Tag Archives: In Conversation With

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Johnathan Schickedanz, General Manager, FarSight Homes

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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.

AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE…

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!

Portfolio

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

farsight.ca

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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.

PORTFOLIO

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

Waterworks
505 Richmond St. W., Toronto
Under construction

moddevelopments.com

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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.

AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE…

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.

lindvest.com

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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.

AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE:

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!

centrecourt.com

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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.

AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE:

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

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

My greatest inspiration in this business is:

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

When I’m not at the office, I:

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

PORTFOLIO

Edge Towers
Downtown Mississauga
Under construction and register now

Park Avenue Place
Vaughan
Under construction

solmar.ca

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In Conversation With… Michael DiPasquale, Chief Operating Officer Dunpar Homes

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In Conversation With… Michael DiPasquale, Chief Operating Officer Dunpar Homes

From building much needed townhomes in the GTA, to a recent focus on luxury rental properties, and now to developing a full mixed-use neighbourhood around a shopping mall rejuvenation… This is Dunpar Homes, a builder evolving with the times. We spoke to Chief Operating Officer Michael DiPasquale to learn more about these interesting moves, and more.

HOMES Magazine: Dunpar’s Kingsway Village Square on Prince Edward is an interesting project in that it’s boutique luxury rental. Why did you choose to go that route with this project, as opposed to an ownership-based offering?

Michael DiPasquale: There are a few factors that led us to a luxury rental product. Years ago, the project was on sale as a joint-venture with another developer, but the sales levels weren’t achieved. After a few more years went by, we took a look at our portfolio and the number of projects we have in that neighbourhood and came up with the idea of creating synergy and shared amenities between them. This thought process brought us to a luxury rental community, as we saw the rental achievements start to improve over time, meaning it became viable as a long-term rental project.

HM: Why in that neighbourhood?

MD: The Kingsway neighbourhood speaks for itself. It’s a highly desirable and very beautiful neighbourhood. Dunpar has been part of this community for many years. We also saw a need in this neighbourhood for rental units that coincide with the prestige of the community.

HM: Does this project signal a move to more rental properties for Dunpar?

MD: Yes, this will be project-based, and whether each is viable in the long term. We do plan others in that neighbourhood that will work together with this first project; this is why we called it Kingsway Village “Square.” We didn’t want to compromise on amenities, and since we have multiple projects in this area, we can have amenities done really well to share between the buildings, instead of compromising similar amenities in each building, for example, fitting only a lap pool or small gym.

HM: How are you positioning and marketing this property, in terms of target demographic and rental rate?

MD: This building is positioned for the Kingsway neighbourhood. The unit layouts are much larger than the average condo being built in Toronto. We expect this to cater to “downsizers” who live in the area, want to sell their property but remain in the neighbourhood. But, we also expect it to be mixed with young families as the unit sizes are very efficient and large, giving families as much space as possible to live. There are wonderful schools nearby that are very desirable for parents. It also serves to provide many people who cannot afford houses in the Kingsway neighbourhood, to live in and participate in the community without having the upfront equity required in a purchase.

HM: What if people really love this building and their unit? Is there an option to buy?

MD: No, there is no option to buy. This is a rental building. What actually distinguishes us compared to other condo rentals, is that many condo rentals are owned by individuals (instead of a corporation). Many tenants are getting kicked out when that owner themselves moves in, or wants their son or daughter to move in. Well, a corporation does not have children and cannot use this to get people out.

HM: What are some of Dunpar’s other more interesting projects underway?

MD: We are continuing with our townhouse history in the Lake Shore Village project in South Etobicoke, as well as Streetsville Centre in Mississauga, which is located right across from the GO station. We will continue to provide opportunities to live in existing neighbourhoods with transit access. Dunpar is also building its first commercial/industrial condo units at Jutland Square, creating a new and vibrant employment community with the same design guidelines that have made our townhouses so successful and timeless.

HM: What’s the status of your Streetsville Centre community?

MD: Construction is starting very soon with the underground services and a few townhouses, one to be used as a model home. We had some unfortunate delays, but a lot of activity will start in the next few months, and into 2020, we’ll be under full construction.

HM: You have a new community in Oakville coming up this year. What type of community will it be, and where, exactly?

MD: This is located off of Sixth Line near the QEW. It will be a smaller collection of luxury townhomes, with many units overlooking the beautiful Sixteen Mile Creek.

HM: And beyond that, what’s next for Dunpar?

