The Intersection of Quality and Accessibility
Boutique developer Ace Developments builds quality projects within the Greater Toronto Area, concentrating on sites in the eastern region. The residential market is the company’s primary target, but it also integrates some mixed-use projects into its portfolio. Ace Developments is experienced in single-family homes, semi-detached homes, and townhomes, and is now adding mid-rise and high-rise projects to its growing portfolio.
Ace provides turnkey development management services from start to finish; it finds the project site to acquire, secures all the approvals on the property, and undertakes the construction of units on land until the housing is completed and the keys are provided to the occupants.
President Imran Khan founded Ace Developments roughly five years ago with a desire to provide top-quality housing that incorporates the best modern innovations. He wanted to leave his mark in the community by developing quality, useful buildings that the company could be proud to build and homes that people would be proud to own.
The small developer is very lean and efficient in how it conducts operations, with a heavy reliance on third-party providers to help bring its projects across the finish line. “The business model that we have, instead of having all of those people and expertise in-house, we’ve elected to farm that out and go to the market for the expertise as we see fit and as needed in order to advance our projects,” says Director of Planning and Development David J. Drake.
As a small shop, Ace is particularly flexible and it has a can-do attitude about a project’s potential as well as the issues that may arise. “Because of our size, we can be very nimble with how we approach things. There’s not a lot of layers for us to go through to make decisions, and because of that nimbleness, we’re able to respond quickly and creatively to whatever the challenge is,” explains Drake.
For the past few years, Ace has been growing, and it is excited to continue expanding by building up its portfolio of projects. As this process picks up steam, additional expertise will be brought on board, but meanwhile, Ace will focus on building its pipeline of projects. It will stick with its system of hiring third-party providers, consultants, and various vendors to help advance the project, and when it is beyond its current capacity, it will consider adding to its headcount.
Ace is a member of the Ontario Home Builder’s Association (OHBA), and it finds that the networking opportunities and the access to connections within the association are very valuable. The relationship is also beneficial in terms of providing insight and fostering new ideas about how to approach construction in today’s housing market. As technology continuously advances, it is helpful to have the support of an association dedicated to promoting innovation in the industry.
Ace makes sure that its designs are convenient and designed for the needs of end-users. With the help of the OHBA, it has learned about deploying modern green initiatives such as charging stations for electric vehicles and conduits for solar panels.
“We’re always looking at potential acquisition properties throughout the GTA, so that could be to the west in Peel Region, to the north in York Region, or to the east in Durham Region,” says Drake. Ace currently has two significant ongoing projects in Durham Region of the Greater Toronto Area.
The Appleview project in Bowmanville, within the Municipality of Clarington, started out as a ten-acre development site. Ace allocated approximately five acres of the property for a Site Plan block approved for eighty-three freehold townhomes. The unit sizes of the three-storey homes range from 1,563 to 2,263 square feet (not counting the basements), with the townhome units sharing a common roadway system. By the end of 2019, the two-phase Appleview project secured all of its approvals and began working on its earthworks construction plan. Construction of the first phase will consist of forty-two units with occupancy slated for the spring of 2021.
The other approximately five acres of the Appleview development site is a registered subdivision consisting of thirty-two lots just south of the townhomes. To free up some cash flow and focus on the eighty-three townhomes, Ace chose to sell the land to another developer-builder that plans to build single-detached homes on the property.
A second project in the planning stages is located in the western region of the Town of Whitby and is approximately 4.4 acres in size. The statutory requirement of the public meeting has occurred, and the firm’s emphasis is now on securing the approvals for its official plan amendment and zoning bylaw amendment.
“We’re seeking approval for mixed-use buildings on that property in Whitby: three mixed-use buildings, ranging in height from seven stories to twelve stories,” says Drake. “We’re proposing about 474 units in total on the Whitby site with an underground parking level.” In the centre of the project site, there are plans to establish an urban park. “We’re very excited about the project, because it’s an opportunity for Ace to get into the mid-rise/high-rise housing form, in addition to the grade related forms.”
A key area of Ace’s development process is ensuring that the products it creates are appropriate and useful. “We really want to be relevant for our customers – the occupants – and that means making sure that the space is designed so that it is efficient and user-friendly. The finishes are of a quality that our buyers expect,” says Drake.
Ace strives to create modern, cutting-edge features that are creative and unique. The company goes above and beyond to create a name for itself in the industry by making a good impression. It hopes that when people hear the name Ace Developments, they think of a well-built, quality home. It believes that all homeowners should have the opportunity to find an affordable home in a welcoming community that makes them happy and proud of where they live.
Moving forward, Ace plans to continue its involvement with quality building projects and it expects to get more involved with mid-rise and high-rise buildings for various social and economic reasons. “We would like to gravitate more towards the mid-rise and the high-rise end of the market. We do like the grade related low-rise housing: singles, semis, and towns, however, we think that with land being in scarce supply and pressures to intensify certain areas within communities, that creates the need for more mid- to high-rise forms, and we’d like to be part of that,” says Drake.
Another positive attribute of mid-rise and high-rise buildings is that these forms are more affordable to a wider market base. Many first-time home buyers are young adults moving away from home, and they would like to have the opportunity to continue residing in the same community as their parents. A mixture of housing options in the same community is the solution, and Ace considers the affordable housing portion to be a priority.
“We want to build a quality product, keep it relevant, and make sure that it’s affordable so that it’s providing a full range of people access to housing within the market. That would be newcomers to Canada, children that want to leave home, and even empty nesters that are wanting to leave their existing homes and move into some smaller quarters. We’d like to be part of that, and that is our vision for the future,” says Drake.
The long-term goal is to create and develop recognizable buildings that help the company to establish its name and reputation in the field. “We are up and coming. We’re sincere with our work and with our product, and we’re a firm that wants to grow. We want to put our best foot forward. We want to be known for our landmark buildings and our quality of buildings in the market, and we think the best way to do that is to be creative with our architecture and to utilize modern technology wherever it’s relevant into the building forms itself and the design and offerings.”