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Menkes plays major role in Toronto downtown east revival | RENX – Real Estate News EXchange



IMAGE: The Sugar Wharf mixed-use project is one of Menkes major developments in Toronto's downtown east neighbourhood. (Courtesy Menkes)

The Sugar Wharf mixed-use project is one of Menkes’ major developments in Toronto’s downtown east neighbourhood. (Courtesy Menkes)

Menkes was a pioneer in developing Toronto’s now-thriving south core area and is now making its mark in the city’s evolving downtown east node.

“The overall area has the best of both worlds,” Menkes vice-president of office and retail Sean Menkes told RENX. “You have close proximity to the downtown core and all of its benefits.

“You also have access to the eastern waterfront, which is undergoing the largest revitalization of its kind in North America. A lot of that has to do with Waterfront Toronto’s efforts over the last two decades or so on infrastructure improvements.”

He cited bicycle lanes and paths, parks, improved streetscapes and sidewalks, and the promise of improved public transit in the future as some of the reasons people are choosing to live and work in downtown east.

“The eastern waterfront, and downtown east in particular, is planned to be a full-life-cycle neighbourhood that will be able to appeal to office workers, residents, tourists and anyone in the city who wants to come and visit the amazing amenities.”

Office and residential density fuel retail

There are several large office buildings either already built or being developed in downtown east, and there’s a swath of residential development fuelling evening and weekend demand for area retailers. There are two major mixed-use projects from Menkes making substantial progress and another will launch condominium sales this fall.

“Office and residential density are fuelling retail, and the retail that’s planned to be delivered are part of the amenities that’s fuelling residential and office demand,” said Sean Menkes. “It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“As companies begin to move, and as residents begin to buy units in new condo towers, they’re buying based on retail amenities. And retailers want to be in this neighbourhood because of all that office and residential demand that they see coming. It’s all working together at the same time and we have critical mass in each category.”

“If we pick an area where we want to work, we just keep looking for sites in that area because we’re going to continue to add value,” Menkes executive vice-president of high-rise residential Jared Menkes told RENX in a separate interview.

“Convenience is paramount and residents are looking for experiences, and we want to cater to that through finding unique retail offerings, adding office and residential. It creates a 24-7 neighbourhood.”

Downtown east office buildings offer advantages

Since the large office buildings in downtown east are all relatively new, or still under construction, Sean Menkes said they’re “better equipped to handle the needs of tenants today than older buildings in the core or on King West.

“There’s better air quality and natural light. You’re steps to the core but you’re also benefitting from having less congestion. Sustainability is intertwined with every facet of the building’s operations.

“As tenants contemplate their return to work … they’re choosing to lease space in these types of buildings that can accommodate their employees, improve their productivity and keep them safe. These are all trends that existed pre-pandemic and they’re amplified post-pandemic.”

Toronto-headquartered Menkes was founded in 1954 and is a fully integrated real estate company involved in the construction, ownership and management of office, industrial, retail and residential properties. It’s one of the largest private developers in Canada, with a primary focus in the Greater Toronto Area.

Jared Menkes told RENX last November his company will develop almost six million square feet of space on Toronto’s waterfront in the next eight years.

Much of Menkes’ downtown east office activity is located close to Lake Ontario, and Sean Menkes said most of the meaningful sites unlocking the waterfront are under development. There are other sites in downtown east, however, and the company plans to remain active in the area — though Sean Menkes said there’s nothing in the pipeline that he can speak about at this point.

“When we invest in a neighbourhood like the waterfront or the south core or downtown east, we like to do it at scale,” he added. “We believe in the area and have made a bet on its future.”

“Prices continue to rise as sites continue to become harder to find,” said Jared Menkes. “That low-hanging fruit, which was old parking lots, are all gone.”

Sugar Wharf

Sugar Wharf is a 4.6-million-square-foot mixed-use development covering four city blocks and 11 acres of the former Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) land acquired by Menkes in 2016.

