Investing in quality and sustainability keeps Times Group ahead of the game
As the Times Group Corporation approaches its 30th anniversary in business, they feel a significant amount of pride in their accomplishments, as well as an enormous amount of hope for the future. Times Group is known throughout Ontario as one of the most important developers of premium-quality residential and commercial properties in Canada, and they got to where they are the old-fashioned way, through a dedication to their craft, by following through on their promise to their clients and providing services that go above and beyond the norm. “The drive to succeed stems from passion for what we do,” states Principle Saeid Aghaei. “The passion we all have determines not only how successful we will be, but also how far we are willing to go to get to where we want to be. Along with that we are very honest. Honesty is very important, and when you have great relationships with consultants, partners and customers working together based on honesty it makes business run more efficiently.” By building on passion that is second to none and by incorporating green building practices into every project, the company has become more than just another developer; they have without a doubt, become one of the most trusted brands in the Greater Toronto Area. “I believe the key values we offer is that we finish all our projects on time and on budget,” Aghaei says. “Times Group acquires the land and our construction division, Life Construction oversees the construction process, and then our property management arm takes over as property managers.” This cradle to grave model means Times Group takes full responsibility for their work. By taking a personalized approach to each and every property, Times Group offers more than a place to come to at the end of the day; they offer a home, a community and a lifestyle.
A HISTORY OF QUALITY BUILDING
It all started when Aghaei and business partner Hashem Ghadaki came together to form Times in 1986. They didn’t realize it at the time, but their partnership would create a company that would evolve into one of the most iconic real estate developers in the Greater Toronto Area. “I hold a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering from Tehran University in Iran. I graduated almost 53 years ago as a civil engineer and gained experience working for one of the top general contractors in my home country, for the Iranian government and one of the biggest industrial companies in Iran,” states Aghaei. “With over a quarter of a century of state and industrial experience each, with my business partner Hashem Ghadaki we started building single-family custom homes in the North York area in 1987,” he says. Aghaei and Ghadaki expanded quickly, with Hashem’s brother, Mohamad, joining the company shortly thereafter. Their focus began to change within a short time, when several promising commercial development opportunities presented themselves. Between 1988 and 1996, the company focused its development plans on commercial plazas. With each completed project, the company was praised for its high standards and commitment to quality.
A measure of the level of success they were destined for actually came during hard economic times. They were in the process of building their first mixed use condominium project, the 10-storey, 80-unit Hycrest, when the economy took a downward turn in 1994. When other builders packed it in, the Times Group forged ahead, believing that their rewards would come. Sure enough, Hycrest was the only condominium project to open in North York that year. One news article at the time noted that there were only three construction cranes visible in Toronto during 1994, and two of them belonged to Times Group. “It was during this time, even though it was a struggle, that laid the foundation for future success and defined the core values that we would ultimately embrace,” says Aghaei. “At the height of the recession, when companies were closing and everyone was getting out of real estate, we had the perseverance and really believed in the community and that’s why we invested further in those projects.”
That level of perseverance serves as a hallmark to Time Group’s dedication to their craft. Not long after the Hycrest project, they decided to shift their focus almost exclusively to condominium development and they have never looked back. Over the last 20-plus years, Times Group condominium projects have been developed all over the Greater Toronto Area; including Downtown Toronto, Etobicoke, Richmond Hill, Markham and North York. They have become known and trusted in the industry by developing exceptionally beautiful condominium residences in premier locations and in the process have created thousands of happy residents. After all, that’s what it’s all about; making residents feel at home.
COLLABRATION IS KEY
The culture at Times Group is one of unwavering commitment to collaboration, innovation, integrity and professionalism. Making all of those separate entities work together as a team is absolutely crucial to fulfilling the company’s vision, and everyone on board works hard to meet that commitment. “We believe a positive and supportive work environment brings out the best in a team and enables every member to succeed and contribute to the company’s success,” says Aghaei. The company’s management team continually holds meetings with architects, designers, and trades to ensure everyone is on the same page at every level of development. “Every company needs to have a great team that strongly believes in the vision. Our staff and partners are very hard working, and we have great relationships with them. We are always here if they need us,” he states. This type of efficient pre-planning avoids delays at future points in the building process. That extra dedication is almost unheard of, and is certainly one of the key factors that make Times Group stand out from the crowd. Aghaei also notes that his door is always open to everyone; “We always make time and welcome our customers to come in, so we can answer any questions they might have. We answer them directly, and we are very pleased to meet them, so that we can connect with them.”
LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY
Times Group has become a true leader in the GTA, bringing the latest in sustainable building methods and materials to every project. Aghaei and the Ghadakis have been firm advocates of building greener, more energy efficient homes and strive to bring these sustainable and energy saving techniques to all of their new construction projects. They believe sustainable building is not just an option anymore, it has become the new standard for quality builders and contractors and Times Group has been doing their part to make strategic decisions for a prosperous and environmentally sustainable future.
As a result of their sustainable approach, Times Group has won a number of prestigious design awards, including many that are tied to their commitment to green building practices, which not only work to save the planet, but also save their clients money and protect their health. The company is committed to developing properties that are environmentally friendly and demonstrate a commitment to LEED standards for green design. “Building green is an integral part of what quality means in the 21st Century. Our condominiums are built with sustainability in mind as we try to build for a better future,” states Aghaei. “When our buildings are finished they do not need a lot of maintenance. Our construction practices make the condominium more energy efficient, and we use environmentally friendly materials.”
