February 1st, 2024 – CentreCourt Developments Inc.
As a leading developer in the Greater Toronto Area, CentreCourt stands out for its entrepreneurial approach, ability to identify ambitious, high-potential professionals and commitment to training them to become best-in-class industry experts. It has been part of the company’s DNA since inception to nurture a culture of meritocracy with a view to maximizing project success and corporate growth.
“We’re excited to welcome Dan and Ian as Partners – a testament to their merit, commitment and unwavering dedication,” said Andrew Hoffman, Founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer. “Their promotion not only enriches our leadership team, but also reaffirms our belief in fostering excellence by investing in leaders early on in their careers and focusing on continuous improvement.”
“We strive to bring people into the organization that are passionate about what they do and are proud of taking an uncompromising approach to the quality of their work. Dan and Ian have exhibited a commitment to the core values and culture that have distinguished our company over the past 13 years and which will continue to underpin our long term success.” said Gavin Cheung, Managing Partner and President.
Daniel Oliveira and Ian Veloso join CentreCourt’s existing senior management team of 13 Partners, with responsibility for execution across Acquisitions, Development, Sales & Marketing, Construction, Finance and Accounting, to generate impacts beyond their particular area of expertise and produce industry-leading outcomes.
It’s been a few years since Canada’s housing markets experienced a sense of normalcy; 2023 was no different.
The ‘Project of the Year’ is part of STOREYS annual week-long editorial series. You can find the rest of our 2023 selections here as they’re released throughout the week.
It’s been a few years since Canada’s housing markets experienced a sense of normalcy; 2023 was no different.
The Bank of Canada’s interest rate hikes and halts dictated activity throughout the year — a weak hand off from 2022 made for a slow start, but a temporary rate pause in March led to a springtime surge as buyers and sellers both falsely hoped that rate cuts were on the horizon.
The overall tumultuousness of 2023 — poor market conditions, high interest rates, a lack of affordability, and reluctant buyers — led dozens of developers to delay or cancel the launch of new condominium projects.
In the past, STOREYS’ Project of the Year has featured such architectural standouts as One Delisle, bellwether market launches like 8 Elm, and perhaps the most ambitious urban development project Canada has seen this decade in The Well.
This year, however, STOREYS Project of the Year 2023 is ‘No Project.’
And no, we’re not trying to be clever, we’re simply trying to offer an accurate summation of the market that was over the past 12 months. One that saw nearly as many projects halted or cancelled as were launched. One that saw not only further interest rate hikes, but also the impact of 2022’s rising rates finally catch up – to both builders and buyers.
In a market as challenging as the one we’ve experienced throughout 2023, it didn’t feel honest to choose a Project of the Year.
A Strange, Strange Time
“We’re on track for somewhere around 13,000 or 14,000 new condo sales this year [in the Greater Toronto Area], which would put us at the lowest total since 2008,” Shaun Hildebrand, the President of Urbanation, told STOREYS. “Most developers, particularly those that have been through this type of environment before, have held back on their plans to bring new product to the market.”
“We’re in a strange, strange time. The market is in a state of limbo. Developers are waiting for either rates to come down, costs to come down, or both.”
As of November 1, some 40 projects — totalling 13,721 units — that were expected to launch in the GTA in 2023 remain on hold, according to data from Urbanation. Just under 2,500 units launched for pre-sale across the region in Q3, a 23% annual decline.
Hildebrand noted, though, that the number of reported delays doesn’t tell the whole story. A significant number of projects that did launch — 19 have been brought to market thus far in Q4 — are struggling with absorption.
It’s “very likely,” he said, that they could be pulled from the market and either relaunched at a later date or cancelled outright. In Q1 2023, the number of unsold new condo units in the GTA sat at 16,299, a 73% annual increase.
As Hildebrand explains, some developers that have launched this quarter are “testing the market” with an initial release. If it goes well, they’ll release more units. If not, they’ll pause the project until market conditions improve.
Rather than risk a faulty launch and the negative light it casts, developers that have already opted to delay are simply “reading the sentiment in the market,” said Edward Jegg, Research Manager at Altus Group, as buyers remain at bay.
“People aren’t buying, I think that is the main driver of these delays. Markets that could traditionally handle multiple projects at once, your typical multi-building developments that have done well in the past, are not right now,” Jegg told STOREYS.
“That’s generally a sign that it’s not the product, it’s the purchasers. They are not willing to purchase. [Alongside] issues with builder financing and the cost of credit, everything has come together in a negative way.”
