All-female development team breaks ground in Ontario

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A residential project in Etobicoke, Ontario, has the unique distinction of being led by the country’s first all-women development team. The project, called Reina, will turn the city’s former House of Lancaster site along The Queensway into a new residential complex. It is being helmed by Taya Cook, Director of Development at Urban Capital; and Sherry Larjani, Managing Partner at Spotlight Developments; alongside a team of female real estate development professionals from across the region.

“We’re embarking on this project to create more visibility for women in real estate development, and to inspire younger women to see career possibilities,” says Cook. “For some reason, [the industry] has been seriously lagging in gender equity. Women have been prominent in all sorts of roles, and they are doing fantastic work in this industry, but our accomplishments aren’t well-recognized.

“We live in one of the most diverse cities in the world, and our built environment should reflect that,” she adds.

Cook and Larjani’s development team features many notable industry leaders, including:

  • Heather Rolleston, Principal at Quadrangle Architects
  • Lisa Spensieri, Project Lead at Quadrangle Architects
  • Jane Almey, Managing Partner at Bluescape Construction
  • Emily Reisman, Partner at Urban Strategies
  • Nataliya Tkach, Hydrogeological Engineer at EXP
  • Stacy Meek, Environmental Engineer at EXP
  • Fatima Shakil, Principal at Adjeleian Allen Rubeli
  • Tara Chisholm, Senior Project Manager at WSP Group
  • Fung Lee, Principal at PMA Landscape Architects
  • ManLing Lau, Vice-President of Sales at MarketVision Research

While the vision for Reina has yet to be made public, Cook says the group is committed to developing a residential building that will be “characterized by the female perspective at every degree, from the street level design to unit layouts.” To that end, it will hold a design consultation event on July 10, 2019, to share their ideas for building amenities and features, and learn more about lifestyles and needs of Reina’s future residents.

“Our team will be listening to what people want in their building and incorporate their feedback into the design. We want to create a building that truly accounts for everyone’s needs, from women to families to investors,” says Larjani.

Speaking to the significance of the project and its all-female team, she adds, “There aren’t many entrepreneurial women coming into the industry on their own … We need to give women positive role models and prove that a career in development is a viable path. It’s incumbent upon all of us to change this narrative.”

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