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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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Local Focus: Pickering & Ajax

Pickering and Ajax – enjoying the growth and poised for more

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Pickering and Ajax – enjoying the growth and poised for more

Located in the heart of Durham Region but just east of Toronto, Pickering and Ajax comprise one of the fastest growing areas in Ontario.

Pickering, for example, with a population already at about 94,000, is expected to grow to 190,000 people by 2031, drawn by the city’s divers and stable economy. Pickering is home to a variety of national and international companies, in industries such as energy, advanced manufacturing, logistics, and pharmaceutical.

The area also has available land and space to facilitate this growth. The Pickering Innovation Corridor boasts 800 acres of greenfield, prestige employment land, located along a limited access transportation route directly adjacent to the site of the future Pickering Airport.

Pickering is in major transition, with new growth targets set for the city. The new and developing community of Seaton, for example, is preparing to welcome 70,000 new residents and 35,000 new jobs.

Neighbouring Ajax is similarly prosperous, as the town has a well-deserved reputation for progressive thinking. Among the major projects underway is a redevelopment of the downtown, with new public spaces at Pat Bayly Square.

The future of downtown Ajax comprises a focus on “active, livable, innovative, vibrant and eco-focused,” according to the Town.

Lowrise living

Still sometimes considered suburbs of Toronto, Pickering and Ajax appeal to those in search of single-family and other ground-oriented homes, since, well, there is new lowrise home development in the area. And, like elsewhere in the GTA, “missing-middle” type housing such as townhomes, as well as condos, are also gaining popularity here.

Nautical Village, on Pickering’s waterfront, is a welcome natural amenity enjoyed by residents, with quaint shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as a splash pad and park. An expansive waterfront trail runs along Frenchman’s Bay and during the summer, Millennium Square hosts open air concerts.

Pickering and Ajax boast a number of golf courses, including Glen Cedars, Hawthorne Valley, Seaton Golf, Pickering Golf Club and Watsons’ Glen.

Ajax is home to Ontario’s only quarter horse racetrack, Ajax Downs, and for those who really love games of chance, there’s Casino Ajax.

Live and love in nature

Pickering is blessed with a natural location along Lake Ontario, with kilometres of waterfront greenspace. Add in more than 85 parks, sports fields and trails, as well as three conservation areas, public areas around Frenchman’s Bay and the Hydro Marsh, and it’s all a pretty unbeatable locale for nature lovers.

Ajax boasts its own expansive system of cycling and walking trails totally 74 kms. Veterans’ Point Garden commemorates the town’s history and is dedicated to the HMS Ajax, the DIL Plant and the employees who lived in Ajax during the World War II.

And being so close to Toronto, Pickering and Ajax naturally benefit from the transit and highway infrastructure expansion taking place in the area. Durham Region Transit and GO Transit, as well as Hwy. 401 as the main arterial hub west to the DVP into Toronto or east to Hwy. 115, getting around, to and from Durham Region has never been easier.

Location, location, location

  • Pickering and Ajax are located just east of Toronto in Durham Region; Pickering population, 94,000; Ajax population, 119,670

Key landmarks

  • Casino Ajax
  • Claremont Conservation Area
  • Frenchman’s Bay
  • Greenwood Conservation Area
  • Petticoat Creek
  • Pickering Town Centre
  • Veterans’ Point Garden

Select housing developments

PICKERING

A Towns by Paradise Developments

NuTowns by Madison Group

Seaton Whitevale by Mattamy Homes

Seatonville by Opus Homes

Seatonville by Deco Homes

AJAX

A Towns by Fieldgate Homes

Harkins Ridge by Castleton Communities

Kings Landing by Esquire Homes

Westney Place in Nottingham by Tribute Communities


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Neighbourhood Watch: Oshawa & Whitby

Is Oshawa & Whitby the next hot new destination?

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Is Oshawa & Whitby the next hot new destination?

As prospective homebuyers have looked outside the Toronto core in search of more affordable homes in recent years, many have headed to Hamilton, Burlington, Milton and other points west.

This migration may soon change.

“The west end of the GTA has a greater diversity of communities that are attracting a diverse range of buyers,” Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, told Condo Life earlier this year. “In the past 10 years, there has been significant focus on the growth and development of these regions, whereas historically, Durham has not traditionally been viewed in this same regard. With the boom in areas towards the east, like Prince Edward County, and the affordability leveling out, we will likely see the tide begin to turn.”

