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Investing in Toronto Condos with Jared Menkes

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Andrew la Fleur sits down with Jared Menkes, Director of Development at Menkes Developments. Listen to Andrew’s interview with Jared about what’s in store for the Toronto condo market including the incredible Harbour Plaza mixed-use project, investing in 2 bedroom units, Jared’s own condo investment strategy, and a discussion on the changing Entertainment District in Toronto.

Jared Menkes Interview Highlights

00:55 This Week’s True Condos Podcast Listener Reviews
2:16 Who is Jared Menkes?
2:45 The Menkes Family Story
4:30 Has Menkes Done Anything Outside of the GTA?
5:28 Where is the Focus for Menkes?
6:42 What Does Jared Love About Real Estate Development?
8:47 What is Jared Menkes Most Proud Of So Far?
9:44 Is There a Condo Bubble in Toronto
11:27 Toronto vs Other Condo Markets
13:37 Which Condo Does Jared Live In?
15:25 The Divide Between A & B Condo Developers
16:35 The Biggest Issue Facing the Condo Market Right Now?
18:17 The Entertainment District in Toronto
21:30 Update on Harbour Plaza
23:25 The PATH network
27:46 Jared Menkes’ Personal Condo Investments
28:34 Two Bedroom vs Studio or One Bedroom
30:20 Maintaining the Urban Lifestyle
32:00 What’s Next for Menkes?
34:05 Is the Toronto Becoming “Overbuilt”?
36:39 How to Reach Jared Menkes

Links

Menkes

Jared Menkes on LinkedIn

Harbour Plaza Residences

87 Peter Street

The Eglinton (new project coming soon to Yonge and Eglinton)

Read the Jared Menkes Interview Transcript

Andrew la Fleur:

Hello and welcome back to the True Condos podcast, special welcome if this is you first time listening to the podcast.  I’m your host Andrew la Fleur and I am a realtor here in Toronto.  I specialize in helping people to make money by investing in the Toronto condo market.

This podcast is a chance for you the listener to hear from industry experts and insiders about what’s really going on in the condo market, and we also like to find out where these insiders are putting their own money when it comes to condo investing.  If you like this podcast, please go to truecondos.com and subscribe to get even more great content all about condo investing in Toronto.

We have a couple of new reviews that came in for the show this week.

Kaye Hackman left a review and he says, “I do not have any investment money tied up in the Toronto condo market but listen to this podcast because I have had some enjoyable conversations with Andrew about his work.  Despite not knowing much about the condo world, the show has been quite enjoyable.  Though I may not invest in the Toronto condo market anytime soon, Andrew has put together a great show to help urbanites connect with what’s going on in Toronto and in other cities around the world.”

Thank you, Kaye Hackman for that review.  Dean Smith says, “Asking the tough questions that investors and homeowners want to know, Andrew takes an unbiased approach.  Good start, keep going, Andrew.”

Again, thank you so much to you the listener for supporting the show and for leaving your reviews.  They make such a big difference to the show.  Thank you so much.  If you’d like to leave a review, just open up the iTunes store on your computer, search for the True Condos podcast and click on Write a Review.  The reviews, once again, they really helped get the word out about this show and it helped more people to find it, so thanks again.

Now to today’s episode.  On today’s show, I sat down with Jared Menkes.  Jared is a third generation condo developer with Menkes Developments, who are one of the top condo developers in Toronto.  For all the show notes on this episode, just head on over to truecondos.com/jared.

Here is my interview with Jared Menkes.

Thanks for being with us today Jared.  Appreciate your time.

Jared Menkes:

Thank you for having me.

Andrew la Fleur:

Great.  I’d like to start today maybe if you could just tell us a little bit about your family story.  Take us back to the beginning obviously before you were even born if it’s possible, what are the details you can share.  Tell us how your family’s company started and now became one of the dominant forces really in the Toronto condo industry.

Jared Menkes:

Sure.  The company was founded by my grandfather, Murray Menkes, just about 60 years ago.  We’re celebrating our 60th Anniversary this year.  He started by building single-family homes in the TTA.  From there, he started building industrial buildings.  From industrial buildings, he started building rental-apartment buildings.  From rental-apartment buildings, he started building condominiums and office buildings.

He had 3 sons and all 3 of the sons run 3 businesses within Menkes.  Obviously, you know us from the condominium side but we’re also a very large player in the commercial industry, so we’ve built the Telus Tower downtown.  We’re building One York which is another office building across Air Canada Centre.  We’ve built millions of square feet of office and industrial and retail complexes, including Empress Walk throughout Toronto.