A competitive price point helped Capital Developments’s Park Road perform well in a fraught market.(Capital Developments)
On the construction side, the cost of development has skyrocketed — rising more than 40% over the last two years — as interest rates have risen at their fastest pace in history, Adrian Rocca, the CEO of Fitzrovia explained to STOREYS.
“The risk premium over the risk-free rate that investors really require to buy product has expanded. Margins have been squeezed,” Rocca said. “In the condo market, there are a lot of projects that are stuck in pre-sales at 10% to 30%. Way off the mark.”
Most developers need to see pre-sales reach about 70% before they can secure financing to actually get shovels in the ground.
In the past, pre-sales could reach 30% to 40% within three months of a project’s launch and still be able to climb to the necessary 70% within a year, Elliott Taube, a broker with Pivot Real Estate Group said.
But now, 10% to 15% of units are selling in the first few months, making it “almost impossible” to hit that higher threshold without significantly affecting initial purchasers or the bottom line of the project itself.
The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA)’s latest Housing Market Index reveals that an increasing number of builders have “pessimistic” views about current and future selling conditions. On the index of 100, multi-family builders’ confidence sat at 33.6 in Q3 2023, down from 41.0 in Q2.
Forty-percent of builders included in an expert panel assembled by the CHBA said that their sales traffic was down in Q3, and not showing any sign of recovery, following the summertime interest rate hikes.
With high rates simultaneously weighing on buyer demand and reducing builders’ access to capital, 65% of builders said they were being forced to build fewer units, and 37% said they’ve had to cancel projects altogether. Based on demand seen in 2023, 35% expect to start fewer homes next year.
The springtime launch of Metropia’s Union City was perfectly timed to take advantage of buyer’s short-lived enthusiasm.(Metropia Developments)
Hildebrand, Jegg, Rocca, and Taube all agreed that the trend of delays and cancellations will likely persist throughout the first half of 2024 as buyers and developers wait, as they did in early 2023, for the Bank of Canada to start cutting interest rates.
“We have talked about housing supply issues for many years. We have talked about excessive taxes, fees, and levies on housing for many years. Now, in 2023, the chickens have come home to roost,” Richard Lyall, President of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario said. “The housing industry is not something where you can sort of flip a switch and then it fires back up again.”
With over 100,000 units currently under construction in the GTA, recent project delays will take a few years to fully impact supply. But when they do, the effects will be “significant,” said Urbanation’s Hildebrand.
“In order for construction in Toronto to continue growing, we need to be pretty consistent with sales of more than 25,000 units a year. So the fact that we’re only going to get maybe 13,000 units this year, that’s a pretty big deficit,” Hildebrand said.
“We’re unlikely to get 25,000 sales next year as well — I think that’s a long shot. This is certainly setting the industry up for a meaningful slowdown in construction in the years ahead.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Rocca, of Fitzrovia, who predicts that 2024 will bring a “period of volatility and rockiness.” As long as interest rates remain elevated, the market will not rebound.
Despite the bleakness of the market, there were some projects that saw success in 2023.
Hildebrand pointed to Capital Development’s Park Road as a victory in Toronto’s downtown core, a feat he attributed to its lower price point than neighbouring competitors. Metropia’s Union City, a master-planned community in Markham, was well received during the springtime rush, Taube added.
Raglan House, from Camrost Felcorp, enjoyed successful sales after the developer offered up an enviable incentive intended to alleviate skittish buyer’s financial woes. While he stopped short of naming specific developments, Lyall noted that location was a significant contributing factor for launches that did well.
Each voice in this story, including Jegg and Rocca, mentioned CentreCourt’s Pickering City Centre. The 55-acre masterplanned community will bring 10 mixed-use towers and over 6,000 new units to Pickering’s burgeoning downtown over the next decade.
The September launch event drew 2,000 agents. The first release consists of 2,100 suits across two towers, rising 45 and 55-storeys. After just three months, they’re 95% and 50% sold out.
CentreCourt’s Pickering City Centre exceeded sales expectations thanks to its convenient location and low price point.(CentreCourt)
“We’d seen a lot of projects not doing well and the market was soft, so we did think about pushing the project until things were a little more receptive,” Jacob Truglia Partner and Vice President, Business Lead, at CentreCourt, told STOREYS.
“But ultimately we came to the conclusion that we don’t have a crystal ball to see what the market is going to be like. We felt that we had a competitive offering and that we were positioned to do well. And once we got into the marketing phase, it became clear to us relatively quickly that there was meaningful interest. We felt optimistic going into it, but when we saw the response, it surpassed our expectations of how much demand there would be.”
