Toronto’s Best Developer
—— BILD’s annual prize goes to The Academy in Scarborough
Toronto Star, Apr 25, 2015 --- With construction cranes a constant on the GTA skyline, residents have become experts in watching the city grow and develop.
And now the experts have spoken by selecting the winner for the People’s Choice prize that was announced at last night’s 35th annual Building Industry and Land Development Association Awards.
The Academy Condos, built by LeMine Investment Group and Devron Developments, claimed the People’s Choice Award for best residential construction project in the GTA — as voted by the public.
And the voting is a large part of the story. This year, 85,413 people took part in selecting the winner — more than 60 times the 1,400 votes that were cast last year.
“We hoped we’d get around 20,000 to 25,000 votes, so it very much exceeded our expectations,” said Bryan Tuckey, president and CEO of BILD.
“The People’s Choice Award is one of the pinnacle awards we have. We were overwhelmed with the response.”
The surge in public participation came after BILD revamped its voting website and engaged people directly with an exhibit at last month’s National Home Show. As well, the eight People’s Choice Award nominees reached out to their customers — many of whom then reached out to friends to vote — through email and social media.
Judges chose four lowrise and four highrise projects as finalists. Criteria for each included the quality of the building and homes, as well as marketing campaigns; the integration with the community; how they aligned with target markets; and sales results.
This year’s People’s Choice winner, The Academy Condos, was conceived as a solution to accommodation shortages in Scarborough for students at the University of Toronto’s east campus and Centennial College.
With 12,000 enrolled students, UTSC has only 765 residence beds available. The Academy, just west of the U of T campus and located at Morningside Ave. and Ellesmere Rd., is a 339-unit, 26-storey highrise. It sold out in 2-1/2 weeks.
“We had a specific vision for this project and it wasn’t done just for the sake of building another condominium,” said Devron Developments COO Pouyan Safapour, a UTSC alumni.
“The goal was to add something to the community that was missing. It’s in an area with a growing university and lots of students, either local or international, who don’t have adequate housing. It’s definitely an honour to receive recognition.”
Thomas Liu, CEO of LeMine Investment Group — also a UTSC alumni — notes the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre and Rouge Valley Centenary hospital are also nearby and also put pressure on the community’s need for housing.
“The demand is there,” said Liu. “They’re at least 10,000 beds short because of the student population.
“A lot is going on in this area and we’re happy to be part of the solution,” added Liu.
With such a large increase in the numbers of voters for the People’s Choice Award, as well as public attention, BILD aims to put the same focus on its other industry awards.
“We want to coach our award submitters to think that, if you’re winner of project of the year for either highrise or lowrise, you’re going to have a large public looking at it — so how do you submit things that will ensure you put your best foot forward,” said Tuckey. “It’s refinement as we move forward.”
The BILD Awards were held at the Paramount Conference and Event Venue in Vaughan where 47 awards — like Green Builder of the Year, Home Builder of the Year, Best Public Relations Campaign, Best Sales Office and Best Social Media Campaign — were handed out.