Is it Wednesday again already? Time sure does fly, but we don’t think that’s a bad thing. That’s because with another Wednesday upon us, it’s time for another thrilling installment of Buzz Talk.
In this edition we buzz with Murray Goldman of the highly revered Goldman Group. This family business has been in the Toronto land development industry longer than most of us have been alive. Murray has been in the industry for fifty years and, get this, he’s the company’s second generation.
BuzzBuzzHome: What motivated you to choose a career in land development?
Murray Goldman: When I was very young I read about a group called the Humanists. They tried to define the purpose of an individual’s life. They came to the conclusion that the sole purpose of an individual’s life is to leave the world a better place than you found it. That’s what I do in the re-development business.
BBH: How long have you been in the business now?
MG: Fifty years.
BBH: What was the landscape like when you first started? What was it like being a land developer fifty years ago?
MG: Most of the development that I did fifty years ago was in suburbs of Toronto that are now considered midtown. I started doing single family homes with my father, who was a carpenter.
BBH: What are some changes you really liked seeing — things that you’ve really been impressed by over the last fifty years.
MG: The changes or the evolution, I would call it, of the Toronto cityscape were formed by the very famous planner Jane Jacobs. Her thesis was that to have a safe community, you need to have a place where people live and work on a 24-hour basis. You need pedestrian traffic. At that time there were a lot of muggings in New York City. At night time, Wall Street, for instance, was like an empty canyon.
Toronto has developed as a place where people live and work in the same areas. For instance, the entertainment district was a club district, now it has clubs, restaurants, retail shopping, offices — and I love that. It’s a full community and that’s why I’m building in the city.
BBH: What’s the background on Picasso? How did it come to fruition?
MG: The name Picasso was an afterthought. If you were to go to the top of the CN Tower, you would see the Canadian Opera Building, Roy Thomson Hall, OCAD and the AGO. They’re all unique buildings in kind of a grey background. All the other buildings have a sameness about them. I wanted to build something high-rise that was different.
If you look at the plan, you’ll see the way the building standout. This will truly be an iconic building. When I saw the design for the first time, I thought “That building is so artistic.” Some of the great offbeat artists would love it, especially Picasso. Then I thought, “I’m going to call it Picasso.”
BBH: How have sales been going so far?
MG: We brought out 300 units to market at first and there are 373 units in total. We’ve sold 293 so far. In a month we’ll bring the rest to market and we expect to sell out.
BBH: How does the project fit into your legacy?
MG: Last year I was chosen by the development industry as the “Man of the Year”. When they were giving me the award they listed 111 projects that I’d done. This is one of the nicest.
BBH: Do you see Toronto emerging as a world city in terms of culture?
MG: I think it’s already a world class city. Toronto is the fifth largest city in North America. We have everything here you could possibly want intellectually, culturally, artistically and athletically. Let’s just hope the Leafs do better!
BBH: Where do you see the Toronto condo market in the future?
MG: Before we get to the future, let me say this. I read the paper everyday and I don’t agree with all the geniuses who are predicting that we’re at the end of the real estate cycle and we’re going to have a fallback in sales. What people don’t realize sometimes is that the construction business and development industry is just a service industry.
So long as the Canadian economy does well then all us service industries will do well. People view Canada as a safe haven. In Canada, Toronto is the largest city and frankly, our crime rate is one of the lowest in Canada and people gravitate toward the city and will continue to do so. I don’t see any reason for that to stop.
BBH: What are some advantages of being a part of a family business?
MG: Well, we’re all passionate about Toronto and making the city a better place. My sons are very much in sync with me. We love developing and re-developing Toronto. It’s very close to our hearts.
BBH: There’s been four generations of Goldmans in the development industry?
MG: Yes. So far…
Thanks for buzzing with us Murray!