Municipal approvals aren’t being granted any faster and Ontario’s housing crisis isn’t easing, but Waterloo-based developer and property manager Prica Global Enterprises (PGE) is using innovative practices to build its projects in well-below-average time.
PGE’s two new purpose-built rental apartment developments in its hometown were built using a phased approach to construction and furnishing, and advanced cloud technologies to integrate construction partners and teams throughout the process.
“We’ve worked hard to establish an integrated project delivery team and system of partners that are able to do the architectural design, construction, building envelopes and property management, all by working together in concert under the PGE umbrella,” Prica Group Construction Management project manager Bruno Pinto wrote in an email interview with RENX.
“Using tools such as BIM (Building Information Management) and daily meetings of team and project leaders that are all connected to a shared cloud, information can flow to partners quickly and effectively.
“Where once, years ago, getting answers to questions may have taken days or weeks, using our integrated platforms, cloud software and team collaboration, problem-solving can be reduced to hours or even minutes. It makes for an incredibly effective way to collaborate and build.”
Pinto added this process also builds relationships across teams that help projects flow in smoother fashion.
Two new Waterloo developments
PGE’s 25-storey apartment building at 308 King St. N. is comprised of 340 residential units, ranging in size from 500 to 900 square feet, as well as 14 commercial rental spaces. It has 384 parking spaces for automobiles and 216 for bicycles.
The site was acquired in January 2019. Construction began in January 2022 and occupancy is now underway.
While PGE said the average construction time for a building of this size is approximately 24 to 42 months, the 20-month timeline for 308 King St. N. stemmed from a three-phased process where the lower levels of the building were completed and furnished first.
Attention then moved upwards toward the higher storeys of the development until roof capping and completion.
The building has a rooftop amenity space and a park and garden on its east podium.
PGE’s six-storey apartment building at 298 Hemlock St. has 92 residential units ranging in size from 600 to 800 square feet, with office space on the ground level. It has 24 parking spaces for automobiles and 24 for bicycles.
The site was acquired in July 2020. The building was constructed in 10 months, well below what PGE said is the average time of 18 to 24 months for a building of this scale.
PGE has grown from purchasing and renovating one single detached home in 2003 to becoming one of the largest residential and retail property developers and managers in Waterloo Region.
The largest project PGE has undertaken to this point is The Hub at 130 Columbia St. W. in Waterloo.
It includes an eight-building geo-exchange system that uses an open-loop water and heat exchanger to heat and cool eight buildings, five towers and 603 residential units, as well as more than 25,000 square feet of commercial space.
Last year, PGE built one of the tallest buildings in Waterloo at 203 Albert St.
The apartment building also contributes to a community housing program managed by a local property management company that provides affordable and accessible housing to members of the community.
Other major PGE buildings, among its more than 25 completions, have been built at 255 Sunview St., 208 Sunview St., 131 University Ave., 228 Albert St., 239 Albert St., 256 Lester St., 250 Lester St., 201 Lester St., 202 Lester St. and 203 Lester St. in Waterloo.
In the Waterloo development pipeline are: a 25-storey, 591-unit apartment building at 143 Columbia St.; a 25-storey, 260-unit apartment building at 20 University Ave.; and an apartment building at 333 Albert St.
“We pride ourselves on building with efficiency and speed, without losing any quality of workmanship,” Pinto said.
“Today we mostly cater to the young professionals and students in Waterloo Region by providing high-quality, furnished rental units that are in great demand — and we rent them at a fair cost relative to the market so our clients and residents want to stay, and to keep coming back to us.
“The results have spoken for themselves and today we're growing faster and building more than we ever have.”