Exchange District Condos – Interview with Elliot Taube & Chris Castellano
Exchange District Condos – Highlights
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Exchange District Condos – The Best Location in Mississauga: Transcript
Amit Bhandari: Hi everyone. This is Amit Bhandari of talkcondo.com and today we are at Camrost Felcorp headquarters and we are with Elliott Taube, who is the President CO of International Home Marketing Group and we’re with Chris Castellano who is with Camrost Felcorp and is involved with sales and marketing.
Amit Bhandari: And today we are discussing Exchange District. An incredible new development by Camrost Felcorp. Gentlemen, thank you so much.
Elliot Taube: You’re welcome.
Chris Castellano: Amit, thanks so much for having us.
Amit Bhandari: Awesome. Guys, there’s a lot to discuss. Run off the bullet points, what I want to talk about is, I want to talk about Mississauga, where we’re at today with Mississauga. And then narrow it down to square one, the neighborhood. And then I want to talk about the community. Exchange District. It’s a multi phased, multifaceted, master-planned community. We’re very excited and can’t wait to talk about it.
Amit Bhandari: But before all that, I want to talk about the developer. Because I think as with any master-planned community, as with any development, the developer is a very, very key part of the story. And Camrost with its incredible history, never-ending awards, I mean you’ve got a whole lineup there, of the awards. Camrost Felcorp have existed for the last 40 or so years-
Chris Castellano: Exactly. I’ll just jump in.
Amit Bhandari: Yeah.
Chris Castellano: Thanks for that introduction, actually …
Amit Bhandari: No problem.
Chris Castellano: … It makes my job a lot easier. Camrost Felcorp, we’ve been around now for over four decades. David Feldman, founder and CEO is really been a prolific builder in the GTA. [Absolutely 00:00:01:46]. We’ve built all across the GTA. We’re very fortunate to draw on different experiences and different levels of projects that we’ve entered into.
Chris Castellano: We’ve developed, predominantly in the past few years, we’ve been very midtown, downtown, Yorkville focused.
Amit Bhandari: Yes.
Chris Castellano: Prior to that we were some of the first ones to really corner that Park Lawn and Lake Shore intersection with our Mystic Pointes Community. Prior to that we were out in Mississauga, so it’s a bit of a homecoming for us to get back out to Mississauga with a different style project that we’re going to be doing there. And we’ve got some projects out in North York that we’ve done. And then as well on the East Side with our Upper East Village. Camrost really, where our strengths lie, are in the master-planned communities.
Amit Bhandari: Yes.
Chris Castellano: That’s really our hallmark and our calling card for the past couple of years. When we look at purchasers or investors in today’s market, we find that the community they’re buying into is of the utmost importance.
Amit Bhandari: 100%.
Chris Castellano: We really need to create a realm for them to live in that they’re able to have a great livable apartment condo. They have to have retail amenities close, easy access to what they need to live their life. And then obviously, a suite of strong amenities for them to enjoy themselves in the development.
Chris Castellano: That’s really something we’ve noticed to become of importance over the past couple of years. And what we’ve been doing with our Mystic Pointe master-planned community there, with iLofts, Tides, California Condos. Same thing with the Imperial Village Community. We’ve built-
Amit Bhandari: We’re right here.
Chris Castellano: Yeah, we’re sitting in it right now, actually. With our Imperial Plaza retrofit, the Imperial Club, all those buildings, and what we’re achieving with the Upper East Village master-planned community that’s going up in Leaside.
Amit Bhandari: Yes. Amazing. Yeah, and I’m glad you talked on that because a lot of those neighborhoods, you’ve perhaps pioneered because they weren’t what they are today. Especially Mystic Pointe, for example. You guys came in when there was really nothing there. You were some of the first buildings there and I believe there were certain visions that Camrost Feldcorp had with the neighborhood, but unfortunately they couldn’t come to fruition.
Amit Bhandari: But it still goes to show that not every master-planned community is built-
Chris Castellano: The same way.
Amit Bhandari: Exactly. Right?
Chris Castellano: Right.
