Jaime McKenna has moved from one largely family-owned company to another to assume the newly created role of managing director and group head of real estate for Fengate Asset Management.
“What I really liked about Fengate was a great growth story in multiple asset classes,” McKenna told RENX this week during her first day on the job. “It actually reminded me a lot of Minto.”
As part of the Minto executive team, McKenna led more than $1 billion of investment transactions as well as enterprise resource planning implementation, organizational realignment and change management across the company. She served as a member of multiple committees that oversee Minto’s investments.
McKenna was also part of the team that led the July 2018 completion of Minto Apartment REIT’s initial public offering and its follow-on equity offering in April.
“During my time at Minto, I experienced property management, accounting and investments, giving me the whole picture of a real estate company,” said McKenna.
Prior to Minto, McKenna was director of finance for Bell Canada, where she specialized in financial reporting and mergers and acquisitions. She also led the financial integration of newly acquired information and communication technology companies.
Fengate real estate investments
Fengate is an alternative investment manager focused on infrastructure, private equity and real estate strategies which was founded by Louis Serafini Sr.
The company’s investments are valued at more than $20 billion and it has equity commitments of more than $4 billion. It has more than 20 institutional investors.
McKenna is in charge of overseeing Fengate’s entire real estate portfolio, which includes more than 75 properties and investments and is valued at more than $4.9 billion.
The portfolio includes office, retail, industrial, residential and commercial assets allocated among core, core-plus, value-added and opportunistic strategies.
Fengate was formed more than 45 years ago and employs more than 150 in offices in Toronto, Oakville, Vancouver, New York and Houston. McKenna will divide her time between the Toronto and Oakville offices in the Greater Toronto Area.
There are about 30 people on Fengate’s real estate team. McKenna plans to grow that substantially over the next two years along with the real estate portfolio.
While McKenna’s most recent experience was in the multi-family area, she plans to expand in all asset classes.
Ongoing Fengate developments
Fengate is involved with a variety of current developments:
* Fengate is the majority equity investor in a $425-million mixed-use development at 1926 Lake Shore Blvd. W. in Toronto called Mirabella. The two 38-storey condominium towers are being built in partnership with Diamante Development Corporation and will feature 736 units. There will also be retail space and more than 700 parking stalls. Occupancy is expected in early 2022;
* Fengate purchased land at 10 Great Lakes Blvd. in Oakville to create the 41-acre Oak West Corporate Centre. The business park will offer a mix of office, retail and industrial space with flex space options ranging from 5.000 to 500,000 square feet. The first two buildings in the first phase of the development are completed, while construction has begun on a third building. The second phase will follow;
* Fengate joined the founders of Friday Harbour Resort as a strategic financial partner in the mixed-use development on the shores of Lake Simcoe in central Ontario (about an hour north of Toronto). Spread over 600 acres, it includes North America’s largest inland marina, a luxury hotel, the Nest golf course, a beach club, a 200-acre nature preserve and more than 46,000 square feet of retail. It will ultimately have 3,000 residential units.
Fengate infrastructure investments
Fengate has been investing in infrastructure since 2006 and is involved with more than 40 projects valued at more than $15 billion.
The infrastructure team of more than 50 people is focused on public-private partnerships, contracted power and contracted utilities.
“They want to mirror the success they’ve had on the infrastructure side in the real estate group,” said McKenna. “My goal is that, as infrastructure grows, we see real estate grow at a similar velocity.”
Women in real estate leadership roles
McKenna frequently speaks on expert panels at conferences across Canada and chaired the 2018 Canadian Apartment Investment Conference in Toronto.
She’s noticed more people talking about diversity in senior leadership positions in the real estate industry at these events, which she calls “a huge step.”
However, McKenna believes the industry remains behind in this area and she hopes her new role at Fengate will help other women coming up through the ranks see what’s possible.
“I hope we continue to see women take roles in real estate that are maybe not as traditional as in the past — such as finance, marketing and HR — and actually seeing operational CIO and CEO positions being taken by women,” she said.
“It’s not just because it’s the right thing to do, but it really benefits the business by increasing the diversity of thought around the table.”