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Finally! North Oak is Minto’s First New High Rise Condo in the GTA since 2019

Finally! North Oak is Minto’s First New High Rise Condo in the GTA since 2019

[part 1/3] Part 1 of our Minto Miniseries with Justin Bossio of Minto Communities GTA. Condo investors rejoice! Minto is back with their first new high rise launch in the GTA since 2019. Launching in March 2021, North Oak is going to be something that Oakville hasn’t seen before. Find out everything we need to know about North Oak condos.

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Andrew la Fleur: Finally, Minto is back with their first new high rise project, launching in the GTA in almost two years. Find out all about it on today's episode.

Recorded Speaker: Welcome to the True Condos Podcast with Andrew la Fleur. He claims to get the truth on the Toronto condo market and Toronto investing in Toronto.

Andrew la Fleur: Our guest, Justin Bossio, from Minto Community's GTA will be joining me on the program. I had a great chat with him about Minto's first new high rise release, new launch, in almost two years. It's been a while, but Minto is back and they're going to be back in a major way this year in 2021. They have lots of launches coming up, in the first half of the year, several and in the second half of the year, potentially several more.

Andrew la Fleur: If you are a person who likes making money investing in condos, this is a good thing. When you invest in a Minto condo at the beginning stage whenever it first launches especially, you tend to do very, very well. I personally have done that many, many times myself and my clients, of course, have done that now hundreds of times, really, at this point. Very excited to be working on another Minto project, but not just one, several Minto projects.

Andrew la Fleur: We're actually breaking this down. I did a long interview with Justin Bossio from Minto Communities, GTA and we decided to break this into three parts. This is a three-part series podcast. The three major projects that we're talking about in this series, the first one is North Oak, which is the high rise new condo coming at the Oak Village community in North Oakville. The second project is phase two of Union Village, which is a partnership between Minto and, of course, Metropia. The third part is Minto's brand new low rise housing community in North Oshawa called the Heights of Harmony.

Andrew la Fleur: Those are the three projects. If you're interested in only one or two or potentially all of them, you pick and choose which episodes make sense for you, that you want to learn more about and listen to and hear. I've broken it down, basically, into today's episode is about North Oak, the next part of the three-part series is about Union Village and the phase two launching there in Markham and Unionville, and part three is the Heights of Harmony in North Oshawa. That's the three-part series.

Andrew la Fleur: Again, today this episode here that you're listening to is going to be about North Oak. North Oak, basically the quick summary is it's two towers. Each tower is about 200 units or so each, so decent size buildings but not astronomical in size, still that nice sweet spot size where you're feeling like it's a little bit more intimate but at the same time, you can support a nice amenity package with the number of suites that there are. Still also, demand is very high and these 200 units in these two towers each are going to sell very, very quickly.

Andrew la Fleur: You have two 200-unit buildings connected by a very cool and new, for Oakville, certainly, a two-story glass amenities center between the two buildings, very cool, very sexy. Very excited to share more details with you about that and what makes this project really special for this location, especially in a suburban location and in the Oakville market. There's really been nothing like it with this sort of amenities program, so very excited to bring this to you and for you to learn more about it.

Andrew la Fleur: Of course, I personally have bought in Minto's Oak Village community here in Oakville at the previous phase a couple of years ago. Many of my clients bought here, as well. You might be one of those people right now listening to this podcast, so congratulations to you. If you haven't got one yet, but you're interested in getting a unit in Oakville, now is the time. Let me know. Let us know as soon as possible because this project is launching right now, this week, in March, 2021, at time of recording this podcast. Again, if you haven't already gotten in touch with myself or one of the people on my team, send me an email: or call/text 416-371-2333 and we'll get you set up for the launch, which is happening right now.

Andrew la Fleur: The value here at North Oak is going to surprise a lot of people, how good it is. The pricing, I think, is once again, proving that when you invest with Minto, especially at the very beginning of a new release, a new project at the first launch, which this is that opportunity, you do very, very well. North Oak, there's two towers here, but these are two of five towers total that are still to come in that Oakville community.

Andrew la Fleur: Minto purchased a large parcel of land here several years back and they're still working through that. There's still a lot more to come, so this North Oak project, as Justin says, is a master planned community within a larger master planned community. Very exciting, everything that's happening there in North Oakville, so let's go ahead and jump right into this interview with Justin Bossio from Minto communities, GTA, senior sales manager. All right, I hope you enjoy this. Here we go.

