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What You Don't Know About Cierra Watson


Cierra Watson is breathing new life into her family’s development company. As EVP of development and acquisitions for Watson Properties, largely inactive since the mid-1990s, she’s transforming and repositioning the firm for a third generation in the real estate biz. 


“We’ve been in the selling mode the last two years,” says Cierra, 33, pictured with son Rhone in Barcelona in 2013. “We're selling off legacy assets, things we don’t want, and focusing on areas I want to focus on.” For example, Watson Properties is redeveloping 1496 Queen Street West, an 1880s heritage building, into a mixed-use project; A&W just signed on to be the ground-floor anchor (the building is seen below). Cierra's grandfather Charles Watson started the development operation in 1958. But Cierra, a one-woman show for the moment, says it can feel like a startup at times. “It’s been a lot of work setting up new systems.”


Cierra grew up in Mount Forest, Ont., where Sunday family dinner conversations with her grandfather—who'd developed Peel Village and Shoppers World Brampton—provided an early real estate education. Cierra studied political science at Western University and after graduating in 2004 worked her way up to a job in sales for CI Mutual Funds. The gig didn’t thrill her (though she did meet her husband, Jeffrey Brown, there). She moved on, got a real estate licence and worked for a bit in residential sales before taking the reins of her family’s firm in 2012. The last few years have seen a "huge transformation and repositioning,” Cierra says. Biggest hurdle ahead: Finding good deals in TO, "and making the numbers work."


What You Don't Know About Cierra Watson

Photo: The Louvre, Paris.

Hometown: Born in Kitchener; raised in Mount Forest, Ont. 

First job: Lifeguard. Best summer gig ever (second job: beer cart girl on a golf course). 

First real estate job: Official car counter for my grandfather at his development sites. I’d put a tick on the paper for every car that went by, and I was paid a penny a car. 

Greatest fear: Anything happening to my son. 

Person (living or dead) you'd most want to meet: I’d do anything to spend another day with my dad (who died in 2006).

Daily habit: Check my email when I wake up.

Favourite music artist: Eminem all the way. Just saw him in Detroit in August. 

Favourite book: 'Love You Forever' by Robert Munsch.

Favourite movie: Wall Street, Christmas Vacation.

Favourite restaurant: Cristal Room Baccarat, Paris; The Cliff in Barbados. 

Bucket list: Round-the-world family trip.

Hobbies: Traveling and reading.

Startling fact about you: I have an obsession with expensive chandeliers.