Amit Bhandari: There’s certain master-planned communities that have just chock full of residential building after residential building, residential building. But then there’s others that have this amazing vision where, exactly like you said, to have this place where people can live, work, play, and get involved, create a community atmosphere. And I think you’ve achieved that. This pocket especially, Avenue and Saint Clair. Phenomenal developments. Phenomenal developments.
Amit Bhandari: I want to talk about Mississauga, cause you touched on … You developed way back back.
Chris Castellano: Back in the day, yeah.
Amit Bhandari: Way back. And you rightly said, it’s a homecoming. You coming back. So what was it about Mississauga that …
Chris Castellano: Well I mean, there’s a couple of things. You mentioned, you alluded to it when you were just talking now. Camrost really prides itself in finding the best locations to build these communities. Corporately, we have a very keen eye to figure out where are potential areas of growth, where are potential areas of opportunity, where are areas that people want to live in now and in the future?
Amit Bhandari: Right.
Chris Castellano: We identified Mississauga as that for a couple of reasons. Number one, Mississauga has incredibly grown up over the past couple of years. Historically it was viewed as a feeder for Toronto or a suburb of Toronto. But now Mississauga has very much become a city unto itself-
Amit Bhandari: For sure.
Chris Castellano: When we look at the amount of employment that’s out there, when we look at the amount of Fortune 500 Companies that are out there, it’s really an epicenter for jobs and for commerce in Ontario at this point.
Amit Bhandari: Absolutely.
Chris Castellano: Quickly coming up and challenging Toronto in that regard. So for us, we see this as a great opportunity to bring a strong urbanization and a strong push to help Mississauga along with its continuing evolution. Something really interesting is happening there [Absolutely 00:06:04] and we feel that we can add to it. When we discuss with the mayor, you hear the mayor’s very aggressive plan for-
Amit Bhandari: Very ambitious.
Chris Castellano: Yeah, her very ambitious plan that she’s putting together and championing and Mississauga is making huge strides. So we really want to be a part of that and we really are setting out to help bring an urban master-planned community, a mixed-use community to create a hub in the downtown core of Mississauga.
Amit Bhandari: Amazing. Yeah, it’s good that you touched on that ambition because we were actually very fortunate, not too long ago, to attend an event where the mayor spoke and she spoke very highly of Mississauga. One of the key things that she said was that, something that stuck in my mind, was that it’s Mississauga’s turn. And given these designs that are coming up … I mean, some of these designs that we’re seeing now, are very much the kind of stuff that you tended to see in downtown Toronto.
Chris Castellano: Right.
Amit Bhandari: And you seeing this come in Mississauga and amazing and exciting to see. And I just can’t wait to see what the skyline will look like in the future. I think it’s very exciting.
Chris Castellano: Definitely.
Amit Bhandari: The next thing I wanted to do is, and you’ve touched on it, is now draw it back into where this is actually going. It’s a small pocket, right beside Square One.
Chris Castellano: Yes, just right adjacent to Square One, steps to Square One.
Amit Bhandari: Yeah, and it’s funny to see because vacant land seems to, or under utilized land seems to stick out like a sore thumb.
Chris Castellano: Right.
Amit Bhandari: I’m wanting to find out from both of you gentleman, Camrost Felcorp. What is its vision? What can we expect from this master-planned community?
Chris Castellano: I think, talking about what we could expect from the master-planned community, I find it’s very important to talk about the development and the kind of conceptualization of this master-planned community-
Amit Bhandari: Sure.
Chris Castellano: I mentioned before, our goal was to really bring an urbanization to the downtown core of Mississauga to create a true district, a true node where people can live, work and play in a mixed-use urban community. Also, I think it’s very important to understand that we drew inspiration from all the large international cities in the world for this project.
Amit Bhandari: That’s really good.
Chris Castellano: When you look at the team we assembled specifically for this project, we have IBI Group architects, who are some of the preeminent architects here in Toronto. Sol Wassermuhl and Henry Burstyn were working on this project and really, they’re known for their international footprint, and their international awards, and their international architecture that they do.
