May 27, 2011
This week in Buzz Talk we catch up with Robert Cooper of Alterra. Among Alterra’s interesting and varied collection of projects is the much-discussed Post House Condominium. Rob told us about the challenges of developing in a market as busy as Toronto’s, his favourite neighbourhood to spend summer evenings, and his dream of riding in the Tour de France.
BuzzBuzzHome: How did you come to work in the industry?
Robert Cooper: I started working at Alterra after finishing university – I got a job through a connection with my cousin who is now my partner of 18 years. I was supposed to be here for a short time until something more interesting came up. That was 27 years ago!
BBH: Is there one specific stage of the development project that you particularly relish, and why?
RC: Many stages are equally exciting for me. The site acquisition, designing the building with the design team, the opening day of the presentation centre, the start of construction, the closing-in of the building, the first delivery of units and, of course, the final registration of the condominium – I love all of it!
It’s the most challenging, rewarding, exciting industry I could ever imagine being part of. Every project is like starting a new business.
RC: Post House continues to sell extremely well. We’re well over 200 sales now and working towards building permits and start-up of construction.
BBH: Toronto is, obviously, a city of distinct (and distinctive) neighbourhoods. What’s your favourite summer neighbourhood and why?
RC: My favourite summer neighbourhood in Toronto is Yorkville. The outdoor patios come alive, there’s a buzz in the air, and the summer evenings are spectacular!
BBH: 36Hazelton is always one of the most viewed listings on our site. What’s so special about the project?
RC: 36Hazelton represents a very special limited opportunity for those who understand and can afford the very best this city – maybe even the country – has to offer in terms of a condominium residence. Not only is the location superb, but the design and architecture are, in my opinion, perfect for the site and the neighbourhood.
Condominium residences are very rarely offered on a street this quiet. Take a walk by 36Hazelton
on a warm summer night and you’ll understand why it’s the absolute best of the best.
BBH: What kind of challenges come with developing projects in a marketplace as vibrant as Toronto’s?
RC: Toronto is a very challenging place to develop. As responsible builders we try to address as many practical concerns and comments as possible during the approvals process. By having public meetings, listening to municipal staff comments and working with your own consultants, you try to create the best living space for your homeowners that you possibly can.
Most importantly, you have to understand the marketplace. You can design the most beautiful buildings in the world right here in Toronto but if the buyers can’t relate to the suite price or the floor plan layouts, you may as well not bother. Experience and relationships are the key to a successful project. Developing can be a very long onerous process from site acquisition to final registration and closing of the condominium. So, most importantly, you need to be healthy!
BBH: Anything on the horizon for Alterra that you can talk about?
RC: We have our eye on a few new opportunities, but for now, we’ll be concentrating on Post House and 36Hazelton.
BBH: Were you not working in the real estate industry, what would your dream job be?
RC: If I wasn’t working in real estate, my dream job would be as a riding in Europe as a professional cyclist – and competing in the Tour de France!
Our thanks to Rob for taking the time to chat!