10 Minutes with Michoel Klugmann of LindvestBy Lucas on Mar 12, 2014
One of the busiest builders/developers in the Greater Toronto Area at the moment is Lindvest. We recently caught up with Michoel Klugmann, Vice President of Lindvest, to discuss how they got to this point, how they’re going to maintain their momentum, and what the future holds.
Newinhomes (NIH): Lindvest just received a facelift. What swayed you in this new direction?
Michoel Klugmann (MK): The H&R Developments brand has been around for over 60 years. It has many different focuses from property management to office, to retail, to apartment building - all different types. We were looking for a freshness and relevance to today’s purchaser. There are a number of different divisions in the H&R family of companies and now Lindvest has its own unique focus.
NIH: Has Lindvest adopted any philosophies with its new look?
MK: We decided to look at everything with a fresh pair of eyes. We’ve been doing it as a family for so many years, it’s already fourth generation, which is a rarity in the Canadian market, or anywhere. It was just an opportunity to look at things with a fresh perspective. It’s taken us in some new directions in terms of the product offering we have, some consultants that we’re using, and our messaging. It was just a chance to hit the refresh button and inject some new ideas and life into what we do.
NIH: B.streets Condos is the project that really put Lindvest on the map, and it was easily one of the most successful and popular projects of 2013. What was the key to its success?
MK: We threw out every assumption we had. We had been building with some consultants and trades for eons, and we brought everyone to the table together with some fresh faces and challenged them to give us new solutions on how to design it, how to build it, and how to market it. What we said was ‘don’t be afraid to show us something new, something different.’ We jumped on many of those ideas, and the result is you have something unique. You know, no one has built a new large-scale development in that portion of The Annex in decades. It’s an established neighbourhood; it did not need reinvention, but it did need a freshness. The building looks like it grew out of the neighbourhood; it fits and is very much in context with its neighbours, and at the same time it’s modern and striking. That’s why it’s received so much attention.
NIH: Lindvest recently launched The Brownstones at Westown, and now you’re collecting registrations for Grand Cornell in Markham, which is another stacked townhome project. Can you explain Lindvest’s recent fascination with this housing type?
MK: What we found is that people want their own front door, it’s as simple as that. At Westown, people want to live within the 416, with access to the 401 and Hwy.400, etc. They want a product that fits within their family’s budget. That’s the request we’re getting. Because of the form of construction, we are able to keep the condo fees really low; at Westown, they’re below $0.20 (per square foot). The condo fees are a big issue for purchasers anywhere in midtown or downtown Toronto; in a high-rise they can easily be $0.50 or $0.60 (per square foot). We found a lot of people were asking for something where they can keep the condo fees down.
In Markham, it’s very much location based. It’s affordable luxury. This is the opportunity for people to buy a high-end unit in a low-rise setting with access to many local amenities. It’s just a few hundred meters to Markham Hospital and all its new development, and we’re very close to the 407 and Highway 7. Another big point is that it’s in an established community.
NIH: Have you found that prospective buyers have been receptive to the stacked townhome housing model?
MK: The concept is new and it takes time for people to get familiar with the idea. Generationally, there’s a cycle. When you go to a friend’s house, you attend their kid’s birthday party, you visit your neighbour, you gradually get used to a new form of housing. It’s like anything new, any new technology or advancement, it just takes time for people to get used to it. It’s definitely a fresh take on low-rise housing. It’s like condos in the ‘80s; no one could fathom living in them. People questioned: where do you get in, how does it work, how do my friends visit me - but now that everyone knows someone who’s living in a high-rise, they’re used to it.
We like to educate our consumers. When you break it down into a colour coded 3D scale model, like we have, anyone can look at it and say ‘okay, I get it.’ We’ve also created an interactive digital display system for our Westown sales office. We’ve been able to three dimensionally render the units themselves and show how they fit into the building. You’re going to see more and more stacked towns across Ontario - it’s just a great form of housing.
NIH: What does the future hold for Lindvest?
MK: We have our newest project coming in Markham called Grand Cornell Brownstones. Grand Cornell is an already built community in which we are now releasing new stacked townhomes. Pre-registration is underway and the Grand Opening is scheduled for March 22nd.
B.streets Condos has a few choice suites remaining, including penthouses, two-storey lofts, and a few Lane Homes. Many of the suites have great outdoor spaces with two or three terraces or balconies. And occupancy is starting this spring.
We’ll also release a new phase of 50’ lots/homes in our Gracefields community this spring. These have been eagerly anticipated and will be well received.
Additionally, we have a new community coming to Aurora called Aurora Glen that will launch this year as well. It will be a selection of 34’, 38’ and 44’ homes. The most exciting aspect here is that we will have a contemporary elevation in addition to the more traditional brick and stone elevations typically offered. Coupled with open design floorplans, and modern finishes, we expect this to be a real hit in the marketplace.
We would like to thank Michoel Klugmann for his time. We’re really looking forward to all of Lindvest’s upcoming communities!