MD: Dunpar has many lands throughout South Etobicoke that it has accumulated over the years. We will continue to serve this community with townhomes, as well as our foray into luxury rentals in the Kingsway neighbourhood. Much more to come in different pockets, as well.

One of the largest upcoming projects is the renovation and rejuvenation of the Sheridan Mall neighbourhood in Mississauga. We own the mall and all the surrounding lands. We are in preliminary stages, but we plan on building a vibrant, cool and future-proof mixed-use neighbourhood that utilizes the best parts of the mall while incorporating all different types of residential into this community.

AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE…

When you’re not at the office, you: My wife and I enjoy the booming restaurant and food scene in Toronto. We’re out trying new type of food or fusion-type restaurants, as those have taken off in the past few years. I also enjoy golf, and a bunch of us at Dunpar really enjoy rock climbing. We climb in gyms here in Toronto, as well as the mountains down in Arizona.

Your greatest inspiration in the homebuilding industry is: Quality over quantity. I enjoy being a part of an industry that has tangible results and part of a builder/product which I am proud to play a part in producing. I live in a Dunpar home, because it’s a great unit in a great location. There are no townhomes like them. The uniqueness and thoughtfulness we put in our projects is what keeps me going.

Your greatest accomplishment outside the office is: I do my best to keep a balanced life as much as possible, while enjoying activities that make us happy. I don’t have many specific events to claim, other than a happy marriage and lifestyle that we are both very happy with, while surrounding ourselves with friends and family all the time. We keep very busy seeing everyone in our lives as much as we can, just because we enjoy spending time with them.

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In Conversation With… Zev Mandelbaum, President and CEO, Altree Developments

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In Conversation With… Zev Mandelbaum, President and CEO, Altree Developments

Imagine growing up – quite literally – in the development industry, and becoming a third-generation builder. The lessons imparted by your father, and grandfather before him, and how such family mentoring would help shape who you are today and how you view not just developing projects but growing communities. Zev Mandelbaum, president and CEO of Altree Developments, is one such builder. We caught up with him to discuss two of the company’s new signature projects, and more.

Condo Life: What made Altree decide to choose The Queensway area in Etobicoke for your latest project, Thirty Six Zorra? Was it more a product of land availability, or is there something about the area in particular?

Zev Mandelbaum: Altree chose The Queensway for two principal reasons – ability for high-density development and ample surrounding amenities and entertainment for the public.

As Toronto expands and becomes a larger and more metropolitan city, fewer places are designated to allow for high-density development, and The Queensway was an area we could develop a community of this size. The land that spans from The Queensway to Islington, trickling into the Gardiner, is designated to allow for high-density condominium towers. So, when I saw that opportunity, I knew we would have the ability to build an entire neighbourhood from scratch.

In addition, the neighbourhood already has ample amenities, including the Cineplex Cinemas and Sherway Gardens just down the road, many restaurants and a tremendous parkland that was already planned and under construction at the time. We felt The Queensway would be the most optimal neighbourhood to live, work, play and grow a family. It’s the perfect opportunity to expand on a loyal community that was already present within the area.

CL: What do you foresee as the typical buyer profile? Singles, young families…?

ZM: As urbanization increases, condominium living will become the norm for the city dweller and lead to a whole new way of living. As people change their mindsets to own a home with a white picket fence and large backyard, the shift will be to a more urban lifestyle where amenities are at the tip of ones’ fingertips, with less worry about the maintenance of the property.

Thirty Six Zorra is going to contain a wide selection of amenities that will target all different types of buyers, from singles, to young couples, as well as those looking to downsize. This building will also cater to a larger mix of buyers because of the price point and affordability that will come with these units (compared to those found in the downtown core). Toronto is seeing a year-over-year increase in price per square foot of condominiums within the core, making condo options downtown less and less feasible to many working Torontonians. As a result, we also see a lot of Millennial demographic and end users gravitating to this particular building.

CL: Amenities are becoming an increasingly important part of any condo project – features that speak to the character of the local area and the target buyer demographic. What are the key differentiating amenities at Thirty Six Zorra?

ZM: The way we’ve approached this project is recognizing that The Queensway already has a great mix of retail amenities. For Thirty Six Zorra, we wanted to communicate that this building is really somewhere where prospective buyers can live, work and play on a daily basis. The Queensway offers a plethora of shopping and culinary experiences, and we wanted to bring this vibe into the building. We wanted to create something that really unites people by adding amenities focused on enjoying the company of others – getting off our phones and tablets and hanging out with one another. The building features a gym, a dry sauna, outdoor pool, and a rooftop patio ideal for throwing a great summer party.