Chris Castellano: Secondly, we talked about how important amenities are for purchasers and foreign investors. We went out and we partnered with the BDP group, which is a retail focused architecture firm based out of London, England, that have been doing incredible work all across Europe and some projects in Ontario and Canada as well. We partnered with them to really create a very strong pedestrian experience and pedestrian offering. Be it, the fantastic at grade retail that they designed into the podium of this incredible development, or the beautiful center court piazza, this public realm that they’ve developed with the signature stairs meant for conversing and meeting with friends, the gardens that they’re putting in there. There’s a lot of thought and process that went into this and to truly bring an international vibe to Mississauga, which at the end of the day is a very international city.
Chris Castellano: To answer the question of what we’re planning to achieve with that, it’s really that. To bring an international urban concept and mixed-use community … A real district is what we want to do. We want to create a real district in the heart of downtown Mississauga.
Amit Bhandari: Amazing. You touched on a couple of things there. One of the things that you actually touched on again, and a little bit ago, was the Fortune 500 Companies in and around this pocket.
Chris Castellano: Mm-hmm(affirmative).
Amit Bhandari: What amazes me is that there is a very strong presence. And given where this is going to be built, you’re right against Square One shopping mall, which itself is a huge pool of potential tenants and whatnot. And of course being a huge mall, it’s also a fantastic local amenity that everybody can enjoy anytime, really.
Amit Bhandari: What can you tell us about the building now? Because, I mean the designs are absolutely striking. Like I said, you don’t really tend to see these kinds of designs too often in the suburbs. But now to see these kinds of designs … And I know you showed me another image, a new vantage point, a different vantage point of the building a little bit earlier. What can we expect from the building itself? It’s amenities, it’s suite mix. What are we looking?
Elliot Taube: Well first off, just so we understand, it’s the one with the pink [inaudible 00:10:57] is what we’re going to be releasing first. Set at 60 stories, incredible height in that type of city and completely changing the dramatic skyline that’s out there. I think Mississauga, when you look at it from a distance … And then the interesting thing is, we can actually see that skyline from here and we think it’s part of Toronto, but it is a city onto itself.
Elliot Taube: Camrost, we’re very fortunate to be partnering with them and being the listing broker on this, have worked tirelessly first on the suite plans. A lot of times we see buildings that are designed from the outside in and the suites don’t really work. This is that perfect combination where we’ve got that exceptionally pretty, sexy face and building, and inside all the suites work. Your typical one bedrooms, two bedrooms, and three bedroom plans, efficient square footages that work. Also allowing us to translate a price point that’s going to come out that’s going to be very affordable and whether it’s an investor or an end user, you know we’ve got something for everybody in that building.
Elliot Taube: And when you have such dramatic architecture and also density on a site like that … Amenity package, and program that is second to none. Essentially you could come home and probably never leave the building between … And what Chris got into, the piazza with restaurants, and grocery shopping, and the amenities that are going to be down there, and everything else from swimming pools and First Class fitness facilities, outdoor terraces, barbecue areas, sun decks, Chris’favorite thing that he fought and he did get, his half court basketball court in there-
Amit Bhandari: Oh, awesome.
Elliot Taube: We’ve got that booked up for the first part of it. Everything is in this community. And when we talked about walking steps to Square One, it is steps to Square One.
Amit Bhandari: It literally is.
Elliot Taube: So whether you need something for the house, you want to go catch a movie, everything’s there.
Amit Bhandari: The library, Celebration Square, you’d probably be able to catch the fireworks at New Year’s.
Chris Castellano: The entertainment, the cultural, and the municipal amenities around this location are incredible. Additionally, just taking a step outside of our one development, you’re right on some of the nicest hiking and biking trails Mississauga has to offer. You can pretty much bike right down to Port Credit [Port Credit 00:13:14] from where you are, you’re minutes to the highway, I think around it’s 10 minutes to get to Pearson Airport [Pretty much 00:13:23]. It’s a very incredible location. We’re very, very fortunate. It’s really every developer’s dream. David Feldman, our president CEO loves to say this, that it’s every developer’s dream to have an opportunity to work on a site like this and to plan out a true district like this.