Beyond the demand, Truglia attributes the project’s success to its transit-oriented location — it’s steps from the Pickering GO Station as well as Highway 401 — its proximity to the Pickering Town Centre and a host of daily conveniences, and its low price point. CentreCourt’s in-house construction team, which allows the developer to easily manage projects with efficiency, is a contributing factor as well.
“The response had glimpses of the 2021 market. There was just a ton of excitement around the project,” Truglia said.
“Regardless of whether it was a CentreCourt project or from another developer, in today’s market it’s always great to see any project be successful, because we appreciate the challenge of operating in today’s market. Any time a project has great success on the sales side, we’re happy to see it.”
Despite buyer’s current hesitancy, the success of Pickering City Centre highlights the pent-up demand that exists within the market. When shelved projects are finally brought to market and the Bank of Canada begins cutting interest rates, buyers will be ready to pull the trigger.
Developed by CentreCourt in Toronto’s lively Entertainment District, 55 Mercer has risen to join an evermore dense cluster of downtown condominiums. Situated just west of the dual 45-storey Nobu Residences, which have been under construction concurrently, the 47-storey, Arcadis-designed residential development has now topped off about a metre shorter than these neighbouring towers.
Since our last update that covered the tower’s quick ascent on the southeast corner of Blue Jays Way and Mercer Street, a significant milestone was reached in October with the dismantling of the construction hoist, captured in the image below. This moment typically signifies both the shift from major external construction activities to completing the interior finishings, while indicating that the building’s elevators are in place to transport another necessary upwards from the interior. Also visible in the image below is the remaining facade that to be completed along Mercer Street where the hoist once stood, prepped with steel fencing in advance of the final touches.
A mobile crane facilitates the dismantling of the construction hoist, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor ProjectEnd
Closet to Blue Jays Way where the podium floors are cladding in red brick, work on the main floor’s glazing is wrapping up, with workers completing the installation of the final glass panels around the residential lobby entrance using a boom lift. To the right, large-glazed storefronts offer expansive views into the commercial space, still bare concrete inside.
The podium glazing, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Northern Light
Right at the corner of Blue Jays Way and Mercer, the podium’s detailed design — divided light windows punched into the brick and stone cladding in a formal grid — blends 55 Mercer’s new structure with the district’s heritage warehouse aesthetic.
The podium with fencing and scaffolding removed, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor AHK
Looking upwards from street level along Blue Jays Way, the tower is significantly set back from the podium levels, while its cladding moves more towards — but not entirely — to the all-glass facades we see so often. Here, metal panels and louvres interrupt the glass at every floor slab, most of it coloured to sync with the podium cladding below. The southeast and northwest corners of the tower, however, provide contrast through white frames that add a modern twist to those parts of the building’s facades, while also giving the tower a less monolithic look.
Looking east from Blue Jays Way to the tower, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Northern Light
Stepping back, the full height of 55 Mercer Condos is captured, showcasing the integration of the more modern glass tower with the heritage-inspired podium. With both the hoist and tower crane taken down, the completed facade of the podium and the nearly fully installed windows show a building poised to take on its final, soon-to-be-lived-in look.
The podium and tower of 55 Mercer, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor AHK
Standing at a final height of 155.5m and set to deliver 543 new residential units, 55 Mercer Condos is heading towards the finish line, to join the ranks of may other surrounding towers in the Entertainment District.
Developed by CentreCourt, in partnership with Centrestone Urban Developments Inc, a 46-storey condominium designed by Arcadis is rapidly advancing in Toronto’s bustling downtown at the southeast corner of Jarvis and Gerrard in Moss Park. PRIME Condos at 319 Jarvis Street had hit the halfway mark in our last update in January, while its efficient urban development has leveraged extended 12-hour construction days and taken advantage of the extended construction times during the pandemic so that PRIME has now topped off.
An aerial view looking southwest of PRIME Condos, designed by Arcadis for CentreCourt and Centrestone Urban Developments Inc
As of May, 2023 (seen below), the tower had progresse to around four-fifths of the way to the top, nearing its mechanical penthouse. From a distance, the eastward view below captured the tower’s emerging stature in the city’s skyline, with Concord Sky at Yonge and Gerrard streets under construction in the left middle-ground. PRIME Condos is set to complement the nearby 33-storey Alter tower at 355 Church Street, with its alternating white cladding and window pattern.
