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New condo buys coffee for everyone in a 3-block radius

Developers are an odd breed. In order to succeed, they need to be able to handle the risk and stress that comes with borrowing and investing 8- and 9-figure sums, and conservative enough to ensure that every project caters to the widest possible audience. They have to be able to deal with the artistic sensibilities of architects, and the labour ethic of tradespeople. It’s a rare combination that attracts an odd mix of people, and no two are alike.

Mazyar Mortazavi, however, is less alike than most. TAS, of which he’s president and CEO, is always building on the fringes of the mainstream and finding new ways to increase the city’s density. Last week, we wrote about a new project of his, DUKE, that’s expanding the condo core into the Junction. And now, with his latest development  Kingston and Co., located at 1100 Kingston Rd, he’s buying everyone in the neighbourhood a cup of coffee.

"A key thing for us, going into a new neighbourhood, is that I see it as a guest going to a dinner party," he says. "The people who already live there are the hosts. So we spend a lot of time with our community engagement program. We start talking with the neighbourhood from the beginning of the application process, in addition to the public meetings arranged with the city. Those, to us, are pretty much the end of the process."

Mortazavi says the applications have all been approved, the meetings all conducted, and sales are about to begin, and construction’s set to start, with a view to being ready to move in late 2016 or early 2017.

In other words, there’s nothing left to get out of the residents, and the average developer might be relieved that this particularly arduous segment of the process is over. But Mortazavi seems to like it, so he’s just sent out little thank you cards with coupons for two free cups of coffee at local indie cafes (Madhüs and Savoury Grounds) to everyone who lives within a three-block radius of the future mid-rise.

"Our entire platform is based on engaging in conversation," he says. "We recognize that there's a lot of chatter, and has been for a while, around the market, developers who promise one thing and deliver something else. There are people who are worried there’s a condo bubble, others that this is just going to be a box going up in their neighbourhoods. These are conversations that are happening, and we want to be a part of that, to encourage it, and to inform people."

And also be the ones buying the coffee over which the neighbourhood continues to klatch.

It’s not the first time they’ve done something like this. When DUKE was in the pre-sales stage, TAS helped launch the Junction flea market. They also hired their designer fro the neighbourhood, and bought their furniture of rate condo from local dealers.

"It’s very much looking at the underpinnings of what makes strong communities and seeing who we can work with to strengthen that," he says.

Condominium development is by definition a cut-and-run project. Developers buy land, build buildings, sell them off, and move on. The building stays, but the developer's out of there. Mortazavi, for one, would like the memory of their time together to be a pleasant one.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Mazyar Mortazavi
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