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In Conversation With Vince Santino, Senior Vice-President of Development, Aoyuan Canada

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In Conversation With Vince Santino, Senior Vice-President of Development, Aoyuan Canada

Talk about making a statement. Chinese builder Aoyuan International doesn’t exactly dip its toes into the waters of global condominium development. With signature projects in Sydney Australia, Vancouver, Hong Kong and now Toronto, Aoyuan goes all out.

M2M, Aoyuan’s first development Toronto, is located in a prominent neighbourhood in North York – Newtonbrook. Located just north of the Yonge and Finch transit hub, this master-planned community is a statement, indeed, with easy access to the subway and GO Transit, and dining and shopping hot spots.

When completed, the 8.6-acre community will be a fully integrated neighbourhood designed for living, working and playing. Five towers and two podiums will host a total of 1,650 residential units, as well as hundreds of thousands of square feet of office and retail space, a community centre, children’s daycare, and even its own greenspace for a future park.

Condo Life sat down with Vince Santino, senior vice-president of development, to get a sense of how M2M is coming along, and what’s next for Aoyuan.

How’s business these days, in these unprecedented days of COVID-19?

While we experienced a temporary pause at our construction site, we’ve been pleased to see things begin to pick up again more recently. When the COVID-19 preventative measures were at their strictest, we saw this as time to get involved with our neighbourhood more deeply. Times like these are opportunities to support others, and especially as a newer member of the North York community in Toronto, we felt strongly that we should do what we can to help our most vulnerable neighbours. To support the North York community, we donated $25,000 to the North Harvest Food Bank, and we encourage our peers to do the same in their neighbourhoods. Since then, we’ve launched M2M Spaces, the newest inventory from the master-planned M2M community.

How has the market reacted to construction being allowed to resume, and things beginning to ease up? Are buyers running back? Are you seeing pent-up demand…?

Initially, when Ontario began its lockdown, we saw buyers exercising caution when it came to buying new real estate – and understandably so, there were restrictions placed on all of us, and a lot of uncertainty. Now, we’re starting to see homebuyers come back and new sales since launching M2M Spaces, which shows us that there is still demand for great products and home offerings in Toronto and surrounding GTA communities.

How has the pandemic affected your plans for releases at M2M? Are things progressing as planned, phases being delayed…?

While we experienced some delays and pauses initially when Ontario was under the strictest lockdown measures, we have been very fortunate to get things running smoothly again, though we have had to make adjustments to ensure the health and safety of our team, construction sites, and sales centres. Our first few releases at M2M experienced an initial sellout, and we released the latest inventory (in early June). M2M Spaces includes two- and three-bedroom townhomes and tower suites.

What has the pandemic taught Aoyuan in terms of project sales or planning… using virtual sales techniques and so on?

Though we have always offered virtual signing opportunities, we have had to pivot to use these tools more frequently and earlier in the sales cycle and with a wider range of customers. Our M2M sales centre is being prepared for scheduled visits, with the intent for all visitors to adhere to all social distancing guidelines. We are setting up a video walkthrough and live stream presentation for our M2M Spaces model suite. Brokers and potential buyers can also utilize a cloud-based presentation system to view project information, our 3D building model and compare floorplans from the comfort and safety of their home.

Are you making any design changes at M2M to address changing consumer demands? Say, for example, more “working” spaces built into homes as a result of an expected increase in people working from home?

At Aoyuan, our philosophy has always been centred around living healthy lifestyles and building homes that allow its residents to do just that. To us, that includes giving residents options to make their homes fit their personal needs. We have always prioritized this and will continue to do so, which we know will be appreciated by homebuyers as our communities continue to evolve. Since we’re all at home much more nowadays, our M2M Spaces offering comes at a great time for prospective homeowners with its flexible and functional floorplans. These residences are great options for multigenerational families and working parents, with added features and amenities to suit their lifestyles. For instance, we’re proud to offer features such as our smart glass technology, which is an extremely beneficial feature for residents working from home. By simply flipping a switch, residents can change the transparent glass panels to transform to opaque, allowing for added privacy or increased concentration. You’ll find this feature in a variety of suites throughout M2M.

What other fundamental changes do you foresee as a result of these unprecedented times?

