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Hotel developer gets on the mixed-use bandwagon

“I think these days, multi-use is the right way to go,” says Steve Gupta, president, CEO and founder of Easton’s Group of Hotels. “It creates jobs, it has a flair for everything, it creates a community.”

Gupta is one of those guys that makes you believe there’s such a thing as a Canadian dream, and that it may be a little better than the American version. You can read about him practically everywhere, and the story of his immigration in 1971, the $100 in his pocket, the truck stop he bought in Port Hope, and onwards and upwards until he is able to say, as he did in the middle of our conversation, discussing his latest project at 4050 Yonge, “Once you do $100 million, $75 million, $200 million, it’s all the same thing.”

Gupta made his name in hotels. He builds them and owns them, more than a dozen now (including the Residence Inn on Wellington and the Hilton Garden Inn on Peter Street). But the news these days is that he’s moving into the mixed-use realm, adding office space and condos to his portfolio.

He has just bought 3.6 acres on Yonge Street at York Mills, abutting the subway station, which he plans to incorporate into his half-million square foot development. It will include 266 parking spaces, have 40,000 square feet of ground-level retail, a 202-room four-star hotel (he’s in talks with both Marriott and Hilton as potential managers) as well as office condos.

“We feel buying [office] condos is more appealing to people these days,” Gupta says, “because most of the office buildings are rental, and people renting less than 5,000 square feet are often pushed out. I’ve been in my office building for 25 years, and I’ve been moved three times. I believe it gives you pride of ownership, and you don't face rent increases.”

Mixed-use is increasingly an option Toronto developers are turning to as land becomes scarce and expensive. The Hullmark at Yonge and Sheppard, and the World on Yonge were early entries into the field.

Easton’s is also developing a 48-storey mixed-use project (including residential condos) called Dundas Square Gardens which, despite the name, will be built at 200 Dundas East across from Allan Gardens. It’s deigned by Page and Steele/IBI Group, with interiors by Munge Leung.

Gupta figures ground will be broken at 4050 Yonge by the end of the year, with about two-and-a-half years before it’s ready for occupancy.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Steve Gupta

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