So, there you go, prospective condo buyers – keep an eye on Whitby, Oshawa and other parts of Durham Region.

Podium Developments' Ironwood in North Oshawa
Podium Developments’ Ironwood in North Oshawa

Economic diversity

And don’t let any potential uncertainly over General Motors Canada’s announcement late last year that it would close its Oshawa assembly plant bother you. Oshawa, and other points in Durham, are about a lot more than one company.

“(The) employment sector in Oshawa has been shifting for some time, and Oshawa has healthily diversified to add technology, educational institutions, healthcare, administration and many professionals to its offerings of great jobs and companies in the market,” says Christian Huggett, vice-president, development, at Podium Developments. The company has a number of developments in the city.

“(The GM news) has not altered our plans,” he says. “We continue to believe that the outlook is bright for home sales in North Oshawa, buoyed by its proximity and relationship to schools, the 407 network, the significant growth occurring and planned for North Oshawa, and that our site is unique in its physical and design characteristics to make it stand out.”

Strong natural location just east of Toronto along Hwy. 401 are among the reasons Whitby and Oshawa draw attention. With Whitby just 59 kms from Toronto and Oshawa 62, commuting is a real option – particularly with recent GO Transit improvements and the expansion of Hwy. 407.

Durham Region Transit connects with the other cities in the region, including Pickering, Ajax, Clarington, Brock and Uxbridge. The 401 runs through the south of region, Hwy. 7 runs across its northern edge and the Hwy. 407 extension to Hwys. 35 and 115 across the top of Durham Region.

Translation? Getting to, from and around Durham is getting increasingly easy, which makes living here and working elsewhere a real possibility.

Expanding attractions

As with any growing municipality, Whitby and Oshawa also offer expanding amenity and retail options. The Oshawa Centre, for example, is the largest shopping complex in Durham and is home to more than 230 outlets. And in downtown Oshawa, of course, there’s a variety of unique shops and restaurants.

In Whitby, Pearson Lane is a historical development that houses boutiques, cafes and services.

Nature is also front and centre, as Oshawa is home to wildlife preserves such as the Pumphouse Marsh, Second Marsh and McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. Oshawa Botanical Gardens boasts North America’s largest contemporary peony collection, and on Oshawa’s Lake Ontario shoreline, Lakeview Park offers many picnic areas, playgrounds, sports fields, a waterfront pier and sandy beaches.

In Whitby, more than 100 parks more than 60 kilometres of trails, including the Bio-Diversity Trail, the Cullen Central Park Trails, Otter Creek Trail and the Whitby Shores Waterfront Trail, await residents. The 670-acre Lynde Shores Conservation area is known for its wildlife and provides habitat for nesting birds.

Location, location, location

Located east of Toronto in York Region, Durham forms the east end of the GTA . Whitby is 59 km from Toronto, Oshawa 62 km. Durham population 645,862; Oshawa 159,458; Whitby 128,377.

Key landmarks

  • Key Landmarks
  • Lynde Shores Conservation Area
  • Oshawa Botanical Gardens
  • Oshawa Centre
  • Tribute Communities Centre

Select housing developments

OSHAWA

Axess Condos by The Daniels Corporation

Ironwood by Podium Developments

Treehouse Studios by Karmina Developments

UC Tower by Tribute Communities

WHITBY

Harbour Ten10 by Castle Group Developments

Prince George Landing by RoseWater Developments

Prince George Landing by Stockworth Developments

Station No. 3 by Brookfield Residential

The Landing at Whitby Harbour by Carttera Private Equities


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Local Focus: Vaughan

Vaughan is on the move – in more ways than one

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Vaughan is on the move – in more ways than one

Vaughan is a city on the move – quite literally, and in more ways than one. Located north of Toronto in York Region, Vaughan has long been one of the fastest growing municipalities in Canada, with a population now exceeding 306,000.

Comprising the Woodbridge, Maple, Thornhill, Concord and Kleinburg communities, each with their own characteristics and enjoying their own growth, Vaughan is a hub of development and activity. Once known as the city above Toronto, it’s now “the place to be.” And with good reason.

