This year marks a major milestone for The Lash Group, as the family business celebrates its 60th anniversary.
The developer’s roots date back to 1955 when Abe Blankenstein and a business partner founded an electrical contractor company called Falco Electric. Over the years, the company grew and evolved into Falco Properties as it expanded into construction, property management and low-rise development projects under the name Marble Arch Homes.
Today, Lash has an outstanding portfolio of commercial and residential real estate developments and has become a trailblazer in developing under-utilized areas in the city. For example in 2002, Lash was one of the first on the scene to help transform the now trendy King West neighbourhood with projects like 20 Stewart, 66 Portland and 455 Adelaide West.
Six decades in business is a huge accomplishment for any company in any field, but to celebrate such a milestone in the real estate industry is definitely something special.
BuzzBuzzHome News sat down with Lawrence (Larry) Blankenstein, President of Lash Group, to learn about his experience with the company, the key to success in the field and the developer’s plans for the future.
BuzzBuzzHome: Can you tell us about your background and describe your career trajectory from when you graduated from school to becoming the President of Lash Group?
Larry Blankenstein: I joined the Lash Group after graduating from university with an Urban Planning degree and started off working with sub-division housing. My first position was a labourer. I was then an assistant superintendent and eventually transitioned into sales and marketing and land acquisition.
Through these positions I had a great appreciation for how the company works and the importance of teamwork, while gaining hands on experience from the bottom up.
BBH: The real estate industry can be a bit of a roller coaster. What was the biggest challenge the company has been faced with and how did you overcome it?
LB: I think the biggest challenge is staying ahead of the market trends. We try to develop and be a leader in new products and new developments, as well as trying to find new neighbourhoods.
The real estate industry and economy have had their ups and downs and you just have to work with the market conditions as well as focus on what people want and need. What that was 30 years ago is significantly different than what it is today.
BBH: What do you think the key to success is in this industry? What is the Lash difference?
LB: One of the things that we try to do is get ahead of the curve. We strive to be a leader in all different aspects from location, to designs, to the needs of the purchaser. We try to work with the purchaser and like our logo says, we’re trying to build dreams for people. Their house is most likely the most expensive purchase they will make in their lives and we want to make it as easy and as exciting for them as possible.
BBH: What do you think has changed the most about the business over the 60 years?
LB: I think one of the biggest changes in the industry is that condominiums are now an accepted form of housing for all types of purchasers. In the past, it used to be an empty nester market, but today it’s a form of living for all different age groups from first-time buyers to empty nesters to people in between.
The trend has definitely changed in the last 10 years. People are looking for different lifestyles and different ways of living and therefore the condo market has become a very popular form of accommodation for people.
BBH: Lash has become known as a trailblazer in developing/revitalizing under-utilized areas in the city (King West, Bathurst/St.Clair). Can you talk a bit about this strategy and how important has it been to the success of the company?
LB: We try to be trendsetters. We started in the early 2000s in the King West area when there was nothing there. We were one of the first developers in the neighbourhood and we ended up doing three successful projects.
It’s well known today that King West is one of the most desirable areas to live in. The same could be said about the Bathurst and St. Clair neighbourhood. The area from Bathurst westward hadn’t been developed but with the new streetcar going in, we knew that it was an area that really was calling for development. So we developed a partnership with The Goldman Group and developed three condos there, with a fourth one just recently launched.
BBH: Are there any other under-utilized areas in the city that you have your eye on?
LB: You’ll have to watch out and see what Lash comes up with next!
BBH: Can you tell us about Lash’s current projects?
LB: We have Cloud9 which will be ready for occupancy late this fall in Etobicoke, on Kipling just north of the 401 by the Humber River. It’s a 260-unit condo surrounded by parkland, green spaces and offers easy access to major highways and public transportation, including the Union Pearson Express.
In the east end, we have ME Living Condos on Markham Road and Ellesmere. It’s a multi-phase project with phase one consisting of 327 units. The project offers an impressive array of lifestyle amenities, including a Miami-style rooftop terrace and outdoor pool. Construction on this development will be starting this fall.
The Barrington is the fourth project at Bathurst and St. Clair, that I mentioned earlier, where we partnered with Murray Goldman and the Goldman Group. It’s our newest project that we just launched last month and consists of 93 units. We’ve had a lot of success in that area and it has become a very in-demand neighbourhood, so we’re very excited about it.
BBH: What projects do you have coming up the pipeline?
LB: Distinction Condos is a new project at Yonge and Eglinton that we’re planning on launching in the fall. This development will be within walking distance to the new LRT along Eglinton as well as the subway so we feel it’s going to be another great project by Lash.
BBH: What’s next for the company? What goals would you like to achieve in the future?
LB: We feel that we build dreams for people, and we want to continue doing that. We want to keep going on our 60 years of success for another 60 years or more. We think we have a strong foundation and a strong following so we wish to continue to make a mark on the city and make Toronto a better place to live in.