An aerial view looking east to the rising tower and its place in the skyline, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor tstormers
By June, a closer look from Yonge and Gerrard offered insights into PRIME’s cladding and glass, which has enveloped the majority of the structure. The west elevation showcases its series of 3-storey sections of window wall, with each framed section offset by a single floor for visual dynamism; the thick bands of black cladding surround windows marked by gold-toned fins. The same pattern is found on PRIME’s east elevation.
Looking east to the tower from Yonge and Gerrard, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Northern Light
July brought us this close-up view of the building, looking to the south and west elevations. The series of 3-storey window wall sections, (along with a 4-storey section atop the cantilever), provide a more detailed glimpse into the building’s design details. The construction hoist on the west elevation tells of the ongoing work, while the bare concrete of the podium awaits its cladding.
The cladding and window patterns of the south and west elevations, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor stjames2queenwest
By September, an aerial perspective looking southeast showed that the building had reached the mechanical penthouse. The crane continued to stand overhead. The nearly completed 3-storey sections on the north elevation, matched on the south, display the rhythmic facade pattern.
An aerial view looking southwest of the tower having reached the mechanical penthouse, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor yrt+viva=1system
In October, back at ground level, progress on the podium was evident where parts of the west and north elevation were being enveloped in matching black cladding, integrating seamlessly with the tower. Scaffolding and ongoing streetscape work along Jarvis Street showcased the continual development of the project.
A view of work on the podium from Jarvis and Gerrard, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor GenerationLee
Now in November, with the tower having topped off and the crane having been dismantled, PRIME Condos stands proudly, juxtaposed with Jarvis Street Baptist Church to its north, with some finishing touches still to come. The modern tower, with its unique architectural style, also rises behind the older residential buildings along Gerrard. As the hoist remains and work continues, the 46-storey, 148.43m-tall condominium is rapidly progressing towards completion in 2024, delivering 596 new residential units to the bustling Moss Park neighbourhood.
Looking south to the topped off tower, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor stjames2queenwest
via Hold’em For Life
Hold’em For Life Charity Challenge Raises Nearly $3.5M, Adds To Incredible Total
Uniting the biggest players in Toronto’s real estate world – inviting them to bust out their gambling chops and poker faces for a good cause – Hold’em For Life raised millions of dollars for cancer research.
November 14, 202311:00 am
Sinai Health Foundation was the big winner at Thursday’s 17th annual Hold’em For Life Charity Challenge.
Despite an uncertain real estate market, the event was a record-smashing success, with its guests “all in” on the money raising front.
Uniting the biggest players in Toronto’s real estate world – inviting them to bust out their gambling chops and poker faces for a good cause – the black tie affair replaced the typical ballroom tables at the Royal York Hotel with card tables.
In a high-energy and friendly (but intense) competition, the occasion saw some 700 people engage in a massive Texas Hold’em poker tournament to raise important funds for some of Ontario’s top hospitals and the Hold’em for Life Fellowship Program. The Fellowship Program raises funds for clinical trainees who pursue cancer research in Toronto.
Demonstrating the real estate industry’s commitment to the cause – one that’s impacted virtually all of us at some point – the evening raised just under $3.5M towards cancer research right here in Toronto. The funds raised allow for the support of 68 new fellowships at University of Toronto affiliated hospitals. These hospitals include SickKids, Sinai Health System, St. Michael’s, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Women’s College Hospital, and UHN.
You didn’t have to be a poker player to show your support. A separate room housed a bustling bar, and a constantly replenished supply of food all evening to complement the mixing and mingling. This meant a meat carving station, a taco station, and a fully-stocked salad bar, in addition to fresh pastas and passed appetizers.
“We recognize that supporting Hold’em is no small feat – particularly in a year like this – but year after year, people in this room rise to the occasion,” said Co-Chair Gavin Cheung (President and Partner of CentreCourt) in the tournament’s official kick-off speeches.
Co-Chair Gavin Cheung.(Hold’em For Life)
Some of the evening’s biggest sponsors are familiar names on the Toronto real estate scene and include Astro Excavating, Atrium, CMCC, BMO Capital Markets, CBRE, CentreCourt, Dream CA, Embee Properties, Fitzrovia, Haven Developments, and Silvercore.
This year marks the last as co-chair for Bob Blazevski (President & COO of Diamond Corp), who was sent off with a massive public thank you for what Cheung called his “tireless” fundraising efforts over the past three years.
“I’m told there are over 700 people here tonight – so that’s a great showing and represents our industry in a great way,” Blazevski told the crowd. Last year’s event saw some 600 guests. “Tonight’s success is the result of your generous contributions year after year,” he continued. Fitzrovia CEO Adrian Rocca replaces Blazevski as co-chair.
