EP.—“Eddie”--Taylor was one of the great visionary real-estate developers of his era and both Don Mills and Lyford Cay, his luxury resort community in the Bahamas, remain enduring testaments to that fact. And it’s Taylor’s legacy that the two real-estate organizations behind the creation of the “new” Don Mills are hoping to build on. Cadillac Fairview (CF), one of Canada’s largest and most admired real estate companies, stepped up first with the transformation of the old Don Mills Shopping Centre into Ontario’s first open-air lifestyle retailing village, CF Shops at Don Mills, and its success is confirmed by the company’s recently announced $21-million upgrade to the complex, an expansion already underway. Next up was Lanterra Developments and its decision to co-venture with CF in the creation of Rodeo Drive, an ambitious multiphase residential community within CF Shops at Don Mills precinct. Along with three earlier condominium projects, Liv Lofts, Flaire and Reflections, Rodeo Drive will truly create a “new” live/work/play/shop urban village in the heart of “old” Don Mills. So who are these two companies and what made them think they could step into Eddie Taylor’s big shoes? Well both companies in their different ways have for years been at the forefront of, quite simply, the “regeneration” of urban Canada. Created in 1970 with the merger of the Cadillac Development Corporation and the Fairview Corporation, Cadillac Fairview, presently valued at $29-billion, owns over 37-million square feet of leasable space in 71 properties across Canada, and it’s a sterling portfolio, in-deed: the CF Toronto-Dominion Centre and the CF Toronto Eaton Centre in Canada’s largest metropolis, CF Pacific Centre in Vancouver, the CF Chinook Centre in Calgary, and many more. Many urban thinkers cite the building of the TD Centre and later the Eaton Centre as critical to the renewal of downtown Toronto as Canada’s preeminent commercial hub. That ability to see potential in real estate ventures early-on has long distinguished CF’s corporate culture, and such foresight was a key factor in the company’s investment at the 41-acre CF Shops at Don Mills site, as well as another important new play in their deal pipeline: the massive redevelopment of the 170-acre But-tonville Toronto Airport as a world-class employment district and a vibrant mixed-use lifestyle destination. “Don Mills is really a test lab for Buttonville,” says Niall Collins, CF’s Senior Vice President of Development. “It’s a smaller version of what Buttonville will be in the fullness of time. We are certainly going to use what we learned here as part of the planning mix there.”
That same genius for anticipating what’s happening next in the real-estate business has long distinguished the careers of Mark Mandelbaum and Barry Fenton, the co-founders of Lanterra Developments. And don’t just take our word for it. Awhile back, the Toronto Star lauded the duo for their demonstrable “talent for transforming neglected parts of the city into bustling mixed-used communities.” Over the last fifteen years there has been a dramatic renaissance of downtown Toronto as a place where people live—as well as work. And Lanterra has unquestionably been a major player in this extraordinary transformation with projects like The Toy Factory Lofts, Murano and Burano on Bay Street, Maple Lead Square and Ice in the Southcore Financial District, and One Bedford on Bloor Street. Both Mark and Barry were veterans in the real estate business when they became partners back in 2002 after discovering they had complimentary skill sets: Mark handles design, architecture and marketing, Barry, acquisition and construction. And they, amazingly, also had a similar vision of what was about to happen in downtown Toronto. It was a vision based on both demographics and the economics of the real-estate business. “A lot of people were being priced out of the single-family home business and a lot of young people wanted to live downtown where they work and play not in the suburbs,” says Mark. Both factors helped catalyze Toronto’s downtown condo boom over the last decade. Add to this Mark and Barry’s genius for seeing potential in under-utilized real estate and you have The Lanterra Effect, the creation of extraordinary value in previously under-valued districts. “Our projects accomplish things that are not typical,” argues Mark. “They’re creating new neighbourhoods and new urban realities. That’s what we like to do.” And for proof, look no further than the new community created between the Air Canada and Rogers centres in downtown Toronto. “If we hadn’t gone in and built Maple Leaf Square and ICE Condos, you wouldn’t have seen a few million square feet of office space and other condos and hotels coming in.” Lanterra’s talent for seeing real-estate gold will soon work its magic in Don Mills, as well.