Zev Mandelbaum comes from a line of developers, and he knew his career path from an early age. It’s a route that has led to the formation of his latest company: Altree Developments.
Mandelbaum’s grandfather started H&R Developments in 1952 and his father Mark later co-founded Lanterra Developments. Mandelbaum headed Lanterra’s commercial division before co-founding Marlin Spring with brothers-in-law and fellow Lanterra executives Benjamin Bakst and Elliot Kazarnovsky.
They collected investments from high-net-worth families and institutional partners and set out on their own in 2014.
“Marlin Spring was wonderful and grew much faster than we expected,” Mandelbaum said of the company he left in late 2018 to form Altree. “I still collaborate and still own a big portion of Marlin Spring projects.”
Altree’s vision and plans
While Mandelbaum said Marlin Spring is focused on value-add opportunities with multi-family projects, he wanted to be involved with something he could call his own, a venture which prioritizes pure development. Altree is involved in strategic acquisition, planning, construction, development, sales, marketing and finance structuring.
“My passion is creating residential communities, whether they be rentals or condos or even hotels,” Mandelbaum told RENX. “I want to create sites where people can live and call home.”
Altree is especially interested in communities which promote active and healthy lifestyles, according to Mandelbaum. While Toronto is its primary market, it’s also involved with a development in Jersey City, N.J. in collaboration with Lanterra and LanTree Developments.
“As long as we’re all aligned and have a common goal, we’re happy to partner with other developers,” said Mandelbaum.
Altree has construction financing in place from a collection of major banks. Mandelbaum said he puts a “substantial amount” of equity into each project, while investment partners provide additional financing.
The latest project to be announced by Altree is Highland Creek, which is proposed for two properties south of the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. It will cover 3.05 acres at 1625 Military Trail and 6000 Kingston Rd. overlooking what Mandelbaum describes as “a cocoon of nature” and the Highland Creek River that runs down to Lake Ontario.
The eastern Toronto property contains forests, wetlands and meadows, as well as approximately 54 kilometres of trails and year-round recreational opportunities. Public buses run along both Military Trail and Kingston Road, while the Guildwood GO Transit station, a future Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit station, the university and Scarborough Town Centre are all nearby.
The Highland Creek condominium development will consist of two buildings of from six to eight storeys with approximately 500 residential units ranging between 425 and 875 square feet.
Mandelbaum has met with City of Toronto staff regarding plans and hopes to have a submission to them this summer. He’d like zoning to be in place a year from now, with construction to start after that.
Forest Hill Private Residences and Thirty Six Zorra
Altree has also acquired six properties at the northwest corner of St. Clair Avenue and Forest Hill Road in Toronto. The proposed Forest Hill Private Residences condo development will be a luxury nine-storey building with approximately 75 units, spanning from 1,000 to 4,000 square feet. The majority of units will feature expansive terraces, introducing outdoor areas to every living space.
The site requires a zoning by-law amendment and site plan application that will conform to the current official plan.
Thirty Six Zorra, located at The Queensway and Islington Avenue in Etobicoke, will be comprised of a 35-storey tower anchored by a seven-storey podium. It will include 340,000 square feet of gross residential floor area with a mix of more than 400 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom condos. Amenities will include an outdoor pool, business centre, fitness centre, sauna, childrens’ centre and community kitchen.
EllisDon is a capital partner and will construct the building. Mandelbaum said suites will be priced much cheaper than in downtown Toronto, which is a short drive away via the Gardiner Expressway.
Hillmount and West Side Square
Altree’s Hillmount project at the corner of Marlee Avenue and Hillmount Avenue in Toronto is in a low-rise residential neighbourhood surrounded by parks, retail and community amenities. It’s close to three subway stations and has a Walk Score of 98.
“I started assembling homes there a while ago and slowly but surely we put together critical mass to build a nine-storey building,” said Mandelbaum.
Altree’s Jersey City West Side Square development, situated in Journal Square and the emerging Mana Contemporary Art District, will consist of five buildings that include 486 residential rental units ranging between 450 square feet and 1,300 square feet. It will also include 23,000 square feet of commercial space.
West Side Square will be within easy reach of Manhattan and other New Jersey cities through various transit systems.