Today we’re buzzing with Joseph Alberga, Director of Sales and Marketing at Lindvest Properties and its parent company, H&R Developments. The firms are behind a number of popular projects across the GTA. In Toronto, they’re responsible for interesting infill projects such as B.streets Condos in The Annex and Westown Semis and Singles in the north end.
We’ve collected a number of origin stories from real estate insiders, but this might be the first Q&A where a member of a development team has made the jump from photography to the building industry.
Alberga’s unique career path has informed his current work and his ability to understand both the sales side and the artistic components of the marketing equation. It’s clear that he takes a keen interest in all parts of the process!
We chatted with him about Instagram, the laneway housing at B.streets Condos and the future of Toronto.
BuzzBuzzHome: How did you get involved in the building and real estate industry?
Joseph Alberga: I came to the industry through sales – I am a licensed realtor. I was working with a brokerage that has a lot of their own builder clients through Spectrum Realty. That led me to my first position with an actual builder, Rosehaven Homes, where I was for almost three years. And then the opportunity came up here and I was able to join the team.
BBH: And you were involved in photography before?
JA: I was. I spent my early adult life as a portrait photographer. I ran my own studio and had the good fortune and the opportunity to run my own business. Over the years that’s proved helpful in everything else I have done as well.
BBH: How does photography inform your current work?
JA: I kind of got pulled into the marketing side of the industry just through happenstance. Now I’m able to blend my knowledge in sales with the creative side. That lets me flex both sides of my brain to work with a lot of the creative people that we’re involved with on a daily basis. But at the same time, I take the approach that all of our marketing initiatives are really to help the sales process along.
BBH: A lot of marketing, especially in real estate, is so visually-driven.
JA: It has to be. We’re almost always dealing with a product that isn’t built yet, so how do you express that or let the purchaser experience it in the best way? And we’re at a perfect time now. There are new technologies, video animation and 3D renderings that are helping the process.
BBH: We recently wrote a story about how when people are looking at listings, that first photo is usually the most important. What do you try to communicate with the photos or renderings of developments like B.streets Condos?
JA: In the end, it’s where somebody is going to live, so there has to be that immediate feeling of comfort – the lifestyle. I think the team was able to successfully convey with B.streets was that it’s not your typical high rise. I don’t say typical in a disparaging way, I’m just saying that you can see the long point towers that are maybe more prominent in the downtown core. Because B.streets happens to be one of the only condo developments in The Annex and The Annex is a vibrant, eclectic community.
I think the architects and the design team that rendered it did an amazing job as it’s not the building but the facade that protrudes and there’s that little articulation in it. I can’t wait continuing to move through construction when you actually start to see that take shape in real life. It’s going to be amazing because it is going to mimic how the rest of The Annex works.
BBH: We’re big fans of Instagram here at BuzzBuzzHome. How do you feel about the platform?
JA: You know what, I’m actually a late adopter of Instagram. But I do see my younger colleagues, friends and associates on it and you can’t help but be pulled into it.
As a photographer, I think it’s awesome. I think back to when I was younger, the only way we could share photos instantly was through Polaroids. And now, the beauty of the Internet and social media is that your family and friends can experience things instantly with you, which is really, really amazing. It’s going to extend to our industry as well.
BBH: There are so many Toronto photographers who spend every day capturing great scenes in the city. Is there a particular neighbourhood or spot in the city that you would call a favourite?
JA: I go for that classic Yorkville-Bloor Street corridor. It has a little bit of everything for everybody. The Queen West area is another one. I spent a lot of time down there when I was a younger man and it’s great to see how the revitalization and how that whole corridor has continued to build up.
BBH: Speaking of neighborhoods, how will B.streets fit into the surrounding Annex area?
JA: One of the things we made sure of was that it wasn’t just going to be your standard condo. The site is where the old Loretto College used to be and because Loretto Lane is still part of the rear side, we were able to incorporate lane homes there.
There are townhome units that are built onto the building and make up part of the overall condominium, but it is going to give the people that live there a different experience. And that’s going to complement the entire area because that lane will be revitalized and integrate well with Bloor and Bathurst.
The most exciting thing is that you’re going to have this beautiful ability to create more of a dense lifestyle there, but still fit into everything around it.
BBH: Laneway housing is unique for both a condo project and the city itself.
JA: Council was very adamant on being able to make the back of the building more than a driveway or where your garbage and refuse is. It forced us to really explore all the options. I think a lot of good development comes from that. That’s usually when the best ideas come out and I think the concept of those lane homes on Loretto Lane is just a winner all around.
BBH: Because it’s an infill project and you do have laneway housing, it seems like a very future-minded approach to building.
JA: Yes! God bless the developers that are coming up now because their experiences are going to be shaped by what we’ve done and what we’re starting to see. There’s always going to be a shift. Maybe it’s a natural evolution, but we have to do that with an eye to the future.
BBH: Speaking of the future, what do you think Toronto will look like in about 20 years?
JA: Wow, that’s a tough question! I’m really hoping that our transit comes along because to me that’s the biggest key. I hope that if we’re going to continue developing towards urbanization, whether it’s the 905 or the downtown in Toronto, transit is going to be a big part of that.
We have to give people that opportunity to say you don’t need a car. Maybe it’s true right now in many downtown pockets but it should happen for all of the outlying areas as well.
Thanks for buzzing with us Joseph!