Andrew la Fleur: Awesome, Justin. Thank you so much for being here today. Looking forward to chatting with you about all things Minto and what's coming up in 2021. I know a lot of our clients and buyers are very excited about the projects you've got coming very soon. Before we get to that, maybe just by way of introduction, and I don't know if I've heard this story, how did you get started in real estate yourself? What's your path to real estate and getting to where you are now today with Minto?

Justin Bossio: Thanks, Andrews, for having me. I've got to say it's a pretty great moment to be on the True Condos Podcast and I appreciate you asking me and Minto to join. For me, probably like most sales people that get into the sales profession, you just fall into it somehow. For me, I was always very entrepreneurial and always thought I'd have my own business of some kind. When I was in high school, thinking I don't know what it is but it's something to do with business. I started, actually, with pre-construction. I started selling townhomes in Barrie about, I guess it-

Andrew la Fleur: Wow!

Justin Bossio: Yeah, $99,000. I should have bought the whole subdivision, knowing what we know today. Yeah, I started small, started in Barrie for a small developer. At that time, I was still working part time. I had a retail job, just to make things work. It just continued to snowball from there. I picked up another site after that with another developer in Bolton and sold a couple hundred homes in Bolton, so I know that market quite a bit.

Justin Bossio: Then I got my real estate license and thought that I'm so good at selling preconstruction, it must be the same selling resale. I got my license and started doing resale at the same time as preconstruction. I found out pretty quick that the resale market and the resale industry is not the same as the preconstruction industry. They've two very different models and two very different personality types.

Justin Bossio: I did that for about six years. I was a RE/MAX agent. Every year I did better and better, but I always felt that, really, where I was best suited was in the preconstruction industry, and really having a product that people wanted and people would come to me for that product instead of the other way around. I felt like I was chasing people to make a decision where now I have the product, or we have the product, and we've having people come to us. For me, it fit what I was doing a lot better.

Justin Bossio: I was looking to get back in with another developer and was lucky enough to know someone who knew someone and it so happened that Minto was hiring for a low rise sales rep. At that time, going on 10 years ago now, Minto GTA was split into two. There was a high rise division and a low rise division. I was hired on the low rise division and my first site with Minto was, again, about eight years ago, their first owned site, and that was the Estates of Credit Ridge, a beautiful subdivision on Mississauga Road and Williams Parkway in Brampton, all detached homes. I've got to say if you're driving through that subdivision, you will be able to tell the difference between the product that Minto built in that community versus the other developers that we shared that community with. It was something we were pretty proud of doing.

Justin Bossio: Really, from there, I've been lucky enough to be with Minto. It's been a good run and we've had a lot of success over these 10 years that I've been here. I've sold everything from the low rise. We then went to Long Branch, a great stack townhouse community and sold a few phases there. Then after that, I went to West Side. Minto West Side is where I met you, actually, and that's where you and I started really working together. I've got to say it was always great to have Andrew la Fleur come in with his clients because just the way that you work and the way that you deal with your customers, and really your clients are typically very knowledgeable about the market.

Justin Bossio: To be honest, I learned a lot at West Side from you, just sitting back like a good sales rep would and let you, the professional, go at it. West Side was a great experience for me and we sold quite a lot of units there. From there, we bounced to Yorkville Park. In Yorkville, we've sold now. In Oakville, we've sold two phases, three phases now in Oakville and about 1,000 units. I've been all over the map from low rise to high rise, downtown to suburbs, but very happy with where I'm at. Again, it's been 10 years, but I think we're really just getting going in our growth phase for Minto GTA.

Andrew la Fleur: Oh, that's very exciting. Thanks for the kind words there, too. Yeah, that's where we met, back in Minto West Side and obviously, a lot of clients of mine, and myself personally, did very, very well in that project. The building continues to do well and I think it's just going to be a landmark building for a long time to come in King West.

Andrew la Fleur: Talk to us about Minto. You've been with Minto now a long time. Tell us some things. A lot of people know the name, Minto. Minto's been around forever. Pretty much anybody that knows anything about real estate knows the name, Minto. A lot of my clients, obviously, listening have purchased with Minto, but what are some highlights, from your perspective, about the company? What have you stuck around with Minto this long? What do you love about the company and representing them as you do? Before we recorded, you said some interesting facts about Minto in terms of scale of the company as well, which I think it's good for people to hear, so I'll let you take it away.

