RENX top 100 real estate stories of 2017
If you followed commercial real estate in Canada during 2017, one word might best describe the activity: it was a “blur”. All the buying, selling and building is projected by CBRE to push investment activity in Canada beyond $40 billion before year’s end. This makes the frenetic pace RENX’s top Canadian CRE story of 2017.
NO. 1: Canada’s CRE investment on record-setting pace
12-20-2017: The commercial real estate sector in Canada remains awash in capital and heading toward a record-breaking year as a growing number of investors continue to buy assets. Following a record $34.7B in commercial real estate investment sales in 2016, the pace in 2017 has accelerated. Investments by the end of Q3 already topped $33B, and are likely headed north of $40B by year end, according to CBRE. Major markets continue to be the big drivers, with Toronto and Vancouver comprising the lion’s share of investment. In Vancouver. CRE investments are rocketing toward another record year, data from Altus Group shows. The pace is even leading some developers to begin building on spec – a phenomenon not seen in years.
NO. 2: A year of trophy asset sales in Vancouver
12-19-2017: It has been a year of major transactions in Vancouver, where the massive deals started in January and never let up. The selling (and buying) spree started with Cadillac Fairview’s sale of a 50 per cent stake in its Vancouver portfolio to the Ontario Pension Board and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board — four million square feet of leasable space, including shopping centres such as CF Pacific Centre. It has continued with major ICI and residential land deals, the Oakridge Centre shopping mall and more.
NO. 3: Dream Office sells Scotia Plaza stake to KingSett
06-23-2017: Dream Office REIT announced it would sell its 50 per cent stake in Scotia Plaza, plus a portfolio of other assets, to KingSett Capital as part of a $1.7-billion disposition. Dream said the sales were an “acceleration of its strategic plan,” and that the KingSett portion of the disposition was valued at about $1.4 billion. KingSett now owns 100 per cent of Scotia Plaza.
No. 4: Cominar to sell non-core assets to Slate for $1.14B
12-19-2017: Cominar REIT announced it will sell its entire non-core market portfolio, 97 properties valued at $1.14 billion, to Slate Asset Management. Citing a strong Canadian real estate market, Cominar also announced it intends to review and sell up to $1.5 billion in assets from its core market holdings during 2018. The trust had initially announced in August it would sell its properties in the Greater Toronto Area, the Atlantic provinces and Western Canada to focus on its cores of Quebec and Ottawa.
No. 5: SmartREIT, Strathallen acquire OneREIT for $1.1B
08-04-2017: SmartREIT and a subsidiary of Strathallen Capital Corp., announced an agreement to acquire OneREIT and take the trust’s assets private. The transaction was valued at $1.1 billion and included 56 properties, the firms said in a series of releases. It was the outcome of OneREIT’s strategic review process which had first been announced almost a year earlier.
No. 6: Starwood Capital Group gobbles up Milestone REIT
01-19-2017: Starwood Capital Group paid US$2.85 billion to buy Milestone Real Estate Investment Trust, a TSX-listed company that focused solely on U.S. residential properties. In the process, Canadian investors lost one of the TSX’s most significant direct plays on the U.S. real estate market.
No. 7: World’s investors checking into Canadian hotels
11-27-2017: In a sizzling real estate market, the Sheraton Centre hotel and convention complex on Toronto’s Queen Street West drew the attention of multiple buyers and sold in October to a unit of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. for $335 million, making it the largest single hotel transaction in Canadian history. The deal is part of a boom in interest in hotels across Canada by equity investors from around the world, which even included the sale of the former Trump Tower in Toronto to InnVest Hotels.
No. 8: ‘Exciting times’ in Montreal: Developments worth billions
04-04-2017: The orange cones bedeviling Montreal motorists appear to be paying off, as the mood is decidedly buoyant about the high number of construction projects in the city. “This is an exciting time to be a Montrealer,” Montoni Group director of business development Mike Jager said. “For the last 40 years, we saw the rest of Canada grow while we stood still.” From the huge Solar Uniquartier to a $1B investment in the downtown by Ivanhoe Cambridge to a proposed $3B mixed-use development in Longueuil, the city is building again.
NO. 9: Amazon buys Whole Foods
06-16-2017: Amazon.com Inc. announced its acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc. for $13.7 billion, a bombshell of a deal that catapulted the e-commerce giant into hundreds of physical stores and fulfilled a long-held goal of selling more groceries. It was also seen, by many retail observers, as an indication that while the sector is undergoing a major transformation, having a bricks-and-mortar presence still remains a valued asset.