We also have our single-family division that builds from Ajax and Oshawa all the way to Georgetown in the west.  All over Toronto, we build single-family homes type of product and everything in between.

Andrew la Fleur:

All the projects are in the GTA?

Jared Menkes:

Yes.

Andrew la Fleur:

Has the company ever done anything outside?

Jared Menkes:

We have in the past but not since the ’80s or early ’90s.

Andrew la Fleur:

Why is that where other company has moved into different markets, Menkes has been very focused on the GTA?  It sounds like …

Jared Menkes:

We have boots on the ground.  We know this is our backyard.  We know the city.  There’s lost city within a city.  We’re the fourth largest city in North America.  We’re growing, unlike a lot of other cities in North America we continue to grow.  There’s a lot of opportunities here for everyone so we haven’t felt a need to move to any other cities.  Since 2005, we have places to grow at so condominiums are continuing to get more intensified in the downtown core and all in Toronto really.  There’s no need to work outside Toronto for what we want to do.

Andrew la Fleur:

Where’s the focus?  You talked about the different arms of the condominium, low rise, commercial as the 3 main …

Jared Menkes:

Exactly.

Andrew la Fleur:

Is there a focus or a trend within the company towards 1 of the 3 or is it 3 pillars of all strong…

Jared Menkes:

I think my grandfather really … As he built up the company, he found that there were 3 strong divisions and he happened to have 3 sons.  They each run their own division that sometimes you have boom times for commercial and sometimes you have boom times for condominiums and other times some are down and some are up.  They all even themselves out so that helped us to be successful over 60 years.

Andrew la Fleur:

Having that diversification for you.

Jared Menkes:

Exactly.  It’s really great because unlike some family businesses, some people don’t get along, some people do get along.  We’re into our third generation.  I’m the eldest part of the third generation and there’s 3 other cousins that are working in the company as well and all working for one of the divisions and it’s really a place where you can grow.

Andrew la Fleur:

How long have you actually been in the family business yourself like full time?

Jared Menkes:

I’ve been in Menkes for 6 years and prior to that I worked in commercial real estate in Toronto.

Andrew la Fleur:

6 years.  I imagine you probably could have chosen a different act.  You could have done something else.  You could have went into other businesses but you decided to be in the family business.  What do you love about real estate development?  What’s your passion with respect to development?

Jared Menkes:

I really get the opportunity to work on all sides.  Some people may look at real estate as just another business, but for me it’s a place where you have your business but you also are able to be creative from the design of a building, interior design, exterior, architecture, landscaping, working with the city, working with different retailers for the base of the building or any mixed use that we do commercial retail.

It’s just getting to work on so many different sides of the condominium is really great.  We do everything so we will go and buy a site and rezone it, work with the city, work through the design process, work with agents like yourself.  Buyers get to meet every one along the way and then also we also d our own constructions and we’re building ourselves.  We have our in-house construction team.

We really do seem to knots in the project and getting to actually buy the site and think about who’s going to live here and then actually our customer service team moves everyone in and we get to have that opening night or that barbecue where we meet all the people that actually are living in the building.  It’s just such a great experience, so for me it’s a lot of fun to work there.

Then, of course, getting to work with my family.  I’m very close with my family whether it’s my dad, my uncles or my cousins.  We all get along really well so it’s fun coming into work every day.

Andrew la Fleur:

That sounds great.  In your time so far, has there been like a highlight moment that stands out to you as something that you’re really proud of that you’ve been part of so far?

Jared Menkes:

I think that learning everything, I don’t stop learning.  My dad and my grandfather continue to … My grandfather did continue to learn.  My father is telling me every day he’s always learning.  I think for me last year was a huge year for us.  We did 10% of the marketing in the GTA.  We’re the largest developer in the country actually, which was really exciting.

That was a standout year, but for me personally I just continue to grow with the company.  Every new project is exciting so it’s really let’s on to the next project and seeing something delivered and driving by that building every day and remembering it that’s what brings me joy.

Andrew la Fleur:

Shifting gears to the condo market itself, question that I’d like to ask everybody and I love to hear your take on it as one of the biggest developers in the GTA, is there a condo bubble in Toronto?