Justin Bossio: Yeah, thanks. Minto is closer to 70 years old now than 65. I think we're 67 years old now. A family owned, family operated company up until recently. We're now third generation of the Greenberg family, one of the wealthiest families and one of the most philanthropical families as well. They've been doing a lot of great things all over Canada with some of their endeavors.

Justin Bossio: It was four brothers that started Minto 67 years ago and did very well. Really, Ottawa is where they started, so it's a Canadian-based company. Built a ton of home in Ottawa for about 20, 30 years and then decided that they wanted to grow the business. What they did in the early '80s is they branched out and started two new divisions. One was in Toronto and the second one was in Florida, in central Florida. Those divisions, the Florida and Toronto divisions have grown substantially since our inception and Minto is really well known for some of the high rise that we did.

Recorded Speaker: Welcome to the True Condos Podcast with Andrew la Fleur. He claims to get thee truth on the Toronto condo market and condo investing in Toronto.

Justin Bossio: With Ottawa, it's all low rise there, so we've branched out and done quite a bit of low rise in the GTA, but believe it or not, Florida is number two in the pecking order when it comes to Minto in the size and scale and volume. Ottawa is our top market but Florida now is our second market. They're going through quite a real estate boom in Florida currently. They can't keep their homes right now. They've partnered with Jimmy Buffet, actually, in the States and they gear more to retirement type of living and they've created a couple of Margaritavilles, co-branded with Jimmy Buffet down there. It's just going very, very well in Florida.

Justin Bossio: Really, again, Toronto, as big as we are in Toronto, as big as the Minto communities GTA is, we're third and we continue to grow up in Calgary. We've launched successfully and sold successfully a number of buildings out in Calgary. They have quite a big pipeline in Calgary. We own a hotel in Calgary, so we're really committed to being in every one of Canada's top markets. Just recently our REIT, Minto has a publicly traded REIT, and we have acquired some purpose built rental property in Burnaby, so we're now going further west into BC. We're getting our foot in there and at some point, in the near future I'm sure, we'll be developing out in Vancouver as well. Lots of big plans for Minto and, again, 67 years young, I guess, but lots more growth to go.

Andrew la Fleur: That's awesome. Again, why Minto. There's many developers out there. The condo investor today, listening to this podcast, as I said, a lot of them have already bought from Minto and we're preaching to the choir, but for the investor who's listening, who's looking at the landscape and most people know it's so important these days to buy and pick who work with, a very reputable, strong developer, especially when you're buying preconstruction. What would you say to that person, why Minto, from your experience, from where you're sitting? Why Minto?

Justin Bossio: Why Minto would really be because, and I hear this term get thrown around a little bit right now, but we are a completely vertically integrated company, so everything that happens, and I'm talking from our head office here in North York. Figuratively, everything happens within these four walls here. We've got a floor plate that accommodates 170 employees here. Now we're all working from home, but, really, it doesn't change the fact that we have everything under one roof, so anything from acquisitions, which is fundamental to pipeline, we have an in-house acquisitions teams that's constantly working to uncover these pieces.

Justin Bossio: Again, we don't just take any piece of land. Our acquisitions team is very selective in what we put into the pipeline, but we're very aggressive right now. We've got millions of dollars earmarked for acquisitions this year, tens of millions of dollars, actually, in just the Toronto region. We've got the green light to pick up some pieces so anyone listening to this podcast, if you have a couple of dozen acres of low rise anywhere in the GTA or even some high rise pieces, we're interested in learning about what you have.

Justin Bossio: It starts with our acquisition team. Then we have an in-house land development team, so again, both high rise and low rise. We've made sure that we're getting the highest best use out of the pieces that we get. We have an in-house estimating team, so again, hard costs are a very fundamental part to this business right now. With land being where they are, you have to know your numbers. That's where I think some developers lose their way and maybe it affects the community itself, whether or not it's a viable option. For us, everything is in-house.

Justin Bossio: Then we go to our product development team. We have a large product development team that, again, is committed to improving what we're doing. We have an in-house sustainability team, which constantly pushes us forward. We're not just sitting on what we've done. The sustainability team is pushing us forward into doing more and more, and maybe we'll touch on a few of those as we start talking about our releases coming up.

