After nearly 40 years in the real estate industry, one could forgive MOD Developments’ CEO, Gary Switzer, if he sounded a little world-weary.
But he most assuredly does not.
Gary Switzer is not your typical real estate veteran. And MOD is not your typical developer.
The company continues to push the envelope on mindful development and design excellence, and Switzer continues to speak of their work with his signature measure of pride.
In fact, to hear Switzer celebrate the progressive features of MOD’s latest project, a mixed-use Bloor Yorkville high-rise called 55C, you’d think it was the developer’s first build. But MOD has been providing award-winning housing solutions in the GTA for over a decade.
And with each new project, MOD solidifies their reputation for consistency and synergy of design, from exterior through to suite.
“We’ve learned that it’s a relationship-based business,” says President of MOD, Noorez Lalani. “And because we stick with so many of our key consultants, it engenders a collaborative approach. Consultants speak freely and share ideas openly, bringing their own experiences to the table. As a result, we don’t have to get to know each other every time, and the relationship and the work can evolve as a result.”
That collective spirit is modeled by the leadership team itself. Switzer and Lalani are fortunate to share the same corporate vision, but it’s their complementary professional backgrounds that has proven to be a real asset.
Switzer started out in the early ‘80s as an architect for a large firm, before moving to a planning department and then the high-rise division at Great Gulf Homes. Over the 30 years that followed, Switzer made a name for himself as one of the city’s most forward-thinking developers.
Lalani got his law degree and an MBA at Schulich, where he specialized in Real Estate Finance and Development. His professional career included stints working in the corporate finance group and the commercial real estate group at a Canadian law firm and as an account manager for the Toronto Dominion Bank Real Estate Group.
“We work very compatibly,” explains Switzer. “It’s a left lobe/right lobe collaboration; I can focus on the dream and design and he on the financial realities. So together we are always making solid business propositions.”
That mix of dream and reality has allowed the team at MOD to design some of the GTA’s most beautiful and most intuitive builds. Developments like 5 St. Joseph are notable not just because of their aesthetic successes, but because they were built with a commitment to reuse and civic responsibility. It’s an approach that the team at MOD has mastered, balancing an attention to detail with a focus on ‘mindful development.’
“There are a lot of buildings in the city where the developer hasn’t thought through the details,” says Switzer. “As developers, you need to be aware that the decisions you make about architecture and design have implications for the city and the residents. Mindful development at MOD means being thoughtful when making decisions about massing, materials, landscaping…and making sure that we’ve resolved issues in advance.”
For Lalani, that measure of foresight means building and designing in a manner that considers usability while promising to stand the test of time.
“I’m proud to say that the exterior of 5 St. Joseph and its suites and common areas are still cutting edge,” says Lalani. “And at Massey Tower, the spatial awareness in the lobby and suites and the careful attention to detail in the design still has the residents feeling extremely happy. People appreciate efficiency in design.”
Efficiency in design is certainly at the fore of 55C’s exciting specs. MOD is collaborating again with Cecconi Simone, award-winning designers who are well known for their ability to get the most out of a smaller suite design.
“It doesn’t matter if a build is big like Massey or small like Waterworks,” says Switzer. “We remain true to our objective. And with 55C’s model suite, people walk in and say, ‘I can’t believe this is just 537 square feet!’”
With the way Gary Switzer speaks about 55C, MOD’s next downtown development is sure to inspire.