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Forum expands multires development at retail properties

Lustra rental condos under construction at Promenades Terrebonne in Greater Montreal

Lustra rental condos are being developped adjacent to the Promenades Terrebonne shopping centre in Greater Montreal. (Courtesy Forum)
Lustra rental condos are being developed adjacent to the Promenades Terrebonne shopping centre in Greater Montreal. (Courtesy Forum)

Developer Forum is planning to densify more of its commercial and retail properties across Canada by adding residential units to the sites.

Its latest such development, in partnership with Axxys Construction, is the first phase of the Lustra rental condo project in Terrebonne, Que., at the Promenades Terrebonne.  

Lustra will be a three-phase project with just over 250 units in all-concrete buildings. Work is already underway on the first phase at the site. It will be seven storeys with 100 units to be delivered to the market by next summer.

Alexandra Serafini, vice-president of residential operations for Forum, said the real estate developer and property manager has 50 commercial properties across Canada, 33 of which are in Quebec. It also has 18 residential properties, 14 of which are in Quebec.

Forum has offices in Montreal, Burlington, Ont., and Edmonton.

“We’re really strong in commercial and we’re expanding a little bit more to residential the last two years,” Serafini said.

Terrebonne is about 30 minutes northeast of downtown Montreal, near Laval.

Lustra being built beside shopping centre

Forum is building the residential project on an existing commercial shopping centre site which is anchored by an IGA grocery store.

“We decided to densify because of the great location that commercial property is in," Serafini explained. "It’s right off a busy highway. So there’s a lot of traffic through there and we’re just adjacent to a residential neighbourhood. To us, it made a lot of sense to build some residential there. 

“It’s also where the trend is heading - of having densified, mixed-use spaces where you have some commercial and you have residential as well.”

Serafini said the Lustra project’s three phases should be completed by early 2027.

“We have this available land and we definitely feel mixed-use communities are the way of the future," she continued.

"As urban, suburban areas are kind of mingling together you have these bigger commercial spaces that are spread out and we think because of the location built on a very accessible area and just off of a residential neighbourhood, that it made sense for us to add residential.

“Tenants are going to be able to take advantage of the commercial offerings and the commercial tenants are going to benefit from having about 700 new customers to go to their shops.

"So I really like that whole walkability aspect of it where you don’t have to drive to go to the grocery store, you don’t have to drive to go to the pharmacy, you can just walk right out of your apartment and just go over across the street and have all these services at the tip of your fingers."

Forum owns and manages its properties

Serafini said the company also has a strong property management component and manages its own commercial sites. 

Alexandra Serafini, vice-president of residential operations for Forum. (Courtesy Forum)
Alexandra Serafini, vice-president of residential operations for Forum. (Courtesy Forum)

“So it made sense for us to do rentals because we want to keep ownership of our residential buildings, same as we keep ownership of our commercial buildings and we want to manage ourselves and offer a really good service to our tenants whether they be residential or commercial tenants," she said.

“In terms of the market, the trend is definitely towards rentals right now overall. Montreal is definitely the leader in rentals across Canada right now."

Serafini noted a recent study which found 63 per cent of households in Montreal rent their homes. The percentage of renters has been rising steadily across most of Canada in recent years.

"I read that more and more in Canada the number of renters is at unprecedented heights," she said. "That’s what we’re seeing right now as a trend with the interest rates and the lack of affordability in terms of purchasing. We’re seeing a mix of demographics.

"I’m definitely seeing younger people that are deferring the initial ownership a little bit later while they kind of build up their down payment, but we also do see the aging demographics as well that are wanting to downsize and not have the ownership costs of having a house anymore.”

Forum's recent multires projects

Serafini said the company just delivered a property on Vancouver Island called The Richmond at a grocery-anchored commercial property in Duncan. About 60 residential rental units have been added adjacent to the shopping centre.

“I think this will be kind of our focus in the next two years, growing Forum and really focusing on diversifying our commercial properties and adding residential to them,” she added. “We definitely have plans for growth and we have plans to do more of these in the future.”

Forum was founded in 1988. Its real estate portfolio is valued at about $1 billion, with 2.5 million square feet of commercial property and 400 tenants currently occupying units.

Lustra offers a variety of unit configurations, from studios to one- to three-bedroom residences.

Residents of Lustra will have access to a tenant lounge equipped with a gas fireplace, a kitchenette and a shared workspace in Phase 1. Additionally, they will have access to a gym and indoor and outdoor playgrounds for both children and adults, which will be added in Phases 2 and 3.

Amenities such as indoor and outdoor parking, bicycle storage spaces and electric charging stations will also be available.

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