It’s tough to speculate on the future while we are still in the thick of things, but we can definitely see the increased importance of green and outdoors spaces for city dwellers who don’t necessarily have access to backyards as you would in the suburbs. We will continue to prioritize amenities like this because we know the importance of our connection to nature as well as the importance of being able to use greenspaces for socializing, playing sports, or just relaxing. We’ll also want to keep the idea of flex spaces which can be used as at-home offices or playrooms as families seek to make the best use of their homes.

M2M won the 2019 BILD People’s Choice Award. What did that mean to Aoyuan Canada?

As newcomers to Toronto, we were very excited to receive this recognition. We felt that it reinforced and recognized the work we were doing specifically in Toronto and the GTA. When we began working in this city, we handpicked the team to make our approach hyperlocal to the area. By working with experts who understood the nuances of Toronto’s development landscape, we were able to respond to the community’s wants and needs. Our approach was clearly successful, as evidenced by our People’s Choice win. I’m truly looking forward to the opportunity to showcase the excellent work our team has done in this award-winning community with this latest release of M2M Spaces.

What’s next for Aoyuan Canada?

Tightly connected with our Vancouver team, we see numerous opportunities in both cities and we are not limited ourselves to any specific type of development. Our immediate focus here in the GTA is M2M. We’re really excited to see how buyers respond to our new townhomes and exquisite tower suites. Because M2M is a multi-phased development, we’re staying focused on the subsequent launches still to come in this vibrant new community. There are some really incredible amenities for future residents to enjoy, such as a courtyard terrace, an infinity pool, a dog spa and business centre. We really designed this community to make it simple for residents to get everything they need at home.

And on a personal note…

If I wasn’t in the homebuilding industry, I would:

Pursue a career as a World Class Barista somewhere in Europe, making people happy with every cup of hand-crafted espresso!

My greatest inspiration in this industry is:

Our resilience. As an industry, especially here in the GTA, the “box” we work in is always changing and it forces us to be dynamic as a group, and I am inspired when I see great and practical solutions come to life via some of the best developers in the world in the form of vibrant communities – communities where people who come from all walks of life can truly live, work and play. It’s a testament to how our industry responds to market forces and how well it works with all levels of government and regulatory agencies.

When I’m not at the office, I am:

Walking! On a GTA golf course with friends and colleagues as much as I can… a great way to enjoy the outdoors!

aoyuaninternational.com

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Park Place on Patricia by Mattamy Homes

Welcome to Park Place on Patricia by Mattamy Homes

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Welcome to Park Place on Patricia by Mattamy Homes

In 1978, Mattamy Homes founder Peter Gilgan set out to build homes and communities that complement how people actually live – an idea he called “thoughtful design.” Since then, this belief has helped Mattamy build more than 100,000 homes across Canada and the United States. Today, Mattamy Homes is North America’s largest privately-owned home builder.

Today, Mattamy’s story continues in beautiful North York, whose motto – The City with Heart – is felt by everyone who calls it home. This new exclusive pocket of homes is located in the desirable Newtonbrook area, just south of Bathurst and Steeles. Welcome to Mattamy’s Park Place on Patricia.

Soon you’ll be able to discover a full collection of detached designs offered in a variety of architectural exteriors; French Chateau, English Manor, and Traditional. All the home designs blend naturally into the established North York neighbourhood. These thoughtfully designed homes come complete with nine-ft. ceilings, a gas fireplace, hardwood flooring and much more.

Park Place on Patricia combines the natural beauty of the area with the best in city-living. From the countless local parks, trails, and playgrounds, to the nearby tennis courts, ice rinks and soccer fields, satisfying your inner outdoor enthusiast couldn’t be easier.

If you like to shop, then you’re in luck, because aside from having all of Toronto at your doorstep, Promenade Mall and the always-lively Bayview Village are only a short drive away. And with a number of schools, grocery stores, transit stops, and other amenities in the area, you’ll have access to the conveniences and excitement only a city address can provide.

Mattamy also offers a full line of Architect’s Choice Options. These optional floorplans allow you to personalize the layout of your new home to better fit your life. Whether you’re a growing family in need of an extra bedroom, or your love for cooking calls for a Chef’s Kitchen, our architectural options let you own a home that’s been designed for how you live.

And with the help of a personal design consultant you’ll be guided through the endless features and finishes available in Mattamy’s state-of-the-art Design Studio.

MATTAMY HOMES
Park Place on Patricia

City living is waiting for you in Park Place on Patricia. Register online today to stay well-informed of Mattamy’s opening date.


