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Markham's Union City a 'rare opportunity' for Metropia CEO

A rendering of a portion of the Union City community in Markham, by Metropia. (Courtesy Metropia)

Union City, a 12-acre mixed-use, master-planned community north of Toronto in Markham’s Unionville neighbourhood, will launch its first phase with a 40-storey, 440-suite residential condominium and a social hub called Union House.

The property was acquired in 2017, said Metropia founder, chairman and chief executive officer Howard Sokolowski. Metropia is a 50 per cent partner with a family that prefers to remain anonymous in the development, Sokolowski told RENX.

Union City is expected to eventually encompass more than three million square feet, including nine multiresidential buildings and one or two office buildings, retail, parks and neighbourhood amenities. A pedestrian bridge over Enterprise Boulevard to the adjacent Unionville GO Transit station is also being proposed. 

“It's not often that I get to build a high-rise project on more than 11 acres,” said Sokolowski. “That's a community. 

“When I was involved with Tribute Communities, which I co-founded, it was very exciting to create communities — not just subdivisions, not just developments, but communities. I have an opportunity now to do that at Union City because of the critical mass.”

Plans for Union City’s first phase

The IBI Group-designed Tower 1 will include a six-storey podium. It will be built on the parcel of land north of Enterprise Boulevard, along with the Union House social club for residents and 1.1 acres of green space. Quinn Design Associates is the landscape designer for the project.

Sales for Tower 1 will begin either late this month or in early April. There will be a range of sizes, from junior one-bedroom up to three-bedroom units, Sokolowski believes will attract many end-users. Pricing hasn’t yet been disclosed.

“The anticipation that we're hearing is unprecedented and very exciting,” said Sokolowski. “These are somewhat challenging times, but I think Union City will be an example that, if you design the right product in the right location at the right price, they will come.”

Construction of Tower 1 is expected to begin in June 2024, with occupancy to begin in the fall of 2027.

Two more condo buildings will follow Tower 1 and Union House as part of Union City’s first phase. Sales for the second tower are anticipated to begin this fall, with occupancy anticipated for the summer of 2028.

“We have all the approvals in place on a zoning bylaw basis for the north side of Enterprise Boulevard,” said Sokolowski, who added it will include about 1.3 million square feet of development.

Zoning bylaw approvals haven’t yet been received for the parcel south of Enterprise Boulevard, closest to the GO station, where development of approximately 1.7 million square feet is proposed.

Tower 1 amenities and Union House

The sixth floor of Tower 1 will include more than 50,000 square feet of outdoor terrace space featuring: a meadow; a children’s garden; fire tables tucked between evergreen trees; a playing court with basketball hoops and a technical surface; an outdoor gym; and a dog area.

There will also be 30,000 square feet of indoor amenities featuring a fitness centre, a swimming pool with an outdoor sunning deck and terrace, a kids' room, a party room, a virtual experiences room, a gaming room and a quiet lounge. 

Union House will encompass more than 5,000 square feet and include lounge seating, dedicated co-working spaces, a self-serve coffee bar, pool tables and more.

Transportation and nearby attractions

Transportation options – aside from the GO station – within close proximity of Union City are a bus rapid transit station and Hwys. 7, 404 and 407. 

Union City is within walking distance of Markham’s new York University campus that will open next year. Sokolowski is a York graduate and Metropia donated $5 million toward construction of the new campus.

Bill Crothers Secondary School, a YMCA, the Markham Pan Am Centre sports facility, Pacific Mall, CF Markville, Milne Dam Conservation Park and Rouge National Urban Park are also near Union City.

Metropia has already enjoyed success in the area with Union Village, a master-planned community developed in partnership with Minto, and the Toronto-based company wants to continue to grow along with the employment and population gains in Markham.

“The City of Markham is about to blossom,” said Sokolowski. “It’s a tech epicentre in Canada and, with the addition of the York University campus, I only see great things for the city.”

Other upcoming Metropia developments

Metropia is at varying stages of pre-construction with four other Toronto condo developments.

Sokolowski said sales will launch in September for a 39-storey, 406-unit, IBI Group-designed condo at 1406 Yonge St., just south of St. Clair Avenue.

A mid-2024 sales launch is planned for a 49-storey, 678-unit, Turner Fleischer Architects-designed condo at 239 Dundas St. E., west of Sherbourne Street, that will be developed in conjunction with Greybrook Realty Partners

“They will be more affordable units than we will be building at Yonge and St. Clair,” said Sokolowski. “It’s very close to Toronto Metropolitan University as well.”

Metropia and Capital Developments are partnering on a 46-storey, 630-unit, Sweeny&Co Architects-designed mixed-use condo at 170 Roehampton Ave., northeast of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue East.

The project will also include retail space, a child-care centre and townhouse units. The plan is to launch suite sales in late 2024.

Metropia is a partner with RioCan REIT on a proposed master-planned community at 815 Eglinton Ave. E. called Leaside Junction. It will include multiresidential, commercial and institutional buildings as well as public space.

Sokolowski hopes its two condo towers will go on sale in early 2025. 

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