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Pier 27 and transparency in the real estate industry

One of my favorite development projects going up in Toronto right now is the Pier 27 complex at the base of Yonge Street.

What I love about it is that it’s trying something different. The two sky bridges that sit atop the two phases—currently under construction—are going to create a remarkable new focal point along the waterfront. It’s not just another condo.

And as I watch the buildings go up, I’ve also been impressed by the materials used on the project. In particular the curtain wall (glazing) system used on the eastern most buildings. It’s a clear glass installation with white accent pieces. It’s beautiful. Here are a few photos.

But as much as I love this project, it’s been slow moving. This project, like many others in the city, has been subject to a number of delays. They went to market in 2006-2007 and occupancy isn’t expected until next year—a good 7 years later.

But more than the issue of time, my real concern is the lack of transparency. Why was it delayed? Were sales slow? Were there dewatering issues being on reclaimed land along the waterfront? Was the soil contaminated? As a consumer, it’s frustrating being in the dark.

I do, however, acknowledge that this is a larger issue facing the real estate industry. We’re certainly not known for radical transparency. We’re a closed and insular industry. But over time I do believe that will change. It’s inevitable. And the best thing you can do today—as an organization or as an individual—is to embrace it.

Full disclosure: I have a vested interest in this project and I’m currently having a fight with the developer over a small amendment I would like to make to the agreement of purchase and sale. They have been unwilling to cooperate.

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