The most unique amenities include a rec room that features a social space with various games for everyone to relax with friendly competition after a long day of work. We also added in a demonstration kitchen to allow for a communal space for future homeowners to share their passions and creativity through cooking. With the freelance working economy becoming so popular, there will also be multiple cohesive working spaces where buyers can base their office and hold meetings from the co-working space, the lounges, outside patio or parks that surround the project.

CL: You recently entered into a strategic partnership with EllisDon for Thirty Six Zorra. What are the reasons behind this decision, and how will it benefit the project? 

ZM: As a developer, ever since childhood I have loved to watch buildings being constructed and grow. I sought a partnership with EllisDon Capital – the best to do just that – build this community. My goal has not been to merely build a building, but to team up with someone as part of a strategic partnership where we could align our values and goals, leading to a long-term working relationship.

EllisDon is the number one leader in the construction industry in Canada, has built more buildings than anyone else and is set on building the best buildings for communities. Being able to have a strong alliance with EllisDon, not only as a constructor, but also as a fully dedicated partner in the project, gives us the longevity not only to do this project spectacularly well, but also to create more fantastic buildings in the city of Toronto.

CL: Etobicoke certainly as a price point advantage over downtown Toronto and elsewhere in the 416. How long do you think this will last, given more and more developers are seeing the potential of the area?

ZM: As Toronto and the downtown core continues to grow and pierce new heights within the price range of condominium projects, the affordability of units in this area becomes a farther stretch for many people. The multiplier effect means that once a city gets more attention, it gets more amenities and attracts more people who want to live there, just like New York City.

An economist once told me, 30 years ago Manhattan was overpriced, 20 years ago Manhattan was overpriced, 10 years ago Manhattan was overpriced and it’s still overpriced today. I believe the lesson in that was when you have a city that is desirable and continues to g row, it just builds upon itself. As it happens, when the price in Toronto becomes more and more unaffordable, people are starting to look just outside the core to acquire something that is within their price range. Since the pricing in the downtown core is so high, it is only reasonable to think that a market just outside the city, where average square foot prices are in the mid $8 00’s per sq. ft., there is more room to grow.

However, even with this room to grow, these areas will still remain at a $300 to $400 per sq. ft. discount from the downtown core. This is exactly where The Queensway market is, and future homeowners will see this value as well.

CL: Altree has plenty of other projects in the Toronto area. What are the common qualities or characteristics about these that speak to Altree’s mission, vision… that really say, yes, this is an Altree project? 

ZM: Altree is all about understanding neighbourhoods! When we decide on a neighbourhood, we place importance on understanding the character and feel that is already in place, so we are able to blend in. The common denominator of all our projects is that we are generally not coming into an area where there are other buildings in the immediate vicinity, meaning that the architecture of the area really has no identity. We need to create an identity within that building that is unique to the character of that neighbourhood. Essentially, we marry a building with the neighbourhood around it.

The most important vision to Altree, is we look for where a community is going to be in the next five to 10 years, not where it is today. It is difficult to do this, as humans are very “touch and feel,” where if something is not there, it’s hard to visualize. When we first look at a site, we analyze the area and really understand the core values and characteristics of a neighbourhood and build on how we understand it to be in the future. Once we understand this, the sky’s the limit. So, if you look at all our projects, we are entrenched in neighbourhoods that have the fibre of growth already existing.

CL: Forest Hill Private Residences is another milestone project from Altree Developments, in a high-profile neighbourhood. What is it about Forest Hill that will stand out from other projects in the area?

ZM: Forest Hill Private Residences is a unique building. When we first saw the project and the piece of land and understood how the zoning would come to be, we noticed that this was a project that would not only be on the cusp of Forest Hill but would be a statement to the neighbourhood.

Seeing that every floor from the third to the ninth has terraces – units with tremendous outdoor exposure – this aspect is one that is missing in buildings in the area and elsewhere in Toronto. Usable personal outdoor space while not having the responsibility of a lawn or backyard. There seems to be quite the gap between condominium and lowrise housing living. There are towers that span up 30 to 40 storeys with great views and exposure, but without much personal outdoor space. There are lowrise houses that have large lawns and backyards, but have become completely unaffordable. Forest Hill Private Residences is a project where we are marrying that outdoor and indoor space. Merging that indoor-outdoor lifestyle together in condominium living is a type of living that is missing in Toronto. It’s the missing middle between a home and a condo, and we are so happy that Forest Hill Private Residences will be able to bring this happy medium to the future homeowners.

