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Sphere scales up projects, keeps focus on fringe of Toronto

The Lot 16 development in St. Catharines. (Courtesy Sphere Developments)
The Lot 16 development in St. Catharines. (Courtesy Sphere Developments)

Sphere Developments is based in Mississauga, but the two-year-old company has found its comfort zone with projects on the periphery of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

It's also scaling-up the size of its developments as it has found its feet in the market after building mainly smaller single-family and townhome projects since its inception.

Co-founder and president Rohan Gawri, previously an associate with Toronto-based high-rise developer MOD Developments, told RENX the firm has found what it considers a great opportunity to build in reasonably priced markets.

Several of Sphere’s developments are in Niagara Region, where Gawri said land prices haven’t yet caught up to real estate prices in some other urban areas. 

“With prices skyrocketing in the 416 and GTA area, we’re looking at pockets and neighbourhoods on the outskirts that will allow us to enter at a more affordable price point when it comes to land price and from there allow us to be able to sell at price points that are more affordable," he explained.

“We’re not selling townhouses for $1 million or 300-square-foot studios in the air for $600,000 or $700,000. There was the idea of looking in central cores within these smaller cities. There's a lot of opportunity in those kinds of things.”

From single-family homes to larger-scale development

Sphere’s first developments were custom-built single-family homes in Brampton, Mississauga, Milton, Oakville and Etobicoke, as well as five executive townhomes in Oakville’s Bronte Village. 

It has nine townhomes under construction in Georgetown, while construction is just beginning on another nine in Burlington. Both projects are sold out.

However, Sphere's focus is turning to those upcoming larger projects, one of which is just launching.

Lot 16 is at 16 Melbourne Ave. in St. Catharines. It will comprise 104 two- and three-bedroom townhomes located next to Canal Valley Park and offering easy access to Highway 406.

Ninety per cent of the units in the KNYMH Architecture Solutions-designed development will be priced below $699,000 and 40 per cent will be priced below $599,000. They’ll include parking.

MAPA Interiors is the interior designer for Lot 16’s units, which will range from 900 to 1,400 square feet. Some will have balconies or rooftop terraces.

Upcoming Sphere developments

Sphere has three other projects at various stages of the development cycle, including its first high-rise.

The company expects to launch sales for 178 townhomes, combined with retail space, at 455 Welland Ave. in St. Catharines early next year. The location is close to the Queen Elizabeth Way and a Smart Centre retail plaza.

A proposed 72-townhome development at 526 Ontario Rd. in Welland is in the approvals process and Gawri would like to start selling next year.

The most ambitious project is a proposed mixed-use condominium at 875 Kingston Rd., at the corner of Fairport Road in Pickering.

While it’s still in the planning stages, Sphere is aiming for two 17- to 20-storey towers rising from a podium that would combine to have approximately 340 units.

Sphere also owns three retail/commercial properties in Cambridge, Oakville and Waterdown, though at the moment it has no development plans for those sites.

Sphere's co-founders are: chief operating officer A.J. Uppal, a former real estate agent and custom homebuilder; and vice-president of investor relations Sunny Gawri, a real estate specialist with experience in sales and the development of low-rise projects. 

There are five employees in addition to the three co-founders as part of the Sphere team, which has built relationships with financing sources, consultants, trades and brokerages over the past couple of years.

It has expertise in: development; land acquisitions; pro-forma modelling; financing; zoning and approvals; design; pre-construction sales and marketing; delivery and customer care; project and construction management.

“It's a good combination of boutique style with scalability,” Gawri said of Sphere's growth strategy.

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