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Menkes top 2021 condo seller, plans to keep up the pace

Menkes Developments Ltd. sold more pre-construction high-rise condos in Canada than any other dev...

IMAGE: The first four towers of Festival, a joint venture between Menkes and Quadreal at the South Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. (Courtesy Menkes Developments)

The first four towers of Festival, a joint venture between Menkes and Quadreal at the South Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. (Courtesy Menkes Developments)

Menkes Developments Ltd. sold more pre-construction high-rise condos in Canada than any other developer in 2021 – 1,736 – while its Grand Festival joint venture with QuadReal Property Group was the year’s best-selling project, according to Altus Group data.

And there’s no plan for the development giant to slow down its pace in 2022.

Menkes is a fully integrated real estate company involved in the construction, ownership and management of office, industrial, retail and residential properties, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

The company was founded in 1954 and has become one of the largest private developers in Canada, with past projects including: a partnership with Lifetime Developments on the Four Seasons Hotel & Residences; 25 York Street; and the two-million-square-foot Harbour Plaza residential and One York Street office and retail complex.

Festival units continued to sell well

The Grand Festival project claimed the best-selling condo project title for the second year in a row, having also topped the category in 2020.

Festival is a 5.15-acre mixed-use development at Highways 7 and 400 in Vaughan, a suburban municipality north of Toronto. It’s in Assembly Park, a master-planned community in South Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) that will feature four condo towers varying in height from 40 to 59 storeys in its first two phases.

The towers will be anchored by 85,000 square feet of retail space and the focal point will be a retail-lined pedestrian mews that opens on to a public courtyard.

Sales for the first two condo towers launched in 2020 with 1,325 units that were scooped up in less than four months. The third and fourth condo towers launched last spring with 1,145 units and sold out in three months. Construction on the project started in October and first occupancies are anticipated in the fall of 2024.

Menkes executive vice-president of high-rise residential Jared Menkes credits Festival’s location in a massive master-planned, mixed-use community, its public transit and highway access and its partnership with QuadReal for its success.

“There’s a flight to quality,” he told RENX. “People want to know that their life savings are protected by investing with reputable builders.”

Menkes used a combination of in-person and virtual marketing and sales techniques to achieve its high condo sales numbers, as the pandemic has accustomed people to research and buy online.

Festival does, however, also have a sales centre that’s almost 10,000 square feet.

The next phase of Festival, Bravo, should launch this summer. It will encompass a full city block with three towers that will include approximately 1,500 condo units.

Other 2021 Menkes condo sales

The 1,736 new condo units were all sold in the GTA — with substantial sales at Adagio, The Whitfield and Sugar Wharf — in addition to the Festival site.

Adagio is a 29-storey, 202-unit luxury condo at 771 Yonge St. in the upscale Yorkville neighbourhood where sales launched last summer. Demolition of the existing structure at the site to make room for Adagio has begun.

The 45-storey, 470-unit The Whitfield is a partnership with Core Development Group at Front and Sherbourne Streets that’s expected to be delivered in 2025. Demolition is underway to prepare for construction.

The Whitfield site is a few blocks north of Sugar Wharf’s waterfront location and a similar distance from The Distillery Historic District and the financial core. New office buildings are also sprouting up in the area. The ability to offer a good work-life balance makes it appealing to both residents and investors.

There’s also Maison 77 Clarendon, a partnership with Pinedale Properties. The five-storey boutique luxury condo south of St. Clair Avenue West between Spadina and Avenue Roads has 15 units priced from around $4 million to $6.2 million.

More Menkes high-rise developments

The 21-storey, 222-unit in.DE, at 219 Dundas St. E. between Jarvis and Sherbourne Streets, was delivered last year.

Mobilio is another sold-out condo development with QuadReal in VMC. It has some 700 units in three high-rise buildings as well as 400 townhome units. The first tower will be delivered this year.

Sugar Wharf, the largest mixed-use community on Toronto’s waterfront, was Canada’s best-selling high-rise project in 2018. Occupancy at that site will begin this year.

Harbour Plaza Residences, in the city’s south core financial district, was the top seller in 2013.

Menkes has more than 5,000 condo units under construction across the GTA and another 15,000 under development.

In addition to launching Bravo, sales will begin this spring at Elektra at 212 Dundas St. E. on the site of Filmores Hotel and a parking lot. The Forgestone Capital-partnered project will have 46 storeys and 588 units.

Menkes hasn’t yet started actively promoting 4800 Yonge Street, a 49-storey, 498-unit condo with retail and office space in the podium at the corner of Sheppard Avenue.

Condo forecast for this year

Overall condo sales in the GTA last year were 40 per cent above the 10-year average, with 32,919 units sold, according to Altus Group. More than half were in the suburbs.

Construction and other prices are rising and there are concerns about how inclusionary zoning regulations will affect affordability this year, according to Menkes.

Menkes believes condo prices will continue to rise and inventory won’t accommodate what he expects will be rising downtown demand, pushing people further out.

Labour shortages to construct buildings are also an issue and Menkes would like to see an immigration policy to fill the void.

“I think the government has done a great job of attracting tech talent, but I think they can’t ignore that we also need labour for building all these buildings where people need to live and work.”

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