The LEED program is an independent green building standard against which buildings are audited in a number of areas, including energy use, water efficiency and indoor air quality, as well as their integration of climate change initiatives and the use of environmentally friendly building materials. Times Group was a pioneer when it came to developing projects that satisfy the LEED standards and sustainable building processes. “Before companies started building LEED buildings in Ontario, we attended a conference on sustainable development and to this day, we continue to build green. All of our projects, whether they are highrise condominiums or low-rise townhomes, are built with a commitment to sustainable development.”
That green commitment has been unwavering. Times Group has invested time, money and effort in creating buildings that maximize energy efficiency, including the use of building designs that minimize stack effect air movement. All suites are individually heated, cooled and ventilated using heat recovery methods, and they are equipped with energy-efficient lighting and Energy Star-rated appliances available. All of these measures combine to make the company’s LEED-certified buildings more efficient than conventional highrises. Their use of water-saving measures also reduces water usage by as much as 65 per cent.
The company was honoured with a BILD Award for Green Builder of the Year in the Highrise category in 2013 and were a Finalist in 2014 and 2015. The award recognizes the cream of the crop among the Greater Toronto Area’s real estate developers, and they consider the award and nominations to be great honours. “The awards are a great reflection of the hard work we put into each project. As great as receiving those awards are, the real recognition is what our customers think of us.”
Times Group recognizes that every customer has particular tastes and needs, and has created a unique purchasing process to ensure their homes are built to individualized customer specifications. The company offers several developed communities, each with their own look and feel. In addition to changes in design, each community is located near unique resources and recreational opportunities. “Our portfolio is quite diverse, and we have several exciting developments right now, everything from condominiums to our townhouse developments.” Times Group pioneered the development of office condo buildings in Ontario in the early 1990’s with a series of projects satisfying the appeal of ownership to Chinese immigrants setting up businesses to cater to the community along Highway 7 in Richmond Hill and Markham. Their initial entry into the sustainable buildings market came with the development of Majestic Court, a 532-suite condo project that was the first privately-developed residential highrise in Ontario to be LEED certified, achieving Gold status in 2011. Following the success of this development, the company has continued to integrate a sustainability strategy to all subsequent projects. Both Ghadaki and Aghaei were recipients of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition for their work building communities.
Times Group’s Eden Park II is a complex featuring two highly praised condominium towers and 22 executive townhomes situated in their master-planned community of Galleria, south of Highway 7, between Leslie Street and Bayview Avenue in Thornhill. Located on a green and open park, and built to LEED Gold standards, the second phase of Eden Park, much like the first, has incorporated energy efficient and environmentally friendly design. Starting from the low $300’s, they are comfortable and private, adjacent to city life with its international shops and restaurants.
One of the projects that the company has been involved with since 2008 has been the 88 acre master-planned community of Uptown Markham. This exciting community will consist of mid & high-rise condominiums and a commercial plaza that will be situated over 88 acres of land with a combination of public parks with mixed use living, working, entertainment, and lifestyle experience integrated into one community.
River Park is the first residential phase of Uptown Markham and consists of two 20 storey and one 8 storey building. River Park’s 607 highrise condominium units offer the convenience and vibrancy of urban living with a refined architectural European design. “River Park is built to Gold LEED standards, and is located in the center of the community with plenty of amenities, including a commercial plaza. We are almost finished, there are only about 20-30 units left,” Aghaei states. Near cultural attractions, major highways, existing retail and fashionable restaurants, this new neighbourhood connects you to where you want to be.
River Walk East, adjacent to River Park in the Uptown Markham community, encompasses a total of 505 units offering 1, 2 and 3-bedroom floor plans. These smartly designed residences maximize living space and feature contemporary finishes. The Uptown Markham master-planned community is close to the Union GO station and Main Street Unionville station. “With River Walk East well under way, we are very excited to start breaking ground on phase 3 in the fall,” Aghaei says.
The Times Group project that seems to be generating the most buzz, however, is Key West. This 44-storey, 427 unit glass and steel condominium tower with incredible views of the city, the lake and Humber River, is almost complete. Priced from the high $200’s, Key West will offer customers 1, 2 and 2-plus den suites ranging in size from 520 to 1,225 square feet. “With Key West, we have all 44 floors complete, which means we will be opening a few model suites to the public soon. At this time we are almost 70 per cent sold.” Located near the shores of south Etobicoke, Key West is a resort-style development boasting of suites that will feature luxurious quartz windowsills, hardwood flooring, and customizable interior finishing designs. The complex is located just a short 10-minute drive from Downtown Toronto via the Gardiner Expressway, with numerous public transit connections within walking distance. Also close by are a multitude of great shopping and dining opportunities in the nearby Kingsway, Roncesvalles and Bloor West Village neighbourhoods.
Another project with distinctive flair is Luxe Towns on Valleymede, a development currently in preconstruction at Highway 7 & Valleymede Drive in Richmond Hill. This exclusive bespoke collection of units is designed to exude elegance, sophistication and luxury that will turn the area into a thriving urban living centre.
Village Park Estate is comprised of 20 luxury homes situated on lots next to a community park on Village Parkway and Highway 7 East in Unionville. These expansive homes offer attractive interiors, large floor plans, gourmet kitchens, and natural green heritage spaces with a collection of parks and trails across the street. With Village Park, you can appreciate the relaxed lifestyle of small town living and still enjoy the conveniences of big city amenities.