NO. 10: Metro, Jean Coutu formalize $4.5-billion deal
10-02-2017: It took nearly half a century for Jean Coutu to build a pharmacy retail empire that enjoys unparallelled brand trust with consumers and the industry’s highest sales per square foot in North America. It took a single mandate for the Quebec government to hatch the drug reforms that helped convince him to sell the company.
NO. 11: WeWork leases seven floors of Bentall III tower
03-24-2017: As the coworking and shared office space sector gobbled up office space across Canada, New York-based WeWork made one of the year’s most significant announcements in Vancouver. It is taking over seven floors in the downtown Bentall III tower in a bid to attract 1,500 people to what it refers to as a “community of creators” — tech workers and freelancers. The company, one observer notes, is upping the ante for landlords and property managers.
NO. 12: Sidewalk Labs unveils ‘smart’ TO neighbourhood
10-18-2017: A unit of Google’s parent company devoted to urban innovation signed a deal to map out a new kind of neighbourhood on Toronto’s waterfront. Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto announced a partnership which, if it fully proceeds, would include at least 3.3 million square feet of residential, office and commercial space, including a new headquarters for Google Canada, in a district that would be a test bed for the combination of technology and urbanism.
NO. 13: Airbnb a formidable force: Four Seasons CEO
06-12-2017: Airbnb captured the attention of big players in the lodging industry, who aren’t taking its intrusion into the sector lightly. “I would be naive to say that we aren’t being mindful of the Airbnb effect,” Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts CEO Allen Smith said. “It’s just another example of the speed in which the market is changing and the manner in which we need to be prepared to respond to it.” As its listings across Canada and many other countries continued to grow, it also drew increasing attention from governments both large and small.
NO. 14: Home Capital sells $1.2B in mortgages to KingSett
06-20-2017: In the wake of an investigation by the Ontario Securities Commission, mortgage lender Home Capital Group Inc. was forced into several major deals to stave off potential financial collapse. Among the most significant was the sale of $1.2B worth of commercial mortgages through its Home Trust subsidiary to KingSett Capital. Home Capital had already secured a $2B financial lifeline from the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, and soon named a new CEO to steer it through the crisis. As the situation improved, Home Capital shareholders ultimately rejected a bid by Jimmy Buffett to double his stake in the lender.
NO. 15: Sears Canada to end 65 years of retail history
10-11-2017: Sears Canada is closing up shop after years of financial struggles. The company announced in October it would seek court approval to close its stores across the country and lay off about 12,000 employees. While Sears’ demise is reflective of a general retreat in the department store sector, many retail and mall owners say they were prepared for the end, and some even considered it a blessing.
TOP BIG DEAL STORIES: 2017
* 11-16-2017: Boardwalk plans to add up to 15,000 apartments, Property Biz Canada
* 10-11-2017: Bosa buying Victoria’s Dockside Green development, Victoria Times Colonist
* 09-22-2017: First Capital’s Ottawa, Toronto portfolio for sale, Financial Post
* 09-13-2017: Constitution Square sale largest in Ottawa’s history, Ottawa Business Journal
* 06-06-2017: QuadReal to acquire Toronto’s 56 Yonge St, Canada Newswire
* 05-03-2017: PortsToronto selling HQ to Oxford, CPP, Canada Newswire
* 04-13-2017: New deals bring Toronto Bay Park Centre to life, Property Biz Canada
* 02-22-2017: Ottawa approves foreign purchase of retirement-home chain, Globe and Mail
* 01-25-2017: Dream Office REIT sells 12 Alberta buildings, Marketwired
TOP DEVELOPMENT STORIES: 2017
* 10-27-2017: Amazon to build massive Calgary-area distribution centre, Calgary Herald
* 09-13-2017: Calgary approves Eau Claire redevelopment plans, Calgary Herald
