In Toronto's crowded and expanding development landscape, Ali Akman and SAMM Developments aren't exactly household names. Indeed, with the developer only recently making its Toronto debut at Scarborough's The Kennedys, Akman is a newcomer to the Canadian market.
Yet, belying the company's relatively new presence, Akman brings a wealth of diverse international business experience to Toronto's development scene, with a background as a hotelier, real estate developer, and a construction magnate. As a co-founder of Turkish-based Akman Holding Co. along with his father, Kemal, he's also one of the world's leading producers of fruit juice and concentrate. So there's that too.
As one of the 17 businesses under Akman's diverse umbrella, SAMM Developments is part of a group of companies that operates in countries including Argentina, India, Turkey, and China. As a dual Turkish-Canadian citizen, however, Akman is now devoting much of his energy to these two markets.
With experience building one of Turkey's first skyscrapers in the late 1990s, Akman now turns his attention to the world of Canadian real estate, beginning with the intensification of the 6.9-acre Scarborough site (above) home to the Delta Toronto East hotel. Located just northeast of Kennedy and the 401 on Village Green Square, Samm's mixed-use redevelopment—now marketed as The Kennedys—will see three residential towers join a revamped hotel, creating a community centered around a new POPS space.
For Akman, investing in Toronto's real estate market is an attractive opportunity. "First of all, the Canadian market is a very stable one," he tells us, emphasizing Toronto's continued openness to new immigration as an important driver of the city's economic vibrancy—and new development. "Toronto is a very dynamic city," Akman adds, noting that the city's appeal to young people makes it a particularly strong market.
While the country as a whole has seen "continuing growth in real estate and hospitality over 15 years," Akman stresses that The Kennedys' location at Kennedy and the 401 offers an particularly viable option for buyers looking to gain a foothold in Toronto's increasingly expensive real estate market. Catering "predominantly to younger people, as well as some young families," Akman argues that the proximity to the 401—and the TTC—makes the comparatively affordable area a good option for Downtown commuters. Set to be built out in phases, the 663-unit development's central 40-storey tower will be joined by a pair of 32-storey buildings.
While rising Downtown prices may push some buyers further afield, Akman notes that The Kennedys was designed as a pedestrian-friendly, urban community, embracing street-level retail and public space. With the condominium towers—and revamped hotel—clustered around the 1,581 m² piazza, the hope is that the combination of café space, seating, prominent public art, and attractive urban design will contribute to "a vibrant communal space."
Meanwhile, a series of landscaped walking trails surround the towers, with laneways in between the buildings giving the site a sense of permeability. Along with the presence of a hotel, which may contribute some street-level vibrancy, the Page + Steele / IBI Group-designed project's inclusion of a central piazza, public art, street-level retail, and pedestrian laneways was relatively well received by the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel last month, albeit with a number of caveats to see the project refined further. Enveloping the site with 2,000 m² of publicly accessible space, the recently improved landscaping plan by Ferris + Associates Inc. was particularly well regarded.
For Akman and SAMM, the project introduces a new presence to the Toronto's growing development scene. While a number of relatively subtle design elements set the project apart from some of its suburban counterparts, The Kennedys' does not seek to introduce a novel approach to high-rise development. That part, Akman tells us, may come later. "In the future, I hope to do something unique, something that hasn't been done yet," he says. "Something distinctive." For now, there's The Kennedys.
More information is available via our associated dataBase file, linked below. With marketing for the project's first phase now underway, an earlier story also offers an early glimpse at the Tomas Pierce-designed interiors, while a subsequent piece highlights the project's recent assessment at the Design Review Panel. Want to share your thoughts about the project? Feel free to leave a comment in the space below this page, or join in the conversation on our Forum thread.
|Related Companies:||Ferris + Associates Inc., IBI Group, SAMM Developments, Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting Inc|