Waverley is Fitzrovia’s boutique rental community at College and Spadina in Toronto. Paired with an unprecedented assortment of best-in-class amenities and exceptional customer service, Waverley has been recognized as the ‘Rental Development of the Year’ with the ‘Best Amenities’ by the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO).

How this Canadian developer is changing the rental space in Canada

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March 22, 2024

Canada is currently facing a housing crisis, especially for renters. In Canada’s biggest cities, a shortage of rental housing stock has led to record-high rental prices. One way out of the housing crisis: building more homes. A report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. found that 2 million rental units need to be built in the country by 2030 to tackle the affordability crisis.

Fitzrovia, a Canadian purpose-built rental developer and operator, says that they can help solve the housing crisis. “Not only is Fitzrovia delivering supply to help keep pace with population growth, but we are also actively helping to solve the affordable housing crisis in Toronto by supplying a variety of housing options,” says Adrian Rocca, the CEO and founder of Fitzrovia. We talked to Rocca about the housing crisis, how Fitzrovia is contributing to the solution and what sets Fitzrovia apart from other builders in Canada.

Tell me about Fitzrovia, what do you do?

At Fitzrovia, our role extends beyond being developers of purpose-built rental communities; we consider ourselves creators of living environments that significantly enhance the lives of our residents. We oversee every facet of the rental development process, from construction and design to hiring and training our outstanding staff.

What are some projects that Canadians will know you for?

We recently launched Maddox by Fitzrovia, a new subsidiary. Maddox acquires vintage rental buildings and reshapes them into modern-vintage rental communities. This involves making necessary improvements and tailored upgrades based on the specific requirements of each community. These improvements may vary depending on the situation but typically includes enhancing landscaped areas and modernizing facades. We place strong emphasis on adding additional lifestyle amenities, beautifying common spaces and renovating existing rental suites. We have plans to expand the Maddox offering across Canada, starting initially in Toronto and Montreal.

What sets Fitzrovia apart from other developers? 

At Fitzrovia, we take care of every step of the purpose-built rental development cycle,from in-house development and construction to managing our communities. With an impressive 80 years of combined experience, we’ve successfully brought to life high-rise towers and master-planned communities.

We incorporate cutting-edge technology into our rental developments to ensure an incredible final product. For instance, we use virtual reality 3D modeling and artificial intelligence throughout the design and the construction process. Our communities also feature a custom resident mobile app crafted to enhance the resident’s overall experience, serving as a convenient hub for viewing our resident events calendar, accessing the latest resident perks such as discounted dry cleaning delivery services, and functioning as your mobile key, to grant access to both your suite and the entire community.

We’re dedicated to crafting communities that adhere to the highest standards of building performance, including LEED Platinum, Passive House and the CaGBC’s Zero Carbon Building Standard. We strive to design and operate sustainable communities that contribute to the preservation of our shared planet for future generations.

The double-height professional Raptors basketball court at Elm and Ledbury. Ideally located near the intersection of Queen & Church in Toronto's prestigious Garden District, Elm and Ledbury is Fitzrovia’s latest flagship rental community.

How is Fitzrovia contributing to the future of housing in Canada?

Fitzrovia is actively shaping the future of rental housing in Canada by prioritizing responsible development that goes beyond constructing buildings. Our focus is on creating communities with essential amenities that include public parks, daycares, and community hubs. These elements enhance the rental living experience and establish a strong sense of community.

Ultimately, Fitzrovia’s goal is to contribute to the housing landscape by constructing high-quality rental housing. We strive to offer those that call Canada home an opportunity to live the lifestyle they desire in a country they love. We are actively engaged in collaboration with both the private and public sectors to get quality rental housing built today and invest in Canada’s future. Our commitment is rooted in making a positive impact and enhancing the well-being of those who call our communities home.  Promoting meaningful connections and supporting a healthy lifestyle for our valued residents is essential.

Given the housing crisis in Canada, particularly in Toronto, how is Fitzrovia contributing to the solution?

Fitzrovia is actively addressing the housing crisis in Canada by delivering a substantial quantity of quality rental housing suites to the market. In addition to providing the necessary supply, we aim to assure each tower’s sustainability, aligning with our ESG principles.

Furthermore, we are actively collaborating with all levels of government to contribute to an affordable housing plan, demonstrating our commitment to effective solutions. Our first venture into affordable housing is a planned development at Bloor and Dufferin in Toronto. Fitzrovia is contributing to Canada’s housing challenges through innovative approaches, government collaboration, and strategic investments.

What sorts of design considerations go into Fitzrovia projects? Do they look different from other condo developments in Canada?

Fitzrovia communities are defined by our distinctive design philosophy. From the outset of our process, we seek opportunities in premier neighbourhoods in transit-oriented locations. As we begin to consider design, Fitzrovia ensures that each community is a harmonious blend of function and form, thoughtfully integrating into the surrounding neighbourhood context. Rethinking the future of rental living, Fitzrovia creates environments reminiscent of a premium hotel, providing a remarkable backdrop for our residents to enjoy a truly elevated living experience.

Fitzrovia Collection communities boast a variety of signature amenities, among which is "LIDO" – Fitzrovia's renowned rooftop pool experience, featuring designer loungers and breathtaking panoramic views.

Why are these the differences in Fitzrovia buildings so important to you?

They align with our mission to redefine the rental living experience in Canada. Fueled by a genuine passion for our craft, we bring innovation to real estate development, building design and hospitality to create intentional spaces that inspire and allow people to live the lifestyle that they most desire.

Our commitment extends beyond aesthetics; we prioritize creating long-lasting, inclusive and sustainable communities. Environmental, sustainability and governance initiatives, such as water and energy conservation, showcase our dedication to minimizing environmental impact. The planned introduction of geothermal energy systems in our communities further emphasize our commitment to progressive and eco-friendly living. These initiatives are vital to our organization as we earnestly strive to make a positive impact on our shared planet.

In your opinion, what role do developers like Fitzrovia play with respect to the future of housing for Canada? 

Fitzrovia is shaping the future of rental housing in Canada. Our fundamental commitment to constructing enduring, inclusive and sustainable communities is deeply embedded in Fitzrovia’s identity. Fitzrovia stands out by prioritizing exceptional design, upholding construction craftsmanship and operating rental communities guided by hospitality principles that parallel those of the world’s most desirable hotels. This approach is groundbreaking in the Canadian context and has resulted in Fitzrovia being recognized for several industry customer service awards.

We strive to deliver exceptional quality service through our trained team of onsite hospitality professionals. Our team is trained by hospitality leaders such as the Ritz-Carlton and the Disney Institute. Our strategic partnerships, such as our collaboration with Cleveland Clinic Canada, provide Fitzrovia Collection residents with complimentary access to virtual world-class healthcare, demonstrating our holistic approach to community well-being.

Innovative initiatives such as the establishment of Bloomsbury Academy, a premier early childhood education centre with subsidized tuition for Fitzrovia Collection residents—underscores our commitment to community enrichment.  Furthermore, our unique food and beverage offering through our third-wave cafe and bar, 10 DEAN, contributes to cultivating a lively community atmosphere, elevating the overall resident experience.

Fitzrovia is well positioned to positively shape the future of rental housing in Canada. Our dedication to sustainability, resident well-being, best-in-class hospitality and creating extraordinary spaces and communities positions us as a pioneer, setting a new standard for excellence in the Canadian rental housing market.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and brevity. 

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