achieving global status as a business magnate, real estate developer, socialite and television personality —
among his life’s successes — Donald Trump was a young man from New York City who worked alongside one of his
most cherished mentors, his father.
In his biography, the billionaire credits Frederick Trump for being a wonderful teacher who taught him a tremendous amount about every aspect of the construction industry. As a student, he worked closely with his father during the summer months and soon after his graduation from the Wharton School of Finance in 1968, he joined his father’s company, The Trump Organization.
Following a career that has inspired countless entrepreneurs, as well as budding business professionals with the 2004 launch of The Apprentice, Trump has stayed true to his real estate roots. Just a few years after the show’s debut, in 2007 Trump decided it was high time to add a touch of Manhattan to Toronto and plans soon commenced for the jaw-dropping Trump International Hotel and Tower, situated in the heart of the financial district at Bay and Adelaide streets.
Once completed, the 60-storey tower will be one of the tallest residential properties in Canada, standing at 924 feet (281.6 metres) high. The finishing touches on the tower are almost complete, with an opening date scheduled for spring 2011. From its inception, the tower has raised the bar for luxury in the city to a new level.
“This is definitely one of the most exciting projects I have ever been involved in,” Trump says in an online video for the hotel’s website. “Trump International Hotel and Tower, Toronto has just taken on a new life; it’s taken on a life I’ve never seen. Toronto is one of the most exciting cities in the world, it’s one of my favorite cities, and to have the hotel in Toronto is very important and special to me.”
There are more visionaries like Trump, collaborating, planning and executing their development projects for the finest in premier mixed hotel and residential living across Canada. From the triumph of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, Toronto, to the soothing scenery of Living Shangri-La in Vancouver, to the warming touches of Hotel Le Germain Calgary, or the breathtaking harbour view of King’s Wharf in Halifax, each of these distinctive properties demonstrate that the Canadian landscape is vibrant and alive in the selection of luxurious living from coast to coast.
Strong, modern developments are also a key factor in strengthening economic growth, Statistics Canada reports.
Construction is one of Canada’s largest industries, providing both infrastructure and employment. The industry includes residential and non-residential components. From 2005 to 2009, construction contributed from 5.8 per cent to 6.1 per cent each year to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). In 2009, its contribution was $69.1 billion.
Over time, monumental projects such as these set their own challenges and rewards for developers with the hopes of ranking top in their field. For discerning visitors or residents with a yen for opulence looking to stay or live, there is a lineup of developers vying for the opportunity to have you select them as your next stop to experience ultimate luxury.
Trump International Hotel and Tower, Toronto
developer Alex Shnaider takes a look up at the Toronto sky, he says he will remember the superior marvel he
and his team helped to construct.
“Immediately, even in the concept stage, some people doubted we would succeed. This is a super luxury project and, at the time, projects of this scale were unheard of in Toronto,” the chairman of Talon International Development Inc. explains.
But despite some of those initial barriers, Shnaider, the lead developer of the eagerly awaited Trump International Hotel and Tower, is showing that there is indeed room in the city for property of the Trump calibre.
“We silenced the doubters so well that several other luxury hotel developers jumped in and launched their own projects. That was gratifying and now, to look up and see the reality of this tower soaring over Bay Street is even more gratifying.”
As a multi-award-winning, worldwide brand in five-star luxury, Shnaider believes the proudest moments of the project are yet to come, and that they will come soon. “My partners and I are extremely proud of what we have created,” says Shnaider. “Looking up at the tower growing from the corner of Bay and Adelaide, we know that it will be a landmark that our grandchildren will also marvel at — something to be enjoyed for generations to come.” Shnaider and his partners were also given celebrity bragging rights after having met with Trump several times and sharing the opportunity to work with him throughout the life of the project. “He is a charismatic personality, a family man and a shrewd business man. It has been a pleasure to work with him and his team,” says Shnaider. With the final touches to come, Shnaider says it’s only a matter of time before owners, guests, and visitors will be delighted at the level of detail they will find when the tower opens. “The interior designers have worked day and night to create a spectacular experience for them,” he says.
Designed by Toronto’s Zeidler Partnership Architects, this dramatic granite and glass curtain-walled landmark will not only be instantly recognizable throughout the city, but shimmer in its own opulent right.
Units vary in price range, but the ultimate lap of luxury for the penthouse suite comes with a price tag of $15 million. Until recently, Trump Toronto was the first Trump-branded property to be built outside of the United States. However, since the successful launch, the organization has initiated several new development projects throughout the world, such as in Panama City, Panama with an anticipated opening in 2011 as well as in Aberdeen, Scotland and Dubai,
Hotel Le Germain Calgary
Referred to affectionately as “Madame” by her staff, Christiane Germain came to the conclusion that she could not open a new boutique hotel without sleeping in it herself. This prompted her to make the trip from the brand’s original Montreal location to its Toronto addition in Maple Leaf Square.
“I wasn’t supposed to be in Toronto, but told myself it’s not possible to not sleep in this new hotel, so I got in around eight in the evening and it was a great feeling to walk in the door and see our guests being greeted,” says Germain.