Justin Bossio: Really, the key to Minto is, again, we've been doing it for a very long time. Each time we do it, we look to get better. We're not resting on [inaudible 00:20:39]. We're [inaudible 00:20:40] to make things better, going forward. Again, it's key to have all of that within house to leverage off of and we do a great job of that. You're starting to see that really accelerate, I think, with Minto and the brand in GTA right now.

Andrew la Fleur: These days more than ever, I think people, investors, are very price conscious. Obviously, like you said at the beginning, we're not selling townhouses for $99,000 anymore. Toronto and the whole GTA has become a very expensive city, no matter who you are. Let's face it. It's an expensive city, so people are becoming more and more price conscious.

Andrew la Fleur: One of the things that always sticks out to me, and you can touch on it, but just Minto's approach to pricing a new development when it comes out, the Minto approach versus other developers. I don't know if you want to comment on that. It just seems to me that their track record seems to show that if you buy in a new project at the early stage, especially with Minto, or really, anywhere, you're going to get a very good value and that translates into a very good return on your investment over time.

Justin Bossio: Yeah, with Minto, because of the scale of what we're doing and because the buildings and communities, we're not talking 20 lots. Usually, when we're coming somewhere, it's 700 to 1,000 lots. Buildings are 200 to 300 units each. We use our scale and again, being all in-house from land development, from construction, we're all in-house divisions of Minto GTA, so we can really control those costs.

Justin Bossio: What we do is we try to have those trickle down to the homeowners. The benefits of us being big is that we can do things at scale and do it a little bit less expensive. We make sure to pass on that value. Costs are one thing but we have to sell them, and in our opinion, we have to sell them at a fair price. My goal, as the sales manager, I like to leave a little bit there for the homeowners.

Andrew la Fleur: A little meat on the bone.

Justin Bossio: Especially if you're buying early.

Andrew la Fleur: Yes, yes.

Justin Bossio: If you're buying early in phase one, again, we're not looking at one project or one lot at a time with Minto. It's 1,000 units a year, so how do we continue to scale and continue to provide that momentum and opportunities for our homeowners? The way to do it is buy value with each of these releases because we're not looking at just phase one.

Justin Bossio: For Union Village that we're going to release, this is phase two now. When we released phase one, we knew phase two was coming and we wanted to make sure that we'd added some values for our homeowners to get to the next step. For North Oak, it's phase one. We're considering this as phase one again, because our North Oak is five towers. Our first tower is coming up shortly and we're looking at that as phase one. Phase two is going to be coming and we want to make sure that there's an opportunity for those that bought in early to see some increase, so that momentum continues in phase two.

Justin Bossio: We're no longer sitting on sites and taking two to three years to sell out a 200-lot site. With what we're building here, we can sell out 200 units in a weekend. We're doing things definitely. We're keeping costs low and providing value to our homeowners.

Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, and you're being quite modest, I think, but compared to most builders, I think the results really speak for themselves. The whole experience, as a customer and as an investor, the numbers are one thing but just the experience that Minto provides, again, based on their history and based on, like you say, the vertical integration and your customer service team and everything, at the end of the day, when the property is finished and the little details of making sure that everything is handed in great condition to the purchaser, as good or better than promised, yeah, it speaks for itself. There's a reason why so many of my personal clients, and me personally, keep buying Minto again and again and again. It's a great experience and it's a great ROI.

Andrew la Fleur: Just for the sake of time, let's jump into what you've got coming because it's a lot. We've got three major things I wanted you to let people know about. North Oak, as you just alluded to, Union Village and Harmony in Oshawa. Yeah, why don't we start with North Oak in Oakville. What do buyers need to know about what's coming here?

Justin Bossio: With Oakville, this community Minto acquired almost eight years ago now, seven or eight years ago. When we bought Oak Village, we were really looking at a low rise community. Oakville, eight years ago, did not have very many successful condo launches. It was known more as a suburb, low rise community. For the first couple of phases, that's how we built to. We sold about 500 townhomes, two and three-story designs, did very, very well with that community.

Justin Bossio: Then our site plan, we started getting close to the Trafalgar Road corridor and so for our phase three, we worked with the city for a while, trying to get them to actually reduce the density along Trafalgar. We were looking to do more of a stacked townhouse product. At that time, we didn't think, when we were preparing the site plan application, we didn't think that Oakville was wanting condominiums.

