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Toronto’s master-planned Emerald City grows again

Toronto’s master-planned Emerald City grows again
Flexibility and strong listening skills have been the keys to success for Elad Canada over the past 13 years as the firm has adroitly guided development of its master-planned condo community Emerald City amidst dramatic shifts in the Toronto housing market.

August has been a big month for Emerald City, located in the Don Mills Road/Sheppard Avenue neighbourhood in Don Mills. Elad has announced its fourth condo tower, the 13-storey Colours Condominium, is complete and ready to start welcoming new residents, and also launched sales for the Point, set to rise 33 storeys.

Meanwhile, the 24-storey Fifth on the Park is scheduled to have a roof-topping ceremony in a month with occupancy set for a year after that, and construction at the 33-storey Park Club has passed the 18th floor, with owners scheduled to move in by spring 2019.

The Point's sister project, the Peak, also planned for 33 storeys, opened for sales earlier this year and is nearly sold out. Excavation for the Point and the Peak, which will share a podium and other amenities, will start this fall. The builds will take three years.

One final highrise will follow those two, wrapping up the development.

In sum, that's three condo towers completed in what is called Block A, three well under construction in Block B, two in Block C on the cusp and one more tower to come, for a total of 3,000 condo units.

"There was a very strong shift towards condos. And the buildings and the unit sizes, they were all shaped based on our experiences and knowledge of the area and community and market." Dror Duchovny, Elad Canada

In addition, on the rental side, Elad came into ownership of eight existing apartment buildings when it bought the property in 2004, refurbished them and they remain rentals today. There is also a purpose-built rental building under construction on Sheppard Avenue, on the northern boundary of Emerald City, and 11 townhomes.

A 50,000-square-foot community centre and pool were erected onsite as part of Elad's section 37 Planning Act facilities-for-density swap with the City of Toronto.

Elad has used WZMH Architects for every build and brought on Tanner Hill Associates for the interior design of the Peak and the Point.

PCL Constructors Canada Inc. is construction manager for Block B with other participants including Jablonsky AST and Partners Consulting Engineers, structural consultant; United Engineering Inc., mechanical, electrical and plumbing consultant; Cole Engineering, civil consultant; Soberman Engineering, elevator consultant; and Ferris and Associates, landscape consultant.

Dror Duchovny, director of marketing and business development for Elad Canada, described how the market for condos has evolved since Elad launched the development.

Elad primarily sold condos to single professionals 10 years ago and now their newer products are targeting peak millennials and their young families, among others. It's a strategy that was proven right when sales of family-oriented units in the Peak took off, and validated again by a recent Royal LePage survey that found 69 per cent of Canadians aged 25 to 30 hope to own a home in the next five years.

Duchovny said Elad stays current by keeping its ear to the ground, talking to buyers groups, consulting with focus groups and asking existing Emerald City residents how they see their needs developing in the future.

"It evolved," said Duchovny, noting since the beginning the development's success has been based on its location. "The pricing was completely different in 2006 or 2007 when we started selling the project, the unit sizes were larger, the market absorption was different, it took longer to sell a building.

"There was a very strong shift towards condos. And the buildings and the unit sizes, they were all shaped based on our experiences and knowledge of the area and community and market."

The units at the Point start in the high $300,000s — around $700 per square foot — with a substantial number ear-marked for families. The Peak and the Point will share such amenities as a pool, fitness room and family play lounge.

Co-ordinating all the builds at their different stages is "a very complex process," he said, but by now Elad has lots of experience.

The zoning and approvals process, however, never gets easy, Duchovny said.

"Nothing smooth about it," he said. "It's a long process with the city, with planning, and the architect, and working together, and we have a very, very good relationship with the local councillor and city. It is a give and take and a very complex process but we have mastered it at this point."

Other area amenities are retail shops, the nearby Fairview Mall, a TTC subway station within walking distance and such major highways as the 401 and 404/Don Valley Parkway.

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