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Altree plans big for Forest Hill and Etobicoke

Even with hundreds of residential projects completed in downtown Toronto in the last decade, the city still lacks top-flight luxury condos near the downtown that rank with what’s available in North America’s other major cities, says an executive with a firm that has announced a new nine-storey luxury midrise for Forest Hill in the city.

Altree Developments unveiled two projects for the city in January, the first the 2 Forest Hill midrise job that is targeted to have approximately 75 units with a range of 1,000 to 4,000 square feet and an average price per unit to top $2 million, and the second a 35-storey condo build set to rise in the Queensway community of Etobicoke and aimed at first-time buyers and families.

Altree’s director of operations Jordan DeBrincat did not have unit costs to announce for the Forest Hill project but she said other luxury residences in Toronto are trading at between $1,500 to well over $2,000 per square foot so that means the average unit at 2 Forest Hill, 1,500 square feet in size, could be in the $2.25 million to $3 million range.

“The luxury market is not fully utilized in the city of Toronto,” said DeBrincat. “You look at all the massive cities, New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, they have luxury down pat. I don’t think here in Toronto we necessarily have got there yet. I think it is the way Toronto is evolving as a city and becoming one of the best cities to live in. We felt there was an opportunity to create a further product in the luxury market.”

Altree, headed by third-generation developer Zev Mandelbaum, launched in late 2018. He was previously with Marlin Spring, Lanterra and H&R.

Altree acquired six properties, at 202 to 208 St. Clair Ave. W. and 2 and 6 Forest Hill Rd., to kickstart planning. Zoning and permitting is still to come, and DeBrincat suggested the project could go to market this fall with the start of construction aimed for the fall of 2020.

That phase could take two-and-a-half years so the build could wrap up in late 2022 or 2023.

“Assembly is never easy,” said DeBrincat. “It is not as easy as buying an acre site. Going through all the zoning is most time consuming.”

Most units will feature large terraces, with outdoor areas for each residence.

Graziani + Corazza Architects have designed both Forest Hill and the Etobicoke build at 30 and 44 Zorra Street. General contractors have not yet been announced for either project.

DeBrincat said the big marketing focus for Zorra Street will be to establish that the area is ready for this type of development. The area currently has mainly singles, older low-rise, retail and office.

“The biggest challenge for Zorra is coming into an area that doesn’t have very much in terms of comparables as of yet,” she said.

“In one sense it is good to not have too much competition but in the other sense you have to sell people on an area that is not fully developed, which is hard but if you craft your message a certain way you can bang it out of the park.”

Altree has zoning in place for Zorra Street and is currently going through site plan approvals.

The developer is looking to pre-launch this summer or fall, start construction in spring or summer 2020 and, with a four-year building timeline, wrap it up in 2024.

The project as proposed measures out to 340,000 square feet of gross residential floor area, with an average square footage per unit of 600 to 650 square feet in studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units. U31 is the interior designer.