Justin Bossio: I'll tell you, the city fought back and really pushed for density, so we decided that we would. We want to build and we want to sell, so we agreed. We were trying to get an eight and 10-story building and I think we had it modeled 12 and eight. Then we started marketing these buildings, just started with the brokers at an information session. Angie, you were there for that one. I think we had a conversation before we went to launch. You were one of my first phone calls.

Justin Bossio: We did this broker presentation and things just went crazy. The demand was clearly there for condomiums in Oakville, and from Minto specifically. We pivoted again, just before sales launched, about two weeks before sales launched. We went from a 12 and 10-story building. We grew it to a 20 and 16-story building, I believe is what we ended up with in phase three. Again, because we're fully vertically integrated, soup to nuts, everything, we were able to make that decision two weeks before sales launched, to basically roll the release by 100%. We doubled our offering.

Justin Bossio: We're very fortunate we have a divisional president who believes in us and listened and accepted the challenge. We're fortunate he did because we went on to sell 500 units in phase three, or suites or homes. I don't know what you want to call them. We sold 500 in a very short time frame and we're now completely sold out of phase three.

Justin Bossio: We've seen a maturation, is basically what I'm getting at, for Oakville and condomiums specifically. Since our phase three launch, we've seen a lot of growth in condominiums in Oakville in the last couple of years. There's just been a lot of different launches. We've been watching and we are excited about a phase four. What I'll call phase four, it's a master plan community within a master plan community. What I mean by that is phase four will be five buildings and a total of 1,000 units that are coming to that northeast corner of Dundas and Trafalgar Road.

Justin Bossio: Phase four A, which we're looking to actually put into the market, depending on when you're listening to this podcast, we're talking probably towards the end of March is when we're going to launch phase four A. Again, I consider that the first phase of this master plan community. We've gone a long way to mature the product for Oakville, because again, we think Oakville is at that next level now of what they want. We're taking a much stronger approach, bringing a lot more amenity and technology to this building that no one at Oakville has ever seen before.

Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, as you said, you guys came out a couple of years ago with phase three and it was a surprise smash success. You sold way more units than you originally were thinking. Since then, over the last two years, there's been many other successful launches selling very well and prices rising significantly from other builders around that area of Oakville, as well, North Oakville, we'll call it.

Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, so now here you are again with phase four, the first building of five coming out in this community within a community, as you say. You've given us, as platinum agents, a few teasers of what to expect but no renderings really yet or anything. What can you tell us about these next two buildings connected with a podium, because as you said, it's something that Oakville hasn't seen yet, has it?

Justin Bossio: No. Our phase three, we went with the two separate buildings, so two separate condominiums, two separate condominium corporations, two separate real construction timelines. The underground is going to be built altogether, but the towers are going up at different times. This one's going to be a little bit different, though.

Justin Bossio: We are building right now an underground garage that will service, eventually, all five buildings. We're going to chunk it into phases so the underground for phase four A and B will be built at the same time. Then the buildings will actually start coming up at the same time. Although we're selling four A slightly ahead of Four B, I expect that both buildings will start construction at the same time.

Justin Bossio: What we did is leverage the space, obviously, in between the buildings. Instead of leaving it as an outdoor amenity, we've completely enclosed this podium section, so now there's a two-story glass podium that will connect both buildings that will serve as the entry into the building. What we're calling this amenity program, it's called the neighborhood nest. It really is for residents to use and settle in at. It's theirs. It's part of their building.

Justin Bossio: It's pretty exciting. One of the things that we're offering, and others are, too, is concierge. We will have, when tower one goes on, we're looking at, I think it's an 18-hour concierge, so not just a virtual person, a virtual computer. You will have a concierge that will be there most hours of the day to support your needs when it comes to parcel deliveries or amenity offerings.

Justin Bossio: This neighborhood nest will contain a few more things. What we're looking to do is, again, have our residents co-mingle a little bit. What that's going to mean is we'll have some areas, some bench seating. That actually will have a two-story real tree that's going to be right in the center of our lobby, that will be surrounded by bench seating. Then just to the side of that, we've created our, I guess, Zoom rooms, we're calling them, that will be individual Zoom pods for those that work from home to be able to quickly connect to a great internet source and to your video calls. There's going to be a couple of meeting rooms that you can also have Zoom sessions from home.

