As seen in Toronto Star on November 25th, 2017

The city of Markham doesn’t look much like the town where Edmund Chiu grew up.

It’s among the country’s fastest growing communities, and one that became a city just five years ago.

“When we first moved to Markham I remember that there was not much north of Denison St.,” says Chiu, 41. “It was more toward a rural type of community. Now there is much more of a city-like feel.”

Among the latest markers of development are the Markham Pan Am Centre, where the city hosted sporting events at the 2015 Games; an incoming York University campus, which will offer classes to 4,000 students; and new condominium towers called Markham Square, by Ideal Developments and OnePiece Developments. The new residences, in the Unionville community, are where Chiu and his brother have each purchased a unit.

“We both have a pretty soft spot for Markham,” says Chiu, who works in automotive sales in Mississauga. Though his family calls Maple, Ont., home now, they still have roots in their hometown. He and wife Angela were high school sweethearts at Milliken Mills, and their twin boys, Austin and Tyler, swim at the Pan Am Centre almost every week. When the boys graduate high school, they might soon after call Markham Square their new home, whether they share the two-bedroom unit their dad purchased or not.

From left: Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Ideal Developments president and CEO Shaji Nada, Bin Fu, of OnePiece Development, and Edmund Chiu, a purchaser at Markham Square condos, are all supporters of the development project.

“They’re basically best friends, which is how me and my brother grew up, as well. This is why I see this one unit as a potential shared place for them,” he says.

Occupancy is expected in 2021 when the boys will be applying to post-secondary schools. Chiu says they won’t be pressure to attend York University — though it’s tempting with the new campus being built just across the street.

“It’s pretty neat that Markham is going down this path,” says Chiu, “It’s really becoming more of a business-centric city … Downtown Markham is building its own identity.”

For mayor Frank Scarpitti, the new condo development is part of a vision coming to fruition. “This is fulfilling the mission we had several years ago,” he says.

Scarpitti has lived and served in Markham for decades and has been mayor since 2006. He can recall council discussions going back to the 1970s and ’80s about what to do with the area where Markham Square will be.

The land was frozen by the provincial government it was determined what space was needed for the Parkway Belt West Plan, which set aside land for transportation, utility and recreational purposes. When the freeze was lifted, Scarpitti says they could have let the land go to another subdivision of single family homes. But his council had another vision.

Two residential towers of 33 and 29 storeys are planned with condos suites ranging from one-bedroom units to three bedroom homes. (IDEAL , ONEPIECE DEVELOPMENTS)

“We took it upon ourselves to create a vision into the future. What we’re finally seeing is that vision becoming a reality,” he says.

“It’s about creating a place that is a showpiece,” he says. “We’ve had a vision, and a plan about a complete community.”

As well, the community has invested in innovative sustainability initiatives with an award-winning District Energy system and solar panelling at the Pan Am Centre. The sporting venue is perhaps the greatest gift to the area, Scarpitti says.

“I consider it a real gem in the Markham-centre area. It has livened up the place with international sporting events, and the day-to-day experiences of local athletes,” he says. And that gem helped attract another gem in York University. “All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together and completing the vision that we always had for this area.”

Key to that vision is the partnership between Ideal Developments and OnePiece Developments, who assembled a top tier team to make Markham Square a reality. Markham Square will feature two towers of 33 and 29 storeys, a spacious rooftop lounge, an elegant high-tech library lounge for business and social gatherings, a games room with foosball and billiards, a multimedia lounge with stadium seating, a full equipped gym, and park space where a third tower had originally been planned.

With the continuing growth of Markham as a city, the decision to get involved was an easy one, says Shaji Nada, president and CEO at Ideal. “We felt that Markham would be growing more and more, so this will be the right project to go to market with,” he says.

It is the “flagship project” for both companies, says Bin Fu, CFO at OnePiece. Markham Square will play an important role in the city’s development. “Our project is the very first residential tower in this whole area. It’s quite significant in terms of city planning,” he says.

“This is the core of future growth in Markham.”

Even as the city grows beyond what Chiu knew from his adolescence, with a major sporting venue, a university campus and cranes in the sky erecting urban dwellings, Markham is still Markham, he says. And he says that is thanks to the developers and city officials who want to protect its roots.

“There’s a lot of nostalgia in that area. It’s not just a city, it has a lot of historical value,” says Chiu. “They’re preserving the identity of Markham but growing at the same time.”

Source: Toronto Star