Markee Developments, Collecdev Merge With Keesmaat As CEO

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A penchant for affordable housing and beautiful, sustainable communities has led to the merger of two key players in Toronto’s development community, Markee Developments and Collecdev.

Aptly known as Collecdev-Markee, the new entity brings together Markee Development‘s focus on affordable rental housing and Collecdev’s construction and development expertise.

Jennifer Keesmaat, Founding Partner at Markee and former Chief City Planner of Toronto, will oversee the venture as CEO.

“We’ve always known as we’ve been ramping up Markee that we would hit a point where we’d be getting shovels in the ground. We figured we could either buy a construction company, start a construction company, or merge with a company that has a construction arm. That led us to some very fruitful conversations with Collecdev,” Keesmaat told STOREYS.

“What’s so interesting is that Collecdev truly shares a very, very similar vision to Markee, they have an enormous emphasis on social responsibility, sustainability, affordability, and legacy building in the City of Toronto.

“As a company, their ethos has always been, ‘How do we build beautiful buildings that create communities that deliver on a variety of social objectives?’ So it became clear very, very quickly in our conversations that we were going to fit together like a hand in a glove.”

Collecdev-Markee will create sustainably and thoughtfully designed homes in transit-oriented communities across Toronto and Hamilton — more than 7,600 homes are in the development pipeline, Keesmaat said, and affordable housing will be a “key priority.”

Construction on the venture’s first project, Tyndale Green, will begin in the spring of 2024. Located near Bayview Avenue and Steeles Avenue East, the mixed-use community will be built atop what is currently a mix of surface parking lots and under-utilized land on the grounds of its namesake university.

Rendering of Tyndale GreenRendering of Tyndale Green.(KPMB Architects)

Half of the units will be offered at below-market rent in an effort to address Toronto’s affordability crisis. Beyond housing, the community will include a daycare facility, a community recreation centre, activity plazas, ample green spaces, and a network of pedestrian pathways.

The design will seamlessly integrate Tyndale Green into the existing university campus and surrounding ravine landscape. Sustainability will be a key feature across the community, from building materials to stormwater management.

Rendering of Tyndale GreenRendering of Tyndale Green.(KPMB Architects)

“Unlike a lot of other companies that might be moderating what they’re doing as a result of market conditions right now, at Collecdev-Markee we focus on building housing,” Keesmaat said.

“So that means as market conditions change, we shift our model to be able to deliver in the changing market conditions. We have a really adaptable model that we recalibrate on a project by project basis to be viable.”

In addition to Tyndall Markee, construction is expected to begin on two other Collecdev-Markee projects in 2024, including a development in Hamilton, Keesmaat’s hometown. As a fully operational construction company, there won’t be any procurement or capacity-related delays, Keesmaat noted, which means their “incredibly robust” pipeline of affordable housing can get built faster.

“At Collecdev-Markee, we have a deep commitment to Toronto and we have a deep commitment to Hamilton” Keesmaat said. “With this new entity we won’t miss a beat.”

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