Prior to last week’s event, Hold’em For Life Charity Challenge had raised $47M for cancer research since 2006 – which means the event has now eclipsed the vaunted $50M threshold. According to the organization, 85% of all proceeds raised go directly to fund cancer research and other initiatives.
(Hold’em For Life)
If you missed out, there’s always next year (you can brush up on your poker skills in the meantime). Click HERE to register for 2024.
September 26, 2023 by Anthony Teles
CentreCourt‘s Pickering City Centre project is making waves in the Greater Toronto Area’s real estate landscape. With Tower 1 of this expansive 55-acre masterplan community now 95% sold out, the real estate community is awaiting the launch of Tower 2 this Friday.
Earlier this month, on September 13th, CentreCourt hosted a launch event on the grounds of the future masterplan. With over 2,000 attendees, this electric launch event was the biggest launch of 2023 and one of the largest launches in the company’s history.
Sales centre grand opening on September 13, image courtesy of CentreCourt
The event featured presentations from several key figures associated with the project. Gavin Cheung, President of CentreCourt, was joined by Jason Lam, Partner and Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and Shalini Karthigesan, Senior Sales and Marketing Manager, in addition to Pickering’s Mayor Kevin Ashe, to discuss the exciting vision for the project.
Over 2,000 attendees at the launch event held September 13, image courtesy of CentreCourt
At $1,050/ ft², Pickering City Centre is one of the most affordable condominium projects in the GTA. The masterplan will incorporate the 700,000 ft² existing shopping centre and provide residents with direct access to GO Transit. Additionally, the first phase of the development promises a substantial 127,000 ft² of amenities.
Block 1, the development’s first phase is poised to feature four mixed-use residential towers, housing approximately 2,200 residential units in a design by Diamond Schmitt Architects. These towers will vary in height, ranging from 40 to 55 storeys, and will offer around 18,000 ft² of retail space at the ground level. Residents can look forward to a diverse range of amenities, including a 20,000 ft² fitness centre, co-working spaces, a unique Cleveland Clinic Virtual Clinic, a golf simulator, and a rooftop pool with outdoor lounge areas. The development also plans to incorporate lush interior courtyards, which will connect to a broader network of green spaces.
The rooftop pool and lounge area at Phase One of Pickering City Centre, designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects for CentreCourt, Cowie Capital Partners Inc, and Salthill Capital
The Pickering Town Centre shopping mall, an integral component of the masterplan, spans approximately 700,000 ft² of leasable area. It currently hosts major tenants such as The Bay, Cineplex, Farm Boy, H&M, and Saks Off Fifth. A commercial office tower on the site includes tenants like BMO Nesbitt Burns and MPAC. While Highway 401 is adjacent to the south, a pedestrian bridge provides a direct connection to the Pickering GO station, enhancing the site’s connectivity.
The residential development is located on what is currently unused surface parking space to the east of the mall, ensuring minimal disruption to the mall’s operations.
Looking southwest to Pickering City Centre, designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects for CentreCourt, Cowie Capital Partners Inc, and Salthill Capital
In collaboration with Cowie Capital Partners Inc and Salthill Capital as retail and office leads, CentreCourt’s vision encompasses more than ten mixed-use towers, aiming to house approximately 6,000 residential units. The overall masterplan is set to introduce a density of around 3,600,000 ft², encompassing residential, retail, and commercial spaces.
As the Pickering City Centre project continues to evolve, CentreCourt’s aim is to craft a cohesive, connected, and sustainable community for the residents of Pickering and the broader GTA.
For those interested in further details about this transformative project, more information is available on the official Pickering City Centre website.
In just one week, CentreCourt sold 95% of its pre-construction condo units during the first-phase launch of Pickering City Centre — a sprawling high-rise development planned for the site of the Pickering Town Centre mall.
September 23, 2023 7:00 am
When it comes to high-rise condo buildings popping up in Ontario, cities like Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, and Ottawa might come to mind as hotbeds of activity. Pickering, a city 40 km east of Toronto with a population of less than 100,000, typically doesn’t — but maybe it should.
The first phase of an extensive new master-planned community, dubbed Pickering City Centre, launched its sales on September 13, bringing 513 pre-construction condo units to the market. Within a week, 95% of them had sold.
Jacob Truglia, Partner and Vice President Business Lead for CentreCourt Developments, the developer behind the project, said signs of heightened interest for condos in the Pickering area started rolling in before the sales took off.