Amit Bhandari: Phenomenal. One of the big components of a master-planned community is accessibility, right? People need to go to and from wherever they need to get to. And one of the big things around Square One, given how prominent it is, given how famous it is, and given how everybody wants to be there, the ease of access is a big thing. If you could talk to us about that because it’s not just one single thing that allows you to get to and from this site, this location.
Chris Castellano: Well the old adage, Elliot loves to say this in our meetings, location, location, location is the most important part of real estate. And we’re very fortunate in this location to have the types of accessibility we have.
Chris Castellano: Now whether that’s public transit, with the LRT that’s going on here, Ontario, that’s able to take you all the way up to the North or all the way South to the Go Train Station, that’s just a couple of stops over from downtown Toronto Union Station, to the accessibility via car. If you have to drive to and from, we’re minutes away from many highways. You got the 401 right around the corner, you’ve got the Gardner just down … the QEW rather, just down South. You’re right on the corner of Burnhamthorpe and here, Ontario.
Chris Castellano: In terms of accessibility, this is a great location to be. And whether you’re someone commuting to downtown to work or whether you’re someone commuting North to where all … where Pearson is, which is a huge employment zone in the region, as well as to any of the Fortune 500 Companies that are located a bit North of the 401, this really is a great place where you can have that ease of accessibility to work, but you’re still a little bit removed and you’re still in a nice urban environment where there’s a bit more, retail amenities and there’s a shopping mall right across the way.
Amit Bhandari: Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. A big important part of this is, and we touched on it briefly a little bit earlier, was the fact that this is a multi phased, multifaceted, master-planned community. And we talked a bit about this where, not every community is made the same way. They don’t have these things that we just spoke about. And because it’s multi phase, it’s very important from an investment standpoint that … Say an individual who is interested in perhaps investing, that they get in early. And because this is tower one of a four tower community, is very important. Elliot, what else can you tell us about-
Elliot Taube: Well, you hit it right on the head. When you have that opportunity to jump in phase one, day one, that is, it’s gold. Because we know that, where prices have gone, and when it is done right and in such a location, that the subsequent phases are always going to be more.
Amit Bhandari: Yeah.
Elliot Taube: We’ve also watched the city very carefully, and you’re as involved at anybody with it. Between our construction costs and everything that’s happening, and land costs, it’s never going to get any better than it is now and to get in at day one, that’s the time to be there.
Amit Bhandari: Awesome. Gents, is there anything that we missed, perhaps? Other than that we’ve spoken about … I know we’ve spoken about a lot of things, but is there anything that I missed-
Elliot Taube: I think timing is another thing, just to understand. Our initial launch phase is going to be April 25th, we’re going to be coming to the market then. So it’s important that your clients get in touch with you well before that.
Amit Bhandari: Okay.
Elliot Taube: One thing we’re very excited about is, when the clients come down with you to see the actual project or purchase a unit, our sales office is going to be right on site.
Amit Bhandari: Amazing.
Elliot Taube: Taking over the ninth floor of the existing office tower that will come down at some point. But an incredible sales office. And they’re going to be able to see the fit and finish, and through some of the vignettes, and the different pieces of collateral that we put together, to truly understand the magnitude of what this is.
Elliot Taube: And when we talked about district, it’s not a single phase. It’s not a single building. And everything that’s on there. So we’re really excited that’s underway. We would’ve loved to have done the interview in that space-
Amit Bhandari: I Know.
Elliot Taube: … But, there’s a little bit of saw dust on the ground. So we are getting ready for that. But yeah, April 25th’s the lunch, and we’re really looking forward to working with you guys on this.
Amit Bhandari: Amazing. So just to emphasize that point, if we do have anybody that’s interested, what would they need to do?
Elliot Taube: I think they need to … They have you on speed dial or email or get you [What’sApp, whatever 00:00:17:56] … Ahead of time. We’re gonna get you some more assets and collateral leading up to the launch. And once lunch, we’re going to have everything that you need to get your clients in.
Amit Bhandari: Amazing. We’re very excited. Thanks gents.
Chris Castellano: Thank you.
Amit Bhandari: Thank you.
Elliot Taube: You’re welcome. Always a pleasure. All right.