At a press conference last Friday, Windcorp Developments Ltd. announced its plans for a new $118.7 million development in Ajax. Dubbed Grand Harwood Place, the mixed-use project will revitalize Ajax Plaza at Harwood Avenue South and Kings Crescent.
It will consist of two 10 storey buildings with 268 residential units, 30,000 square feet of ground level retail and a minimum of 25,000 square feet of office space.
We caught up with Laura Starr, President of Windcorp Developments, to discuss the details of the game-changing project. Check out our Q and A below…
BuzzBuzzHome: Plans for this project began in 2004, were there any hiccups along the way that made it take longer to get to this point?
Laura Starr: One of the issues was market absorption. Once we did some homework we felt that the market was a little premature. We now feel that the market is mature in Ajax and in Durham region for a condominium project like this. And of course in 2008/2009 there was a very tough economic period and so at that point we decided to hold off.
BBH: Why is now such a good time for such a major development to take place in Ajax?
LS: Ajax has grown dramatically in the last 5 years. Durham as well has grown dramatically and so we think that the population matured. In all of Durham region, I believe there is only one other condo project on the market right now.
BBH: What sets this development apart from other mixed-use developments in the GTA?
LS: Aesthetically we have a very good looking building to start with. Another thing that sets us apart is Durham transit, plus we have a 7 minute bus ride from the site directly to the GO Station. That adds an excellent level of public transportation. This site also has a very high walkability factor. You can walk to shopping in literally just a few steps. There’s a community library across the road. So in terms of it being mixed-use, this site makes it mixed-use because it is on the primary north/south street of Ajax, and there are already mixed-use shopping, residential, and offices on the street.
BBH: What has the feedback about the project been from Ajax residents?
LS: This has been a priority for the residents of Ajax for a long time; it’s a centre-ice location in Ajax and it is an eye-sore currently. This plaza was initially developed in the early 50’s and it was certainly a wonderful plaza at the time but things have changed. It was developed at a time when Ajax had a population of 25,000 people, so things have changed dramatically in Ajax and I think this site has now come to the end of its lifespan. I think that because of its prominence, this site is on a major street in Ajax, it really does demand a project of the stature that we’re producing.
The feedback that we’ve had from staff and the politicians is that the residents of Ajax have been waiting for this to happen for a long time. They really want to see the site redeveloped. Most people you talk to that live in Ajax are very proud to live in Ajax, they love it. They see this as a site that is past its prime and they would to see something new and state-of-the-art come on to this property.
BBH: What three words would you use to describe the development?
LS: Vibrant, inviting, and visually inspiring. This building is going to be here for a long time, so we really wanted to design something that would be timeless.