Fortress Real Developments Inc., a Richmond Hill based real estate development and investment company, has entered into agreements with several developers on six projects include two new mid-rise buildings in Toronto and Woodbridge with Cityzen Development Group and Fernbrook Homes, as well as a high-rise downtown Toronto tower and a pair of low-rise projects in Nobleton. Fortress has separately acquired another high-rise in Winnipeg that Ellis Don is commencing project work on later this month.
Cityzen, headquartered in downtown Toronto, has been part of 22 projects over the past 14 years and completed more than 4500 units with over 2,000 under construction and another 9,000 under development. Notable projects include Pier 27, L Tower and the iconic Absolute World Towers in Mississauga, winner of both the 2012 Emporis Syscraper Award & 2012 Best Tall Building Americas by the Council of Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat. Fernbrook, based in Vaughan, has been an industry leader in the low-rise market, and has enjoyed enormous success in moving to the high-rise segment.
In 2014, Fortress presented an opportunity to Cityzen and Fernbrook to participate in a mid-rise site within the historic Old Market Lane in Woodbridge. With a neighbourhood success already under their belt, Cityzen and Fernbrook were the first choice for Fortress when seeking a top shelf development and build partner. “We had found the site a few years ago, and purchased it with an exciting vision for what could be done,” remarked Jawad Rathore, president and CEO of Fortress. “After working through initial concepts and discussions with the city, we wanted to make sure we had the right partner to turn that vision into reality. We could not be more pleased to be working with Cityzen and Fernbrook on this site.”
The site appealed to the new partners on many levels. “I’ve done projects of all scope and size and I really liked the scale of this handsome building for Old Market Lane,” said Sam Crignano, president of Cityzen. “Our friends at Fernbrook were a natural fit to join us on this site; our firm has worked closely with Danny Salvatore and the Fernbrook team for years and enjoyed tremendous success with them. We are excited to work with Fortress and start selling units soon.”
The team at Fortress has also completed the acquisition of another iconic site, the Brookdale project on Avenue Road. Fully approved by the Ontario Municipal Board and over 50 per cent sold, Brookdale is only the second new condominium project to come to this neighbourhood in the past decade. “We had the option to increase our involvement in this project and actually become an owner, which is an exciting opportunity for us,” said Vince Petrozza, COO of Fortress. “We were first involved only on a development profit participation basis and this full site acquisition now allows us to add an incredibly prestigious project to the $1 billion portfolio of lands we already own. We are meeting with several different developers and may engage Cityzen on this project.”
Other acquisitions include SkyCity Centre Winnipeg, a landmark mixed-use project that will be the tallest tower between Toronto and Calgary. “SkyCity will bring a much needed grocer to downtown Winnipeg and an impressive tower with a mix of commercial and retail tenants. Ellis Don is starting construction of the sales centre and we can’t wait to show everybody what I consider the nicest sales centre that I have been a part of in 40 years in this business,” said Charles Mady, President of MADY Development Corp. “Due to some personal and health reasons, I will be taking a reduced role once the grocer is announced. Fortress will continue to manage this fully approved project.”
Fortress has also acquired a site in the Spadina and Adelaide area to develop with Cityzen that will launch later in Q1 of 2015. Frank Margani, EVP at Fortress, welcomes the addition to the portfolio. “Our new Adelaide project will be our fifth in the area, with two already under construction and one topping off on the very same street. The old adage holds true – location, location, location. With location having been fully underwritten, the next piece of the puzzle is the partner, and I’m hard pressed to think of any other new partner we wanted to work with more than Cityzen, given the great relationship we’ve formed.”
Cityzen has also partnered with Fortress on two low-rise sites on Highway 27 in King Township currently referred to as Nobleton North and South internally. “The new low-rise market in the GTA experienced strong absorption in 2014 despite a continued lack of available supply, especially in York Region,” commented Ben Myers, SVP at Fortress. “Much needed supply has been added recently in Nobleton, but demand is still far outpacing available product, as new single-detached house prices have increased 36 per cent between 2010 and 2014 per CMHC data.”
Joe Valela of Tercot, also a partner on the sites in Nobleton, enthused, “The partnership between Fortress, Cityzen and my company is very exciting and I see many more opportunities in the hot single-family market. We see tremendous growth potential and value creation for all stakeholders in this partnership, primarily within Toronto and the surrounding GTA market.”