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After 85 years Tridel looks forward to community building of the future

Angela Gismondi
After 85 years Tridel looks forward to community building of the future

Tridel celebrated 85 years in the construction business in 2019, and while a lot has changed over the past eight-and-a-half decades, some things have also stayed the same.

“The common denominator for us is that we are a homebuilder,” said Jim Ritchie, the firm’s executive vice-president.

“We build homes for people and in particular, communities because our homes are in these vertical communities so we haven’t lost sight of that.”

The company was started in 1934 by Jack DelZotto, an Italian stonemason who immigrated to Canada in 1927. He originally settled in northern Ontario, working in the mines near Timmins before relocating to Toronto. He began working as a bricklayer during the construction of the Park Plaza Hotel and eventually started his own business building single-family homes.

“That was the foundation,” said Ritchie.

“It started with a single-family home that was built in the Bloor-Dufferin area… Jack had three sons Angelo, Elvio and Leo, and Angelo being the eldest took the lead and took it beyond where Jack had started.”

The company was originally called DelZotto Construction. When the sons took over the business, they rebranded it as Tridel, a reference to the three DelZotto brothers.

Over the years, the firm grew and started taking on larger projects developing rental apartment buildings. In the late 1960s, Ontario passed an act to enable the construction of condominiums.

“When legislation enabled this new form of ownership, we were one of the first to start developing condos in Ontario,” said Ritchie.

“We recognize certainly that our business has evolved over the decades. It was that typical single-family house company that evolved to building apartment buildings in the Toronto area and certainly evolved to this specialization, this focus of what we do today being condominium communities.”

Eventually the company branched out to Tridel Group of Companies with sister companies including condominium property management, rental and commercial property management, seniors living and a real estate brokerage.

The market is very different today than it was years ago.

“At one point there was a very niche marketplace for condos in the ‘70s and ‘80s that were adult lifestyle type of buildings where it was primarily geared towards the empty nesters, but today in Toronto people from all different backgrounds, all different ages, all different walks of life have embraced condominium living,” Ritchie noted.

He added the interesting thing about the condo market business today is that it’s not one market, it’s made up of many submarkets.

“There are many different niches,” said Ritchie.

“You can meet the needs of housing and for the people that are going to be living in these homes with different types of products available to them. In the end yes, they are all condominium communities, but they are designed differently for different submarkets.”

Mixed-use buildings are also more prevalent today with different components that can make projects more complex, said Ritchie.

The Well, a mixed-use development in Toronto, includes a large retail component, purpose-built rental and condominium towers. It’s the largest development project underway in Ontario except for institutional work and the single largest project Tridel has ever been involved with. Tridel is developing the condo towers and it partnered with other firms to take on the other components.

“We are still building condominium homes, the environment in which they are being built is a little bit different,” Ritchie said.

Over the years the company has embraced innovation, introducing smart home technology for its communities.

“The most recent example of that would be a product we call Tridel Connect which the first project we completed with that was Ten York,” said Ritchie.

“It’s using technology to provide services to the residences of the building that just make it easier or more convenient for them.”

Sustainable design is also a priority for the company.

“We really embraced that about 15 years ago and today we are the largest builder of LEED residential buildings in the country,” Ritchie noted.

“We produced about 18,000 green condominium homes that are enrolled in LEED — they are either certified silver or gold and we just did our first platinum building this year.”

In terms of accomplishments, in the last decade, Tridel has been recognized with homebuilder of the year awards from the Ontario Home Builders Association and Building Industry and Land Development Association seven times.

As for a vision for the future, Tridel will continue to grow, evolve and “redefine what ‘home’ is,” said Ritchie.

“These pillars that we talk about in terms of getting our product delivered, technology and innovation is going to be a big part of it as is sustainability,” he said.

“The community building is what we are going to focus on and it will take different shapes and different built forms but it still can be a condominium.”

 

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.

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