CL: What is the current status, in terms of planning, sales launch, suite sizes and price range? 

ZM: Currently Forest Hill Private Residences is at the tail end of its zoning. We hope to have that completed by the end of the year and be in the market early next year, with units starting from 900 sq. ft. and up, so there are units catering to everyone.

On a Personal Note…

CL: You’re a third-generation developer… how has essentially growing up in the industry, with a strong family legacy, formed who you are and what you want Altree to become?

ZM: I have learned everything I know from my family. It all started with my grandfather, Sandy Hofstedter, who started H&R Developments 70 years ago. All I remember from a young boy was talk about buildings, neighbourhoods, construction and development. Dinner table talks were all about neighbourhoods in Toronto, the planning context and what we were doing to change it. So, to me, the only thing I have ever dreamt of was building buildings that add to Toronto – buildings that have names that people would look at. The satisfaction of being involved in developments that added to the city skyline, is something words can’t describe. My goal is to make sure Altree continues that legacy for my children for generations to come.

CL: You’ve had some other executive level stops in your career, at Marlin Spring and Lanterra Developments, for example. What did you learn – about development, housing or homebuyers – that aids you in your current role at Altree?

ZM: I started off working in all the family businesses, from H&R Developments to Lanterra Developments, until I formed Marlin Spring along with my two brother-in-laws. In each role, I specialized in the development industry, from acquisition to zoning to marketing to sales to construction to registration to warranty and all the way to the end. At each phase, I was able to delve deep into each aspect of condominium development. Anyone who regularly develops land can tell you that, when you’re a builder it’s all about perfection! It’s all about specialization, working the kinks out of the design, taking that design and tweaking it until it’s perfect.

Working at Lanterra allowed me to see massive projects at macro levels and being able to work alongside the team. When I formed Marlin Spring, I was able to take everything I learned from my family and work on different projects and partnerships. Now with Altree, I’m able to work on specific projects that interest me, allowing me to put my own stamp on this world.

CL: Your greatest inspiration in the development industry is:

ZM: My father and grandfather. For as long as I can remember, I have been inspired and awed by what they have accomplished – from so many great buildings in Toronto and so many artistic styles, to communities that have changed the landscape of the way we live. From ICE Condominiums to Maple Leaf Square, which has totally changed the south core of Toronto, to Murano and Burano that has completely changed the Bay St. strip, to many other areas that both H&R Developments and Lanterra Developments have been involved in shaping.

CL: When not at the office or in the field…:

ZM: I’m spending time with my three children and wife, exploring Toronto’s neighbourhoods and parks and exploring off beaten tracks of Toronto’s gorgeous ravine systems.

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In Conversation With… Bob Finnigan, Principal and COO Housing, The Heron Group of Companies

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In Conversation With… Bob Finnigan, Principal and COO Housing, The Heron Group of Companies

Homebuilders and their associations are only as good as their executive leadership. Bob Finnigan, currently COO Housing at The Heron Group of Companies, who was recently named CHBA Member of the Year, has led them all – local, provincial and national bodies. With such unique and extensive expertise, Finnigan shares his insights on recent industry and government initiatives, and what’s to come to address issues facing the industry and homebuyers.

Condo Life: You were recently named CHBA Member of the Year. How does that feel, as an established industry veteran with so many years in so many important capacities?

Bob Finnigan: When they first made the announcement, my initial reaction was, ‘Wow, this person has done a lot of work.’ Then I realized it was me! It’s a very nice surprise, and I’m very honoured for being recognized in this way by my peers. I have been volunteering for a long time, and the years have passed very quickly – so the workload seems normal to me – but when it is highlighted, you realize that, in fact, your efforts do make a difference.

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CL: What do you think was the chief reason or accomplishment that earned you such accolades?

BF: I would think that in addition to the years of previous work, including serving on the boards as president of all three levels of homebuilders’ associations, it was the additional efforts I had put in over the last year to ensure that the items I have been working on will be seen to fruition. Those of us who serve on the boards do so in order to better the industry on an ongoing basis. We all feel strongly about what we do, and we know what needs to be changed to continually improve the situation for builders and homebuyers.

CL: How are you applying this now award-winning expertise in your current capacity?

BF: The award is great, but essentially, nothing has changed for me where my work is concerned. My passion is still to bring new houses to people who are proud to call them home. In a way, the work on the associations is an extension of what I do every day at Heron and Herity.

