166 Russell Ave: Meet The Builder!
Aaron Hahn of Hahn Builders.
Aaron is a casual, friendly, General Contractor in his 30s, full of great energy and insights. And he’s really excited about the work he’s been doing at 166 Russell. He says it’s much more than a renovation; it’s a restoration. The original building dates to the 1930s, and was once upon a time called “Avenue Pharmacy,” among other incarnations, from barber shop to convenience store.
For Aaron, he says the process has been nothing like following the “LEGO instructions,” and “paint-by-numbers,” of other projects, or new builds by developers that knock down what was there to get a fresh start. He calls the architect, Todd Barber, a “technical artist,” and Karl a “joy to work with.” The team that came together on this is a really important part of what’s been created, and Aaron states that he “craves [something like] it now on every job.” Clearly he’s been an integral part of making that team so exceptional.
There’s something special about the way Aaron works, and that means some key parts of the building are special, too. Like the single-boiler HVAC system, which also heats the radiant polished cement floors in many of the units, making it ultra-efficient. The air conditioning has also been placed on the roof which will cut down on noise inside all the units.
A project of this scale no doubt had its fair share of issues. Aaron describes it as an “emotional rollercoaster,” and there have been significant challenges that he and the rest of the team have had to overcome. From supply chain delays, to materials that went missing and had to be remade, to the sudden passing of the would-be framer, Aaron’s patience, perseverance and collaborative nature won the day. Nothing could defeat the attitude he went to work with every day. And after it all Aaron says “Karl rolls with it like no one else I’ve ever met!” Clearly a match made in heaven.
By putting in the time, effort, and the extra dollars when needed, something really unique is being created, and Aaron’s extra care and thought really shine through in the details. The investment is more than monetary, though: it’s creating a legacy. In Aaron’s words, it “puts Wolseley [Avenue] on the map!” So it won’t be everyone’s favourite “secret street” in the city much longer. This building, with its three residential units, and two ground-floor commercial spaces, will become a real neighbourhood landmark, and highlights the “essence of Midtown.” And the units are more than just rentals; the apartments are new homes for people, and that matters now more than ever. The commercial spaces are more than just square footage, they represent important opportunities for local entrepreneurs. All of it together, helps a neighbourhood become its best, and its residents flourish.
“All in all, it’s the coolest project I’ve ever done, in terms of the amount of thought, detail, foresight, and the way it all came together. Seeing how an old building can become a showpiece. How do you diversify a building better than that? It will be a total crown of the neighbourhood.”