We chat with Tariq about the rise of Burlington, the shifting demographics in the city and the rejuvenating effect of Las Vegas.
BuzzBuzzHome: How did you get your start in the development industry?
Tariq Adi: Our family has been in the industry for years now. I remember when I was younger, I’d be hanging out with my grandfather watching him build buildings. I’d play on the construction site as he was putting them up and help move bags of cement. I remember doing that when I was eight or nine years old. As I got older, my dad started doing more land deals in Montreal. He was buying parcels of land and going through the zoning process and selling them to builders. It’s been really ingrained in our family. What we’re doing now is an extension of that.
We traveled the world when we were younger so we got to see a lot of things. My grandfather was in Syria when we were younger so we got a chance to see that side of the world. My dad ventured into Montreal and we finally wound up in Burlington and that’s where everything is happening.
I’ve got a finance background and my partner has an engineering background. He’s got the analytical mind and I look at the big picture and crunch the numbers. It’s a good synergy that we’ve got as partners and what better partner to have then family, right?
BBH: What do you find attractive about the Burlington market?
TA: Burlington was always a bedroom community for commuters. What’s happening now is there’s a shift in demographics and a shift in urbanization. The city is located in the centre of the Golden Horseshoe. It’s right between Toronto and Niagara. It’s a perfect central location to be. It’s got the GO Stations and transit lines.
It’s also going through an urbanization phase that I really love. The urban sprawl of the past is no longer in Burlington. There’s really a shortage of land when it comes to doing that. The official plan for Burlington is called “Grow in Place”. I think we came in at the right time to implement that strategy for the city. It’s got a ton of amenity space and a ton of charm. It’s a beautiful city.
BBH: It also seems like there’s great community spirit.
TA: Absolutely. It used to be a place where young people left. They’d move to Toronto or Hamilton. Now we’re capturing a lot of those young people. There’s a sophistication going on in the market when it comes to new developments. It’s definitely a shifting demographic.
BBH: How do you see The Mod’rn fitting in to Burlington?
TA: I think we came in at the perfect time. The young people in Burlington are becoming more sophisticated. They know what they like. The old brick, stucco type of building is no longer appealing. That’s what’s been going on with Burlington over the past year or so.
We’re bringing a building to the city that fits that demographic. The slogan of the building is “where you live says who you are”.
We also really wanted to inspire other builders to challenge the status quo. The old way of doing business is not going to happen anymore because we’re going to change the game. We’re going to bring that urban, ultra-modern, sleek feel and design to distinguish us from everybody else.
BBH: How did you hook up with Icon, the architecture firm you’re working with on The Mod’rn?
TA: They came recommended from a close associate in the industry. It didn’t take long for me to know there was a synergy there. I met with Reza and within an hour we got started on plans. We met at the site and I told him I wanted to do something really special. I didn’t want to use much brick or stucco. I wanted it to be really sharp. Within minutes he understood what we wanted. His first draft blew me away. From there we working our way up. They’re really experienced guys and they understood what we were looking to do with this project.
BBH: What do you think stands out at The Mod’rn as far as suite features and amenities go?
TA: The first thing that grabs everyone’s attention is the building design. It’s a far departure from what’s been happening here. The clean lines, the flat roof, the use of glass cladding, it’s got a sophistication and chic-ness to it.
Going into it, what we’ve done is far beyond what’s around. We’re incorporating some green features into the building to lower our carbon footprint. We’ve raised the bar with our standard finishes. We’ve got granite in our kitchens as standard. That’s something you’ll see in Toronto but you won’t see it here. We’ve got plank laminate throughout as a standard.
We’ve got the landscaped rooftop terrace that you have lake views from. You see a lot of those in Toronto, some people use them and some people don’t. I see the space as being fully functional. It’s got a beautiful firepit, barbecues, lounges. It’s going to be a place where everyone is going to have fun and party.
I think that’s what this building does. There’s a connectivity to this building. It connects the street, it connects the people within it and it connects with the city.
BBH: Why did you choose “The Mod’rn” and why did you drop the “e”?
TA: It’s defining us. We’re the new generation who’s catering to that younger, sophisticated buyer. It was really Kim at Drive [the marketing group working on The Mod’rn] who said “I know you don’t like anything old and traditional so we’re going to come up with something really fresh.” That’s what it is. It’s The Mod’rn. It’s the dawn of a new day. It’s forward thinking and that’s what we wanted it to signify.
I think if it had the “e” it would be a normal project. Without the “e” if gives it that urban slang sort of feel.
BBH: There’s a lot of room in Burlington to establish yourselves, but do you plan on expanding beyond the city?
TA: I love Burlington. I live here and play here. We might be looking at downtown Toronto but we’re playing it by ear right now. I’d like to keep our focus on Burlington right now.
BBH: Do you feel like you’ll inspire other developers to move into Burlington?
TA: There is a group of developers already in this city. I’m already getting calls from some other the local guys saying “great looking building, it’s amazing”. We’re already getting that response and I think it’s going to help them up their ante.
BBH: You must be pretty familiar with Burlington. Have any nightlift or restaurant recommendations?
TA: There’s tons to do here. We have a beautiful lakeshore that’s highly accessible. It’s got a beautiful beach.
There a plenty of restaurants on Brant Street. The Rude Native is a great restaurant downtown. There are also a lot of old school diner restaurants that are great. You’ve got Ivy, which I believe the owners of Spice Route brought to the city. It’s a more sophisticated club that’s 28 plus for men and 25 plus for women. Those people will be the perfect candidates to buy in The Mod’rn.
There are two major malls in the city so there are plenty of shopping opportunities.
BBH: When you’re not working what do you like to do to relax?
TA: I tend to workout a lot. I’m a big music fan and I have a studio in my house. I like to make music and mix music. It’s something I’ve done for a very long time and I find it therapeutic. I love to read and keep up with the news.
Nothing too crazy!
BBH: If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
TA: Right now I think I need to go to Vegas.
BBH: What do you like about Vegas?
TA: The nightlife and the architecture. Someone always throws you a curveball there. You always see something new that inspires you there. Last time I was there was 2010. When I came back I was so rejuvenated and ready to go. The grandiosity just hypes you up to work harder and strive to build something bigger and better. I should also add I’m not a gambler!
Thanks for buzzing with us Tariq!