Hub of activity

With Hwys. 400 and 407 right there, and Hwy. 7 also running through town, transportation and transit have long been important parts of Vaughan. Now they’re central to its future, with the new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre rapid transit station, the north terminus of the western section of the Toronto subway’s Line 1. It is also a major transit hub for York Region Transit and the Viva and Zum bus rapid transit services.

Economic growth is occurring in lockstep. Vaughan is now the third largest employment centre in the GTA after Toronto and Mississauga, and the largest contributor to York Region’s economy.

Manufacturing is the star economic performer here, accounting for 22 per cent of total employment, followed by construction, retail and wholesale trade, and transportation and warehousing. United Parcel Service, in fact, operates a signature shipping warehouse near Jane and Steeles.

In the near future, you can add healthcare to the mix of economic and lifestyle benefits, as the City has entered into a first-of-its-kind partnership with Mackenzie Health, York University and ventureLAB.

The City is leading the collaboration to transform an 82-acre parcel of land at Jane Street and Major Mackenzie Drive into the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct. Vaughan, York University, Mackenzie Health and ventureLAB are to study to the best use of lands surrounding the site of the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital.

The goal of the collaboration is for the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct to leverage resources to bring healthcare, innovation and jobs to this growing community.

“This feasibility study is an illustration of how partnerships can be truly effective when values, principles and beliefs are perfectly aligned,” says Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua. “The new state-of-the-art Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital will be a catalyst for other uses, like medical offices, labs and research space, healthcare incubators, and education and conference rooms related to healthcare. This is where thought leaders, subject matter experts and innovators will come together to advance a shared vision of healthcare innovation. This transformational collaboration will benefit the healthcare of residents of Vaughan and beyond.”

Lowrise living

Though Vaughan is noteworthy for a lot of condominium development centring around new transit infrastructure, there’s also noteworthy new lowrise communities in the area. This is where buyers come for expansive single-detached homes and large lots.

And once you’ve bought a home in Vaughan, Improve Canada will help you furnish and operate it. Located in Concord and more commonly known as the Vaughan Home Improvement Centre, the complex is a unique offering of about 400 home improvement stores.

Location, location, location

Located in the Regional Municipality of York; bounded by Brampton to the west, King to the north, Markham and Richmond Hill to the east and Toronto to the south; more than 273 sq. kms; population 306,233; includes the communities of Concord, Kleinburg, Maple, Thornhill and Woodbridge.

Key landmarks

  • Canada’s Wonderland
  • Kortright Centre for Conservation
  • McMichael Canadian Art Collection
  • Reptilia Zoo
  • Vaughan Home Improvement Centre
  • Vaughan Metropolitan Centre
  • Vaughan Mills

Select housing developments

Adesso Modern Towns by Capital North Communities

Copperwood by Sorbara Group

CountryWide Homes in Woodbridge by CountryWide Homes

New Kleinburg by Paradise Developments

New Kleinburg by Arista Homes

New Kleinburg by Fieldgate Homes

Port Royal Collection at Kleinburg Crown by Caliber Homes


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BILD Outlook 2020

Outlook 2020 – what’s in store for GTA housing next year?

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Outlook 2020 – what’s in store for GTA housing next year?

Global and even some Canadian economic and political uncertainty shouldn’t derail growth in the GTA housing market next year, according to experts at the Building Industry and Land Development Association’s (BILD) recent Outlook 2020 event.

Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist at RBC, and Peter Donolo, political and communications strategist with Hill + Knowlton Canada, said that overall, the fundamentals for the economy and housing market in Ontario and the GTA bode well for 2020. There are some challenges, however – namely the ongoing new home supply issue.

With Justin Trudeau’s Liberals re-elected as a minority government, Canada will see a relatively stable left-leaning federal government that will focus on environmental issues, affordability and redistribution rather than on economic growth, Donolo says.

BILD Outlook 2020
Left to right, Dave Wilkes, Peter Donolo and Craig Wright

Globally, geopolitical uncertainty and softening economic growth mean that Canada faces challenges with export and investment, leaving the heavy lifting to the consumer, according to Wright. Economic growth is expected to be modest and in line with employment and income, at about 1.7 per cent, and interest rates will likely continue to be low.

