The Molinaro Century: Part Three
A successful diversion, a new light in Downtown West and a Grand Finale.
With The Brock, Illumina and ParadigmGrand….the hits kept on coming for the Molinaro Group in the 20-teens.
These successive projects were not only embellishing our credentials as a development company but moving in lockstep with Burlington’s rebirth as a glittering example of urban renewal and public/private collaboration.
Hundreds, if not thousands of property buyers and renters, were discovering the advantages of living in a quiet mid-size city on a magnificent waterfront with easy access to highways and public transportation. One of the country’s best-kept secrets was suddenly out in the open thanks to new civic amenities including a hospital and performing arts centre, and public parkland facing the lake.
At the same time, the management trio of brothers Vince and Robert Molinaro, and brother-in-law Sam DiSanto, deviated from the company’s established business model for its next project, The Brock. Intended to be a rental building controlled by the company and housing its corporate headquarters, it’s a traditional-looking, brick-face structure that was quickly sold, though the Molinaro Group rented their ground floor offices.
“We decided during construction, to put some feelers out there and find a buyer,” said Vince, “And a group approached us. We were happy to make that transaction and to stay focused on condos.”
One reason for that change of heart was another vacant block just up the street from The Brock that begged for redevelopment. For the Molinaro Group is was an ideal setting for a deluxe,single-tower condo building.
Sam is proud of the way Illumina stands out: “We are in a high-rise district where a lot of the product is tired and old. Our design is very disruptive out there,in a good way. You’re going to see this and it’s just like ‘oh yeah, I know that building, that’s Illumina.'”
Along with extraordinary rooftop party and lounge amenities, the building features luxury interior finishes; balconies and terraces offer extraordinary views of the Lake Ontario vista and surrounding area. Natural light saturates the units from every direction through energy-efficient, double-glazed windows.
While the Group was eager to help gentrify an older, neglected part of downtown, pushing energy efficient technology was also key. So, Illumina was designed to be and built to operate as the first Energy Star compliant high-rise in Canada.
“We took a corporate philosophy years ago that it’s important to build sustainable and green buildings,”Robert Molinaro says. “Apart from being a good way to promote the building, we wanted to demonstrate to the city and our industry that caring about the environment is good business, too.” And so, Illumina meets or exceeds the required Energy Star benchmarks for all installed appliances, air tightness, and the building HVAC system to optimize energy consumption.
The Spring of 2023 marks the beginning of the Grand Finale of the Molinaro Group’s magnum opus, Paradigm Grand with construction scheduled to begin on the two front towers facing Fairview St.. They will feature more residential, office/commercial and street-level retail space. Residents will also finally witness completion of the impressive interior courtyard.
The last two towers actually would be nearing completion by now if not for the Interim Control By-Law that was put in place by the city and delayed ground-breaking for over two years. But the finish line is in sight. And Paradigm, the five-tower,master-planned lifestyle condo complex begun in 2016, will be completed next to the Burlington GO station.
”This Grand Finale is the full expression of our vision for this development,” Vince says.”It’s a multi-award-winning project that set a new standard for condominiums. Paradigm is a great success; Paradigm Grand is an even better success.”
Sam looks back with pride on the pace and progress of these projects and their undeniable impact on a community ranked number one (best mid-size city, 2013-17) in Canada throughout the course of this building boom.
“When we started with Spencer’s Landing and Bunton’s Wharf,” Sam says, “the downtown core was a ghost town of boarded-up shops. You could shoot a cannon straight up Brant Street. We owe it to my father-in-law (Domenic) who had the vision to say ‘why aren’t people investing in this town, this is fantastic.’”
Pretentious though it might sound, The Molinaro Century is a phrase that best describes not only a community renaissance,but also the archetypal story of an immigrant family that continues to succeed beyond its wildest dreams.
Burlington is better for it, no doubt, with the rest of the century yet to be written.