CL: Ontario recently unveiled its Housing Supply Action Plan. What’s your assessment of it?

BF: I applaud the provincial government for moving this way. It is definitely a step in the right direction, but a lot of things have to happen before the program will work. My assessment is, let’s see how it rolls out. Things change all the time, and we have already seen the program evolve with new announcements. As long as we keep moving in this direction, the results should be positive and good.

CL: What are its key strengths, and where does it come up short?

BF: Its key strengths include cutting red tape to make it easier to build a variety of types of housing in the right places, and hopefully making housing more affordable in the process. Paperwork and layers of permits, approvals and development charges add greatly to the cost of new homes. This plan looks at the situation in a pragmatic way. Up until now, the choice of homes in specific areas has been restrictive. Obviously, the government has been listening to what we in the industry have been saying for years. Now, it will be interesting to see how long the rollout and implementation take.

CL: In its budget in March, the federal government, by many industry accounts, failed to truly tackle some of the key challenges in the housing industry. What do you think Ottawa should have done, and should focus on making happen, going forward?

BF: The federal government’s mortgage stress test that came into place in January 2018 has been a huge problem for homebuyers across the country. A lot has changed since then, and in the two markets the stress test was designed for (Vancouver and Toronto), it has certainly cooled things – but it also had strong negative effects and hurt the rest of the country.

Sales are down in many markets, and even if they are not, people who could have purchased prior to January of 2018 with the very prudent lending rules the banks had in place, are now shut out of the market or have to get additional financial help. Even worse, many have turned to unregulated lenders that don’t have to adhere to the rules, and that charge a much higher rate than regulated lenders. The potential homebuyer loses both ways. We had hoped that the government would recognize these market changes and look to relax the stress test for longer-term mortgages – five years or more – but it did not.

In addition, we asked that they reinstate the 30-year amortization period, again making the qualifying payments easier to afford. It does not create any additional risk; it just allows more people to realize the dream of homeownership.

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What Ottawa did do was to announce additional RRSP funds that can be taken out to purchase a home, which is very good, and also a CMHC program that will help bring homeownership within the financial reach of some purchasers. The concern with the CMHC program is that it is complicated, the specifics of which have not been fully disclosed yet and won’t be until the fall, and it is capped, so is limited in scope.

As such, we continue to call for the stress test reduction and the 30-year amortization as an instant and no-cost solution to the many Canadians wanting to get into homeownership. If they did this, we would see many more Canadians come into the market.

CL: Between the federal and provincial government involvement, plus more on a municipal level, and actions such as BILD’s Building Answers public awareness campaign, the homebuilding industry is really involved with all stakeholders. Where is all this going? What’s next? What else needs to happen?

BF: All three levels of homebuilders’ associations are working more closely than ever before. Of course, technology helps keep us connected on a nationwide level so we are all on the same page, wherever we are in the country. We all have the same concerns, but on different scales. One thing we agree on is that housing affordability is the number one issue facing young Canadians. Our collective associations’ goal is to drive this message home to all three levels of government. The province seems to have gotten onside with that goal, with the recent Housing Supply Action Plan. Municipalities still need to work harder to make Development Charges more reasonable and to cut red tape. The federal government has different pressures to deal with, but making it more difficult for people to purchase with actions such as mortgage stress test is totally counterproductive.

AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE…

When I’m not at the office: I never sit still. I try to lead a healthy lifestyle. I play hockey, golf, ski, bike, work around the house. I love it all. I also love to travel, which helps to keep me active.

The accomplishment or achievement I am most proud of in my career in homebuilding is: I’d have to say working with my colleagues at Heathwood, Heron and Herity – a group that has stayed together for decades. To me, these people are family members, and it shows in the communities we build. I am also extremely proud of helping to establish The Mikey Network in memory of our late friend and colleague Mike Salem. That we have helped to save many lives in his name is a true privilege.

What’s next for you, personally or professionally? While I am not on any association board officially, I am still active in the industry by serving on the board of Tarion and helping out when asked. What’s next for me both personally and professionally is to continue what I’ve been doing for years – a good balance of work and play!

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In Conversation With… Jared Menkes, Executive Vice-President, Menkes Developments

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In Conversation With… Jared Menkes, Executive Vice-President, Menkes Developments

Few builders are as active in condo development in the GTA as Menkes Developments Ltd. Charged with the construction, sales, management and customer service of nearly 6,000 condominium units is Jared Menkes, executive vice-president, Highrise Residential.