Justin Bossio: One of the nicer amenities would be the gym. The gym here will be a full gym, so a gym that, either if it's yourself living there or you have tenants living there, it will be a gym that they can actually cancel their gym membership for, so a large area for free weights, a large area for machines. We will have a Yoga studio. There will be an aroma therapy room. There will be an infrared sauna, so a really great, full, gym amenity program that's going to be there.

Justin Bossio: Something that we're looking at for the second building, which will be beneficial to both buildings that we haven't told anyone about yet because it's still under development, but that second tower, tower B, will have a rooftop amenity space. I don't know how many developers out in the Oakville area are putting rooftop amenities on their buildings but our building will have a rooftop amenity in the second building, which will be available to anyone in towers one and two.

Justin Bossio: I can go on for half an hour, but one of the big amenities that's not really an amenity to the building, but it is an amenity to the community is, on the west side of our buildings, we're going to have the Trafalgar Road corridor, which brings amenities such as rapid bus transit, connectivity to the the 407, the 403, the QEW. The Go train station is five minutes down the street, but on the east side of our building, you're actually facing a naturalized pond.

Justin Bossio: I think it's an eight or a seven acre pond that these buildings will face to on the east. Surrounding that pond will be an interconnected trail system which connects the pond to a trail system that goes north through the community to a naturalized wood lot, which eventually that trail will continue north once there's development a bit north of us. Again, you're at the corner of Dundas and Trafalgar, but your building is facing a large pond. It's a unique amenity that everyone that's in this building will be able to benefit from. That's underappreciated, perhaps, but a very important east amenity of this building. You're connected to nature right in front of you.

Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, that's great. I'm very much looking forward to this one. Like you said, you've showed us some teaser images. Hopefully, we'll get the rendering soon in terms of that two-story amenity space between the two buildings.

Justin Bossio: This week.

Andrew la Fleur: This week? Right.

Justin Bossio: This week, yeah, we're going to-

Andrew la Fleur: An actual tree, a two-story tree in your lobby. It's a glass box with a gym and all these amenities in that space. Very funky, very cool.

Justin Bossio: Yeah, and we'll have a party room. We'll have a nicely fitted party room. We'll have a beautiful decorative, probably more decorative, but a beautiful staircase in the center of that neighborhood nest as well, that connects that ground floor amenity to the second floor amenity. The second floor amenity will be the location of the gym, but the second floor amenity will also have a terrace so it's an east facing terrace, which will be overlooking the pond. It's an outdoor terrace space that residents can either go to the second floor directly or walk up that decorative staircase to get to that second floor amenity and actually be outside overlooking the pond.

Justin Bossio: There's a lot of connections that we tried to make to that outdoor amenity space. There's actually two terraces, one on the top of the second building, but then there's also one on top of the podium in between tower one and tower two.

Andrew la Fleur: Amazing, yeah. I can't wait to see the rendering because the teasers have been great so far. Yeah, there's really nothing like it in Oakville. It's like some of the downtown amenities in the big towers that we're used to in downtown Toronto, but at a bigger scale, because you're in the 'burbs, you've got more land, you've got more material to work with and space to build things of a bigger scale.

Andrew la Fleur: Downtown, we've got sexy amenities and stuff, but they're small because you don't have a lot of space to work with. At a site like this, now you can do some really cool, sexy amenities like resort style amenities, high quality amenities but with a bigger scale and with more space and it's just going to give a very nice feeling.

Justin Bossio: Yeah. That's what we're trying to get at with the Oakville market maturing. It's no longer just give me a box. We want high quality amenities to go with that. The one thing that we didn't fall for, I guess, is what's happening in the market where the units tend to get squeezed and they go more to a downtown square footage where you're talking about one bedrooms or 430 square feet of something like that. We've been building these buildings long enough to really understand our purchasers and what people are looking for.

Justin Bossio: We don't believe that Oakville is downtown Toronto. We are not building this building just so it looks good on a price list that we can sell out on a weekend. That's not Minto's MO at all. We are building this building to last the next 80 to 100 years. We're making those decisions. How fast we sell is something that's a byproduct of how good we do things.

