Toronto's development industry—and the many industries supported by it—are in the process of reshaping our city both directly and indirectly. Many firms and companies work together, and while the company names get plenty of attention on UrbanToronto, less attention is paid to the individual movers and shakers at these companies and firms. Insider Q&A looks to correct that by going behind the company names to talk with the people who make things happen behind the scenes.
This week we tracked down Shakeel Walji, Owner and Creative Director of marketing firm The Walsh Group, for a quick chat about his history in the business as well as his love for Toronto.
UT: Shakeel, how did you get your start in the marketing business?
SW: I started out in 1995 with Brad Lamb, on projects such as 180 Frederick and Liberty Lofts.
Tell us about your current projects.
I am currently working on The Nest with Rockport Group, which will bring 122 high design condominiums to St. Clair Avenue West in Hillcrest Village. We recently broke ground, marking the official start of construction.
What is your favourite project that you and your company aren't associated with?
The L Tower for its unique form, as well as the Festival Tower, specifically for its podium's contribution to the entertainment disctrict along King Street West.
What is the current biggest issue facing Toronto/GTA?
The old saying goes that Toronto has two seasons; Winter and construction. Services and infrastructure are falling behind the pace of new developments. In addition, the downtown core continues to attract new residents, and more units must be designed with families in mind - not necessarily larger suites.
We rounded off our Q&A with a few lighter questions, turning away from the business side of things to ask Shakeel about sports, food and what he does for fun in the city.
When asked what his favourite sports team in the region is, Shakeel was split between the Maple Leafs and Raptors. Luckily, Shakeel will never have to miss a home game, with both teams sharing the schedule for the Air Canada Centre.
Toronto's restaurant scene makes it pretty hard to choose a favourite establishment, but Shakeel didn't hesitate when asked where he likes to dine in the city, naming Jacob's, a steakhouse at Brant and King Streets in the trendy King West area.
What is your favourite thing to do in the city?
Just hanging out and enjoying the city. There is plenty to do, like visit restaurants, the theatre, or the Eaton Centre.
We thank Shakeel for taking the time to answer our questions, and look forward to future work from The Walsh Group. We will return soon with another Q&A session with one of the many insiders in Toronto's development scene.