Strong employment growth

For Ontario, GDP growth will likely be a notch below, about 1.5 per cent, with housing starts for 2019 and 2020 at about 72,000 units, compared to about 79,000 in 2018, Wright says.

“That reflects a number of factors,” Wright told HOMES Publishing. “We continue to see strong employment gains, Ontario is leading Canada in terms of employment growth on a year-over-year basis, and strong population growth. So, strong fundamentals supporting it, in a low rate environment.”

BILD Outlook 2020 Craig Wright
Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC

The GTA’s robust population growth will continue to drive demand for both ownership and rental housing, Wright says. Municipal and provincial governments are shifting to supply-side solutions for balancing the housing market.

“As you look at the structural reality of the GTA market, where we have immigration coming in… we have 140,000 to 150,000 people coming to this region each and every year,” adds BILD President Dave Wilkes. “That really does bode well for our industry.”

The mortgage stress test needs to be revisited in light of the continued low interest rates, Wright says.

Millennial attitudes

Another issue that might affect the Canada and the building industry is Millennials and their views on the environment and the economy – attitudes Donolo describes as “absolute.”

BILD Outlook 2020 Peter Donolo
Peter Donolo, political and communications strategist, Hill + Knowlton Canada

“When I say absolute, you talk about the oil sands and it’s like you’re talking about the Medellin drug cartel,” he says. “They’re not conscious or interested in the fact that the oil sands and Canada’s oil and gas sector is a kind of the backbone of the Canadian economy, that millions of jobs depend on it… They’re not interested in a kind of slow transition or weaning away from it. They think it’s immoral… and this is a very widespread view.”

Millennial views on homeownership are also different, Donolo says.

“Do Millennials look differently at what homeownership is about? Are they less interested in owning a traditional detached house with a backyard and property? If you look at rates of drivers licenses among Millennials, there is perhaps an indication.”

RELATED READING

5 things we can learn from real estate in 2018

Building and development brings benefits to the GTA

City of Toronto councillors decision irresponsible and will worsen housing affordability and supply problems

 

 

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Neighbourhood Watch: South Core

South Core is lively, lakefront, prized and prestigious

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South Core is lively, lakefront, prized and prestigious

If a lively and active downtown lifestyle is what you’re after, check out Toronto’s South Core. It might also help if you work in the nearby financial district, as residency in this prestigious neighbourhood has its price.

So-called for its proximity to the downtown core but, obviously south… from the railway lands to Lake Ontario, and bounded on the west by Lower Simcoe Street and on the east by Lower Jarvis Street.

Indeed, Toronto is blessed with a prized waterfront location, which in recent years has seen billions of dollars in development, from public spaces to new residences to new commercial and retail opportunities. And the South Core is a prime example of this growth.

Looking northwest from the common terrace at Menkes' Harbour Plaza.
Looking northwest from the common terrace at Menkes’ Harbour Plaza.

Sustainable and connected

Consider, for instance, the Southcore Financial Centre (SFC), a major mixeduse, sustainable complex. Designed to exceed the expectations of today’s globally connected businesses and sophisticated urban travelers, SFC comprises two striking LEED Gold certified office towers totaling 1.4 million sq. ft. and The Delta Toronto – a premium four-star, 560- room, next generation hotel.

Or One York Street by Menkes Developments, a 35-floor, 800,000- sq.-ft. Class AAA building at York and Harbour targeting LEED Platinum certification.

The sustainability and connectivity of these projects typify the redevelopment underway in the South Core. Both buildings boast direct and enclosed access to the PATH to Union Station for TTC, GO Transit the UP Express and more, and beyond through Toronto’s underground network. Within easy walking distance are landmarks such as Scotiabank Arena, the Rogers Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, world class restaurants and the city’s Entertainment and Theatre districts.

Then there’s Maple Leaf Square, a multi-use complex and public square next to Scotiabank Arena, with a newly expanded video screen for live outdoor public broadcasts of Leaf and Raptors games, and home to Real Sports Bar & Grill, one of North America’s largest sports bars.

Residential opportunities

But the South Core isn’t all about office towers and commerce, as residential opportunities are also part of the development. New condominiums have sprouted up, along with the office towers, including Harbour Plaza by Menkes Developments, located at 88 Harbour St. and 100 Harbour St. Here, along with similar connectivity to the underground PATH, residents enjoy a 30,000-sq.-ft. health club, outdoor terrace with tanning deck and other top-drawer amenities.