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In Conversation With Vince Santino, Senior Vice-President, Development Aoyuan Canada

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In Conversation With Vince Santino, Senior Vice-President, Development Aoyuan Canada

Condos are king in Toronto and, increasingly, elsewhere in the GTA, and one shining example is M2M, an 8.6-acre master-planned community from Aoyuan at Yonge and Finch in North York. When complete, M2M will be a fully-integrated, live-workplay neighbourhood with 1,650 residences, a community centre, daycare, 180,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space and a new public park.

Developer Aoyuan International set out with a master plan and smartly designed suite layouts to provide a variety of living options for families at different stages of life.

Vince Santino

We spoke with Vince Santino, senior vice-president of development for Aoyuan Canada, for an update on this signature project, and what might lie ahead for the company.

Condo Life: How are things coming along at M2M?

Vince Santino: Sales of our first phase began in June 2018 with a very successful launch, selling out the north tower. We released the south tower in February 2019, and the response was the same. We’re very pleased with the results to date. People want to be in North York.

We’re on track to begin construction in late Q2 of this year, or early Q3, and we’re looking forward to receiving our first homeowners for our first phase, which includes both towers and our lower suites, in late Q2 of 2022.

CL: What is it about North York that is so appealing?

VS: For one, it’s still within the 416, and when buyers are looking for a condo, they’re looking for convenience and being close to amenities. North York offers it all. Where we are situated, it’s very close to transit, the TTC and GO Transit, but also very accessible to all the major highways.

CL: Who are the typical buyers for this project?

VS: We’ve seen a lot of end users. They’ve been the majority of our buyers, whether they’re young couples, young families or downsizers… many of them have grown up and raised families in the area. They love it and don’t want to leave.

CL: What have you learned about development – delivering on your customers’ needs and wants – since launching this project?

VS: People want convenience. Even though they’ve made the decision to move into a condominium space, they want amenities that they don’t need to necessarily get into a car to get to. And they want choice, in the type of suites, with efficient design where space isn’t wasted, and to maximize utility at a price they’re willing to pay. They’re happy to pay for a bigger suite… our larger suites, our two-bedrooms plus den or three-bedrooms… we’ve designed them very efficiently. So, for a younger family, or someone who’s downsizing, they don’t feel like they’re sacrificing by getting into a condo.

CL: At M2M, you’re not just building a condo, you’re building an entire community, all with easy access to transit, which is increasingly key these days. How import ant are all of these inclusions in appealing to family living in condos?

VS: We’ve got more than 100,000 sq. ft. of office space planned, 8 0,000 sq. ft. of retail… that gives any family all the necessities, literally at their doorstep. Our site is complemented by really good restaurants, shopping, proximity to schools, universities, and we’ve got a future daycare conveniently located within the development that gives the younger families a key service that helps reduce the stress of the day-to-day commute and a busy family life.

The community centre, along with the public park that we’re going to construct as part of the development, provides families with options for better quality of life year-round, just footsteps from you. And because you’re in the 416, you’re close to transit, reducing your commute time, all of that time can be spent enjoying these amenities, spending that time with your family. It isn’t always so conveniently accessible in other developments, so this is really a one-of-a-kind opportunity, because of the sheer size and the amenities we’re providing.

CL: How do you foresee the condo market in that area performing in the next three to five years?

VS: We’re feeling very, very bullish. If you look at what’s been happening in the midtown area, Yonge and Eglinton, and up to Yonge and Sheppard, this is just a natural progression. We’ve seen a lot more launches in North York in the last year, and more coming into the market this year, and the area is starting to undergo a renascence, and over time people are going to continue to choose to be in North York. It tells us that buyers still want to be within the 416, but they have no problem not necessarily being in the downtown core, as long as they can get to it and the rest of the GTA conveniently.

CL: Affordability is a key concern for homebuyers in Toronto. How is Aoyuan addressing that issue, in how it plans and delivers its communities?

VS: The reality is, in the last little while, traditional lowrise homes have become more unaffordable and more out of reach for families. For us, providing well sized, even of the smaller units, are designed with the utility and growing families in mind. It provides people with an alternative. As for M2M itself, delivering those things, all in a masterplanned community, and not just a couple of towers in the middle of nowhere, it’s a great example… we’re trying to give people everything they need, moving into a space that isn’t perhaps traditional for younger families.