Jared Menkes:

I think a lot of people asked that and I think we did see a lot of products sold until 2011 and in 2012 we’re starting to slow down.  I think we’re in a really good position in Toronto because besides us having people talked about 75 to 100,000 people of immigration into Toronto we also have anywhere from 50 to 65,000 of what they call shadow immigration which is students and short-term employees that are here for 4 years that are filling it.

Our buildings are continuing to be leased out or rent, I’m sorry, I should say bought and then leased out or rented by tenants.  We’re not the Miami.  We’re not the Las Vegas.  We’re not to buy and you drive around the city lights were on in every building.  You talk to people on the streets it’s still hard to find a rental in certain neighborhoods.

I think from the development side it’s not any easier to develop.  It’s getting more costly.  I think from that standpoint you’re going to see a bit of a slowdown in development.  You can’t create more land in Toronto and people want to be in location.  There’s only a certain amount of sites left that can be built out and I think there’s still a great opportunity for buying in Toronto.

Andrew la Fleur:

Do you travel a lot to other cities around the world and you research other markets?  You mentioned a few cities there.  Do you look at a lot of other international markets and how does that affect what you do in your job here?

Jared Menkes:

Absolutely I do a lot of traveling or I used to do a lot of traveling.  We like to travel and see what’s happening on other cities, but I think at the end of the day this is in my opinions I love Toronto.  I think Toronto is one of the best cities in the world and I think we’re getting there to being a world class city recognized with the Hong Kongs, Tokyos and New Yorks, London, Parises of the world.  Maybe we don’t have that history but I think we have that future absolutely.

I think it’s nice to look at other cities and what they have, but I think it’s even better to come back to Toronto and say, “Wow, what we have here is something very special,” and a part of that in my mind is through the immigration in Toronto.  When people move to Toronto, they’re sometimes starting a new life for themselves and what that brings is a true entrepreneurship, starting a new business, starting something special.

That’s what’s really cool about Toronto.  You drive around and you have all these new restaurants popping up in different areas.  People whoever they’re from the world, they bring that style and that culture with them to Toronto and it’s created a unique city for us.  You go to the US and it’s a real melting pot.  Everyone is just American, which is not a bad thing, but I think Toronto has a unique side of it that a lot of cities can never replicate and with should be proud of that.

Andrew la Fleur:

You think that makes Toronto attractive on a global scale?

Jared Menkes:

Absolutely.  I think that we need more infrastructures and I think more subway lines, more transit will help our city grow and I think it’s needed in the city.  I’m a real urbanite.  I love to walk.  I love to bike.  I love to take transit and I think it’s a great way to get around.

Andrew la Fleur:

Do you live in a condo right now?

Jared Menkes:

I do.  I live in a condo since I’ve moved out with my parents.

Andrew la Fleur:

Is it a Menkes condo?

Jared Menkes:

We have only built condo … We haven’t …

Andrew la Fleur:

Is that no?

Jared Menkes:

I live in our competitor’s building and I’ve lived in 2 different competitor’s buildings and actually interesting story to share with you.  I’ve bought in 1 competitor’s building and another competitor’s building and 1 was a really great experience and I bought with the brand named developer plus an experience.  The second one that I live in currently I’ve lived in for 6 years now.  I bought from developer that does 1 project every 5 years and not a name brand developer but had a great site and a great price.

Our boards have been fighting with the developer now since we took off [and sink 14:30] and I think it’s a real lesson for everyone out there and for myself to know how important it is to buy from a brand named developer.  It’s not just about location.  It’s not just about price but it’s who you’re buying with.  It’s important to know what’s going on behind the walls, how the products can be delivered and what kind of customer service is going to follow because that is really important.

It’s not always just about the price and the location.  You have to think about who you’re buying.  This is a big investment for a lot of people and for myself.  If I would institute all over again, I would have bought from someone else.

Andrew la Fleur:

Obviously, I’m not going to ask you to share who the developer is but I definitely get your point and it’s something that I talk a lot about, the big trend.  I’m talking to a lot of people about these days is the importance of buying from a quality developer.

There just really seems to be a, I don’t know if you agree with this, almost a growing divide in the marketplace as the economarket is maturing and there are a lot of projects.  It’s a growing divide I find between the A players and the B players I call them, like Menkes of the world who have been doing this for a long time and who really deliver what they promised versus really everybody else.  There is a lot of bad developers out there and buyers really need to understand that and know who they’re buying from.

