It’s becoming more common in Toronto and the GTA — a team of developers coming together to work on one massive housing or mixed-use project.
That’s what’s happening with Lakeview Village, a multibillion-dollar mixed-use project planned for 177 acres on the former site of the decommissioned coal-fired Lakeview Generating Station, just east of Port Credit in Mississauga.
Slated to be built near the waterfront over the next 10 to 15 years, a slick video for the project shows renderings that include busy pedestrian walking paths, a cultural hub, mid and highrise condo and townhouse buildings, access to a marina and plenty of retail and commercial space. It’s expected as many as 17,000 people will live in the development once completed, with up to 8,000 new units promised.
The project is being billed as an “unprecedented collaboration” and it features a partnership of builders that includes TACC Construction Limited, Greenpark Group, CCI Development Group, which has expertise in brownfield development, Branthaven Homes and Argo Development Corporation who together have formed Lakeview Community Partners Limited.
Elsewhere in the GTA, this week Toronto Mayor John Tory attended an event to officially unveil The Well, a huge condo, apartment, retail and office development already under construction near Wellington St. W. and Spadina Ave. The project is being constructed on a 7.8-acre site and is being billed as “Canada’s most ambitious master-planned community” with three million square feet of retail, office and residential space.
Development firms RioCan, Tridel and Woodbourne are among the lead entities on this project. First Capital Realty and Allied Properties Reit are also a significant players.
Industry leaders and those behind these projects say the developments bring the allure of “synergies” and “scale” that benefit both the proponents involved and their customers.
Rather than having a single condo or apartment tower with nothing else around but industrial office units, these larger, more vibrant communities have more to offer and are a bigger draw for customers, experts add.
With The Well, the benefit of scale is it brings together best in class operators from different disciplines, explains James Ritchie, executive vice-president, sales and marketing for Tridel, in a telephone interview.
The expertise RioCan brings in retail, Allied in office, and Tridel in residential is “what makes this work,” Ritchie said.
“These types of developments, the size and scale I think are increasingly difficult for individual entities to do on their own,”he said. “I don’t know if one entity alone could handle something like the Well.”
Fabio Mazzocco, president of Lakeview Community Partners, the group behind the large Mississauga project, says when it comes to scale, a key question to ask is what is the right amount of density and critical mass to support the public realm, the retail, the residential and commercial components being offered in a development.
“It’s a fine balance. Without the density or a skyline that says ‘Hi, we’re here, come to Lakeview,’ it (the project) could be forgotten. That could be one of the biggest mistakes — underdeveloping the site. So we want to be very cognizant of that,” Mazzocco said in an interview.
“Some of the international architects we spoke to, the theme was this (project) should not be underdeveloped. You need the right amount of density here to make this a successful community,” he added.
When customers see different shapes and styles of buildings, a development becomes more attractive, Mazzocco said.
“We’ll bring in more architects and get a variety of buildings. Things will be different and (customers will) want to stay and explore because it’s comfortable to move from one spot to another because there is something there attracting you architecturally.”
Mazzocco explained that additional amenities for Lakeview — vacuum waste disposal, a new district energy system for example — become “more feasible” when there is density supplying those systems.
None of this is possible without teams of developers collaborating, he says.
“Collaboration and partnerships. Everything gets done in partnerships … We work together and that’s the model for success,” Mazzocco adds.
Toronto developer Julie Di Lorenzo says developers are increasingly working together to achieve what she calls “competitive synergies” — enough bang to attract more customers.
“On your own it’s difficult to attract people,” she says.
“One building in an industrial area — who would want to live there with industrial offices around you? But when you get the scale you can actually create a whole community,” she adds.
She went on to note that banks are working together to finance these large development initiatives.
“Banks are preferring to participate on loans with other banks. CIBC partnering with TD or Royal for example. They are still competitive, but share the risk because the projects have gotten bigger,” Di Lorenzo says.
Donovan Vincent is a housing reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @donovanvincent