Justin Bossio: What I'm saying is we're not sacrificing the quality of life within this building just so it can get sold faster. That is not going to do it. We're trying to fill this up with all the things we know the market would want. It's things that the market doesn't even know they want yet that we're putting in here that will make this building something that stands out for years to come. I haven't talked about a couple of big things. I don't know how long an interview we have here, but maybe two quick things before maybe we move off of North Oak.

Andrew la Fleur: Yeah.

Justin Bossio: One would be we've branded what we're calling the Minto intelligence. We've made a commitment, just as we've committed to a third party certification for our construction so energy star for high rise is what we're using as a third party certification for North Oak. Again, it's not just Minto building this with our standard city inspections. We're building it to energy star certification. Just as your refrigerator at home is built to energy star standards, this whole building is going to be build to energy star certification. Again, no one else is doing that.

Justin Bossio: Probably one of the biggest things which no one else is doing right now, either, is we are going to be creating a geothermal network underneath of those five buildings. We are creating a geothermal plant, basically, to run all the heating and cooling needs for the building, which will lend a lot of benefits to the building and to the condo corporation and to costs and more stability in the decades to come when it comes to utilities.

Justin Bossio: We're still doing some tweaks, but right now, this building, because of the geothermal, we're looking at about a reduction of 70% in its carbon footprint. That's where we're at right now, a 70% reduction in our carbon footprint because we're going geothermal and this is going to be a district energy system. We'll start with a geothermal just under towers one and two, but as we bring on three and four and five, those are all going to be tapping into that geothermal system. All these phases will be able to benefit from this.

Justin Bossio: We're not done. Our sustainability team is not done tweaking. We'd like to get the 70% reduction even higher and we're looking at ways to get this geothermal to help with our hot water needs for the building. If we can tweak that a little bit more, we might be able to get up to an 80% or 90% reduction in carbon footprint. Again, we're not doing this because it's going to make us more money. We're doing this because this is the way that we want it built and this is sustainability for all of us going forward. Just little things like that is what we're committed to do.

Andrew la Fleur: Okay, so that ended the formal section of the North Oak interview with Justin Bossio. I hope you enjoyed that. As is often the case, after we stop recording, we continue to chat, myself and my podcast guest. A lot of times, there's extra bonus nuggets and things that that guest will share after we have officially stopped recording. Occasionally, I want to share some of those conversations with you. That's what I'm going to do now, is share with you this little additional bonus segment, if you will, with Justin, where he shared some even more exciting information about North Oak and what makes it so special, specifically around just the new world, the new reality that we're all living in in the post-pandemic world.

Andrew la Fleur: Minto has taken some of that into account and has put in some very unique and cool features I think you're going to really like, and I think buyers are really going to appreciate in the North Oak condo community. Just also speaking more about Minto's ethos, in general, and what makes them unique amongst all the great developers that are out there, what makes Minto special and unique and why so many of my clients and why I, personally, keep coming back to Minto time and time again with our investments. Here you have it. Here's a little bonus section about North Oak with Justin Bossio.

Justin Bossio: North Oak is something I'm super excited about. We didn't even get into... I was getting into the technology piece, but I'll tell you something that we're doing a little bit different from technology as well. With COVID and everything, plasma filters are going to be for all the common areas.

Andrew la Fleur: Wow, I don't even know what that is.

Justin Bossio: It kills the Coronavirus. All the common areas are going to have that, but even greater is touchless everything. Everything. I think there's already someone else doing this, but you get to your parking garage, the license plate reader, I think everyone's doing that now. You get to your spot, but where it's going to be a little bit different is you have your phone and you go to the elevator lobby. Instead of pulling that door open, you touch your phone as a fob and the door opens. We've actually put motors on all the operable doors in the whole amenity areas. Instead of just using a fob and then pulling that door open, you fob it, it opens for you.

Justin Bossio: Before you get out of your car from the parking space, you can call the elevator. Then you go to the elevator. The elevator now sees you're there because your phone is there and the elevator comes to get you. You don't have to push a button. You get into the elevator. You tell the elevator you want to go to your suite and then it takes you to your level. The only door you have to touch is your own suite entrance door. Every other door is going to have a motor.

Andrew la Fleur: The echo is bad. Whether you walk into the building to get to your unit or whether you drive into the building, you're saying you can do the entire process into your unit and out of your unit to the outside world, call it, whether by foot or by car without touching anything except your actual door. Is that right?

Justin Bossio: That's right.

Andrew la Fleur: You don't even have to push the elevator button. You can do it on your phone, like floor number 12.

