“This project is probably about $300 million by the time it’s all said and done,” Kingdom’s VP projects Eric Jensen told RENX before the ceremonial shovels turned the dirt on June 27.
The international development company set up Kingdom Canada in Vancouver in 2014 with “a number of mid-rise and custom-home projects” and moved to Toronto about two years ago, said Jensen.
KSquare Condos is the first Toronto site, located in central Scarborough at Kennedy Road, just north of Hwy. 401, south of Sheppard Avenue East.
The move into the Toronto market was a natural for Kingdom, Jensen said.
Toronto an “incredible market”
“It’s an incredible market, it’s an incredible city. It is the most diverse city on the planet and I could go on and on about my love for Toronto,” said Jensen, a native Torontonian. “Kingdom shared that same vision of it and they think it’s a great market to be in to help further their vision of how they see land development going.”
KSquare will offer 644 residential units in twin, 30-plus storey towers, including “Toronto’s largest private library,” said Jensen. There will also be soundproof music rehearsal stations, a sports bar, yoga centre, and an “organic forest approach” to the seventh-floor terrace.
The groundbreaking comes one month after launching sales for the 485,000-square-foot property.
Planned development consists of retail, office and mixed-use residential. Jensen confirmed there will be ground-level retail along Village Green Square.
Part of Kingdom’s modus operendi is building community by gearing its suite offerings to appeal to an array of ages and family types, including “the first-time buyer, the newlyweds or the kids, or the families,” Jensen said. “We’ve got a lot of three-bedroom suites as well as a lot of one-bedroom suites.”
It’s in an area currently experiencing a major transformation in new city planning and rapid development growth: “We’re looking at 20,000 condos along Sheppard,” said Ward 22 Toronto Councillor Jim Karygiannis.
KSquare will sit across a rail corridor from the Agincourt Mall, where future plans call for redeveloped retail, commercial and additional residential density. The so-called “Kennedy Central” area is also slated to benefit from improved transit service with the proposed $5-billion Scarborough rail transit expansion.
The area is already served by the existing Agincourt GO station to the north, and has easy access to Hwy. 401.
Markham mixed-use site in pipeline
KSquare Condos isn’t the only major Kingdom project on the go in the GTA. The company also plans a mixed-used development at the former Sheridan Nurseries site along the busy Highway 7 corridor in Markham.
“We are working through the zoning and the planning process at this point,” Jensen said. “We’re hoping to launch sales on the first phase probably next year. There’ll be condominium, there’ll be retail.
“As we step back off Highway 7, again, there will be more ground-floor retail, there might be some office space. We’re still weighing all this in but certainly, it will be condominium and residential towers.”
With interests in real estate development, investments, property management, landscaping and modern agriculture, Kingdom is a privately held, broadly-based group of companies operating in Vancouver, Toronto and China. Its portfolio includes millions of square metres built and developed, including residential and commercial projects, entertainment complexes and conference centres.
Kingdom’s other major Canadian project is in Langley, B.C. Township Commons is offering one- to four-bedroom condos in two low-rise buildings with ground-floor retail/commercial, as well as townhomes. The development, which totals 211 units, is scheduled for occupancy in 2021.
Kingdom Developments establishing its brand
The expansion into the Greater Toronto Area is a new focus for the company.
“Right now, we’re trying to establish our brand here in Toronto and then build from there,” said Jensen. “Having spoken with ownership, yes, they are planning on expanding throughout different markets in Canada but right now we want to create a solid project team here in Toronto, establish ourselves, before we start branching out.”
In terms of dollar figures, Markham will be “bigger” than KSquare, he confirmed.
While Kingdom’s largest shareholder is originally from China, Jensen said the company is firmly rooted in Canada: “It’s not like we’ve brought Chinese investors in,” said Jensen. “It’s still just Kingdom Canada managing it.”
Partnering with local firms is also “critical to our model,” Jensen said.
“We know what we know, and we know what we don’t know. And part of Kingdom’s key focus when they came into Toronto was to figure out who the best were . . . and that’s who they partnered with.”
For the KSquare condos project, that team includes builder Skygrid Construction Inc., IBI Group architects, Tomas Pearce Interior Design, Ferris + Associates for landscape architecture, Cornerstone Marketing Realty leading the sales and McOuat Partnership handling the marketing.