“We had a launch event last week and there were about 2,000 realtors in attendance, so we thought that was a great sign in terms of overall interest in the project,” Truglia told STOREYS. “But I will say, the outcome that we had here of being close to sold out in a week has surpassed our own expectations of this, so we’re very happy with how that came together.”
Planned for the 55-acre site of the Pickering Town Centre mall, the master-planned community, once complete, will have at least 10 high-rise towers reaching up to 55 storeys and housing more than 6,000 residential units, as well as retail, office, and commercial space. It will also feature parks, urban plazas, a new City Hall, and a direct connection to the Pickering GO station. As to be expected, it’s a multi-phase endeavour that will be rolled out over several years.
Although Pickering might not be the average person’s choice to make such a large development investment, Truglia says CentreCourt identified the city’s market as one that’s been “overlooked for years.” A combination of a growing population and a constrained supply has led to high demand.
“There hasn’t been a lot of activity in that market save for a few developers,” Truglia said.
But of course, the scale and offerings of Pickering City Centre are unlike anything the city has ever seen, and that doesn’t hurt either.
“We have Pickering Town Center, which is a staple in the community, so that’s 700,000 sq. ft of retail at your doorstep, and there’s a 130,000-sq.-ft office building, a direct connection to the Pickering GO, and we’re directly beside Highway 401, so if you look at the Pickering landscape, this is the best location and it’s really rare to have an opportunity to be at centre ice at the scale of a 55-acre master plan where you can really redefine it as a new downtown,” Truglia said.
He also points to the competitive price point of the condos, which have sold at $1,050 per sq. ft, as another big draw for buyers. A similar-sized condo in the area, Truglia says, would cost about $100 more per sq. ft.
CentreCourt’s success comes at an interesting time when many developers in the Greater Toronto Area have chosen to postpone, cancel, or sell development projects as they struggle with lower buyer demand amid higher interest rates and overall affordability concerns.
“It’s definitely a more challenging market right now than it has been,” Truglia said. “But I think what this shows is when you have the right ingredients, a good story, a belief and a vision, and are able to offer it all at an attractive price point, there are still buyers out there — they’re just looking and being selective with the opportunities that they ultimately choose to purchase.”
By Jeremy Nuttall Staff Reporter
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
A developer on Wednesday unveiled plans for a massive project that will include at least 10 condominium towers melded in and around the existing Pickering Town Centre mall — a growing trend among developments across the GTA.
CentreCourt Developments said the Pickering City Centre will see residential and commercial units alongside open public spaces to create a “thriving” downtown district.\
“The goal is to open the door to purchasers in the fall,” Gavin Cheung, managing partner and president of CentreCourt, said. “We’ve got a track record of building as quickly as there is market appetite.”
The existing Pickering Town Centre and city hall will be folded into the development, with the buildings themselves being incorporated into the new plans, rather than being demolished and rebuilt.
CentreCourt plans to erect more than 10 mixed-use towers on the property, which will include 6,000 condominium residences and a one-and-a-half-acre park. Designed by the architecture firm Diamond Schmitt, the tallest tower will be 55-storeys.
The plan for the 55-acre property also includes a virtual medical clinic residents will be able to access from home operated by Cleveland Clinic Canada. The plan promises enhanced walkways, tree-lined streets and community spaces for festivals.
Using existing malls as part of new and massive housing complexes has become a development trend in the GTA with nearly 200 residential buildings being proposed around 14 malls over the next decade.
Such spaces offer excellent opportunity for redevelopment due to their land, existing retail services and transit infrastructure, Carl Gomez, chief economist at CoStar Group Canada, a commercial real estate database, told the Star last month.
Mayor Kevin Ashe ‘excited about the vision’
Cheung said Pickering’s location just off Hwy. 401 has ready access to the GO station and other transit options placing the project in an ideal place for prospective residents.
“We wouldn’t be nearly as excited if we were building just in an open field without anything around it to service the growth,” Cheung said. “We believe it’s a natural function of what comes next for the City of Pickering.”
The city’s current plans for amenities, such as a new performing arts centre, will mesh with the development, he said.
“They’re bringing in new civic infrastructure not in a vacuum,” Cheung said. “They’re doing it in an intelligent way that’s designed to integrate with this master-plan community.”
Pickering council and community members have, thus far, been supportive of the project and Cheung said he doesn’t expect any hiccups with zoning and density already approved by the city.
Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe said council’s vision for the project is a walkable and sustainable “destination” point for the city.
“We’re excited about the future, we’re excited about the vision,” Ashe said. “We think it will be a great addition to our city.”
He said there may be some objections to so many towers by some residents in Pickering and said he accepts the differences of opinion. But the site, he said, is the best place for the city to grow.
