When it comes to high-rise condo buildings popping up in Ontario, cities like Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, and Ottawa might come to mind as hotbeds of activity. Pickering, a city 40 km east of Toronto with a population of less than 100,000, typically doesn't — but maybe it should.

The first phase of an extensive new master-planned community, dubbed Pickering City Centre, launched its sales on September 13, bringing 513 pre-construction condo units to the market. Within a week, 95% of them had sold.

Jacob Truglia, Partner and Vice President Business Lead for CentreCourt Developments, the developer behind the project, said signs of heightened interest for condos in the Pickering area started rolling in before the sales took off.

"We had a launch event last week and there were about 2,000 realtors in attendance, so we thought that was a great sign in terms of overall interest in the project," Truglia told STOREYS. "But I will say, the outcome that we had here of being close to sold out in a week has surpassed our own expectations of this, so we're very happy with how that came together."

Planned for the 55-acre site of the Pickering Town Centre mall, the master-planned community, once complete, will have at least 10 high-rise towers reaching up to 55 storeys and housing more than 6,000 residential units, as well as retail, office, and commercial space. It will also feature parks, urban plazas, a new City Hall, and a direct connection to the Pickering GO station. As to be expected, it's a multi-phase endeavour that will be rolled out over several years.

Although Pickering might not be the average person's choice to make such a large development investment, Truglia says CentreCourt identified the city's market as one that's been "overlooked for years." A combination of a growing population and a constrained supply has led to high demand.

"There hasn't been a lot of activity in that market save for a few developers," Truglia said.

But of course, the scale and offerings of Pickering City Centre are unlike anything the city has ever seen, and that doesn't hurt either.

"We have Pickering Town Center, which is a staple in the community, so that's 700,000 sq. ft of retail at your doorstep, and there's a 130,000-sq.-ft office building, a direct connection to the Pickering GO, and we're directly beside Highway 401, so if you look at the Pickering landscape, this is the best location and it's really rare to have an opportunity to be at centre ice at the scale of a 55-acre master plan where you can really redefine it as a new downtown," Truglia said.

He also points to the competitive price point of the condos, which have sold at $1,050 per sq. ft, as another big draw for buyers. A similar-sized condo in the area, Truglia says, would cost about $100 more per sq. ft.

CentreCourt's success comes at an interesting time when many developers in the Greater Toronto Area have chosen to postpone, cancel, or sell development projects as they struggle with lower buyer demand amid higher interest rates and overall affordability concerns.

"It's definitely a more challenging market right now than it has been," Truglia said. "But I think what this shows is when you have the right ingredients, a good story, a belief and a vision, and are able to offer it all at an attractive price point, there are still buyers out there — they're just looking and being selective with the opportunities that they ultimately choose to purchase."

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