Toronto’s all-women real estate development team breaks new ground in Etobicoke

A group of women in Toronto are bringing a new vision to an emerging neighbourhood in Etobicoke with their residential project, Reina.

From left to right: Jane Almey (Bluescape Construction); Heather Rolleston (Quadrangle Architects); Nataliya Tkach (EXP); Emily Reisman (Urban Strategies); Sherry Larjani (Spotlight Development); Taya Cook (Urban Capital); Stacy Meek (EXP); Fatima Shakil (Adjeleian Allen Rubeli); Tara Chisholm (WSP Group); Fung Lee (PMA Landscape Architects); Lisa Spensieri (Quadrangle Architects); and, ManLing Lau (MarketVision Research). (Riley Stewart Photography)

Lead by Taya Cook, Director of Development at Urban Capital and Sherry Larjani, Managing Partner at Spotlight Developmentsthe two have built a team of all-women consultants over the course of several months — from construction management to engineering to architecture and urban planning.

“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. It’s a huge industry and a massive economic driver for the region. For some reason it has been seriously lagging behind in gender equity,” said Cook.

The concept began with Cook who read an article boosting the condo titans in the city – none of them were women. This was a wakeup call about gender parity in the industry.

“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. It’s no longer just the condo kings who are impacting our city,” said Cook.

The vision became a reality when Cook partnered with Larjani who kick started her own career in development over a decade ago.

Reina boasts a bevy of experienced real estate professionals dedicated to bringing a distinct perspective to city-building.

The team includes: 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; and ManLing Lau, Vice-President of Sales at MarketVision Research.

“There aren’t many entrepreneurial women coming into the industry on their own. No one took me seriously until I bought my first piece of land,” said Larjani. “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.”

Located along The Queensway in Etobicoke, Reina will be transforming the now-demolished House of Lancaster site.

According to the team, the building will be characterized by the female perspective, from the street level design to unit layouts.

“Etobicoke has a lot of young families looking for good homes. The site gave us everything we wanted – proximity to great schools, expansive parks, and wonderful shops and restaurants. It allows for true family-friendly urban living, and we’re excited to reveal our team’s vision in the coming months,” said Cook.

To find out more about the team and their upcoming consultation, click here.