On The Boulevard Summer 2019 by Today Magazine
The next frontier in real estate development -
a new approach to home management
by Martine Mackenzie with Dr. Kamal Mattar
Healing the human body is Dr. Kamal Mattar’s calling. As a urologist with a bustling and successful practice in Niagara, he devotes most of his time in his chosen field. But there is another aspect of humanity that Dr. Mattar is passionate about healing, and that is the human spirit. “I want to help combat the epidemic of human loneliness that is now prevalent in modern Western societies.” Dr. Mattar goes on to add, “We are increasingly wired to networks, and less connected to people. We are motivated by personal aspirations, driven by conservative social values and excel in structured work environments, foregoing our social responsibility.”
He’s right! In this day and age, where people will sit across from each other in a restaurant and share a meal, where not a word is exchanged because they are too busy connected to their cell phones, it’s evident that our society has lost that human connection which was once paramount to our happiness.
Combatting human loneliness concerns Dr. Mattar greatly enough that it is one of the major principles guiding this new and tremendous business endeavour of his. Well, it’s not really new per se, as his phenomenal concept and brainchild has been in the works for over 7 years and is now just beginning to come to fruition.
“My vision is a real estate development that reflects the modern era with 21st century amenities for new homebuyers, whilst offering the social benefits of communal living – a place that encourages neighbours to connect and communicate freely, to share resources and foster a shared sense of community. I called this place ‘MAKAN’, a literal translation from Arabic.”
It all began 10 years ago, when Dr. Mattar brought his medical practice to Niagara. As a young professional, he was seeking a home in the region, but wasn’t satised with the available housing options. He was looking for something unique in the downtown core, drawing from his personal preference for cosmopolitan cities, having lived in Dubai, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Toronto. Accustomed to prime real estate located centrally close to many of the cities’ amenities, Dr. Mattar was surprised by the limited housing options in the downtown core of Niagara. “Coming from downtown Toronto, I was apprehensive about living in suburbia. I preferred to be surrounded by people in a downtown setting close to markets, cafes, restaurants, entertainment, etc.,” he says.
However, here in Niagara, people have already migrated from the downtown core and towards the suburbs. As a local, I can attest to this, with the main reason being that downtown Niagara Falls, is, for the most part, neglected and run-down which is something that Dr. Mattar soon discovered when he moved into an apartment on Queen Street. “I renovated a two-bedroom, 1,100 square foot open concept apartment, with 12-foot ceilings and wall-to-wall south facing windows, overlooking City Hall. It was spacious and beautiful, close to nature and the highway. I didn’t have to shovel snow or mow the lawn. Businesses and artists moved in the neighbourhood, and invigorated it with lively energy. It was a successful proposition by all measures, but it ultimately failed when the foreign investors pulled out their money and left for New York City. This is not a city for visitors to turn a quick prot. Nestled amongst ‘natural wonders of the world’, there is tremendous value in living here.”
The lack of a modern lifestyle in a downtown setting provided the impetus for Dr. Mattar to propose the concept of a contemporary home, with luxurious amenities yet easy on the environment, where the middle-class will want to live again. Dr. Mattar is not an engineer nor is he a builder. He is just someone looking for a home to meet his needs – one that doesn’t require time to maintain, yet that offers all of the same amenities of a house – lawn, garden, pool, etc. To realize his vision, he is developing a 3-storey condominium with 8 units. The units are not crammed in the traditional style of an apartment building.” Dr. Mattar goes on to explain, They are all spacious, have high ceilings, unobstructed views and are appointed with all the luxurious comforts of a house.” In essence, he wants to bring us the best of both worlds.
“Short-storey condominiums are ubiquitous in cosmopolitan cities like Toronto and Montreal. Dr. Mattar goes on to say, The location on River Road, overlooking the Niagara Gorge and with a view of the Falls, is truly world class.The City of Niagara Falls Official Plan encourages the centralization of developments, because infrastructure, such as public transit, and resources are already established in the area.”
With the Ontario government’s growth plan to increase the density in cities, it seems only logical that this development would get the green light to proceed. Instead, the approval process has been grinding against red tape from the City, the Niagara Region, and the Niagara Parks Commission. As in any labour of love, it has taken Dr. Mattar 3 years just to change the zoning on River Road from R2 Residential to R5 Condominium. In fact, Dr. Mattar was well aware that he was walking on thin ice in dealing with a city accustomed to its heritage neighbourhoods and the people’s traditional concepts of a family home. After multiple consultations with the neighbours and city planners, all the concerns raised were addressed, and the zoning approval was granted. For the last 2 years, Dr. Mattar has been working closely with all of the parties to obtain site plan approvals. He tells me that it’s been a grueling, uphill battle, but his determination appears to be unrelenting.
Dr. Mattar’s passion for healing the human body and spirit extends to his other passion: helping to heal the environment.This luxury complex will house a strong, geothermal system to heat and cool the units. ere will be solar panels to provide all of the electrical needs of the building. Essentially, this will be a net zero building where the amount of energy produced equals the amount of energy consumed. Because of these passive code standards, and the use of durable steel and concrete in the construction, the cost maintenance will be very low but the performance yielded from the building will be very high.
Imagine living in this huge, open space, with wall to wall, floor to ceiling, triple pane windows and sliding doors that open up completely to the outside. The modern and contemporary designs will feature 3 and 4 bedroom options and living spaces that are beyond luxurious – marble and granite countertops in the kitchen, along with professional appliances and in-floor concrete heating are all included.
Not only will this project be luxurious and aesthetically pleasing to the eye, capturing all of the environmental and sustainable initiatives, it will also have an impact on the sewer infrastructure in that older area of town. “We had a civil engineering survey of the site and we will be able to collect 100% of rain water and filter it as gray water. This will mean less water in sewers therefore less sewer usage.”
Where most luxury condominiums will saddle their owners with astronomical maintenance fees, this space differs, as it will be entirely owned and operated by the owners of the units, once more lending to that sense of community that Dr. Mattar finds to be so integral to combatting human loneliness.
Should you choose to leave the privacy of your home, and join into a community setting, all you have to do is make your way to the 5,000 square foot roof-top terrace of shared space, which will house a large pool, luxurious outdoor furniture and state-of-the-art barbecues. This shared space opens things up for the opportunity to socialize and encourage community”, he says, adding, “You can have coffee in the morning, or a drink at night on the terrace, and be alone, or with your neighbours.”
Because of the site’s close proximity to the amenities that Niagara Falls has to oer, Dr. Mattar also has hopes that its residents will become intricately involved with the neighbourhood.
Dr. Mattar’s passion for this project is very easy to understand as he explains that he himself is waiting to move into the complex once it’s built and has plans to retire to this area. This project is purely a labour of love, and an aside to his busy medical practice.
With most of the site planning and necessary studies complete, dealing with all levels of government, Dr. Mattar feels condent that ground-breaking for this project is coming very soon. “Approval is pending! Proof of concept – there will be a Phase 2 if I’m successful,” Dr. Mattar says happily.
Whether you are a millennial, interested in modern, luxurious, green housing, or a commuter looking for a great space to return to every day – or a retiree, settling into your glory years, Dr. Mattar shares your vision.This project is the ideal in housing as it encompasses a three-tiered delivery: luxury living, environmental sustainability, and above all, a true sense of community.