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BMO program finances Edmonton apartment tower retrofit

Avenue Living to invest $28 million at The Sunrise

"before" and "After" renderings of The Sunrise, an Edmonton apartment building which is undergoing a $28-million retrofit. (Courtesy Avenue Living)
"Before" and "After" images of The SunRise, an Edmonton apartment building which is undergoing a $28-million retrofit. (Courtesy Avenue Living)

Calgary-based Avenue Living Asset Management Ltd. is taking a 49-year-old rental building in its portfolio and retrofitting the Edmonton property through a unique financing program with BMO.

The mixed-used building The SunRise, at 10609 101st St. NW, will deliver 179 upgraded rental units to the downtown Edmonton market near the ICE District and the gateway to the community’s Chinatown.

The nearly $28-million project was made possible through BMO's short-term retrofit financing program and includes energy retrofits and sustainability upgrades to reduce the building's greenhouse gas emissions by up to 64 per cent.

Avenue Living acquired Capital Tower, which it has renamed as The SunRise, in 2015 from Golden Jubilee Enterprises.

“We’ve owned it a number of years, but it wasn’t fully occupied and it was in an area of Edmonton that just needs some love, just like the asset does,” said Daniel Veniot, associate vice-president - capital markets debt, with Avenue Living.

“The renovation of this building is expected to inspire more projects like it in the downtown area, which will bring in more investment and create a fresh, lively atmosphere in the neighbourhood.

"By investing in this asset, we are introducing new units in Edmonton to support a targeted demographic of essential workers, young professionals and students while ensuring that we're doing it in an environmentally friendly way.”

Construction has begun at The SunRise

Veniot said the project is under construction and is expected to be completed by the end of 2024 with leasing to start toward the end of the year.

“The SunRise energy retrofit project represents an exciting opportunity for Avenue Living to continue to support the workforce housing demographic by modernizing and adding 179 new rental units to downtown Edmonton in an environmentally and sustainable fashion,” he said.

“The SunRise retrofit will revitalize this 10-storey, 49-year-old mixed-use, multifamily residential and commercial asset.”

The building has been in its original state and Avenue Living is renovating the entire building inside and out.

Some of the upgrades include:

  • new triple-glazed windows;  
  • wall insulation to add an R-value of 12 to improve the efficiency of the exterior;
  • air infiltration reduction;
  • LED lighting fixtures;
  • in-suite heat recovery ventilation;
  • new make-up air units to improve air circulation while eliminating cooking odours and helping air quality;
  • common area heat recovery ventilation;
  • water loop heat pump;
  • low-flow water fixtures;
  • domestic hot water boiler replacement;
  • solar PV installation;
  • in-suite smart thermostats;
  • central control systems; and
  • sub-metering of suites.

New amenities include rooftop garden

The property will also have amenities that foster community, including a rooftop garden, a library, a games and movie room, a fitness centre, a storage area and refurbished commercial space on the main floor. 

Avenue Living has about 17,150 rental units across Canada and the U.S., spread across more than 500 properties.

“As part of our purpose to boldly grow the good in business and life, BMO is committed to being our clients' lead partner in the transition to a net-zero world,” said Jeffrey Shell, head of alternatives, commercial ESG and innovation, BMO Global Asset Management, in a statement about the project. 

"Greenhouse gas emissions from buildings make up a large proportion of Canada's total emissions profile, requiring extensive energy retrofits to get to net zero.

"The BMO Retrofit Program is a testament to the way we collaborate across the bank, and partner with organizations and clients, to create new and effective sustainable solutions."

Veniot said the intent is to inspire more projects like The SunRise to increase sustainability products within downtown Edmonton which will attract more investment in the area and create a fresh, lively atmosphere in the neighbourhood.

The SunRise is empty during the renovation and will retain the same number of apartments.

“The number of units will be the same but Avenue Living is investing in renewing every unit. There will be new flooring, new cabinetry, new appliances. This asset was in its original state and it’s a 49-year-old asset,” Veniot said.

“It definitely needed some love. We’re not only redoing the asset but we’re redoing it in a sustainable fashion which will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 64 per cent.”

Veniot a former BMO employee

Veniot’s background is with the Bank of Montreal, where he worked for 11 years in the bank’s real estate finance division.

During that time, he worked on an energy retrofit initiative to create a financing program for real estate owners to access capital to renovate and improve assets in an environmentally friendly way.

The launch of the program occurred at about the time he moved to Avenue Living in 2022. Veniot said The SunRise is the first project being funded in Western Canada. 

“Avenue Living went through extensive feasibility studies and energy audits, a ton of due diligence to ensure that our building could achieve the sustainability guidelines within the program,” he said. 

Veniot said he foresees additional similar projects. 

“The BMO program isn’t going away. This is the first asset and we’re extremely grateful for it to be the first asset in Western Canada," Veniot said 

"But, Avenue Living owns a number of buildings and a number of assets and there’s a lot of benefits to our tenants and our investors and us as a company to take a close look at when are doing capital improvements to our assets that we’re doing it in a way that’s going to reduce the environmental footprint of the company and the buildings.” 

Founded in 2006, the Avenue Living has grown to $6 billion in assets under management across Canada and the United States with assets in multiresidential, self-storage, commercial and farmland.

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