Posted: January 01, 2017
For LJM Developments (LJM), creating high-rise residential buildings with character means executing the entire development process from start to finish. The firm, based in Burlington, Ontario, manages everything from financing through design, construction, marketing and property management. Vertical construction—something now highly encouraged by the Canadian government—gives LJM the opportunity to incorporate a wide range of amenities and conveniences, while local businesses get a built-in clientele.
“High-rises is the name of the game for the next 10 to 15 years,” says President Liaquat Mian, a native of Pakistan who started the company in 2001. “We are [still] doing some townhomes, but not detached [homes] anymore, because there is no land available in the big cities. In Canada now, the government policy is intensification, which means you have to go vertical. Fortunately, we started at the right time. We have built five [high-rise] buildings so far in the Greater Toronto Area, and they are highly regarded buildings by our clients and the city officials.”
One key pivot to LJM’s success has been its attention to custom architectural designs. “We try to give guidance and vision in the particular character [of the area] in the city and how unique it should be,” Mian says. “We feel that is the hallmark and why our buildings are pre-sold, 70–80 percent, in good time.” One recent development is Uptown Center, in which LJM’s offices are situated on the second floor. The 90,000 square-foot complex was completed in 2012 as a pedestrian-oriented plaza for retail, offices and restaurants. Uptown Center’s design sets the front of each commercial space at angles to the street, drawing in shoppers and diners with the enhanced frontage given to each establishment.
“It has all the [conveniences] that residents desire,” Mian says. “Restaurants, UPS, FedEx—all kinds of facilities are in the middle of the building.” Residents of Ironstone Condominiums, a 225-unit high-rise completed by LJM in 2013, need merely cross the street to reach Uptown Center. Ironstone also features 15,000 square feet of own commercial space. “Ironstone is currently the tallest building in Burlington, and it is a celebrated building in the city,” Mian says. LJM describes the structure’s exterior as “soft tinted glass, a graceful complement to modern condominium design and dynamic urban thinking.” Residents enjoy a landscaped rooftop terrace, a courtyard, an exercise room, private barbecues and game rooms. Residents also benefit from geothermal climate control assisted by solar panels and green roofs. To the south of Ironstone is Appleby Gardens Condominiums, another LJM development. “It’s a [Los Angeles]- style, seven-story building with underground parking,” Mian says. The contemporary mid-rise in Burlington’s center offers 71 residences on seven floors. The building stands out in the cityscape when seen from the nearby highway, with copious full-length windows, distinctive balconies and aluminum cladding in hues of rust.
Perhaps unique among LJM projects is Waterview Condominiums, a luxury boutique residential and retail development on the waterfront of Grimsby, Ontario. The two nine-story towers are “the first buildings of [their] kind in Canada,” Mian says. “I say that because Phase I of Waterview is a one-sided or single-loaded building. All units are facing the water—they are close to the lake, so there are no condos on the other side. Every unit is on one side so you have a hallway on the right. There is nothing on the left. In Phase II, we followed a similar principle, but also allowed for a few boutique suites facing the beautiful Niagara Escarpment.” According to Mian, these features attract potential buyers and tenants. “Any building we develop uses a different kind of material [from the next],” he says. “We designed a façade [for Waterview] that is an aluminum panel—the first time in a residential building.” Set to be complete in 2017 on the Lake Ontario shore, Waterview Phase I will become the first high-rise in Grimsby, a small gateway town between the United States and Toronto. With Waterview and Appleby Gardens, LJM created amenity spaces valued at $5 million. “We have a zen garden, barbecue stations, a hot tub and yoga studios, a party room and a fitness center—and you can walk up to the lake,” Mian says.
At Waterview, guest houses are a welcome perk for residents who want to provide their visitors with private quarters. “It’s kind of resort living for them like you get in Florida,” Mian says. “It was done for the first time in Grimsby, so we are really helping in getting the economy kicking in that area of the western region. You can see it when you drive up there and see other developers coming to the fore with their condo projects following our great success at Waterview. We are thankful for such a great opportunity and achievement.”
LJM retains ownership of some projects, including all the commercial properties, which the firm then manages. Future projects, Mian says, will all carry the company’s name. “Henceforth, we plan to brand residential projects that we build as LJM Tower,” he says, “There will be an LJM Tower in Hamilton, LJM Tower in Grimsby, LJM Tower in Burlington and so on. We will make every effort to set ourselves apart from the competition in our designs, features and quality of construction.”