We’re taking the opportunity to intensify in an area of the 416 in North York where people want to live because of all of the existing amenities, and all those other elements. It gives our customers a lifestyle that offers it all, really – easy access to schools, transit, universities… people don’t feel like they’re giving up a lot, but the value they get by living in this area makes the affordability challenge a little easier to bear, especially for a young couple or young family moving into their first home.

CL: For some, affordability is a key reason for choosing a condo, but what are some of the other reasons families might consider a condo in the city, versus a lowrise home in the suburbs?

VS: A condo in the city helps with the cost of transportation, as it’s a significant expense for any household, so with the option of public transit, it means families may not need to purchase a vehicle, or a second vehicle. You’re reducing the commute time, and for families working in the city, it allows them more time to spend with their children, parents or grandparents. The city provides families with a lot of choice – where they shop, work and play – and there’s everything around, especially where we are in our setting.

CL: What have you learned – be it about development in Toronto or family-centric condos – from M2M, that you will use in future projects?

VS: Listen to the needs of your buyers. It’s refreshing to try things that maybe haven’t been at the forefront of condo development in the past. There’s a significant segment that wants living in the sky to provide the options, flexibility, amenities and opportunities that in the past attracted families to traditional lowrise homes, and the more we’re able to build those amenities in the sky, it becomes more and more attractive.

CL: What’s next for Aoyuan in the GTA?

VS: The future is bright for us here. We’re not limiting ourselves to condos only, and it speaks to our mantra of building a healthy lifestyle in trying to build complete communities. We’re looking at all kinds of other opportunities across the GTA.

Certainly, we’ve got Phase 2 at M2M coming, and we’re going to continue to build on what we’ve seen has been very successful for Phase 1, but we’re not limiting ourselves to one building form or type. We’re looking at a lot of opportunities, in and around the 416 and the 905 as well. Stay tuned.

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M2M 1

Aoyuan introduces M2M Condos to community with neighbourhood block party

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Aoyuan introduces M2M Condos to community with neighbourhood block party

M2M 1

Aoyuan Property Group recently introduced its M2M Condos in North York to the community with a pop-up park and block party.

Newtonbrook Plaza in the Yonge and Finch area was transformed with 9,000 sq. ft. of real grass, cedar trees and lawn games, including life-sized Jenga, chess and Connect 4.

About 600 people from the neighbourhood and around the city came to check out the lush green pop-up park and engaged in various activities, including complimentary yoga, tai chi and Essentrics stretch classes. The party also featured a healthy gourmet barbecue and a variety of interactive entertainment.

M2M 2

Aoyuan, an international real estate developer known for integrating health and wellness amenities within its master-planned communities, is laying roots in Toronto. The company will transform the dated shopping plaza and parking lot near Yonge and Finch subway and GO station into M2M Condos, North York’s first true live-work-play community.

Plans for the 8.6-acre site include five residential condo towers, 180,000 sq. ft. of office and retail space, a daycare, community centre and a new public park. A new active laneway will connect the new public park to Yonge Street, facilitating access for the neighbourhood. A network of smaller scaled streets will wind through the M2M community, connecting residents to the new park and playground, and finer-grade retail.

M2M 3

The pop-up park installation and free community was intended to provide the neighbourhood a preview of Aoyuan’s plans for the newmixed-use village that will soon begin to take shape.

“Newtonbrook is set to become new destination for North York,” says Vince Santino, senior vice-president of development of Aoyuan. “It will have all the conveniences typical of a downtown neighbourhood.You really won’t have to go anywhere far if you live here. We are excited to be celebrating these changes with the Yonge and Finch community while introducing them to Aoyuan’s focus on healthy living.”

As part of Aoyuan’s emphasis on putting healthy living first, there will also be a large fitness and wellness component to M2M’s amenities. Interconnected greenspaces connect a wide range of suites from one-bedrooms to larger townhome units. Third floor condo amenities include a theatre and children’s play area, along with a double height yoga lounge and fitness studio that faces an internal courtyard. The ninth floor features a barbecue, party room and waterfall infinity pool with prime western exposure.

Following the sold-out success of the initial launch in June, Aoyuan is now releasing brand new suites at M2M.Located on the upper floors of M2M’s first tower, the new layouts will have breathtaking views of nearby residential greenspace, a new park to the East and urban landscapes that stretch down Yonge Street.

For more information or to register, visit m2mcondos.com

 

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