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Equiton surpasses $1B in assets under management

Recent apartment acquisitions add to Burlington firm's development portfolio

Equiton CFO Helen Hurlbut and CEO Jason Roque. (Courtesy Equiton)
Equiton CFO Helen Hurlbut and CEO Jason Roque. (Courtesy Equiton)

Equiton has surpassed $1 billion in assets under management and expects to continue growing that portfolio through its mixed strategies of acquisitions, value-add and development.

“It's good because it puts you in a different spot with respect to the investor community,” Equiton chief executive officer Jason Roque told RENX. “Size matters in the financial world.”

“We usually approach things a little more conservatively but always work, to the best of our ability, to be as aggressive as we can,” chief financial officer Helen Hurlbut added.  

Roque is especially proud Equiton was able to reach the $1-billion mark despite the challenges — including the COVID-19 pandemic, rising interest rates and inflation, and an uncertain real estate market — that have arisen in recent years.

“We’re very much focused on having a really good culture and we're very entrepreneurial,” Roque said. “We also have a team that is hard-working and very driven.” 

The growth of Equiton

The private equity firm was established in 2015 and now has more than 12,000 investors and nearly 200 employees based out of offices in Burlington, Ont., and a recently opened location at 333 Bay St. in Toronto's financial district. 

Equiton manages 39 properties with 2,752 residential units in 17 communities across Canada.

Its offerings include two private real estate funds and multiple development opportunities representing 1,727 residential units and $1.07 billion in estimated completion value. 

While much of Equiton’s recent growth has been driven by acquisitions, it has also seen the value of its assets increase and has put a larger focus on development. 

“We're constantly reviewing different opportunities and targets across the Canadian market,” Hurlbut said. “We've got a really good formula to be able to continue to grow.”

Equiton's active approach to property management, through its Equiton Living division, focuses on making strategic improvements to increase the value of the properties for investors and to benefit residents.

It invested more than $5 million to renovate 479 residential units at turnover last year.

Recent Equiton acquisitions and developments

Equiton acquired Scenic Tower, a nine-storey, 115-unit apartment building on a 3.24-acre site at 470 Scenic Dr. in London, Ont., for $21.5 million in October.

It also acquired a 1969-built, six-storey, 55-unit apartment building at 23 Lynnwood Dr. in Brantford, Ont., for $11.25 million in December.

It’s next door to, and shares a driveway with, another Equiton-owned apartment at 19 Lynnwood Dr., providing increased synergies for staffing and third-party operating contracts.

Equiton’s latest development investment opportunity is TEN99 Broadview, a proposed 12-storey, 355-unit condominium with 4,697 square feet of commercial space at 1099 Broadview Ave. in Toronto.

It’s aiming for a Q4 2028 completion with an estimated value of $386 million.

Other Equiton developments in Ontario, which are at various stages of planning and construction, are:

  • Vicinity Condos, a proposed 11-storey, 178-unit condo with 2,500 square feet of commercial space at 875 The Queensway in Toronto;
  • Sandstones, a proposed 13-storey condo with more than 300 units and approximately 9,000 square feet of retail space at grade, at 2257 Kingston Rd. in Scarborough;
  • Marquis Modern Towns, a partnership with Reid’s Heritage Properties for 96 stacked townhomes across four buildings at the rear of the property and a new 6,800-square-foot The Beer Store at the front of the 3.5-acre site at 710 Woolwich St. in Guelph;
  • and Riverain District, a three-phase, purpose-built rental development in partnership with Main and Main on a 4.2-acre site at 29 Selkirk St. and 2 Montreal Rd. in Ottawa that will have more than 1,000 units upon completion.

Equiton’s funds and investors

The Equiton Residential Income Fund Trust specializes in value-add multiresidential properties while the Equiton Real Estate Income and Development Fund offers access to institutional-grade real estate and development projects.

While the financial advisory and institutional investment communities are very important to Equiton, it also has a mandate to democratize private real estate investing and make its funds available to average Canadians who are looking to create wealth through private real estate.

The minimum investment threshold ranges from $5,000 to $25,000, depending on the vehicle.

Hurlbut said Equiton has delivered returns of more than 10 per cent over its past three fiscal years.

“When you're dealing with a lot of headwinds, you have to be very diligent in how you're operating your assets and make sure that you're continuing to make smart decisions to drive value,” Roque explained, adding he is confident high immigration levels will continue to benefit all types of Canadian real estate over the medium and long terms.

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