LCH Developments has several multiresidential buildings planned on or near Toronto’s Kingston Road and recently opened a co-working space in the area for local residents.
Lukasz Wywrot and his younger brother Michal started building custom homes in 2012. They’ve since moved on to townhomes, a church conversion, a mid-rise residential building and now the Merge Spaces co-working space near their nearly completed Merge Condos project.
“We didn’t come from a developer family so we basically started everything from scratch,” Lukasz Wywrot told RENX. “We have a purpose to build neighbourhoods and cool buildings.
“The way we’ve been able to grow is that we’re very transparent in everything we do. That’s why we’ve had some of our original investors stick with us up until today.”
“Every job that we now have as a salaried position, we’ve essentially had to have played that role ourselves,” added Michal Wywrot.
“A bit of an edge that we had as we grew our company was that we were able to be cognizant of outside costs and kept things lean and well-managed before getting to our higher-growth stage where we can hire more consultants and bring aboard a much larger team.”
Business growing, new investors welcome
The two founders, who’ve never taken a salary from the business, now have 16 employees and plan to add three or four more before the end of the year as it continues to grow.
The company’s investors include friends and family members as well as business contacts, consultants and contractors it has worked with over the years.
It’s always looking for new investors, joint venture partners that can bring land to the table and quality employees.
“With our backgrounds, we don’t shy away from different investment strategies,” said Michal. “If there’s a rental project that’s worth pursuing and interests us, we’ll pursue it.
“But it’s not something that we’re especially set up for. Rental buildings require a substantial amount of equity investment and, until we’re partnered with family offices or institutions, it seems like our area of expertise should remain in condos.”
Toronto-based LCH is also starting an in-house construction management division to gain more control over its own projects and would like to extend that service to other companies next year.
In the meantime, the company has a full slate of developments that should all be launching within the next two-and-a-half years – if they haven’t already.
LCH became interested in Scarborough’s Kingston Road corridor in 2017 because its land values were lower than in other parts of Toronto and the brothers thought it was an under-utilized area in need of revitalization and new development.
Their first site led to other acquisition and development opportunities.
Merge Condos and Merge Spaces
The most advanced new residential development is Merge Condos, an 11-storey, 180-unit building featuring 3,000 square feet of retail at ground level and a rooftop terrace overlooking Lake Ontario.
Its units are 95 per cent sold and first occupancy for the property at 2201 Kingston Rd. is scheduled for January.
Nearby is the two-storey Merge Spaces (which isn’t affiliated with IWG’s Spaces co-working brand) at 2229 Kingston Rd.
It offers a variety of amenities and workspaces, including private offices, a presentation and events space, collaborative work stations, meeting rooms, dedicated desks, sound-proof phone booths, a games/lounge room and a fully stocked café offering free coffee, tea and snacks.
Merge Spaces is programmed with bi-weekly networking events, informational fireside chats, fitness experiences and DJs playing music at no cost to members.
“If we can compound our involvement in a specific area, the value of all of those developments is going to increase,” said Michal. “While we’re providing much-needed housing and great condo product on Kingston Road, what was missing was a really high-end office where people can work and play.”
Michal believes Merge Spaces will benefit local retailers and could be a great overall catalyst for the area.
“If we’re successful with Merge Spaces as our first co-working project, we can work it into the design of our next projects in areas where we think it could be successful,” he said. “It would be a lot more efficient from a costing perspective and fill in the commercial component of our sites with an existing business that will be immediately successful.”
LCH is based in Merge Spaces and occupies about 20 per cent of its office space at the moment, with the ability to expand or contract as needed.
Other Kingston Road developments
A project called Cliffside Village at 2328-2350 Kingston Rd. came about after assembling seven lots from different owners. LCH just made its second submission to City of Toronto officials for approval to build an eight-storey condo with 205 residential units and a higher-end restaurant at ground level.
Park Central will be located at 4630 Kingston Rd., not far from the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. LCH submitted an application in December and is waiting for comments from the city. It proposes to construct a mid-rise building with 417 residential units, 24,000 square feet of amenities, an on-site public park and retail offerings.
LCH is proposing a 10-storey, 168-unit purpose-built rental apartment at 144 Galloway Rd., at the corner of Kingston Road. The intent is to supply a significant portion of the units under Toronto’s Open Door Affordable Housing Program. It has made four submissions and is still waiting for municipal approval.
It’s also awaiting comments after submitting its second proposal in December for 3291 Kingston Rd., a project it’s been trying to push forward since 2020. LCH is seeking to build a 320-unit condo on a site near the Gates Gully ravine.
Future LCH developments
Farther west from Kingston Road, at 415 Broadview Ave., LCH is partnering with de Cartier Developments on the redevelopment of St. John Presbyterian Church. It was built in 1908 and designed by the same architect responsible for a 1913-built church the two partners previously redeveloped into a condo at 175 Jones Ave.
Approval is being sought to build 60 residential units over 10 storeys at the Broadview Avenue site close to Riverdale Park and multiple public transit options.
The existing church congregation will have a smaller space with updated facilities, while the excess space and a modern addition will be used for housing.
LCH is looking at other opportunities that can’t be revealed at this point.
“We have aspirations to develop across the GTA, not only on Kingston Road, though our area of focus is there for the next three years,” said Michal.
“We’re still very young and very ambitious and don’t think we’re going to stop doing what we’re doing for the next 15 or 20 years.”