Property Biz Canada

Concert acquires prime Toronto development site


Concert Real Estate Corporation beat out 13 other bidders to acquire an approved residential mixed-use development site near the intersection of Toronto’s Sherbourne and Bloor Streets.

These two blocks of redevelopment land at Howard and Sherbourne in downtown Toronto have been sold to Concert Real Estate Corp. CBRE was the broker in the sale.

These two blocks of redevelopment land at Howard and Sherbourne in downtown Toronto have been sold to Concert Real Estate Corp. CBRE was the broker in the sale. (Image courtesy CBRE)

“We were certainly willing to step up and be aggressive on the price,” said Concert president and chief executive officer Brian McCauley.

He acknowledged paying a premium because zoning is already in place for his firm to redevelop the property.

Concert purchased the site from a syndicate of developers and investors called Bloor Parliament Investments Limited in a deal brokered by CBRE. The Vancouver-based developer purchased the site — which encompasses 50,785 square feet and includes two adjacent blocks separated by Redrocket Lane — for $102.4 million.

What the site includes

Block One is occupied by three vacant homes, but is zoned for a 50-storey mixed-use building with approximately 428,000 square feet of buildable gross floor area and a maximum of 477 residential units. The vacant homes will be restored.

“I think there’s an opportunity to enhance the character of the architectural offering for the tower,” said McCauley.

McCauley expects the condominium tower to include a mix of studios and one-bedroom, one-bedroom-plus-den, two-bedroom and three-bedroom suites.

Block Two is occupied by six recently renovated, semi-detached units generating annual rental net operating income of $231,137. The block has approved zoning in place for seven additional three-storey townhouses with a maximum gross floor area of 13,455 square feet.

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Concert isn’t required to dedicate any parkland or make a cash-in-lieu payment to the City of Toronto (which was addressed by the vendor in a previous transaction for another block of land), but McCauley said there are plans to “create an exciting pedestrian realm and public space at grade.”

What Concert likes about the property

The site is also zoned for approximately 11,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. McCauley said it could be dedicated to traditional retail, a restaurant or other creative uses.

Concert’s goal is to submit a site plan application in the next six months, go to market in early 2019 and start construction later that year.

McCauley said Concert was attracted to the site for several reasons:

* its proximity to the Sherbourne subway station;

* easy access to such neighbourhoods as Yorkville, Rosedale and Danforth;

* and other successful developments in the neighbourhood, including Tridel’s nearby Via Bloor condo, scheduled for occupancy in 2021.

McCauley was also encouraged by the response to Concert’s 88 Scott Condominium Residences farther downtown. Located at Scott and Wellington Streets, at the intersection of the financial district and the St. Lawrence neighbourhood, 88 Scott houses 523 units in 58 storeys. Only five suites remain unsold.

Concert’s portfolio

Concert, which is owned by union and management pension plans representing more than 200,000 Canadians, has undertaken developments worth more than $3.4 billion. It has developed nearly 12,000 rental and condo suites, and built or acquired more than 12 million square feet of income-producing properties.

The company has a development pipeline with a cumulative 7,600 homes and 500,000 square feet of commercial space at six master-planned communities across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Metro Vancouver and Victoria.

“We’re constantly on the hunt to grow our office and industrial portfolios,” said McCauley, who has been with Concert for 24 years and took over his role from company co-founder David Podmore last June. “We have over four million square feet of office and industrial properties in the GTA, and we’re always looking for additional acquisitions on those fronts.”

RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust (REI-UN-T) sold a 50 per cent stake in Sunnybrook Plaza, at the corner of Bayview and Eglinton Avenues, to Concert for $26.3 million last year. They’ll redevelop the site, which contained 50,766 square feet of retail space, into a mixed-use property that will feature 16- and 11-storey rental apartments as well as 43,000 square feet of retail.

Concert’s other GTA residential projects

Concert has two other residential projects under construction in the GTA.

The second phase of Sherwood at Huntington, a joint venture with Tridel at 1888 Bayview Ave. in the Lawrence Park neighbourhood, is being finished. It will have 80 luxury condo homes.

The 28-storey, U31-designed The Kip District Tower One at 5365 Dundas St. W. in Etobicoke is sold-out and nearing completion. It’s the first of five new towers within a master-planned community at Kipling and Dundas that’s within easy walking distance of the Kipling subway station.

“We’re in for site plan approvals for the second phase, which has twin towers,” said McCauley. “One of them is a condominium and one of them is rental.

“The unique part about our rental tower is that we’ve done a deal with the City of Toronto to have 50 units of affordable housing through their Open Door program. If we can get through site plan approval over the next couple of months, we’ll definitely try to get in the ground in the latter part of this year or early next year.”

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Steve McLean

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Steve is a veteran writer, reporter, editor and communications specialist whose work has appeared in a wide variety of print and online outlets. He’s the author of the book Hot Canadian Bands and has taught reporting to college students. He is based in Toronto.

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