Justin Bossio: Yep.

Andrew la Fleur: Sweet.

Justin Bossio: Yep. You can call your elevator from your suite. You can call your elevator from your own suite...

Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, before you walk out. Yeah.

Justin Bossio: We thought about it. We don't want the elevators to jump as soon as you push the button so we're going to have sensors that senses the phone and then the elevator will come. You can't have kids just fooling with the elevators all day.

Justin Bossio: From amenity spaces, say you want to go downstairs to the gym, you take your phone with you. Instead of just fobbing to open the door, you put your phone there and the door opens for you. I don't even think we talked about the rooftop areas, or I think we did, in tower two, but if you live in tower one and you want to go to tower two to the rooftop, you walk through that neighborhood nest, you fob through that next door that gives you access to tower two, you go to the elevator, you call it with your phone and then the elevator takes you all the way to the rooftop. Again, you're not touching anything. You're going between the buildings and you haven't touched a thing.

Andrew la Fleur: That's really cool.

Justin Bossio: I think we added 30 motors to the building just a couple of weeks ago, just so people can go anywhere they want without having to touch a thing.

Andrew la Fleur: That's awesome. That's cool, actually. It's very top of mind. That's one of the reasons why people moved out of condo buildings. They're moving back now, but why they moved out over the last year was they don't want to touch stuff. As stupid as that sounds, people actually left condos because of elevators and hallways and doors. If you put that in front of people, especially now, it's like, "Yeah, there's value to that. I want that."

Justin Bossio: I'm excited for it. I think I'll pick one up because I do think, for the long term, this geo exchange, we're calling it underneath, I think it will make a big difference to utility bills as the building ages and maintenance fees as the buildings age. I think to have a geofield underneath yours and across the street is your typical condo, fast forward 10 to 15 years from now, what are those maintenance fees going to be? What's going to be the difference and then how does that affect your unit price if your maintenance fees are staying lower than competitive buildings, then you'll be able to squeeze more revenue.

Andrew la Fleur: I always liked how you said, I think it was you who told me when we were selling Oak Village at the start, it was like you build it to a certain standard, but then at the end of the project, whereas most builders value engineering as much out of the building as possible, you guys go back and say what can we actually add in at the last minute to make it even a little bit better than expected.

Justin Bossio: Yeah, and you'll see in phase three, you're going to be very impressed with the extra goodies that we're putting into phase three. We're leveraging what we're doing in phase four. We're leveraging and we're getting some extra things for that building. Even the renderings that are out there right now for the towers you bought into and you sold in phase three, they're so much better. They've matured. Now we've finally been able to [inaudible 00:52:32]. We [inaudible 00:52:34] quite a bit and these towers are not the same towers that you bought. There's a lot of improvements.

Justin Bossio: The fins, there were some wood fins on the outside of them. Those have almost all been stripped away. We've changed some of the materials, the coloring. It's a much more mature looking building, those two. We haven't shared it. I don't know why or what we're waiting for now. I think we should be sharing it with our homeowners that have bought like, "Look what you're going to get now." Even the technology pieces, yeah, we're still pushing our vendor there to provide better, so we're looking at more things to be able to wedge into phase three.

Justin Bossio: I didn't get a chance to talk about the customer experience but that's where Minto's gone now. We've got the product and we're comfortable really pushing what we're doing there. Now it's all about customer experience and just making sure that they're top of mind. Our ratings, our Avid survey ratings have gone, in the last three or four years, from 70s to... MCC Toronto is in the low 90s for customer satisfaction now. We got a huge jump and it's all the touchpoints that we now do with our purchasers. Yeah, we're one of the higher rated again, so that's been a big focus for us this year.

Andrew la Fleur: Okay, there you go. I hope you enjoyed that bonus piece there about North Oak. I'm very excited about this one, as you can probably tell. Again, if you want to learn more or get on the waiting list for this project, please contact me, 416-371-2333, We'll be sure we set you up for the launch of Minto North Oak happening very, very soon.

Andrew la Fleur: Again, this is part one so part two coming up is going to be about Union Village, Markham/Unionville, and that's the partnership between Minto and Metropia. Part three of this podcast series is about the Heights of Harmony in North Oshawa low rise, brand new low rise community there. Pick and choose what you're interested in. I look forward to catching you on the next episode.

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