Condo Life spoke to him for his insights on the company’s key projects and more.

Condo Life: Mobilio is an interesting new project Menkes has underway – offering both condos and townhomes. What is the inspiration for this project, and what will be its differentiating features?

Jared Menkes: The GTA continues to experience the phenomenon known as the “missing middle,” whereby neighbourhoods lack the diverse housing options that make them more balanced, and – most important – affordable to the average family. The new community will deliver architectural diversity, while simultaneously fulfilling the area’s fundamental need for more density. It will be the first project in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) to blend a mix of housing types on one site, striking the perfect balance of housing, greenspace and amenities, many of which will be shared between the condos and townhomes.

CL: What is the status of the project, in terms of number of housing type, unit and home sizes?

JM: With more than 1,000 units of low- and highrise living, Mobilio will feature a mix of highrise condominium towers, and two- and three-bedroom townhouses, including some with rooftop terraces. This community is one where we are able to accommodate all different types of buyers – first-time buyers, new couples, empty nesters and retirees all have options to buy.

CL: Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is seeing a lot of development at the moment. Where do you see this going in the next three, five or 10 years?

JM: Vaughan is already the largest employment centre in York Region and will continue to be the destination of choice for the 905, especially with the development of VMC. By 2031, VMC alone will be home to 25,000 residents, 1.5 million sq. ft. of new office space and 750,000 sq. ft. of retail. And with the addition of the subway line added to the area, VMC will continue to become a downtown connected to Toronto’s downtown. Connectivity will also continue to be a major draw to Vaughan, with access to the TTC, VIVA and such close proximity to Hwys. 400 and 407.

CL: Family-friendly condos and amenities are an increasingly important part of the market. What types of new features is Menkes introducing with its projects? For example, developers are including libraries, bike parking, pet-wash stations and even music practice rooms in their projects…

JM: When it comes to amenities, I try to think about everything you would want or get out of living in a single-family home, and incorporate it into a condo. People like to entertain large groups, so we have sophisticated party rooms with kitchen and bar areas. If you like to barbecue, we offer a landsc aped terrace equipped with barbe cues. You enjoy a quiet night in? We have state-of-the-art theatres and game lounges. And if you want to stay active, we have fitness centres with separate weight, virtual and yoga studios.

When it comes to entertaining kids, we’ve offered all kinds of cool amenities such as hobby rooms, music rooms and play rooms with amazing interactive features.

We have really considered every member of your family right down to your pets. Mobilio will include a convenient pet-washing st ation. I am also very excited about the park aspect of this project. We will have the linear parks that connect all the projects together on this block and on future blocks that provide trails and exciting ways for families to stay active.

CL: And at Mobilio, what features there will speak to the neighbourhood or expected buyer profile?

JM: More and more people are looking to invest in walkable suburban communities near jobs, schools and other amenities, so they can experience more of an urban lifestyle in the 905. Mobilio is a short dist ance from Vaughan’s transit hub, and Vaughan is currently the only municipality in the GTA aside from Toronto that offers connectivity to the TTC subway system, GO Transit and regional transit services.

Also, this kind of versatile development will allow people to stay in the same community through every stage of their lives, should they choose to. For instance, families could potentially have their aging parents live close by without moving in with them.

CL: What kinds of things are you personally bringing to Menkes that perhaps previous generations didn’t focus on?

JM: I wouldn’t say there are things that I can offer that other generations didn’t, but I will say that as a previous condo owner with a young family, I can appreciate the need to make smaller spaces more livable for families and the need for amenities that cater to children. My experience living in a condo with two kids and a dog (at that time) helped shape of lot of Menkes’ recent condo projects.

AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE…

When not at the office or in the field, I: Explore the city with friends and family.

My greatest inspiration in this business is: Getting the opportunity to work with my family and getting to work on true city-building projects that will shape our city for generations to come.

If I wasn’t involved in the development industry, I would: I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Real estate is in my DNA. I love the opportunity I have to work on the types of projects that we get to develop. Every single one is a new challenge unto itself.

PORTFOLIO

87 Peter Street
King and Peter Streets

Fleur
Church and Shuter Streets
Under construction

Harbour Plaza
South Core Financial District, Toronto
Complete

IN.DE
Dundas East near Dundas Square

Mobilio
Vaughan Metropolitan Centre
Register now

Sugar Wharf
Toronto Waterfront
Under construction

The Eglinton
Yonge and Eglinton

menkes.com

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