DREAM Unlimited Corp. is one of Canada’s leading real estate companies, managing approximately $14.7 billion of assets in North America and Europe. The scope of the business includes residential land development, housing and condominium development, and asset management.
Epoch Times recently spoke with Jason Lester, DREAM’s Senior VP, Urban Development, who is primarily responsible for residential and mixed-use development across Canada.
Lester talked about his company’s current and future projects. Having just handed over the Athlete’s Village (Canary District) for the 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games in Toronto (finished months ahead of schedule), DREAM and their partner on Canary District, Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Ltd., are looking forward to getting the project back in September and completing it as a mid-rise mixed-use community—a nice contrast to the soaring residential skyscrapers of downtown Toronto.
Every element of Canary District is designed to be open, inclusive, and welcoming as a model of 21st century city building. With an emphasis on maximizing green spaces through courtyards, laneways, on terraces, and along secondary pedestrian routes, Canary District will be a highly walkable neighbourhood focused on health and wellness.
The centrepiece of Canary District is the newly built Corktown Common Park, a 19-acre active, vibrant, gateway to the city’s 350 sq. km. parks and trails network.
Founded on the principles of wellness and active living, Canary District will be home to Toronto’s newest flagship YMCA health and fitness facility. Scheduled for opening in 2016 after the Pan/Parapan American Games wrap up in Toronto, the new YMCA Centre will become an anchor to the downtown east neighbourhood.
The master plan for Canary District calls for a dramatic transformation of Front Street into a vibrant, wide, art-filled pedestrian boulevard lined with cafes, art shops and retail stores. This spectacular artery will be the community’s main street, and will be further energized with over 50,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floors of Canary District’s residential buildings.
Cafés and restaurants serving meals prepared with fresh local ingredients will support the notion of living well. Patios will spill out into active streets, adding to the vibrant street life. Convenient access to quality neighbourhood services and amenities will help serve residents and visitors and contribute to the creation of an authentic, mixed-use neighbourhood with a strong sense of community.
Presently Phase One of Canary District is 90 percent sold. Phase Two is 50 percent sold.
Other exciting news from DREAM is their recent deal with Canadian Pacific Railway to partner on the development of numerous properties within CPR’s massive land holdings portfolio throughout Canada and into the U.S. This joint venture, called DREAM Van Horne Properties (DREAM VHP), will maximize the value of CP’s surplus real estate by leveraging the experience and expertise of DREAM to develop select properties.
“The formation of DREAM VHP is the result of a comprehensive selection process to find the right partner with the expertise and vision necessary to unlock the significant long-term shareholder value from those assets. With DREAM’S focus on customers, communities and shareholders, we are pleased to find a partner that shares the same values as CP,” said CP CEO E. Hunter Harrison in a press release announcing the deal.
DREAM and development partner Windmill Developments have also recently been granted approval for a 37-acre development along the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa/Gatineau.
Together this team is planning more than three million square feet of commercial, retail, and residential developments on the 37-acre former Domtar lands. The project, named Zibi—which is Algonquin for river—promises to be one of the most sustainable communities on the planet.
Work on the $1.2-billion development is expected to begin within months and will initially include commercial and retail space as well as two six-storey condo buildings on the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River.
Certainly DREAM is a company to watch in the coming years. Progressive, exciting, and connected, DREAM is changing and improving the urban landscape in every community they build.
For more information, please visit www.dream.ca
Judy Hazan is an experienced writer for the real estate industry based in Toronto.