Slate purchased the downtown site, which covers a full city block and is surrounded by four different streets in the Corktown neighbourhood, for an undisclosed price in 2017 from a private local vendor. It has operated the existing single-storey retail plaza in the interim, though redevelopment was always in the plans.
Slate founders Blair and Brady Welch have roots in the Hamilton area and managing director of development Brandon Donnelly told RENX the company was looking for properties in the area even before acquiring the Corktown site.
“It had all the ingredients that we want and typically look for in development sites. We want urban form, walkability, amenities, transit and all of those types of things, and Hamilton has all of that.
“The other interesting thing about Hamilton is that it never really saw the same development pressures the way that Toronto and other parts of the region have. The byproduct of that is that it has a great stock of older heritage buildings to create a great urban environment, which we love.
“There are also some really interesting and exciting cultural things happening in Hamilton as well because it’s been more affordable than Toronto and other parts of the region, so you have some spillover there with some great creative ideas, arts, culture, new restaurants and things like that.
“We saw that and that makes us really excited for the future of Hamilton.”
The Corktown development
The 27-storey Corktown East tower, which will have retail at grade, will be the first building to go up. A fall 2026 completion is being targeted. A 14-storey building on John Street with retail at grade will follow as quickly as possible.
Corktown East will offer studios, one-bedroom, one-bedroom-plus-den, two-bedroom and two-bedroom-plus-den suites ranging from 340 to 851 square feet.
CORE Architects is steering the design for the project, which borrows from traditional industrial facades while incorporating modern urbanism. Brick from the existing buildings will be reintroduced to the mid-rise building. Mason Studio is overseeing interior design.
Display windows and a bar area with shelving will be incorporated into Corktown East’s lobby to facilitate pop-up activations by local artisans and other businesses.
The building’s rooftop terrace will have a large, illuminated canopy and offer 360-degree views of Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment.
Other amenities will include a health and fitness centre, a party room, indoor and outdoor social lounges, co-working spaces, a guest suite and an outdoor pool.
Donnelly said unit prices and maintenance fees are still being worked on, partially owing to volatile construction costs.
Neighbourhood amenities include pubs, breweries, restaurants and markets. The Hamilton GO Centre is a five-minute walk from the site while access to Highway 403 and the Queen Elizabeth Way is a 10-minute drive away.
Slate doesn’t have any other multiresidential developments planned for Hamilton, but Donnelly said it’s interested.
The company recently closed on the $518-million acquisition of approximately 800 acres of industrial development land and buildings from Stelco Inc. in Hamilton. It plans to develop up to 12 million square feet of new industrial space on the land, which is already zoned for a range of uses.
Other Slate multiresidential developments
Slate has four other multiresidential developments at various stages in Toronto.
The majority of the 151 units are sold, though some bigger suites geared toward end-users will be released later this year.
Construction is up to the seventh floor and occupancy is expected next spring.
One Delisle, at the southwest corner of Yonge Street and Delisle Avenue north of St. Clair Avenue, will be the first Canadian project by Chicago-headquartered architectural firm Studio Gang. Most units in the 47-storey mixed-use condo are sold, though some are being held back.
Shoring and excavation work will start within a few weeks and the project is scheduled for completion in 2026.
Slate is going through the entitlement process to get rezoning for a project at 1 St. Clair Avenue W. The existing 12-storey office building with retail at grade will be maintained, revitalized and incorporated into a 49-storey development with 340 residential units above if all goes as planned.
Donnelly said it hasn’t been decided whether the residential component will be comprised of condo or purpose-built rental units.
Slate is in the entitlement and rezoning process for Dixie Outlet Mall at 1250 S. Service Rd. In Mississauga.
Plans for the 45-acre site will incorporate a mix of uses, including enhanced green space, improved access for bicycles and walking, new shops and restaurants, and housing options. Slate has held multiple community meetings over the past two years.
“We’re now revising our master plan based on some of the feedback we’ve got,” said Donnelly. “We’ll likely release something later this year on that.”
Slate and Carlyle Communities sold a three-acre residential development site at 6 Dawes Rd. near Danforth Avenue and Main Street in the eastern part of Toronto to Fitzrovia Real Estate and an institutional capital partner in February.
Slate and Carlyle acquired the site in 2019 and began the entitlement process to rezone it for a high-rise, mixed-use residential development. Fitzrovia plans to build approximately 1,000 purpose-built rental units by early 2026.
“We’re very active and looking for new sites and will have some new sites to reveal in the next six to 12 months,” Donnelly said of Slate’s Canadian multiresidential development pipeline.
There are also plans to become active in multifamily in the United States and Europe.
Other recent Slate activities
Slate is a global alternative investment platform targeting real assets. Its platform spans a range of real estate and infrastructure investment strategies, including opportunistic, value-add, core-plus and debt investments.
“We pride ourselves on being a global platform,” said Donnelly. “I think that creates a lot of opportunities for us and we can learn a lot across the different geographies.”
Slate’s Cities and Communities Impact Infrastructure Strategy was launched in February and will be overseen from the company’s London, England office.
It will target infrastructure assets that advance global energy transition and drive reductions in carbon emissions associated with cities and communities.
The strategy was behind Slate’s approximately $80-million investment in Eider VF Limited, a United Kingdom-based vertical farming business, in May.
“ESG (environmental, social and governance) is top of mind for a lot of us and something that we’re spending a lot of time on and focusing on as both the right thing to do and as an investment strategy,” said Donnelly.
Slate announced the final close of its Slate Canadian Real Estate Opportunity Fund II at approximately $572 million on April 26.
Slate completed the acquisition of Presima Inc., a Montreal-based asset manager focused on global real estate securities, earlier this month. The transaction added $1.1 billion in assets to its investment management business.
The deal positioned Slate as one of the only firms in Canada to offer global real estate investment solutions across both public and private markets.