is something we hear a lot about these days. How active is Lindvest in this category? For example, you have a couple of townhome projects underway in Aurora and Toronto…

JA: Ideally, we would have a bit more to offer in this area, but yes, we are happy to have a few communities that offer something between the highrise condo and detached home. Townhomes, including stacked condo towns and midrise buildings, are sure to be a growing segment of the housing landscape. At Lindvest, we are always on the lookout for opportunities that may arise to allow us to deliver homes in this category.

HM: What’s next for Lindvest? Where’s your next major project?

JA: We have a lot of exciting things in the hopper, but up next, and something we are very excited about is a new, thoughtfully planned, community that we will be introducing in Brantford.


If I wasn’t involved in homebuilding, I would: Likely be in some type of hospitality or service industry. I love people and the ability to engage and assist with all different kinds of people.

My greatest inspiration in this business is: The pioneers and visionaries who built the foundation of the industry we are blessed to work in today.

When I’m not at the office, I: Can often be found enjoying time with family and friends, riding a bike or watching a movie.



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In Conversation With… Shamez Virani President, CentreCourt

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In Conversation With… Shamez Virani President, CentreCourt

If affordability is top of mind for today’s condo buyers, transit connectivity might be number two on the list. For CentreCourt, this means providing “ground floor” opportunities near transit infrastructure, where buyers can lay claim to the best locations, and capture maximum value.

President Shamez Virani explains, and offers some insight into where buyers might want look next.

Condo Life: CentreCourt is releasing The Forest Hill, a new project said to be among the few with direct transit access in the lobby, to the upcoming Forest Hill Station on the LRT. How is this project coming along?

Shamez Virani: We’ve recently introduced The Forest Hill Condominiums to the market, the first development with a direct connection to the new Eglinton line. This project is located on the southwest corner of Bathurst and Eglinton, giving prospective homeowners the opportunity to live within one of the most coveted neighbourhoods of the city – Forest Hill. We’re offering an approachable price point starting at the high $300,000s with suites ranging from studios to three-bedrooms. The project launched in October and has already received incredible interest from the community. In today’s market, our purchasers understand the value of direct transit connectivity and “getting in on the ground floor” for a future subway line.

CL: You have another project planned at the intersection of Mercer Street and Blue Jays Way, the former site of Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant… so, a sentimental location for many Torontonians. How, if at all, do you plan to honour the history of this site, say, in design, project name or interior accents?

SV: We are excited about bringing a sophisticated, high-end and energetic project to the already vibrant downtown area. Not only will residents of this building benefit with state-of-the-art amenities such as a high-end gym (featuring Peloton bikes and other cutting-edge technology) and social co-working space, but we are looking into designing the building in a way that amplifies the character of the neighbourhood as an employment, culinary and artistic node. It’s critical that the interior and exterior design captures this energy. The project will be named 55 Mercer – for those who know Toronto real estate, there are few other addresses that evoke the cache and excitement of 55 Mercer.

CL: You have other projects planned for Yonge Wellesley, 201 Church and 319 Jarvis. What’s the status and key characteristics of each?

SV: As you note, we have a number of great downtown sites in the rezoning phase that we hope to bring to market in 2020. This is a very exciting time for us at CentreCourt, as we have more in the development pipeline than we have ever had. As we finalize our zoning on these sites and gear up to launch sales, we will be able to share more information regarding the developments. In the interim, our focus is on the upcoming launch of The Forest Hill and gearing up to go to market for 55 Mercer.

CL: The red light-green light development proposal approval process recently adopted by three Toronto city councillors is not going over too well in the development industry. What are your views on this situation?

SV: Toronto is a fast-growing metropolis – the public and private sectors need to work together to support the city’s growth. Our partnership with Metrolinx at The Forest Hill Condominiums at Bathurst and Eglinton is a great example of how public and private can work together to enhance services for Torontonians and transit users through transit-oriented development that is in sync with great planning. We need to continue to encourage development near major transit areas to meet the current housing needs.

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

SV: We are focused on bringing more living options to areas that can support new density. We design our suites to be efficient, and price them in a way that allows a broad range of buyers to gain access to a market they would otherwise be priced out of. No better example of this is The Forest Hill Condominiums, where suites will start in the high $300,000s and exist beside homes in Toronto’s most affluent area, which can be 10 to 20 times more expensive.

CL: Where do you see the next homebuilding – and therefore, for customers, homebuying – opportunities in the GTA, in terms of geographic area? You seem to be focused on downtown, transit-centric locations and projects…

SV: At CentreCourt, we’ve focused on areas that are nearby to major amenities, transit networks and pivotal employment areas. A major decision factor for condo buyers is transit connectivity, fostering an area and the access to live, work and play. When you look at the nodes in Toronto and the GTA that are seeing the largest amount of development, opportunity, and capital appreciation, it’s often because major transit infrastructure has been planned or added to the node. Some of the most exciting opportunities going forward will be those that provide a “ground floor” opportunity to be one of the first projects to be built at or near transit infrastructure. These “first movers” tend to be successful and lay claim to the best locations, and capture the maximum value from the growth and maturation of new transit infrastructure.

