Get To Know Peter Freed
Without Peter Freed, there is no city of Toronto. And without the city of Toronto, there is no Peter Freed
Photography Riley Stewart
Grooming Irina Badescu
THE TWO HAVE BEEN SHAPED BY ONE ANOTHER’S EXPLOSIVE GROWTH FOR NEARLY TWO DECADES. BEFORE THAT TIME, FREED WORKED AS A LABOURER ON A RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT SITE FOR A FRIEND’S FATHER, AND THE CITY’S DOWNTOWN PRIMARILY CONSISTED OF A FEW SMALL INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS AND EMPTY LOTS THAT DOUBLED AS OVERFLOW PARKING WHENEVER THE BLUE JAYS WERE IN TOWN.
By Jared Lindzon
“I worked a little bit at every stage; I site supervised for many years, I did the contracting, marketing, I did the sales on the weekends from the trailer in the early days, and then I got into structuring partnerships and raising capital, getting zoning approvals,” said Freed, who refers to each as invaluable experiences. He explains that as a result he’s able to bring a more precise understanding to conversations with staff and partners.
“If you don't have that I don't understand how people can really gauge properly,” he said. “This whole business is a series of gauges, and if you don't have control over any of them, it will have a negative impact on a project.”
Today, Freed Developments employs approximately 600 people, and is responsible for some of the city’s most iconic structures and venues, from King West to Yonge and Eglinton to Muskoka. Some of his latest hits include Lavelle, the city’s newest rooftop restaurant and pool lounge, and the Art Shoppe Lofts, a midtown condo development whose lobbies were designed by fashion icon and designer Karl Lagerfeld.
But the project that brings the biggest smile to his face is the one that arguably turned the budding real estate developer into a leading architect of the city of Toronto as we know it today. Perhaps that’s why he chose it as the location of his company’s headquarters.
“The Thompson Hotel project was really ahead of its time,” said Freed from his office in the building’s penthouse, as the cranes and newly-minted towers poke out from the floor-to-ceiling windows that surround him. “We bought this land maybe 13 years ago, and it's a good example of mixed-use development. There's different components to it: hotels, residential, bars, restaurants, commercial parking.”
Without naming any competitors, Freed implies that the mixed-use luxury development model has since become a staple for construction projects citywide, effectively defining what the city, or at least its downtown core, has become in the last decade.
For the full Peter Freed article, be sure to check out the DTK MEN power issue now in stores.