“There’s always those that don’t want change, but the reality is this is where density should be.”
Toronto is currently in a housing crunch, and the provincial government is hoping to build 1.5 million homes in Ontario by 2033 as Canada looks to accept 1.45 million immigrants by 2026.
-With Star Files
Jeremy Nuttall is a Vancouver-based Business reporter for the Star
The 55-acre site will have more than 6,000 residential units in at least 10 buildings.
CentreCourt will launch sales this fall for the first two condominium towers for a master-planned development on the 55-acre site of the Pickering Town Centre mall that will have more than 6,000 residential units in at least 10 buildings upon completion.
The residential development will take place on the land to the east of the existing mall, which will remain intact. The residential, retail and office components will comprise approximately 3.6 million square feet and there will also be a 1.5-acre public park at the north end of the first development block.
A deal is in place with the Ontario Pension Board (OPB) to close on the acquisition of the site for an undisclosed price before the end of the year, but CentreCourt has the go-ahead to start selling condo units before that.
The OPB has owned the site — located at 1355 Kingston Rd. in Pickering, about 40 kilometres east of downtown Toronto — for several years.
The OPB kick-started the approvals process for the site’s transformation and CentreCourt managing partner and president Gavin Cheung told RENX his company began acquisition discussions for what will be known as Pickering City Centre in early 2022.
ickering City Centre’s first residential components
Diamond Schmitt is the master-plan architect for Pickering City Centre, which will incorporate large open green spaces, urban piazzas, tree-lined streets, enhanced sidewalks and pedestrian walkways.
The residential towers will range in height from 40 to 55 storeys, with the first two to go on sale being 40 and 45 storeys.
The unit mix in the first four buildings comprising the first development block will be approximately 25 per cent one-bedroom, 40 per cent one-bedroom-plus-den and 35 per cent two-bedroom and two-bedroom-plus-den.
Pricing hasn’t yet been announced.
That first development block will have approximately 2,200 residential units, 18,000 square feet of retail space and 127,000 square feet of amenity space.
“We’re building out an amenity package in those first two buildings that are forward-looking and designed to serve more than just two towers,” Cheung said. “We’re over-providing on the amenity front.”
Exterior amenities will encompass approximately 78,000 square feet and include:
- a rooftop pool complemented by cabanas, outdoor lounge areas and grilling stations;
- interior courtyards totalling about 37,000 square feet that will connect to a network of green spaces and can be accessed at the doorstep of many of the at-grade amenities;
- and parking stalls for electric vehicles and bicycles.
Interior amenities will be comprised of about 49,000 square feet and include:
- a 20,000-square-foot fitness centre with yoga rooms, spin rooms, saunas and high-end fitness equipment;
- co-working and social areas;
- and a golf simulator lounge.
Each tower will also have a Cleveland Clinic virtual medical clinic, the first of its kind in Canada to be offered in a condo master-plan community.
It will enable all residents to connect with a Cleveland Clinic Canada clinician to receive a diagnosis, referral or prescription without needing to leave their building.
Retail and office components will remain
Salthill Capital and Cowie Capital Partners Inc. are also investors in Pickering City Centre and will oversee the maintenance and revitalization of the existing retail and office elements of the project.
It was known as Sheridan Mall when it opened in 1972 and renovations were made in 1998, 2008 and 2009.
“This is a true mixed-use community and the strength of our partnership is that we’ve got expertise on the residential development side and then we’ve got partners that are experts on the retail side,” Cheung said.
“They’re going to be instrumental in driving value for the retail and their feedback will be valuable across all our operations.”
There are long-term plans to invest in the mall, according to Cheung, who said it has long played a prominent role in the community and will be an important factor in drawing people to the residential component of Pickering City Centre.
“It’s a key part of the future and we will definitely be spending time, energy and capital on ensuring that that asset is renewed and enhanced in the years to come.
“The residential density will make the mall sustainable for the long run and, in turn, the mall will also become a very attractive amenity.”
There’s a direct connection to the Pickering GO Transit station via a pedestrian bridge that crosses over Highway 401 at the southern boundary of the easily accessible site.
Construction could start early next year
If sales go as well as hoped, construction of the first two condo towers could begin early next year. Construction is expected to take about four years to complete.
Timelines are fluid for future phases of Pickering City Centre’s development.
“We want to build it right, we don’t want to build it quickly,” Cheung said. “We want to make sure that everything is done properly and that we’re building in the right way.”
Local politicians have been very supportive of the redevelopment of the mall site and Pickering City Hall is adjacent to it.
