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S A T U R D A Y, N O V E M B E R 1 4 , 2 0 1 5
NEW HOMES & CONDOS
MONTREAL GAZETTE
Samcon will break ground this month for Le Drummond, a 24-storey building with 211 one- and two-bedroom condos, on Drummond St. just north of
René-Lévesque Blvd. W. The building will include three levels of underground garage, a rooftop pool and a gym, and constitutes Phase 1 of a two-phase
project that will, at a later date, include a second tower of 22 storeys, as shown in this artist’s rendering.
Real estate
PROFILE
A Q&A WITH SAMCON’S
SAM SCALIA
LORRI BENEDIK
SPECIAL TO THE MONTREAL GAZETTE
... It was the late
1980s, and development opportunities were
abundant in the
suburbs. I felt
nothing for this
market. Instead,
I was drawn to
rundown parts
of Montreal’s
inner city; the
thought of revitalizing them
was thrilling.
Sam Scalia, president of Samcon,
has a life story that unfolds like an
adventure novel. It features inner
conflict, a voyage of discovery, personal growth and romance.
When he was eight, Scalia already knew what he wanted to be.
His teacher had asked the students
to draw pictures of themselves, as
adults. Below his prophetic selfportrait, which his parents still
have, he had printed the word
“builder.”
We met at his office, on RenéLévesque Blvd.
Question: Where did you grow
up?
Answer: We lived in St-Léonard
and my father worked for an international land developer. When
I was five, he was offered one-year
stints in Freeport, Bahamas, and
Sydney, Australia. Of course, the
family went along.
We returned to St-Léonard two
years later. In 1980, when I was 14,
we packed up and moved to a rural town in California, where my
dad and uncles had purchased an
almond orchard. After five years,
one of my sisters and I returned to
Montreal. We lived with my grandparents and I began a bachelor of
commerce program at McGill.
My parents and younger sister
followed a year later. My folks
bought a house in Laval and my father launched a construction company. I was keen to start working so
he hired me, as a foreman.
I still have a passion for invigorating
downtown Montreal. We currently
have eight projects
in varying stages ...
What happened next?
We were building duplexes and
triplexes, mostly in St-Léonard. It
was the late 1980s, and development opportunities were abundant
in the suburbs. I felt nothing for
this market. Instead, I was drawn
to rundown parts of Montreal’s inner city; the thought of revitalizing
them was thrilling. My father and
I disagreed strongly on what markets to pursue.
One day I took a sheet of looseleaf
paper, wrote a proposal and presented it to him. It consisted of a
request for a loan of $60,000 with
a promise to repay him $110,000
within one year. He agreed after
adding a clause which protected
me, just in case. It turned out great
— so well, in fact, that we repeated
the same deal a few times over several years. We worked separately,
but continued to share an office.
When did you set out on your
own?
It was 1995 — a key year, in many
ways. I was ready to embark on
my largest project yet — 60 condo
units at the corner of Hôtel de Ville
and Mont-Royal. The investment
Uni-T-2, a four-storey elevator-equipped project near such Montreal attractions as the Olympic Park, the Botanical Garden and Saputo Stadium, brings affordable luxury to the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood. Condo
amenities include the outdoor pool shown below.
Sam Scalia, president of Samcon Inc., with his wife, Diana Ferrara.
P HOT O
COU RTE SY OF SAMCON
Le Metropol, a 15-storey condo development at St-Denis St. and RenéLévesque Blvd. E. in Quartier Latin, is 80 per cent sold. ART IST ’S R ENDER I NG S (5 ): COURT ESY OF SAMCON
was huge and made my dad very
nervous.
That same year I met a lovely
woman, Diana Ferrara, a nutritionist who worked at the Royal
Victoria Hospital. Her years in a
huge organization had endowed
her with great perspective. We fell
in love and married in 1997.
The partnership with my dad
gradually shifted in favour of my
union with Diana. She, naturally,
became the one with whom I discussed everything.
How did Samcon evolve?
In 1998, my wife and I took off on a
four-week cross-country road trip.
Along the way we met with developers in Canada and the U.S., and
came home — our heads bursting
with ideas. With the knowledge acquired, we took Samcon to a new
level of production. In just under
two decades, we have constructed
4,000 dwellings. Along the way, we
also created a family — four children in 5½ years.
When my kids were still little, I
took on evening studies at McGill
and completed an MBA.
What are you working on now?
I still have a passion for invigorating downtown Montreal. We currently have eight projects in varying stages of completion.
Our next one, the largest to date,
will break ground this month. Le
Drummond will be a 24-storey condo building, with 211 one- and twobedroom units, on Drummond St.
just north of René-Lévesque. The
Le Metropol’s rooftop pool gives
condo owners a chance to relax on
the terrace while gazing at Mount
Royal or the St. Lawrence River.
structure will include three levels
of underground garage, a rooftop
pool and a gym.
We have managed to keep prices
affordable. At present, 50 per cent
of the units are sold. Occupancy is
scheduled for autumn 2017.
And outside of work?
Diana and I devote a great deal of
our time and money to a variety
of worthy causes, including IRCM
(l’Institut de recherches cliniques
de Montréal), the Old Brewery
Mission, and Concordia’s John
Molson School of Business.
What do you do for fun?
With four kids — aged 15, 14, 11 and
10 — there is never a dull moment.
I adore being a dad. We especially
enjoy outdoor activities like hiking
and fishing. In winter we downhill
ski. I have such a sweet life.
I am also fortunate to still have
my dad, who is now 78. He had serious health issues a few years back
but I am thankful he is OK. My father has taught me so much and,
for that, I will be forever grateful.