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Tridel's pioneering spirit drives growth in condo industry

For Canada's leading developer of condominiums, deep roots in the building industry have allowed it to define not only a housing concept, but a lifestyle.

Tridel has built more than 65,000 condominiums in the GTA since the late 1960s. It now has 3,200 suites under construction and another 2,400 in development.

Its modest beginnings date back to 1934, when founder Jack DelZotto emigrated to Canada from Italy and began building single-family homes in Toronto.
Tridel has built more than 65,000 condominiums in the GTA since the 1960s. It now has 3,200 suites under construction and another 2,400 in development, including the Nuvo in the Essex Community. (Photo, Tom Malone)

The housing boom that followed the Second World War allowed him to expand, using the profits from the sale of a small number of houses to finance increasingly larger projects.

Under the direction of DelZotto's sons, Angelo, Elvio and Leo (who serve as chairman, vice-chairman and president, respectively), the company began developing subdivisions and small apartment buildings in the 1950s.

In 1961, Tridel built its first apartment complex. It featured two towers, each with 260 suites and an elaborate recreational centre. Tridel recognizes that complex as the forerunner of the luxury condominium lifestyle that has become its hallmark.

"We have evolved the essence of condominium living from a very novel concept of housing to the norm," says senior vice-president Jim Ritchie.

"We were also one of the pioneers of condominium development in the suburban area."
The Nuvo in the Essex Community is another hot new creation of Tridel. (Photo, Aareas Interactive)

Affordability continues to drive the popularity of condos, particularly among young professionals wanting to buy their first home. According to the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association (GTHBA), condominiums currently account for about 30% of all new homes purchased in the GTA.

But the industry has faced several challenging periods, particularly the late 1980s. "There was a tremendous growth in the condominium market in a short period and then it stopped because of oversupply," Ritchie says.

Growing demand

Just as higher interest rates dampened the condo market in the 1980s, lower rates are driving today's demand.

"Interest rates fuel this industry," Ritchie says. "It would appear we're in a good position to keep interest rates low, which translates into mortgage rates and affordability."

More and more, condominiums are associated with a lifestyle appealing to an increasingly diverse population, including empty nesters. That lifestyle is reflected in a growing list of features and amenities commonplace in today's condominium complexes.
(Photo, Tom Malone)

"Condominiums have become increasingly sophisticated," Ritchie says. "Tridel was the first to put bowling alleys and golf simulators into condominium complexes. Exercise facilities and party rooms are a mainstay. Home theatre systems are big today, as are gourmet-cooking kitchens. Suites have become smaller because they have become more expensive to build, but designs have become more open."

The cost of condominiums recently sold by Tridel, ranging from $140,000 to more than $5 million, also reflects the diversity of today's condominium buyers.

Ritchie credits Tridel's longevity to numerous factors, including experience and understanding of the marketplace. "It's also important that we control all aspects of condominium development, from buying and zoning the land to directly managing construction, marketing and selling, and customer service," he says.

Tridel has earned numerous awards, including the Ernest Assaly Award for Customer Service Excellence and GTHBA Community of the Year Award. It also has an unblemished record with the Ontario New Home Warranty Program, Ritchie reports.

Tridel remains a privately-owned company with its head office in Toronto. Its 300 employees are key to the company's success. "Our long-term employees are our most valuable resource," Ritchie says.

"We have also created strong relationships with very good tradespeople, who really are our partners in this ... Over the years, we have never lost sight of how you treat people, from our employees to our customers."

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