Sugar Wharf’s first phase includes a building with 600,000 square feet of office space and 75,000 square feet of retail on the first and second floors. The primary office tenants will be the LCBO, Toronto Region Board of Trade and Richardson Wealth.

Sugar Wharf ‘s first phase will also include two condos with 1,600 units and another 65,000 square feet of retail.

The retail elements will include a new 25,000-square-foot flagship LCBO store, a 30,000-square-foot grocery store, a 40,000-square-foot fitness facility, plus food and beverage offerings.

The office building will be completed this summer and the multifamily component will be delivered next summer, with the retail coming on board over the next year.

Sugar Wharf’s second phase will start in 2022 and have an additional 3,000 multi-family units in three buildings, 90,000 square feet of retail, a 50,000-square-foot elementary school, and a 2.5-acre public park that will be turned over to the city to benefit the entire community.

The Whitfield

Jared Menkes believes younger residents age out of west-side neighbourhoods such as Liberty Village, King Street West and Queen Street West, whereas the east side better accommodates all age groups and household types.

IMAGE: Menkes is developing The Whitfield at the corner of Front and Sherbourne streets. (Courtesy Menkes)

Menkes is developing The Whitfield at the corner of Front and Sherbourne streets. (Courtesy Menkes)

Menkes’ next mixed-use building in the area will be The Whitfield at the corner of Front and Sherbourne streets, within easy walking distance of St. Lawrence Market, the financial core and the waterfront. The 38-storey building will have 460 condo units and two floors of retail and office space.

Units will range from studios to three bedrooms to accommodate a range of tenants.

Giannone Petricone Associates is the architectural firm for The Whitfield, Figure3 is the interior designer and Janet Rosenberg & Studio is the landscape architect.

The Whitfield’s amenities will include a large outdoor terrace, programmed landscaping, a kids room, a party room, co-working space and a theatre.

Sales will launch early this fall. A January 2022 construction start is anticipated, with occupancy expected in mid-2025.

A gas station, a Tim Hortons and a music studio/rehearsal space are on the site now. A heritage component on the property will be maintained.

Waterfront Innovation Centre

The 475,000-square-foot Waterfront Innovation Centre is comprised of two buildings connected by a second-floor bridge that’s 15,000 square feet. It will include an amenity floor with three conference rooms and a variety of seating areas where tenants can work.

“This is something that a lot of tenants are looking for today as a way to engage their employees differently,” Sean Menkes said. “It provides different work environments for them to be in so they don’t need to be stuck at their work station or in their office all day.

“They can meet with their colleagues or do individual work in a new environment that faces Sugar Beach.”

Waterfront Innovation Centre, which will be completed this fall, is about two-thirds leased to advertising and marketing company WPP. MaRS Discovery District, in connection with the University of Toronto, has more than 50,000 square feet. There are also a few other smaller office tenants.

Waterfront Innovation Centre will also include about 20,000 square feet of retail, including a 7,500-square-foot restaurant at the entrance to Sugar Beach.

Retail struggles during office closures

Menkes’ 25 York office building helped kick off the south core boom when it was completed in 2009, and its One York mixed-use office building has 150,000 square feet of retail on its first two floors.

Sean Menkes said retail tenants in its downtown mixed-use office buildings have struggled during the pandemic because their main customers have been building tenants and visitors to local amenities, such as Scotiabank Arena, both of which have been largely absent. Retailers have been using government assistance programs and Menkes has been helping out, so few have closed for good.

“Our view is that retail is an amenity for a project and we want to make sure that these hand-picked retailers that we put into the buildings are there for the office occupants when they return to work,” said Sean Menkes. “We’ve had a very accommodating approach to work with our retailers to make sure we can support them as they work through this difficult time.”

