Originate was founded in Toronto in 2017 by Adam Sheffer and Darryl Firsten. They’ve had a long-standing relationship with Harlo president and CEO Jeffrey Kimel.
Since their first three acquisitions were made in partnership with Harlo, they felt it made sense to join forces again for what will be known as Reside Condos.
Harlo is a Toronto-based private equity company that identifies and invests in a variety of real estate developments. It’s involved with projects in Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, Burlington and Cornwall in Ontario, as well as in Vancouver.
Originate’s growth strategy has shifted since its early days and it has moved its focus from smaller infill developments to high-rise towers.
“I just think that these small projects are so challenging to get through in Toronto and you don't really have the budget to have the right consultants and give it the right amount of time because it's just not feasible,” Sheffer told RENX.
“And that's ultimately what pushed us to do larger and larger things. It gives us more cushion to do some extra studies, bring on an extra consultant or take six more months to work with the neighbourhood.
"We just can't afford those luxuries on a smaller project.”
The Reside Condos assembly
The final closing on an assembly of eight residential and small commercial properties on Bathurst and Richmond from three vendors for approximately $25 million took place in March 2020, days before COVID-19 lockdowns began.
The proposed development has overcome a few obstacles since then.
Half of the financing was already in place but, with the onset of the pandemic, raising the rest of the required capital to construct Reside Condos wasn’t as easy or certain.
One of the vendors was ultimately convinced to come into the deal as a partner, but he was later bought out since he didn’t intend to maintain long-term involvement.
Another challenge was taking ownership of a laneway running south from Richmond that splits the site. It was assumed it was owned by the city, but municipal officials realized in 2008 that it actually belonged to a man who sold the site in the 1890s and forgot to transfer the title.
After a search for his descendants came up empty, Originate and Harlo went to court and the laneway was vested to them for a nominal fee.
Reside will have 216 units and ground-floor retail
The final step before sales and construction can begin on the Kirkor Architects and Planners-designed project is the approval of a site plan application. That’s expected to be granted by late summer or early fall.
Plans call for 216 residential units and two or three ground-floor retail units, one of which will house a restaurant. A large co-working space for residents will be one of the major amenities.
The development will also incorporate geothermal heating and cooling.
A heritage brick building on the corner at 164 Bathurst St. will be incorporated into Reside Condos.
“We're hoping to start construction in the early fall, sort of at the same time that we launch sales,” said Sheffer.
“When we think about being good operators, what that means to us is that we keep the signing of our major construction contracts as tight to sales as possible.”
The demolition of existing buildings, shoring and heritage retention initiatives can begin before that because they have stand-alone permits, according to Sheffer.
The goal is to have Reside Condos ready for occupancy by the third quarter of 2026.
Six99 and Annex Flats
Originate has other hometown projects in its development pipeline.
A construction crane has just been erected for Six99, an SRM Architects-designed, 12-storey, 174-unit condo at 699 Sheppard Ave. E., east of Bayview Avenue and just west of the Bessarion subway station.
Occupancy of the Originate and Harlo-partnered project is expected in the first quarter of 2025.
The two also have approval to build Annex Flats, comprised of six two-storey rental units in an under-utilized laneway near Dupont and Huron Streets.
“Our plan was to do that with CMHC money and refinance it,” said Sheffer.
“But with interest rates being as high as they are, the debt service is much worse and it just doesn't make economic sense to us today to build those rental units.
"So we're sort of waiting for things to change a little bit.”
Other Originate developments
The redevelopment will preserve and adapt the vacated cultural centre that was originally designed in 1963 by the firm's co-founder, renowned architect Raymond Moriyama.
“That's definitely our most challenging and most complicated site,” said Sheffer.
About half of the three-acre site, located north of Eglinton Avenue East and east of the Don Valley Parkway, will become a conservation area and Sheffer said it hasn’t yet been determined whether it will be owned by the developers, the city or the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
There are also heritage elements to be considered and the approvals process is expected to be lengthy.
The same three development partners submitted an application to the city last July to get the ball rolling on approvals for Jarvis & Earl, a mixed-use residential tower planned to have rental apartment and condo components on Jarvis Street between Wellesley Street East and Bloor Street East.
Plans are to construct a 58-storey building with 690 one-, two- and three-bedroom units on a site assembled through the acquisition of 10 row houses and a three-storey, 29-unit apartment building.
Originate expects to close on the acquisition of a site near Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue on July 10, where it’s looking to build a 50-storey residential tower.
Sheffer said it was too early to reveal any more details at this point.