With headquarters in Quebec, Groupe Germain is a family-run company that also owns and operates boutique hotels in Montreal and Quebec City. A pioneer of the boutique hotel concept in Canada, the company expanded out west and opened Le Germain Calgary in February 2010. This was the company’s first foray into a development project that included a boutique hotel, office tower and residential complex. While the company is focused on the expansion of the brand, they have not been deterred from maintaining the authentic, intimate experience of Le Germain, limiting the number of guest rooms to only 143.
In addition to preserving the company’s brand, the Calgary venue is also steps away from some of the city’s finest restaurants, pubs, cafés and bars, as well as an eclectic mix of shopping boutiques and art galleries.
Its elegant yet home-like design is based around natural materials, such as volcanic stone floors, wood panelling, soft leather and solid granite. Le Germain Calgary’s front entrance also reveals an awe-inspiring 25-foot glass wall that fills the lounge and front desk areas in radiant, natural light.
Future expansion plans of the Germain brand are in the works, with the company’s goal to have establishments in every major Canadian city, including Ottawa, Halifax and Vancouver, shares Germain. As well, she emphasizes that the hotel is the only authentic luxury hotel boutique chain in the country. “We created each building from scratch, instead of buying out from another developer. That makes us very distinctive, as far as we’re concerned,” she says. With their recent opening in Calgary, Germain concedes the move out west was a wise one.
“I am convinced we will find our place there; we’re happy to be there and it is a great clientele.”
King’s Wharf, Dartmouth
Set in what used to be a shipyard, developer Francis Fares’ plans to bring a new upscale development to the coastal town of Dartmouth are well underway. “It’s certainly tough at times, but we’re working in due course,” says Fare.
Beginning in spring 2006, Fares’ dream of remaking the marine slips into King’s Wharf, a $300-million vision to bring a new level of style and sophistication to the area, began to bloom.
Once it’s finished, the re-designed 80,000-square-foot wharf will accent many gems, including 1,200 residential condos, a 200-room hotel and convention centre, hotel condo suites, as well as mixed retail and commercial space.
“We’re building a community; it is not only a residential space. It’s a whole-concept, large-scale development that will leave a big bang,” says Fares.
Expected to be home to a new world-class development, the project is currently being undertaken by Fares, of Fares Real Estate Inc., which owns the old Irving Marine Slips property. The first 14-storey residential building is scheduled to be open by February, with the following building likely to be completed in summer 2011, he confirms. About five years in the making for the entire project, progress is also being made in the hotel phase, although Fares states he does not have a confirmed completion date as of yet.
“The development is all on the water, which will make it a stunner,” he says.
Residents and visitors will be able to enjoy a sense of unity in the space, as the design will allow them to enjoy fine dining, shopping, and walking along the boardwalk, complemented by a stunning view of the waterfront.
“It will reshape the Halifax Harbour,” says Fares. “I think the most exciting feature is that it’s on the water and the view of Halifax is spectacular.”
Living Shangri-La, Vancouver
What sets apart Living Shangri-La from its competition, shares lead developer Michael Braun, is its focus on grand design, and not just luxury. “The building has a mix of suite types perfectly suited for everyone, whether they are a young professional, a retired couple or an overseas adventurer looking for a place to rest,” says Braun of Westbank Projects Corporation. Braun also says that the Vancouver project, finished at the end of 2008, was and still is the tallest building in the city. So in a sense, making his mark on the skyline was a very proud moment for the seasoned developer.
Upon entering, a 119-room hotel first greets visitors, taking up the first 15 floors. General live/work homes occupy floors 16 to 42, while private access residential units are located on floors 43 to 59, with three penthouses on floor 61. Atop the roof, however, is yet another surprise: a garden, swimming pool and spectacular urban view.
Another aspect of the stunning design is a collection of mixed-use buildings, like the Urban Fare grocery store, open market restaurant and off-site sculpture garden for the Vancouver Art Gallery. Even with the project already completed, Braun says he still holds the memories of the development close to his heart. “There was a lot of learning to overcome in terms of its construction, but the challenges were overcome through a great team of developers, consultants and architects,” he says. “We wanted to set a standard and be number one in Vancouver, and likewise all of North America.” To date, Braun concludes his design standards have been met and is now looking forward to expansion. He is now on the team for Shangri-La Toronto. “From the choice of furniture, to the fragrance of the lobby, every detail counts,” says Braun.
With many Canadian and international investors who initially may choose to side with caution when jumping into the real estate market, fret not. Just think like Mr. Trump, who shares this remindful message:
“There are always opportunities out there and that should be the focus. Otherwise, it’s too easy to become blindsided by the bad news,” Trump told Canadian Real Estate magazine in a 2009 interview. “ What about the good news? Fortunes have been made in down times. It’s always good to be careful, so being circumspect should be the norm.”
When making the important decision to invest, stay or live, everyone has their own say. From developer to real estate agent to decorator and guest, there are many vital players involved. However, with such a breadth of options, there has never been a more opportunistic time to take pride in a landscape or retreat that best speaks to who you are. •