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MDM builds in smaller Ontario cities, plans Belleville condos

MDM Developments has established a niche by building residential projects in secondary and tertia...

IMAGE: A rendering of the Porta Condominiums planned by MDM Developments in the Ontario city of Belleville. (Courtesy MDM)

A rendering of the Porta Condominiums planned by MDM Developments in the Ontario city of Belleville. (Courtesy MDM)

MDM Developments has established a niche by building residential projects in secondary and tertiary Ontario markets since 2005. Its next project, the 300-unit Porta Condominiums, will soon launch in Belleville.

“Our mandate was to find smaller towns and markets and find properties we could build mid-rise condo buildings on for people who wanted to downsize in smaller communities,” MDM president Doug Gray told RENX.

Gravenhurst-based MDM has completed developments in its hometown, Haliburton, Fenelon Falls, Beeton, Bracebridge, Alliston and Tottenham to this point. It tries to choose locations close to downtown amenities or on waterfronts.

“Belleville was a natural evolution to where we were going,” Gray said. “We had been working on the Belleville property for many years and it got to the point where we could do a deal. Now we have one of the most desirable waterfront developments, outside of Toronto, in Southern Ontario.”

Porta Condominiums

Porta Condominiums will feature almost 300 units in three 13-storey buildings on a 7.2-acre site on the Bay of Quinte.

It’s within walking distance of downtown Belleville, a city of approximately 55,000 located a two-hour drive east of Toronto, just across a bridge from the increasingly popular tourist destination of Prince Edward County.

The site was acquired in late 2020 for an undisclosed price from a family that had started planning a development, but decided to sell.

MDM kept the vision going. Zoning is in place and MDM is working through the site-plan approval process for Porta’s first building.

Rosalie Dawson Architect and MAPA Interiors are the design teams for Porta, which will offer one-bedroom-and-den, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom suites.

Its amenity package will include: two outdoor swimming pools; two terraces; barbecue and dining areas; two fitness studios; two social lounges; and an event space.

Porta will also feature a boardwalk with 20,000 square feet of boutique retail space, restaurants and coffee shops that will help connect a nearby park to the downtown core.

Sales for Porta will launch in September with prices starting in the $500,000s. MDM held a preview event on the site on Aug. 27 that attracted 350 people to look at site plans and renderings, and Gray said Porta’s website has had more than 4,000 registrants in a month.

Gray is hoping to start construction of Porta’s first building in the fall of 2023, and subsequent building starts should be staggered by about six months — depending on sales velocity. The first building is expected to be occupied in late 2025 or early 2026.

Pandemic trends have benefited MDM

MDM has benefited from pandemic trends as more people, who may have been given the freedom to work from home, have looked to move from larger cities to smaller markets for affordability and lifestyle reasons.

“Before we were marketing to folks within the communities and baby boomers retiring out of Toronto and looking to downsize into smaller markets with walking trails, waterfronts and downtowns for a nicer lifestyle,” said Gray.

“COVID took that baby boomer thing and extended it to everybody that was looking for a different lifestyle.”

Gray said MDM often faces little competition in its chosen markets and tries to add one or two new projects to its pipeline every year.

“We have to fight harder than the developers in downtown Toronto because our construction costs are the same, but we have to go to market at a very different price,” said Gray.

“We feel we’ve done a good job in this niche market and we’re very pleased with what we’ve provided and proud of the communities we’ve built.”

MDM’s other condo developments

Creemore Condos is in downtown Creemore, a village located west of Barrie and south of Collingwood. The development features two five-storey buildings with 36 units each as well as a fitness centre and social room.

Creemore Condos is under construction and will be completed next year. The units are more than 90 per cent sold.

Fenelon Lakes Club will feature 84 residences in two- and three-storey townhomes and two five-storey condos on Cameron Lake and within walking distance of downtown Fenelon Falls in the Kawartha Lakes municipality.

Amenities will include an outdoor pool and living space, a dock for watercraft, a fitness area, a games room and a lounge.

Close to 90 per cent of Fenelon Lakes Club’s units are sold. The first block of townhomes should be occupied in June 2023 and the first mid-rise condo should be occupied a month later.

The second mid-rise condo is scheduled for occupancy in December 2023 and the second block of townhomes should be occupied in early 2024.

MDM owned 25 acres of land in Peterborough and sold five acres to Extendicare, which plans to build a 256-bed long-term care facility on the site.

MDM is going through the zoning process and is in the very early stages of planning what Gray described as a “lifestyle community” called Peterborough Hawk Mountain for the remaining land.

MDM’s purpose-built rental apartments

MDM also develops purpose-built rental apartments and Gray said the decision on what to build is based on each market and property.

MDM’s Two 33 Dunlop is a purpose-built rental apartment with 93 one- and two-bedroom suites in Barrie featuring a fitness room, a lounge, a social room, rooftop amenities and views of Kempenfelt Bay.

It will be ready for occupancy in December.

“The rental market is very tight in Barrie, so we think we’ll be fully occupied shortly after we open the doors,” said Gray.

Lindsay Luxury Rentals in downtown Lindsay, a community of about 23,000 on the Scugog River in Kawartha Lakes that’s also in need of more rental housing, will be similar to Two 33 Dunlop.

It will have approximately 95 units and construction is expected to begin in about a year.

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