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Clifton Blake, Wilkinson Const. merge to form CB Wilkinson

Focus will be on mixed-use rental buildings with ground-floor commercial

From left the combined leadership team of CB Wilkinson: Jeff Wilkinson, president; Wes Myles, CEO; and Rob Romeo Sr., EVP of construction operations.  (Courtesy CB Wilkinson)
From left the combined leadership team of CB Wilkinson: Jeff Wilkinson, president; Wes Myles, CEO; and Rob Romeo Sr., EVP of construction operations.  (Courtesy CB Wilkinson)

Real estate investment and development company Clifton Blake and Wilkinson Construction Services Inc. have announced a merger that will create a fully integrated Toronto-based development and construction firm named CB Wilkinson.

“We’ve just seen a growing gap between the development industry and construction industry. The motivations are significantly different and growing,” Wes Myles, president of Clifton Blake, said in an interview with RENX. “With costs escalating, we needed a way to close that gap and manage those costs.”

Myles will become CEO of CB Wilkinson.

The new company will focus on infill mixed-use developments in the Greater Toronto Area ranging from eight to 17 storeys near transit nodes, with some commercial retail on the ground floor, he said.

The commercial components of the projects will focus on needs-based retailers such as Dollarama, banks, LCBO outlets or Shoppers Drug Mart stores. Amenities such as schools, groceries and easy access to legal and medical or health-related services will be prioritized.

The companies have not released financial details of the merger.

Benefits of the merger

CB Wilkinson will raise the financing for these developments, deploy the funds for acquisitions, manage the construction process and bring projects to stabilization, Myles explained.

Combining the financing, development and construction aspects of the businesses is designed to "address the widening gap between developers and constructors, which often leads to longer times to market and higher costs" the companies state in the announcement.

"By better aligning development and construction priorities, CB Wilkinson seeks to reduce these inefficiencies, resulting in faster project delivery and lower development costs. The primary goal is to execute projects more effectively for the benefit of all stakeholders, including investors and end-users . . ."

The newly merged company does plan to eventually offer construction services to third-party developers that have faced similar problems with rising costs, but the emphasis for now will be on the projects and investors within CB Wilkinson.

The combined company has a portfolio value of approximately $1.4 billion and plans to transact on $200 million to $300 million per year in new mixed-use, purpose-built rental buildings.

Clifton Blake

Clifton Blake performs a range of real estate activities across investing (via a mortgage fund and a REIT) and development of mixed-use rental housing. Its assets under management stand at $700 million, the company’s website states.

Notable projects in its portfolio include:

  • The eight-storey Pacific Residences on 2946-2968 Dundas Street W., planned for 20,000 square feet of retail space, 10,000 square feet of office space and 120 residential rental units; and
  • Cricket Park Residences, an eight-storey tower on 886-1928 Eglinton Avenue W. expected to hold 20,000 square feet of retail space and 227 residential rental units.

Clifton Blake’s REIT comprises over 1,000 rental suites in its portfolio and approximately 200,000 square feet of commercial space, according to its website.

The REIT is continuing its ongoing efforts to raise capital for its development pipeline of class-A multifamily buildings in core urban neighbourhoods.

Wilkinson Construction

Wilkinson is a family-owned business that was founded in Edmonton in 1977 and relocated to Toronto in 1986, according to the company's website.

Projects include “low-rise and high-rise residential projects, retirement and nursing homes, church renovations, self-storage facilities, industrial warehouses, schools and numerous office and retail renovations.”

As might be expected in such a merger, Clifton Blake and Wilkinson have collaborated on previous developments.

The Pacific Residences is one notable project of the company. Wilkinson is currently constructing the two-phase, five-storey Cathedraltown Courtyards in Markham, Ont., consisting of 103 rental units; and The Manderley Condominium in Scarborough, Ont., a 12-storey, 194-unit mixed-use building.

“We are extremely excited to be teaming up with Clifton Blake to form CB Wilkinson,” Jeff Wilkinson, president of Wilkinson Construction, said in the release.

“This collaboration enhances our role in the project lifecycle, from initial planning to final construction, ensuring that we have a direct influence on the quality and execution of developments. By aligning with Clifton Blake, we not only expand our capabilities but also solidify our commitment to providing greater control and alignment of interests across all projects.”

The CB Wilkinson management team

Myles has over 25 years of experience in commercial real estate, operating in local, foreign, and emerging markets. He has held senior positions at KPMG Real Estate, Slate Asset Management (The Blackstone Group), and GE Capital.

He earned an MBA in international finance, economics and strategic management, as well as a post-MBA in advanced management, real estate, and infrastructure investment, both from the Schulich School of Business.

Wilkinson will be president of CB Wilkinson.

Under his leadership over the past 12 years, Wilkinson Construction has focused on establishing itself in the mid-rise residential sector, He will oversee all construction operations.

Wilkinson holds a civil engineering degree from the University of Waterloo and a master’s degree in construction management. 

Rob Romeo Sr., has been named executive vice-president of construction operations, bringing 39 years of construction industry experience to the business. He has managed approximately seven million square feet of commercial, industrial, and residential projects.

Romeo's career began as an estimator and site superintendent, progressing through project management to his current role. He has completed numerous automotive dealerships and mid-rise residential projects, including 102 Bloor St. W. and 1700 Avenue Rd.

John Wyman will bring experience in trades, property management and construction to his new role as executive vice-president, development and operations.

He has held senior roles at several major Ontario firms and has delivered significant projects for clients such as Bell, Rogers, and RBC. Prior to joining Clifton Blake, he served as director of construction at Core Development Group, where he launched nearly 400 residential units.  

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