Also nearby, slightly to the west at Spadina, is CityPlace by Concord Adex, one of the first major condo developments in the area.

Now that the west and central portions of the waterfront are well along in development, and you can’t go any further south into the lake, condo growth is spreading east. Menkes has Sugar Wharf Condominiums at Sugar Beach, and Tridel is building Aqualuna at Bayside, at Merchants Wharf and Queens Quay East.

And then, a little further east and perhaps a few years down the road, there’s the proposal for Sidewalk Labs, the 12-acre, smart-city site at Quayside, which is planned to include a mix of housing types, public spaces and other high tech amenities.

Location, location, location

South from the railway lands to Lake Ontario, bounded on the west by Lower Simcoe Street and on the east by Lower Jarvis Street

Key landmarks

  • Harbourfront
  • Maple Leaf Square
  • Queen’s Quay Terminal
  • Redpath Sugar Refinery
  • Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
  • Scotiabank Arena
  • Southcore Financial Centre
  • The Power Plant Art Gallery

Select condo projects

162 Queens Quay by Empire Communities

Aqualuna at Bayside by Tridel

Harbour Plaza by Menkes Developments

One Yonge Condos by Pinnacle International

Sugar Wharf by Menkes Developments

Ten York by Tridel


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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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Local Focus: Oshawa & Whitby

Is Oshawa & Whitby the next hot new destination?

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Is Oshawa & Whitby the next hot new destination?

As prospective homebuyers have looked outside the Toronto core in search of more affordable lowrise homes in recent years, most of them have headed to Hamilton, Burlington, Milton and other points west.

This migration may soon change.

“The west end of the GTA has a greater diversity of communities that are attracting a diverse range of buyers,” Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, told HOMES Magazine earlier this year. “In the past 10 years, there has been significant focus on the growth and development of these regions, whereas historically, Durham has not traditionally been viewed in this same regard. With the boom in areas towards the east, like Prince Edward County, and the affordability leveling out, we will likely see the tide begin to turn.”

So, there you go, homebuyers – keep an eye on Whitby, Oshawa and other parts of Durham Region.

Economic diversity

And don’t let any potential uncertainly over General Motors Canada’s announcement late last year that it would close its Oshawa assembly plant. Oshawa, and other points in Durham, are about a lot more than one company.

“(The) employment sector in Oshawa has been shifting for some time, and Oshawa has healthily diversified to add technology, educational institutions, healthcare, administration and many professionals to its offerings of great jobs and companies in the market,” says Christian Huggett, vice-president, development, at Podium Developments. The company has a number of townhome developments in the city.

“(The GM news) not altered our plans,” he says. “We continue to believe that the outlook is bright for home sales in North Oshawa, buoyed by its proximity and relationship to schools, the 407 network, the significant growth occurring and planned for North Oshawa.”

Location just east of Toronto along Hwy. 401 is among the reasons Whitby and Oshawa draw attention. With Whitby just 59 kms from Toronto and Oshawa 62, commuting is a real option – particularly with recent GO Transit improvements and the expansion of Hwy. 407.

Durham Region Transit connects with the other cities in the region, including Pickering, Ajax, Clarington, Brock and Uxbridge. The 401 runs through the south of region, Hwy. 7 runs across its northern edge and the Hwy. 407 extension to Hwys. 35 and 115 across the top of Durham Region.

Translation? Getting to, from and around Durham is getting increasingly easy, which makes living here and working elsewhere a real possibility.

Expanding attractions

As with any growing municipality, Whitby and Oshawa also offer expanding amenity and retail options. The Oshawa Centre, for example, is the largest shopping complex in Durham and is home to more than 230 outlets. And in downtown Oshawa, of course, there’s a variety of unique shops and restaurants.

In Whitby, Pearson Lane is a historical development that houses boutiques, cafes and services.

Nature is also front and centre, as Oshawa is home to wildlife preserves such as the Pumphouse Marsh, Second Marsh and McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. Oshawa Botanical Gardens boasts North America’s largest contemporary peony collection.