The city of more than 100,000 people has been growing rapidly and it’s undersupplied when it comes to housing. It has also never established a true downtown to act as a focal point.
The residential additions made to the Pickering City Centre site, combined with the existing civic infrastructure and amenities around it, should go a long way to alleviating both of those issues.
“Affordability is a major theme when people are making housing decisions throughout the GTA, Pickering and Durham Region,” Cheung said.
“We believe that we’re going to be able to bring a product that will be a very effective option to the low-rise options which are currently dominating discussions in Pickering.”
Pickering City Centre’s partners
CentreCourt was founded in 2010 and focuses on the development of mixed-use, high-rise residential communities located near major amenities, public transit networks and employment areas across the GTA.
It’s responsible for 19 high-rise residential projects collectively representing more than 10,000 homes and $5.6 billion of development value.
Salthill Capital, which until July 24 was known as Strathallen Capital, has more than 60 assets under management encompassing 9.3 million square feet and are valued at $2.2 billion.
Cowie Capital was founded in 1996 and owns and manages a portfolio of office, industrial and self-storage assets.
It actively manages tenant build-outs, internally develops self-storage facilities and has significant industrial land holdings for future development.
The company also invests in and manages large-scale projects with and on behalf of its partner companies, and is an investor in several early-stage companies, with a focus on real estate or real estate-related companies.
It has been nearly two-and-a-half years since developers CentreCourt and Bazis held the virtual launch of 8 Wellesley Residences at Yonge. The 55-storey building is set to stand 182.15m by the northwest corner of Yonge Street and Wellesley Street West in Downtown Toronto. The design by Arcadis — the Amsterdam-based global firm that acquired Toronto-based IBI Group in Fall 2022 — retains and restores the heritage facade at 10 through 16 Wellesley Street West in order to be used for retail and lobby space.
Since the virtual launch, the site has been under continuous construction in this bustling area. The structure is now climbing upward on its way to punctuate the city skyline, but that journey started back at ground level in Fall 2021.
In September 2021, an image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Red Mars looking west offers a glimpse of a large yellow and black shoring rig preparing the site, signalling the onset of crews commencing excavation. Aided by heavy machinery and diligent crew members, the site transitions into a construction zone, hinting at the transformation to come. Meanwhile, the recently completed Wellesley on the Park stands over the site in the background, awaiting its new neighbour.
By March 3 2022, UrbanToronto Forum contributor Benito’s northeast-facing image reveals excavation is in full swing, with a yellow excavator working on the site. Blue fencing lays strewn with with wires and pylons against protective fencing at the forefront. Construction is steadily progressing and paving the way for the coming vertical growth.
Fast-forward to this year on March 18, and UrbanToronto Forum contributor Northern Light’s north-facing snapshot presents a starkly different scene from Wellesley Street. A striking white and red crane, displaying the CentreCourt logo, presides over the emerging skeletal steel structure of the building, signifying the project’s transition from groundwork to vertical ascent.
In May, UrbanToronto Forum contributor Rascacielo shares a northwest-facing image, revealing the project reaching four storeys in height. The rising concrete structure now casts a shadow over the retained heritage facades, marking the juxtaposition of the city’s architectural history and its future. We see yellow and grey steel shoring poles stretch from one slab to the next as the concrete cures, in preparation for further vertical expansion.
A little over a month later, on June 24, Rascacielo offers another perspective looking north from Dr. Lillian McGregor Park. The space from which Wellesley on the Park gets its namesake, it features unique artwork in the form of a family of cranes made of bent aluminum. Framed by one of the park’s crane art sculptures, the building’s increasing height and the construction crane in the background paint a vivid picture of the project’s vertical progress. The image captures a synergy between art, architecture, and urban development.
A day later, UrbanToronto Forum contributor drum118 captures the rapid pace of construction looking east and upward. We see the complete transformation of the site in the area once home to the Segovia restaurant. Each floor is sporting grey metal fencing, a safety measure highlighting the work still in progress.
Finally, we head out to Yonge Street on July 11 for a westward perspective, another image from Rascacielo. Our eyes gaze upward as the photograph showcases the white concrete structure rising prominently from the east side of the building. The site continues to buzz with activity, with the crane overhead, and steel scaffolding with wooden coverings cloaking the heritage elements, encapsulating a dynamic dance of construction progress.
Upon completion, the development will add 600 residential units to this vibrant area. Residents will be just steps from Wellesley subway station, as well as short walks to an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods such as Yorkville and The Village.
UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you’d like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.
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