Roncesvalles Village in Toronto is already renowned for its authentic bakeries, go-to brunch destinations and mom-and-pop shops, but the neighbourhood’s up-and-coming residential projects are starting to gain the same amount of recognition.
Just ask Mario Ribeiro, principal of Triumph Developments, who together with his brother are building up the area’s urban landscape with a number of new developments. One project currently on residents’ radars? Howard Park, a condo and townhouse community that will feature two distinct eight-storey buildings.
We caught up with Ribeiro to learn more about both phases of the project, his commitment to building green and his close ties to Roncesvalles.
BuzzBuzzHome: Can you take us back 25 years to the moment you knew you wanted to start a construction company with your brother?
Mario Ribeiro: We began as a sub-trade to builders and started working for many prominent developers throughout the GTA. In working with them, we got exposed to the world of development and absorbed tons of information about the business. Then we eventually got to a point where we were able to purchase property and do our own infill and retrofits.
Finally, about seven or eight years ago now, we started our first residential project from the ground up called Roncesvalles Lofts. Myself and my brother always get really involved — from the planning stage to the actual site work. We’re there on a daily basis and are exposed to every development detail.
BBH: How did this eventually transition into becoming developers, and was this always something you were both striving toward?
MR: It’s all about baby steps. It took us about 20 years to get to the point where we were ready to transition from construction company to developer. It was a long period of apprenticeship, but we had very good mentors that we worked with and still do. That has a lot to do with how we got to where we are — we put ourselves out there and worked with very professional, experienced individuals who know how to get it right the first time.
BBH: Let’s focus on the Roncesvalles neighbourhood and your commitment to building in this location. What is it about the neighbourhood that appeals to you most?
MR: I lived in the area for many years and have also worked in the neighbourhood for 17 years. It’s home. I walk down the street and I’m familiar with all the little shops and will often go for lunch in the area. My mother still lives a block away too. I’m not living in the neighbourhood currently, but I still spend time there and have thought about moving back eventually.
BBH: One of your current projects in the neighbourhood is Howard Park. We’re already hearing word about its distinct exterior and sustainable features. What more can you tell us?
MR: We’ve made sure that Howard Park conforms with the City of Toronto’s tier-two environmental standards. We meet and exceed tier two — all of the appliances will be more energy efficient and the materials used to build the walls and roof are far more sustainable that what is required of builders.
This was a voluntary step that we took. So even though it costs more money, there are so many long-term benefits; it almost doesn’t make sense not to do it. We make decisions that may not make financial sense to us at first, but ultimately it’s about doing the right thing. The geothermal energy, for instance, was something we considered three years ago. Just look at the rising cost of gas right now. If you’re living in this building, it won’t affect you. By using geothermal long term, every single cost is far more predictable. We’re not at the mercy of the utility companies.
Howard Park will also have green roofs, part of which will be mandated by the city. We will have green roof planting areas that will become part of the look of the building. The vegetation will also grow vertically down the building.
BBH: We know that phase one is already under construction and phase two is one its way. What can you tell us about the two residential buildings and how they compare to one another?
MR: Both phases are very similar to one another. Howard Park 2 (pictured) will also rise eight storeys but will slope downward to respect the neighbourhood’s commercial strip, which is made up of two- and three-storey buildings.
One big difference in Howard Park 2 is that the rear elevation will look onto established backyards of existing homes, whereas phase one looks onto Dundas Street. The feel of the neighbourhood, combined with the building’s modern amenities, is very similar to living in a home. The amenities will be housed in both buildings: the first phase will feature all the amenities required and phase two has an additional space that will house a gym and spacious common areas.
BBH: What’s one interesting fact about Howard Park 2 that most residents would be surprised to learn?
MR: The building will offer almost 60 different layouts, and there are 91 suites in total. This is partly due to the unique placement of the terraces, which creates many distinct spaces. In the first phase, we found that our main segment of purchasers were end users who are familiar with the area and want to stay there. Howard Park is a way for people to enter the market and purchase something that is brand new and affordable. Some of the units will feature four bedrooms, so it’s a real option for families.
If all goes well, we’ll start construction on Howard Park 2 in the fourth quarter of 2014 and we just received the permit to start the work.
BBH: It’s evident that Triumph Developments is committed to building green. We hear you’re even providing funding for the Peace Garden that will soon be situated at Roncesvalles and Dundas. What more can you tell us about the park?
MR: While we were going through our approval process for Howard Park, local councillor Gord Perks sat down with us to discuss different ways we could assist the community. That’s when we decided to provide funding for the park. The Peace Garden had been in the plans for at least three or four years, but no one was stepping up to the plate, so we decided to be that person and now it’s going to happen.
BBH: We think it’s safe to say that Roncesvalles Village is your favourite neighbourhood. What are three of your favourite go-to spots in the area?
MR: I love Vicky’s Fish & Chips. It’s not fancy but it’s my favourite. Another place I love is called Barque Smokehouse. And if I had to choose a third, there’s this little bar nearby called Loons that’s a really great spot.
Thanks for buzzing with us, Mario!