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Leyad acquires 2 shopping centres for $126M, more to come

Montreal firm's latest acquisitions Cornerstone Prince Albert, Garden City Square power centres

Cornerstone Prince Albert power centre in Prince Albert, Sask. (Courtesy Leyad)
Cornerstone Prince Albert power centre in Prince Albert, Sask. (Courtesy Leyad)

Leyad’s 2024 buying spree continued this week as the firm acquired shopping centres in Winnipeg and in Prince Albert, Sask., for a combined $126 million.

That’s not the end of it, however, as chief executive officer Henry Zavriyev told RENX a number of other acquisitions are also being completed.  While he declined to provide details at this point, Zavriyev said they include a multi-tenant distribution centre in Quebec and several mid-rise apartment buildings in Alberta.

“We’re at a very unique moment in time where a lot of investors that would usually be buying these great assets aren’t at the table,” Zavriyev said.

“The fundamentals of the real estate are great, the locations are great, the tenants are great and the fundamentals of Canada are fantastic with immigration and our infrastructure. Once the markets adjust a little bit in the next few years, we should be rewarded for it.”

All of this activity has enabled the Montreal-headquartered real estate company to push its head count past 100 across Canada this month. Leyad is still hiring for several key positions to support its growth and enhance its service offerings.

“It takes a whole army of people to get all these things done and to take care of these assets afterwards,” Zavriyev noted. 

Zavriyev said Leyad is actively pursuing more opportunities and will announce several other significant transactions across Canada in the coming months.

Cornerstone Prince Albert

The largest of the two newly acquired retail properties is Cornerstone Prince Albert in Prince Albert, Sask., which was acquired from Choice Properties and Springwood Developments for $94 million. The power centre comprises about 440,000 square feet of leasable space but doesn’t include the Walmart store which shadow anchors the 80-acre site.

Cornerstone is a primary shopping destination for people from northern Saskatchewan and part of northern Manitoba. Its anchor tenants include Sobeys, Rona, Michaels, Shoppers Drug Mart and other large chain stores.

Zavriyev said Cornerstone has been developed over the past two decades, though much of that has been more recent and a pad is currently being completed for CIBC.

“There's excess land there and we're having discussions with retailers about building out new pads for them,” Zavriyev said.

Prince Albert, which has a population of close to 50,000, has received an influx of immigrants and other new residents over the past two years and is expected to grow even more over the next five years due to an increasingly diversified economy. While this is Leyad’s first investment in Prince Albert, Zavriyev said more will follow.

Garden City Square

Leyad has also acquired the Garden City Square power centre at 783-915 Leila Ave. in Winnipeg from Primaris for $32 million. 

The 162,209-square-foot centre sits on 15.7 acres and is fully leased to tenants including Staples, Mark’s, Liquor Mart, Moores, McDonald’s, Marshalls, Dollarama and Planet Fitness. The centre is shadow-anchored by The Home Depot, which wasn’t part of the acquisition.

Garden City Square is situated in one of Winnipeg’s most dominant retail nodes, directly across the street from Garden City Shopping Centre, a 380,000-square-foot enclosed mall with top national retailers.

The node is surrounded by densely populated residential neighbourhoods.

“We're building our portfolio in Winnipeg, so this made a lot of sense,” Zavriyev said.  “There are no anticipated changes. We're going to be holding it for the long term and it fits our investment strategy.” 

Hotel & Spa Lac Brome

Leyad director of commercial properties Greg Castiel, chief executive officer Henry Zavriyev and acquisition manager Eli Erdstein. (Courtesy Leyad)
Leyad director of commercial properties Greg Castiel, from left, chief executive officer Henry Zavriyev and acquisition manager Eli Erdstein. (Courtesy Leyad)

Leyad acquired Hotel & Spa Lac Brome — located along Lac Brome in southern Quebec, approximately half-way between Montreal and Sherbrooke — for an undisclosed price in a foreclosure sale last month.

The property is Leyad's first foray into the hospitality sector. It offers 145 metres of lake frontage, 40 guest rooms, a restaurant serving French cuisine, conference facilities and a spa.

Leyad plans a comprehensive renovation encompassing aesthetic improvements to elevate the ambiance and modernize the facilities while preserving the hotel's unique charm and character.

“We weren't intending on going into hospitality, but the right opportunity presented itself and we have the people to add value to it,” Zavriyev explained.

Move into Atlantic Canadian retail

Leyad, which was founded with Zavriyev’s acquisition of a small Montreal apartment building in 2016, has had a very active first half of 2024.

The company acquired the 182,031-square-foot North Sydney Mall, which sits on 21.23 acres of land in North Sydney, N.S., for an undisclosed price from Econo-Malls in February. 

That followed Leyad's move into the Atlantic Canada retail market last October with the $61.5-million acquisition of the 363,000-square-foot Wheeler Park Power Centre that sits on 1.5 million square feet of land in Moncton.

Recent Winnipeg acquisitions

Leyad acquired the CDI College campus at 280 Main St. in Winnipeg in February. The 24,000-square-foot building on 9.27 acres of land offers future high-rise development potential of up to 180,000 square feet and 40 storeys. It sits adjacent to the new 300 Main, Manitoba's tallest building.

Leyad acquired a fully leased 263,430-square-foot distribution centre at 1450 Mountain Ave. in Winnipeg’s Inkster Industrial Park from Nicola Wealth’s Canadian Real Estate LP portfolio in March. 

Leyad struck again in Winnipeg with the April acquisition of the four-storey, 79,000-square-foot Johnston Terminal at 25 Forks Market Rd. The multi-tenanted retail, commercial and office building was originally a railway warehouse in the 1920s before it was refurbished. 

Johnston Terminal was acquired for an undisclosed price from Winnipeg-based Artis REIT.

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