Jared Menkes:

Absolutely and I think it’s up to people like yourself to educate your buyers on what’s happening.  I think it’s also Tarion.  It’s important for the buyers to be educated on the developer and there’s one way to track that is by going to the Tarion website and typing in that developer and seeing what’s their history, have they had any issues.  In Tarion, it’s all public information.  You can see if they’ve had issues with that builder before.  I always tell people, “Go to the Tarion website if you’re going to buy from someone and know what they built.”

Andrew la Fleur:

Great tip, great resource for everybody.  Check Tarion website out if you haven’t already.  What would you say is the … What’s the biggest or some of the biggest issues or challenges facing the condo market in general right now that you see or moving forward?

Jared Menkes:

I think it’s the city.  From my standpoint and on the development side, I think it’s the city.  There’s a lot of levies and municipal charges, levies that are being implemented by the city or development charges have gone up.  They’re actually doubling which is a direct hit to everyone, including the consumer that those costs that the government is putting on is going right into the consumer and everyone is being affected by it.

It’s the levies that being charged to the development and it’s also the timelines.  The city is not making it easier to develop.  The amount of jobs that this industry creates is one of the largest industries in the city and the country, but on top of that it’s not very easy to get a permit.  Just to close a lane to unload some steel on to sites it’s getting very difficult.

I think because of that we’re seeing a lot of the older players in the game.  They’re starting to say, “You know what?  Do we want to …” Other families in the city are saying, “Do we want to continue to do this?  The city is not making it easier, should we continue to develop?”  I think there could be a changing of the guards and some of the older players have been around and they say, “You know what?  It’s just getting too difficult.  We’re going to move on and do something else.”

Andrew la Fleur:

Interesting.  Talking about some of the current projects that you got on the go, specifically downtown, let’s talk about 87 Peter first of all here in the Entertainment District.  Talk to us about … You have another project down the street.  It’s about Fabrik.  What do you think about the Entertainment District as an area, as a location?  Where do you see this neighborhood changing and developing over the next few years?  It has changed a lot over the past few years and there’s a lot of talk about the Entertainment District really is not … it’s not the Entertainment District that we knew in the ’90s and even in 2000s.

Jared Menkes:

What’s changed here is that it’s become the dream that the city envisioned, which is a real 24/7 neighborhood, so that means people live, work and party here.  There’s entertainment.  There’s the theaters.  There’s the Bell TIFF Lightbox and everything and then you have clubs.  You have lots of restaurants but you also have office building.  There’s an office building being built across the street.  Allied is building a brand new office building.

There’s lots of people that work here.  There’s lots of people that live here.  You’ve got the streetcar here on Spadina, 1 block, which can take you all the way up to UT if you want so if you’re a student, or you can walk 3 blocks to the financial courts.  You’re really in a neighborhood, that’s your neighborhood.

We’ve seen a lot of development in this neighborhood over the last few years and I think there’s a reason for that and that’s because of its proximity to everything you can have in the city.  You walk around this neighborhood and you can see how lively it is.  There’s action going on here.

We talked about traveling earlier and going to cities and what makes a world class city.  It’s people on the streets.  It’s cafes, restaurants, where people are exchanging ideas and that’s what you have here.  You have people working in the building next door here and they come down and they go and they get a coffee.  They sit outside and they exchange ideas and then that turns into beers after work.  Then they go home and they change and they go out for dinner.  It’s that neighbor, you don’t need a car.  You barely need a bike here.  You can walk everywhere or you can take transportation.

I think this is a great neighborhood and we see it from a demand standpoint.  People are finding it harder and harder to find a unit that works for them in this neighborhood.  It’s one of our favorite neighborhoods in the city and I think we’ll continue to have our presence here for a number of years.

Andrew la Fleur:

Are you looking at other sites in this area?  Do you have other sites [into park land 20:59]?

Jared Menkes:

We are looking at other sites but it’s continuing to get harder.  As I mentioned before, there’s no more surface parking lots that are easy to convert and a lot of the sites in this neighborhood have existing office buildings that are historic that you can’t touch.  It’s great because it creates character but what it does for us is there’s no more sites.  It’s definitely getting harder to find sites in this neighborhood, but we will have other sites here.

Andrew la Fleur:

Keep working at it.

Jared Menkes:

Yes.

Andrew la Fleur:

Talking about Harbour Plaza now, that was obviously a huge success for the company in the last year.  What can you tell us about that site?  What’s happening there?  What should people know about it?  There’s a big announcement, too, recently about the retailer is going to be in the base there.  Can you talk about Harbour Plaza?