In Whitby, more than 100 parks more than 60 kilometres of trails, including the Bio-Diversity Trail, the Cullen Central Park Trails, Otter Creek Trail and the Whitby Shores Waterfront Trail, await residents. The 670-acre Lynde Shores Conservation area is known for its wildlife and provides habitat for nesting birds.

Location, location, location

  • Located east of Toronto in York Region, Durham forms the east end of the GTA. Whitby 59 km from Toronto, Oshawa 62 km. Durham population 645,862; Oshawa 159,458; Whitby 128,377.

Key landmarks

  • Lynde Shores Conservation Area
  • Oshawa Botanical Gardens
  • Oshawa Centre
  • Tribute Communities Centre

Select housing developments

OSHAWA

Eastmore Village by Delpark Homes

Ironwood by Podium Developments

O North Urban Towns by Greycrest Homes

Symphony Towns by Marlin Spring

Winchester Estates by Menkes Developments

WHITBY

Park Vista by Paradise Developments

Park Vista by Fieldgate Homes

Station No. 3 by Brookfield Residential

The Hamptons at Country Lane by Heathwood Homes


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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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Neighbourhood Watch: Yorkville

Yorkville – High end and priced to match

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Yorkville – High end and priced to match

If location, location, location is the golden rule of real estate, the Yorkville area of Toronto is one of the most shining examples. Indeed, it doesn’t get much more central than this, bounded by Bloor Street, Davenport Road, Yonge Street and Avenue Road. If midtown Toronto is what you want, a neighbourhood pretty much at the intersection of the city’s main subway lines at Yonge and Bloor is it.

Five-star is the perfect descriptor for Yorkville, home to the Mink Mile, one of Canada’s most exclusive shopping districts, along a stretch of Bloor. Upscale names such as Prada, Chanel, Gucci, Boss, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen operate flagship locations here, and north of Bloor, on Yorkville and Cumberland streets, you’ll find smaller buildings containing art galleries, first-floor retail and high-end restaurants. And of course, being so close to the famous Yonge Street, you’re just steps away from every retail option you can imagine, including the new Nordstrom Rack on the ground floor at 1 Bloor East.

Prized condo destination

As you can imagine, given Toronto’s condo boom, Yorkville is also a prized location for highrise living, with developers introducing several new projects in recent years, reflective of the luxurious character of the area.

“(8 Cumberland) is right on Yonge Street, you can walk to the subway door, it’s right there, and it connects to a path that goes through Yorkville and all the way through to Bloor Street,” Alan Vihant, Great Gulf’s senior vice-president, highrise, told Condo Life last fall at the groundbreaking for the company’s 8 Cumberland. This modern 51-storey condo with a century-old brick Victorian podium is located at the northwest corner of Cumberland Avenue and Yonge.

“8 Cumberland will create a new gateway to the Yorkville District,” says Great Gulf President, Residential, Niall Collins. “Our commitment to the neighbourhood’s revitalization includes a 36-storey condo tower at 18 Yorkville, the iconic 76-storey condo tower at One Bloor East and this 51-storey condo development all within a block radius.”

Award-winning

Nearby, Lanterra Developments is building 50 Scollard, a 41- storey condo at the corner of Bay and Scollard in Yorkville, with 77 exclusive residences. The project, in fact, earned Lanterra Best Highrise Building Design at the 2019 BILD Awards.

Complementing the high end, highrise living and shopping in Yorkville are nearby cultural offerings such as the Royal Ontario Museum, the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, the Mira Godard Gallery, the Heffel Fine Art Auction House and Gallery 36.

And of course, blessed with a location along major transit arteries, getting to and from Yorkville is a breeze, with three subway stops along this stretch of Bloor.

Location, location, location

Bounded by Bloor Street to the south, Davenport Road to the north, Yonge Street to the east and Avenue Road to the west

Key landmarks

  • Cumberland Terrace
  • Gallery 36
  • Hemingway’s
  • Holt Renfrew Centre
  • Royal Ontario Museum
  • Sassafraz
  • Windsor Arms Hotel

Select condo projects

8 Cumberland by Great Gulf

11 Yorkville by RioCan Living

11 Yorkville by Metropia

11 Yorkville by Capital Developments

50 Scollard by Lanterra Developments

321 Davenport by Alterra Group

625 Yonge Street by Edenshaw Developments


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