They say teamwork makes the dreamwork, and at MOD Developments, the management team of Gary Switzer and Noorez Lalani provides as solid a one-two combination as anywhere in the development industry. Switzer, with a background as an architect, a city planner and developer, and Lalani, with a law degree and MBA, provide unique leadership and deliver some standout properties.We spoke with Switzer and Lalani to explore their partnership, and what makes MOD what it is today.
CL: What's next for MOD Developments?
Lalani: More and more great buildings!
And on a personal note...
You seem to have a unique partnership as CEO and president, with complementary skillsets. How does this benefit MOD Developments?
Lalani: Between my background as a lawyer, a banker and obtaining my MBA with a specialization in real estate finance and development, and Gary's background as an architect, planner and developer, MOD has the total "in-house" package: Experience in design, urban planning and development combined with sound business acumen and financial knowledge.
Gary, your background as an architect, city planner and developer is unique in the industry. How does this experience show up in your projects – say, in building inclusions, amenities, locations?
Switzer: My experience has helped MOD develop a reputation for producing buildings of the highest quality in terms of design, construction and customer service. We've learned how to push the envelope with respect to entitlements and produce buildings that set new standards in terms of not just height, but also suite design and concepts in amenities.
What insights did your time as a city planner provide you, say, in terms of how the 'system' works or ways to do things better, now that you're on the development side?
Switzer: It's much more difficult to develop buildings today as opposed to when I was a planner. When I was at Great Gulf and we won the Ontario Association of Architects Award of Excellence for "The Morgan" in 2005, this was at a time when there were no development charges, no Section 37 charges, park levies were half of what they are today, and approvals in the King and Spadina neighbourhood could be done through the committee of adjustment. Today, routine approvals can take two years. When I worked as a planner in the 1980s, it was much easier for planners to fast-track good projects. Unfortunately, today, city staff is laden with an overly-complicated approvals system that puts as much stress on them as it does on the developer. Focus has to be on simplifying the current process and emphasize good design.
55C Residences 55 Charles St. E., TorontoComing soon57 Spadina (rental)57 Spadina Ave., TorontoComing soonThe Massey Tower 197 Yonge St., TorontoUnder constructionThe Selby (rental) 592 Sherbourne St., TorontoUnder constructionWaterworks 505 Richmond St. W., TorontoUnder constructionmoddevelopments.com