Jared Menkes:

Sure.  Last year, we launched our West Tower for Harbour Plaza and the West Tower is part of a 3-tower project, which is 2 lanes square feet.  It’s the largest mixed-used development in Canada under construction right now and a true mixed-used.  We’ve got an 800,000-square foot office tower which sits on a 5-storey podium, which is housing 200,000 square feet of retail which the announcement was target.

Target is building a store there which is really exciting because it’s going to have everything you can imagine.  It’s not just a little convenient store at the bottom of your building.  It’s all sort to shopping, grocery shopping, everything is connected there.  We’re really excited about that and we’re also going to have a food court in the building at gym facilities fitness and some other restaurants.

Andrew la Fleur:

Like private gym on top of the actual gym for the residents of Harbour Plaza.

Jared Menkes:

We’re going to merge the whole thing into 1 large gym.

Andrew la Fleur:

Oh, wow.

Jared Menkes:

Yeah, which is really exciting.  All the residents …

Andrew la Fleur:

Is that a new development?  That’s news to me as we’re talking.

Jared Menkes:

All the residents are going to have access to it so it’s really exciting opportunity for the people who bought there because through their maintenance fees they’ll continue to have access to that.

Andrew la Fleur:

To a first rate commercial level gym right in the building.

Jared Menkes:

Exactly, so it’s really exciting.  It’s also, of course, half connected.  If it’s winter and you don’t feel like putting on a jacket, you don’t really have to.

Andrew la Fleur:

Tell us about that.  Because the PATH, people might have seen the renderings.  It’s very cool thing that you guys have done.  I don’t know if anybody has ever done anything quite like that.

Jared Menkes:

In Calgary, they call it the Plus 15.  We actually have it up the street at our 25 York Project, the Telus Tower, so it connects over York Street with a bridge to the other office buildings on Bremner.  What we did here … I’ll tell you a bit about the PATH.  Right now the PATH ends at the Gardiner so none of those apartment buildings or condominium buildings south of Gardiner have access to PATH connection.

Right now, they drive the school buses in the morning and they drop people off throughout the financial court, their offices toward the Union Station people walk from there or they brave winters, but now they all of a sudden were bringing the PATH south of the Gardiner.  All of those people that normally take the school bus or these buses up to the initiation will build walk through our project.

What’s happening is we’re building a tunnel underneath the Gardiner, a connection to the Air Canada Centre path.  They’ve got a separate path that goes through there.  The only way they would allow us to build this bridge and this connection is if the bridge was removable because if they need to do repair.  They’re constantly repairing the Gardiner in front if you drive downtown.  What we actually have it’s on track.  It’s on a track.  If they have to repair where the bridge is, they move it out.

Andrew la Fleur:

Through the whole tunnel.

Jared Menkes:

It’s on a track so if they’ll move it to the east, they’ll do the work underneath there and then they’ll slide it back into place.  It’s really cool.  It’s never been done in Toronto and we’re just really excited to build for everyone.

Andrew la Fleur:

Again, if people have seen the rendering of the pictures, they know what we’re describing but if you haven’t, definitely look online and check that out.  The tunnel is suspended from the elevated Gardiner expressway itself …

Jared Menkes:

That’s right.

Andrew la Fleur:

… connecting Harbour Plaza building with … What’s it connected directly to on the other side?

Jared Menkes:

Right into the Air Canada Centre.

Andrew la Fleur:

Right into the ACC.

Jared Menkes:

Right, which has a path through.  From there you can get into Maple Leaf Square, you can get into … It’s a direct hit into Union Station so it’s fantastic for anyone that works downtown or once you got in the Union Station right, sorry, into Union Station or to the airport would be a high-speed express train to the airport.

Andrew la Fleur:

Is the tunnel also going to be connected to the RBC Tower to the south?

Jared Menkes:

Yes.  That’s WaterPark Place III, so WaterPark Place I and II is existing.  They’re building the third tower which is the RBC Tower and they’re right now not connected to PATH either, so all 3 of those buildings will be connected through another above-grade tunnel.

Andrew la Fleur:

If you’re somebody living in Harbour Plaza, they got this gym that membership included that you’ve talked about.  They have a massive target, not just a little …

Jared Menkes:150,000 square feet.

Andrew la Fleur:

150,000 square feet target in the building.

