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A year in review — 2015 on Architect This City

Thanks to this blog, it’s pretty easy for me to go back and look at what I was doing and thinking throughout the year. That’s one of the benefits of writing a daily blog/journal. And as is usually the case, 2015 was a year of ups and downs.

For my annual ski and snowboard trip with the guys, we went to Banff (Alberta) and Revelstoke (BC). But we got stuck with unseasonably warm weather in the west (the opposite of what’s happening this winter) and I got injured on day 3. That put me in the emergency room and knocked me out of snowboarding for the rest of the season – as well as from the gym for a number of months.

Shortly after that I also got struck with some family health issues. That was pretty scary for a good solid month, but in the end, everything seems to have worked out. What a relief.

Towards the end of March, I did a brand partnership between Architect This City and Porter Escapes, which brought me to Quebec City for a weekend. That was a lot of fun and gave me the opportunity to be a real flâneur in one of the most interesting cities in Canada.

In April, I left my real estate development job at TAS and shortly after I joined CAPREIT (TSE: CAR.UN) to help build out their (real estate) development platform. Previously their/our focus had just been on acquiring existing rental assets. But now it is time to build.

Later this month I also participated in the Toronto filming of a documentary called Waterfront Cities of the World. That was a lot of fun. But come to think of it, I don’t think I ever watched the final video.

In May, I started lobbying hard for the removal/replacement of the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway East here in Toronto. If you’ve been reading this blog since the summer, I am sure you remember this period. With the help of a colleague of mine, I even started a petition that ended up getting presented at City Council.

But in June, Toronto City Council voted to demolish and then rebuild the elevated expressway along our waterfront. I am still surprised by that. What a shame.

In July, we (CAPREIT) announced our first joint venture development project. A mixed-use project – 506 rental apartments on top of about 160,000 square feet of retail – in Toronto’s Liberty Village. 

In August, I went back to Philly to relive my Penn days. I do that every couple of years just to make sure that Bob and Barbara’s is still offering up “The Special.” The Special is a can of PBR and a shot of Jim Bean for $3. It’s famous in Philly, but it always sounds like a far better idea the night before, as opposed to the morning after.

In this same month I also hit the 2 year mark here on Architect This City. That’s 2 years of getting up every single day and staring at a blank blog post screen and thinking of something insightful to say. 

The following month on September 11 (I’ll never forget this date), I got laser eye surgery. More specifically, I got custom wavefront LASIK. And today it’s pretty hard to imagine that I used to have to reach for my coke bottle glasses as soon as I woke up every morning.

Later in September, I also gave a talk at my alma mater, the Rotman School of Management, to a delegation of about 70 urbanists from Portland. It was an honor to be invited alongside rockstars such as Richard Florida and Jennifer Keesmaat.

In October, I featured a guest post from the former mayor of Toronto, John Sewell. I don’t often do guest posts on my blog, but John had just published a new book and I thought it would be a good way to change things up here. John and I aren’t necessarily on the same page with many urban issues, but we did agree on the Gardiner East.

For the remainder of October, it was basically just the Jays.

In November, I spoke at a Product Hunt event focused on real estate + tech. It was incredibly encouraging to see so many entrepreneurs here in Toronto focused on the intersection of real estate and tech. There are lots of opportunities in this space and I am sure that there are many success stories in the making right now. Toronto is the perfect place for real estate + tech innovation.

And finally, in December, I crossed something off my bucket list and attended Art Basel Miami Beach. I have wanted to go for well over a decade; pretty much since I started studying art history in undergrad. I don’t know what took me so long.

Oh, I also announced that I was writing a book on becoming a real estate developer

What a year. I can’t wait for 2016. 

What do you have on your to-do list for next year?

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