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For The One Developer, Sam Mizrahi, success lies in the details

by CRE on 10 May 2017
In March this year, Sam Mizrahi and his team at Mizrahi Developments opened a state-of-the art $1.5 million sales gallery to showcase their upcoming luxury condominium development at 1451 Wellington Street in Ottawa, Canada.  Designed to offer prospective buyers a tangible experience of what it will be like to live in 1451 Wellington’s custom condos, the sales gallery serves as a nearly exact model of the development’s condominium suites, replete with an elegant, fully furnished entertainment room, a lobby and a model kitchen with Miele appliances.  The sales centre also happened to be the largest investment a developer has ever made in a showroom in Ottawa.

Not every developer goes to such a length to build a meticulous sales model; but, of course, not every developer is quite as detail-oriented and buyer-focused as Sam Mizrahi.   Indeed, his concentration to the details - what some would call micromanagement - is well-known.  It’s also a source of pride for Mizrahi and part of what’s required in his mind to build developments that are fully customized and exhibit true old-world craftsmanship -- both of which are big points for him.   

Born in Tehran in 1971 to Jewish parents, Sam Mizrahi was six when Ziba, his mother, and Shamoil, his father, a business owner, immigrated to Canada.  It was two years before the Iranian Revolution and Mizrahi is well-aware of how different his life growing up in Toronto was from others who were unable to leave. Over the years, it’s made Mizrahi a strong supporter of Israel and Jewish causes, like co-founding the SixPoints Philanthropy Fund and serving as one of the lead builders of the new Forest Hill Jewish Center in Toronto, a project that was a labor of love for him.

It’s also made Mizrahi deeply passionate about Toronto and perhaps uniquely aware of how developers like himself can change a city’s landscape, for better or for worse. 

In April this year, UrbanToronto published an update on developments in various stages of completion in Toronto, an article that tallied 27 hotels in development, roughly 48 office buildings, 63 mixed-used constructions and approximately 102 residential developments.   Needless to say, development in Toronto and the GTA continues at a frenetic pace, and it’s been that way for a while now. 

Which makes it all the more comforting to know that Sam Mizrahi’s values are rooted in introducing to Toronto buildings that will be architecturally relevant both today and twenty years from now, as well as introducing buildings that will raise the city’s status as an international destination.

In an interview from late 2016, Mizrahi explained his motivation in this way:
I was thinking about Toronto and how it has become an international city in a lot of respects. We’ve got a mosaic of different cultures with over 100,000 immigrants coming into the GTA every year. We are now an international city, but we really don’t have architecture or design that puts us on the map like other cities.
The One

Speaking about building in Toronto a landmark of the likes of the CN Tower is an apropos time to mention The One,  Sam Mizrahi’s largest and arguably most public project to date.  Situated at the iconic southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets in downtown Toronto, The One will be an 80-storey mixed-use tower that will sit right in the center of one of the most sought-after real estate locations in Canada.  Designed by Foster + Partners, The One will be built with an innovative exoskeleton design and introduce to Yonge and Bloor eight stories of prime retail space, above which will be 416 customized luxury condominium units.

Hyperboles aside, what’s equally interesting about The One is how Sam Mizrahi was able to acquire the land for the development.  After all, 1 Bloor St. West, the site of The One, is the former location of Stollerys, the venerable men’s clothing store that occupied the space for 114 years.

Sam Mizrahi gained the land by making the effort to connect personally with the store’s long-time president, Ed Whaley, who had strong emotional attachments to the store.  For nearly a year, the two met regularly. As they shared their personal stories and their visions of Toronto’s past, present and future, they became friends, and so, figured things out together.

In the end, Mizrahi told Toronto Life magazine, they kept it simple, something important to them both. “In the old world, things were simple. It was about handshakes. It’s about doing what you say and fulfilling your promises. I subscribe to that value system, and Ed knew that,” Mizrahi explains.

Mizrahi obtained OMB approval on April 18th, 2017 for The One, which is the final stage of the review process and means the development will be built. Mizrahi and his team look forward to breaking ground on the project soon.
Returning to 1451 Wellington

The power of Mizrahi’s brand and what it stands for has led to what it’s supposed to do: create a bigger footprint. That’s evidenced in Mizrahi’s first project outside of Toronto at 1451 Wellington in Ottawa.

Like other Mizrahi developments, the details are what make 1451 Wellington stand out; the development’s special touches also reflect how Mizrahi honors Ottawa’s history and future and respects the unique needs and preferences of its denizens. An indoor pool, for example, (saltwater, no less) which Ottawa condo residents prefer and Toronto’s don’t.  A building design that keeps garbage in functional areas inside, eliminating the outside annoyances of odor and truck traffic. And, of course, the 95 units themselves, which will have notable 10-foot ceilings, special noise-blocking windows and the kind of craftsman finishes that help define luxury.

In the end, Mizrahi returns to the principles of creating one-of-kind, customized sanctuaries in buildings that elevate the neighborhoods they are in, describing his intentions in building 1451 Wellington: “We wanted to provide the people of Ottawa with the same profile of what we’ve done in Toronto, which is allow homeowners to have the condo lifestyle yet still have the same feel, space and customization options as they would in their homes.”

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