Jared Menkes:

Full-sized target.

Andrew la Fleur:

Full-sized.  They’re also connected directly to at least 2 office towers.

Jared Menkes:

No.  Our own office building, which is going to have Sun Life Financial and HOOPP, so there are big tenants right now and then you’re going to be connected directly into WaterPark Place I, II, and III, so 3 office towers.  Across the street, there’s 4 office towers and then 1 block up there’s 3 more, so a lot of employees …

Andrew la Fleur:

A lot of people talk about the live-work-play lifestyle but let’s face it.  This is pretty much will define it I guess.

Jared Menkes:

Oh, absolutely.  That was one of the …

Andrew la Fleur:

You’ve really got live-work-play, everything without stepping outside.

Jared Menkes:

That was one of the reasons we were able to get these big pension funds to move their offices out of the financial court down here because this is fantastic opportunity for employees and they’re looking forward to that.

Andrew la Fleur:

That’s great.  Are you a condo investor yourself?  Have you personally invested in some condo units?  If so, can you tell us about what you’ve bought or what you tend to like to buy and what your strategy is with your own condo investment?

Jared Menkes:

I keep 1 unit in every one of our towers that I’ve worked on and so like I said I’m in Menkes for 6 years but in all of our projects, whether it’s 87 Peter, Fabrik, Harbour Plaza or 365 Church, I try to keep 1 in every building and I look for a unit that works for the right mix.  Usually, it’s a small 2-bedroom and has the right amenities.  I find …

Andrew la Fleur:

What do you like about a 2-bedroom versus a 1 or 1 plus 10 studio?

Jared Menkes:

It’s a smaller square footage but you have to 2/10ths, so 1 living room bigger space.  I think a lot of people say, “You know what?  What’s the least amount of money I can get in for,” and they’re constantly looking … There’s a big talk about studios but at the end of the day who were the people that are actually living in the buildings and that’s what a lot of people … if you look at that and you say, “Who wants to live here,” and people will say, “You know what?  For an extra 500 bucks or $600 I’m making [inaudible 29:10] and then we’re going to have a bigger space to live in and we’ll be, too.”

Andrew la Fleur:

You see that as a … You think that’s a developing trend where as rents go up, as prices of property continues to go up, more and more people especially young professionals will be sharing spaces, sharing it?

Jared Menkes:

Absolutely.  I don’t think there’s a rush for young people to … We’re a maturing city and people are just starting to grasp the concept of raising a family in a condominium.  You go to many cities around the world, whether it’s Hong Kong or New York, families live in condos.  In Toronto, there’s people who say, “I’m having a family.  I’m going to finally have a son.  I’ve got to move out of the city, “and I don’t want to do that.  I want to continue to live in the city and I think a lot of other people do.

I think as we mature as a city, you’ll start to see condominiums more of a demand for condominiums that can accommodate a child or a growing family.  I don’t think having 2-bedroom there’s anything wrong with it if it makes sense within that neighborhood.

Andrew la Fleur:

I think there’s a lot of people that are exactly in what the situation you just described where maybe they just got married or maybe they’re having a kid or they’re thinking about having a family.  They’re in a condo or they’re downtown in an apartment, they want to stay in that lifestyle.  They don’t want to go to the suburbs or even the inner suburbs lifestyle and shell out 800,000 or a million for a low-rise home they rather stay in that condo lifestyle.  How do you see the city I guess in the condo market developing towards that end?

Jared Menkes:

I think a lot of this new generation, 20 to mid-30s and getting up to 40, I think they’ve grasped this idea of living in an urban community and saying, “I don’t want that community like my parents had.”  I don’t want a community in our … I don’t always want to get on the go-train and sit there for an hour or get in my car or even have a car.

I think you’ll start to see people paying premium to live in the location that they want but within a condominium.  What we’re seeing is we’re providing for that.  We’re saying, “We’re going to give more amenities like at Harbour Plaza.”  Our any package is massive.  It’s over and above what the city requires from us and I think we have really great demand for in 2-bedroom units and same with this neighborhood as well.  With all the parks and the connections and schools, it’s fantastic.

Andrew la Fleur:

As you mentioned, in 2013 nobody sold more condos than you guys in Menkes.  How do you top that?  What do you got coming forward in 2014?  What are you excited about?

