When it comes to the development industry in Toronto, it’s hard to think of a bigger name than Menkes. The family-owned company does everything, from condos to single family homes to commercial real estate.
The first Menkes residential project that Jared spearheaded was Pears on the Avenue, the 20 storey Yorkville meets Annex project that’s currently under construction on Avenue Road, north of Bloor. Jared is currently hard at work on Fabrik, the new condo development at Queen and Spadina.
We speak with him about Fabrik, winter sports, and the ins-and-outs of being the younger guy in an older industry.
BuzzBuzzHome: When you meet a person for the first time what do you tell them that you do for a living?
Jared Menkes: I’m guessing you want me to say I build dreams or something like that *laughs*. No, I tell them that I’m in real estate development.
BBH: When did you decide that you’d get into the family business of development?
JM: I grew up in my “real estate family”, surrounded by two uncles, my father and grandfather who all loved to talk shop. Being a young kid, I always wanted to be part of the conversation. I knew I always wanted to join but didn’t really know when or how.
After university I started working in commercial real estate at CB Richard Ellis. I worked there for a few years and just met a lot of people and got my feet wet in the real estate industry. I also met a lot of people there who had great things to say about my family and that just reiterated how badly I wanted to work at Menkes. After three years I ended up taking some time off and then joined Menkes.
BBH: Where did you go to school and was your favourite course in university?
JM: I went to school in Burlington, Vermont, so in the Green Mountains. It’s a great school and they suck you in by bringing you in in the spring or the fall when it’s absolutely gorgeous. They don’t tell you about the minus 30 degree temperatures they get there sometimes.
It was a great time but one of the reasons I went there was I loved to snowboard and being in the mountains was great. I majored in business and minored in political science. I took a lot of great courses, but the biggest thing that stands out for me was interning at Burton Snowboards. For anyone, whether they’re in business or not, interning is something they should do. You really understand what the real world is like. That was definitely the highlight.
BBH: How does Fabrik fit in to Menkes roster of developments? Is it similar to other projects you’ve done or is it breaking from the pack?
JM: Fabrik is my second project on the residential side. It’s definitely somewhere I would want to live. We’re in the midst of building or have built 21 buildings in North York alone and it’s really been one of our core residential areas. Fabrik is the next step into the urban, downtown core sites that we have a few of coming up in the next year.
The first site I worked on was Pears on the Avenue. I think people have gravitated to that site and I think the same thing is going to happen on Fabrik. They’ll recognize the value and that it’s a long-term site.
BBH: We think the rendering is awesome. Can you tell us more about what went into that?
JM: That’s actually a funny story. Our architect Ralph Giannone sent one of his summer interns up into a nearby building to take a photo of the site. It must have been after a storm or something, but the photo he took had the clouds parting and the sun shining right on our site.
We used that as the backdrop for the initial rendering and when the marketing guys saw it they loved it too. They really brought it to another level with the official rendering.
BBH: For the development industry, you’re one of the younger guys in the game. Do you find this gives you a different perspective on the industry?
JM: Definitely. Obviously I want to take away whatever I can from the experience in the room every time I’m meeting with the consultants. The one thing that really differentiates me from the older generations is I’ve lived in condos and apartments since I moved out of my parent’s house. I really understand what it’s like living in condos, not just designing and building them.
I also am kind of “the young professional” so I have that viewpoint. I’m the target buyer or renter of all these projects that are being built downtown today. I live the condo lifestyle and do love it. That’s really the feedback I bring, from the amenities to purchasing the site to designing the building. We don’t need to bring a focus group in. We have a number of young people working here who also live in condos so it’s great to pull the information firsthand.
BBH: What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
JM: The opportunity to be creative and work with creative types. All the consultants, whether it’s the architects and interior designers or the marketing team, they’re all creative and they all come up with creative designs that fit the project. Getting to work with everyone is definitely rewarding, but working with my family is also one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. I really see them in a whole new light working here.
BBH: What else is on the horizon for Menkes? Can you give us any inside info?
JM: Fabrik is our newest project, but after that we’re going to have another one in the next couple months in the Entertainment District. It’s going to be quite a sexy tower and a great design. After that we have a much-talked about Harbour Street development right across from the Air Canada Centre. Stay tuned for that!
BBH: If you could buy a plane ticket to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
JM: I think it’s snowing in Utah, so probably somewhere over there for a little snowboarding!
Thanks for buzzing with us Jared!