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Canadian Real Estate Prices To Fall More Than Expected: Desjardins – Better Dwelling – Better Dwelling



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Canadian Real Estate Prices To Fall More Than Expected: Desjardins – Better Dwelling  Better Dwelling

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B.C. ‘clear’ there’s not enough housing as Vancouver encampment ordered dismantled



VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s acting attorney general says the province was “clear” with Vancouver officials that the Crown corporation responsible for subsidized housing does not have enough spaces available for people who are being told to dismantle their tents along a street in the city’s Downtown Eastside.

Murray Rankin, who is also minister responsible for housing, says housing is a human right, and the “deeply concerning scenes from Hastings Street demonstrate how much more work we have to do to make that a reality for everyone in our communities.”

Rankin in a statement Friday says BC Housing has accelerated efforts to secure new housing for encampment residents including pursuing new sites to lease or buy and expediting renovations on single-room occupancy units as they become vacant.

He says BC Housing is aiming to make a “limited number” of renovated units available next week, with more opening later in the fall.

Vancouver fire Chief Karen Fry ordered tents set up along Hastings Street sidewalks dismantled last month, saying there was an extreme fire and safety risk.

Police blocked traffic Tuesday as city staff began what’s expected to be a weeks-long process of dismantling the encampment but little had changed by the end of the week with most residents staying put, saying they have nowhere to go.

The city has said staff plan to approach encampment residents with “respect and sensitivity” to encourage the voluntary removal of their tents and belongings.

Community advocacy groups, including the Vancouver Area of Drug Users and Pivot Legal Society, have said clearing the encampment violates a memorandum of understanding between the city, the B.C. government and Vancouver’s park board, because people are being told to move without being offered suitable housing.

The stated aim of the agreement struck last March is to connect unsheltered people to housing and preserve their dignity when dismantling encampments.

The City of Vancouver may enforce bylaws that prohibit structures on sidewalks “when suitable spaces are available for people to move indoors,” it reads.

The province is not involved in the fire chief’s order or the enforcement of local bylaws, which prohibit structures on sidewalks, but it is “bringing all of BC Housing’s resources to bear to do what we can to secure housing for people, Rankin said.

“I recognize the profound uncertainty and upheaval people impacted by the fire order are facing, and we will provide updates on this work as we have news to share,” he said.

Rankin, who had been serving as minister of Indigenous relations, was appointed acting attorney general after David Eby stepped down to run for leadership of the B.C. NDP.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2022.


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Mismanaged real estate deals land B.C. lawyer two-month suspension – Business in Vancouver



Mismanaged trust accounts have landed a ban on residential real estate conveyancing for a B.C. lawyer.

A Law Society of BC tribunal panel has suspended Surrey lawyer Serf Grewal after determining he unintentionally misappropriated tens of thousands of dollars of trust funds.

Grewal was found to have committed several breaches of law society rules, largely related to real estate. As such he’s also been barred from future residential real estate conveyancing.

“The proven misconduct,” stated the society, “includes unintentional misappropriation of slightly over $42,000 of client trust funds, due to trust shortages and accounting errors, mishandling of a further $3,770 of client trust funds which resulted in a trust shortage that he did not report to the law society, improper withdrawal of $5,500 held in trust for fees before delivering bills to the client, failure to comply with accounting obligations over a four year period, and improperly commissioning an affidavit by not personally witnessing the attestation.”

Grewal’s suspension was said to be curtailed from what may have been a longer one, granted there was “evidence establishing that none of Grewal’s misconduct arose from dishonesty or deliberate misconduct for personal gain.”

As well, “the panel also considered evidence of a clear connection between Grewal’s misconduct and mental health issues related to childhood and personal trauma, and that the consequences flowed from his decision to report that trauma,” noted the society in a statement Aug. 10.

Grewal was also ordered to undertake trust account supervision and educational courses.

He claimed his annual income was in the range of $45,000 to $50,000 and so the tribunal panel afforded him 16 months to pay $9,000 in costs.

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