Jared Menkes:

It’s easy to … It’s not easy but I should say it’s easy to say that we’ve sold the most condos in the GTA and we’re getting as one of the top developers in the country, but we have to deliver those.  2014 for us, we’re starting 5 towers.  We never started 5 towers in 1 year and we’re really excited about that and we have to deliver those and we have to deliver them right.

That’s really exciting for us but on top of that what’s new, what’s coming, we’re excited about project we have at Yonge and Eglinton that’s going to be coming out this year, which I think is one of the sleepiest areas that people are looking at right now with the [other tee 33:03] coming across Eglinton that’s going to be a game changer for the city.

We haven’t had a new … Some people are complaining that it’s not a subway but it’s below ground, it’s transit and it’s not being talked about.  It’s actually happening.  They finished all the tunneling.  It’s not stopping.  They’re not stopping these trains.  It’s happening and it’s going to be a great connection for that point in the city.

Also Yonge and Eglinton market is continuing to grow.  A lot of tenants are moving up there because they see where young people are living that’s one of the areas of the city that’s happening and I believe it’s Facebook.  A lot of tech companies are moving their head offices to Yonge and Eglinton.  You go there it’s just as puzzling as it is right here in the Entertainment District, so I’m really excited about that project.

Andrew la Fleur:

That’s great.  Thanks for that little sneak peek.  You heard it here first.  Breaking is a project coming up for Menkes at Yonge and Eglinton this year.  Just a last question to wrap it up is somebody who gets interviewed a lot by different media outlets and guys like me who want to pick your brain, is there 1 question that no one has ever asked you but you wish they would, whether it’s about yourself or whether about your company or about the condo market?  Is there a question that nobody has ever asked you but that you wish that whey would?

Jared Menkes:

It’s a good question.  I’ve never been asked that question.  Right or wrong, I tend to seek my mind most of the time in interviews and somebody asked me do they think there’s a bubble in the city or do they think that the city is overbuilt, I always give my honest opinion.  I say, “Look what’s happening in the city.  You read these reports that come out of different media outlets mostly from the US and they don’t understand the shift that’s happening in Toronto,” which is what we’ve talked about.

We’re the only city in North America with a legislative urban boundary, which is the Greenbelt, where we have a place to grow at from 2005, 2006 that says, “Build downtown.”  I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentation from certain media outlets, people writing reports on the city.  Go to someone like yourself, someone that represents the condominium market and understands what’s happening in Toronto and the shift that’s happening from low-rise to high-rise, there’s no more low-rise being built.

Our numbers, we should sell 20,000 low-rise homes in this city and deliver 10,000 condos.  Now we’re selling upwards of 18,000, 20,000 condominiums and we’re hard pressed to sell 10,000 low-rise homes.  There’s a shift that’s happened in the city and I think it’s both because of legislation and from society change and moving into the city creating a more urban city.  I’m really excited about that because I love living in cities.  If you don’t want to live in a city, then there’s lots of options around you as well.  You can drive 20 minutes and be in the country or somewhere in the countryside.

I think Toronto is a great city and I look forward to seeing many more people living here and being a world class city.

Andrew la Fleur:

Somebody who wants to get a hold of you, what’s the best way to reach you or find you online?

Jared Menkes:

Sure, absolutely.  They can reach me at all my LinkedIn profile and email me directly there and it goes right to my iPhone.

Andrew la Fleur:

Great, there you go.  Find Jared on the LinkedIn if you want to get a hold of him.  Thank you very much, Jared, for your time.  Appreciate it.  Thank you for your great insights and hopefully we can have you on the show again some time.

Jared Menkes:

Pleasure.  Thank you for having me.

Andrew la Fleur:

I hope you enjoyed that interview with Jared Menkes.  Just a personal comment.  I’ve worked with a lot of developers over the years and I can definitely say that Menkes is one of the best in Toronto.  I’d say they’re the type of developer that I really love to get my clients to buy with, my investor clients, because they really take a long-term view of the marketplace and of their business, which means they treat their customers very well throughout the entire buying process so that these customers will continue to come back again and again for future projects.

That’s a great developer to purchase a condo with and as I mentioned in the episode there is an opportunity coming up with Menkes very soon actually in the Yonge and Eglinton area.  If you’re interested in learning more about that, once again head on over to truecondos.com and make sure you subscribe.

Once again for all the show notes on this episode, head on over to truecondos.com/jared and if you life the show, please leave me a review.  They are greatly appreciated.  Thanks for listening again and until next time.  Bye for now.

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