One of the most influential figures in Canadian real estate, Jonathan Wener, will step down as CEO of Canderel in February 2019. His hard-working brand of leadership has had a lasting impact well beyond the realm of property development.
Wener started his real estate journey with just $5k to his name.
Following his first successful venture which converted his alma mater Concordia’s old student union building into a restaurant, Wener launched Canderel in Montréal in 1975.
“My hope was that one day the company would become a major player in the Canadian real estate landscape with a stellar reputation,” says Wener, a reputation “based on trust and tireless execution.”
His vision has certainly come true. Energized by a love of architecture and the possibilities of real estate, he has led one of Canada’s top real estate companies with passion and entrepreneurialism for over four decades.
Over the years the company has grown into one of the biggest national real estate developers, investors and managers of over 24 million square feet of commercial and residential space with a development backlog of almost $2 billion.
Wener has presided over hundreds of successful ventures at Canderel including Toronto’s College Park which comprises two million square feet of condos across three towers, one of which, Aura, is the tallest residential building in Canada.
“Never did I dream of projects of this scale or complexity. I pinch myself every day to think of how fortunate I have been to realize this level of success and passion in what I love doing,” says Wener.
The company’s preeminent accomplishments will soon extend to a new project called Taza in Alberta, a $4.5 billion, 1200-acre master planned community on the Tsuut’ina First Nation that’s set to enter development this year after three years of meticulous consultation and planning.
“Under the leadership of William Briscoe, the CEO of our Taza development, we have created a joint venture which is both financially and spiritually incredibly satisfying,” says Wener. “This project and the relationship formed is a model for future development of First Nation land. This will provide job opportunities, education, services and financial independence for the Nation for many years to come. There is incredible pride for all of us at Canderel to be able to execute this project with our partners.”
Jonathan Wener Is More Than A Business Man
Wener has been involved in a huge number of non-real estate ventures over the years, too.
From telecommunications and fibre optics to e-signature software and data storage to rubber recycling and even healthcare projects, Wener’s broad set of interests has benefitted many industries. “It keeps my brain active and I guess I just love business and helping young aspiring engineers,” he says.
He’s got a philanthropic side, too, contributing to a variety of community, education and healthcare organizations. Today he is not only the Chancellor of his alma mater Concordia but over the past 30 years has raised over $15 million for cancer research at McGill University and Université de Montréal.
What’s Next For Canderel?
In February 2019 Wener will hand the reins of Canderel to current JLL Canada CEO Brett Miller. Miller returns to Canderel after having started his real estate career with the company almost 30 years ago, bringing three decades of international real estate and business experience to the role. Wener will remain Chairman and a shareholder of Canderel following the transition.
Rumour has it that the company may be contemplating international expansion beyond Canada under its new leadership.
“I believe we have provided Brett an incredible platform from which to launch Canderel to the next phase of its growth. I am confident that he fits our culture and will do an outstanding job,” says Wener.
In stepping into his new role, Miller will have some big and well-heeled shoes to fill.