CL: What’s next for CentreCourt?

SV: Our 55 Mercer and The Forest Hill Condominiums projects are our primary focuses right now, and we are approaching our 10-year anniversary and will have some exciting projects and initiatives to announce.


If I wasn’t involved in homebuilding, I would: That’s a hard question, seeing as I told my mom I wanted to “build big buildings” when I was 12 years old and have never veered from this dream since. However, if I wasn’t involved in homebuilding, I would likely be an entrepreneur focused on building a technology business. Entrepreneurship is in my blood and technology is the other industry (aside from real estate development) that I am fascinated by and love to learn more about.

My greatest inspiration in this business is: My mother. She immigrated from Tanzania in the mid-1970s without any formal secondary education or money in the bank, but she never let her circumstances define the amazing life that she built for our family. She has taught me the value of hard and honest work and I am constantly inspired by her. To this day, she remains my primary sounding board on all things business and career related.

When I’m not at the office, I: Love to immerse myself in anything Raptors related. I am a die-hard fan who is still celebrating our championship!



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Canada-China realty professional association caters to growing demand from Chinese Canadians

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Canada-China realty professional association caters to growing demand from Chinese Canadians

It’s no secret that buyers from all over the world are attracted to real estate opportunities in the Greater Toronto Area. Chinese Canadians, in particular, are showing a strong appetite for homes and investments in the GTA, and the Canada-China Realty Professional Association (CCRPA) is building a collection of services to offer these influential clients. Steven Sun, president of the CCRPA, explains what the organization offers – including the upcoming Real Home Expo 2019, Oct. 5 and 6 at Le Parc Banquet & Conference Centre in Richmond Hill.

HOMES Magazine: Real Home Expo, with co-organizer Jade Expo, is the largest home show in Canada that caters to the Chinese Canadian community. What does the event offer these prospective homebuyers?

Steven Sun: Based on our past successes, we have upgraded the scale of the event this year and are happy to welcome well-known companies such as Times Group, Sotheby’s International Realty, Reliance Home Comfort, Menkes Developments, Tridel, Kingdom Developments, Z Square Group, CoStone Group, Gemterra Developments, CIM Development, Foxwood Developments, Woodside Group and others. More and more real estate development companies are recognizing the potential purchasing power of the Chinese community. We are pleased to be the platform for these well-established developers to conduct business within.

We have also introduced a “HomeMania Festival” to bring special discount offers for homebuyers and homeowners. Ethan Allen, Reliance Home Comfort, PageOne Furniture & Lighting and others will be offering exclusive deals for attendees.

HM: Beyond a strong exhibitor lineup, what’s in the event for attendees and prospective homebuyers?

Sun: Real Home Expo fills in gaps in real estate and home exhibition in the northern GTA. It is recognized by the governments of Canada and China, being the largest local Chinese real estate and home exhibition and sales platform, catering to northern GTA residents who are well known by their purchasing power and high living standard. Prospective homebuyers can meet professionals to help them purchase a new home, renovate an existing property, furnish their home space inside and out, and provide the day-to-day services.

HM: How else does the association help homebuyers, on an ongoing basis, after the Expo?

Sun: We are the largest Chinese real estate organization in Canada, with more than 8,000 realtors, developers, builders, financial reps and service providers. We provide our clients and attendees with professional knowledge, services and advice during and after the exhibition.

We also plan to host a number of seminars and real estate related events over the next few months, to provide guidance to clients and homebuyers on every single step in the home purchasing process.

HM: What areas of the GTA do Chinese Canadians, or newcomers to Toronto from China, find especially appealing?

Sun: Downtown and midtown Toronto for are popular for condos, while in North York, they look for both high- and lowrise properties. York Region areas such as Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan are the hottest and the most popular areas for Chinese homebuyers and investors.

HM: What housing types are they looking for most? Lowrise homes to live in? Condos as investment properties?

Sun: Most commonly, lowrise as a primary home and condos as investments. However, since the introduction of foreign buyer taxes, many are looking at businesses and commercial opportunities such as plazas, apartment buildings, farms, vineyards and cottages. Some of the biggest vineyards in the Niagara area are now owned by Chinese immigrants. Plus, a great number of Chinese immigrants are investing in GTA new condo projects.

HM: How is the CCRPA growing? For example, a couple of Chinese developers have recently launched projects in Toronto. Are you actively involved in this… trying to encourage such activity and acting as a liaison for Chinese background developers?

Sun: Yes. Most of the active real estate developers are among our board of directors. We are their business partner in promoting their condo projects and lowrise community developments. Our 8,000 realty professionals use their connections to spread these homebuying and investment opportunities within the GTA and Vancouver communities. Our prospective clients are given first-hand information and exclusive offers.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CL: And at Park Avenue Place in Vaughan?

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


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

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

My greatest inspiration in this business is:

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

When I’m not at the office, I:

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


Edge Towers
Downtown Mississauga
Under construction and register now

Park Avenue Place
Under construction



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