* 09-07-2017: Building underway at Calgary’s massive University District, Property Biz Canada
* 09-13-2017: Ice District ‘like nothing in North America’: Katz Group, Edmonton Journal
* 08-02-2017: Montrose, Omicron set to begin huge B.C. industrial park, Vancouver Sun
* 07-20-2017: Kitchener’s Catalyst137 hardware tech hub world’s largest, Property Biz Canada
* 05-18-2017: 16 York breaks ground in Toronto’s south core: Property Biz Canada
* 04-12-2017: Residential tower to highlight SmartCentres Place, Toronto Star
* 04-10-2017: Oxford, startup to create TO innovation district, Globe and Mail
* 04-18-2017: New era for Vancouver First Nations developers, Property Biz Canada
* 03-09-2017: Cadillac Fairview-OPB office tower coming to Toronto, Property Biz Canada
* 01-11-2017: Claridge plans five residential towers for Ottawa, Ottawa Citizen
TOP INVESTMENT AND MARKET TRENDS STORIES: 2017
* 11-15-2017: Vancouver strata office space sells out, sets record, Western Investor
* 10-26-2017: ‘Compelling investment offering’ for Bay Adelaide Centre, Property Biz Canada
* 10-02-2017: RioCan to sell 100 properties, valued at over $2B, Property Biz Canada
* 09-11-2017: Insurers, government back away from disaster relief, CBC
* 09-08-2017: Canadian cities eager to host massive Amazon HQ, Globe and Mail
* 07-12-2017: B of C raises interest rate for first time in seven years, CBC
* 07-25-2017: Canadian RE investment in U.S. reaches all-time high, BNN
* 05-16-2017: Vancouver faces ‘extreme’ industrial space crunch: Property Biz Canada
* 04-04-2017: Toronto South Core office sector booming, Globe and Mail
* 01-20-2017: REALPAC sheds light on massive closed-end funds sector, Property Biz Canada
TOP COMPANY STORIES: 2017
* 12-14-2017: Mainstreet a ‘counter cyclical’ investor: CEO Bob Dhillon, Property Biz Canada
* 11-15-2017: Agellan announces agreement with ELAD Canada, Sandpiper, Business Wire
* 09-06-2017: Summit Industrial Income REIT in major growth mode, Property Biz Canada
* 07-11-2017: Cogir buys DevMcGill, eyes Toronto expansion, Property Biz Canada
* 06-14-2017: CBRE buying majority stake in Caledon Capital, CoStar Group
* 05-02-2017: Alberta developer Walton International receives creditor protection, Financial Post
* 04-06-2017: Crombie REIT wants to be a multi-family player, Property Biz Canada
* 04-10-2017: Concert Real Estate moves to contend with commercial property crescendo, Globe and Mail
* 03-23-2017: Cushman and Wakefield acquires Ashlar Urban Realty, Property Biz Canada
* 03-24-2017: GWL’s longstanding love for apartments continues, Property Biz Canada
TOP RETAIL STORIES: 2017
* 11-15-2017: Loblaws plans to close 22 unprofitable stores and launch home delivery, CBC
* 11-01-2017: HBC, RioCan exploring sale of downtown Van. store, Reuters
* 10-25-2017: HBC to cut TO retail space, sell NYC store, Toronto Star
* 06-28-2017: Couche-Tard’s mega-purchase of CST approved, BNN
* 06-07-2017: Ikea Canada set to double footprint by 2025, Toronto Star
* 05-25-2017: Investments lift Square One past $1B in retail sales, Property Biz Canada
* 05-05-2017: Sobeys owner announces sweeping overhaul, Financial Post
TOP RESIDENTIAL STORIES: 2017
* 11-23-2017: National Housing Strategy comes up short: Industry reps, Property Biz Canada
* 11-14-2017: Vancouver rolls out empty home tax, Globe and Mail
* 09-05-2017: New mortgage rules shrinking size of insured housing market: CMHC, Financial Post
* 09-12-2017: Canadian housing braces for ‘biggest rule change of all time’, Financial Post
* 06-28-2017: Aging population, low vacancy spur Victoria apartment builds, Property Biz Canada
* 05-16-2017: Ontario rent controls clouds over booming builds, Property Biz Canada
* 05-25-2017: 1,600 housing units for new U Montreal campus, Property Biz Canada
* 04-04-2017: Toronto approves new apartment bylaws, CBC
* 03-07-2017: Apartment market reaches 30-year high, Financial Post
* 02-28-2017: Quebec leading in seniors rental housing, Property Biz Canada
* 02-14-2017: Entertainment district dominates TO condo market, Toronto Star
TOP INTERNATIONAL STORIES: 2017
* 11-13-2017: Brookfield makes $14B bid for mall owner GGP, Property Biz Canada
* 10-02-2017: OMERS buys Berlin’s Sony Center, Reuters
* 07-18-2017: Dream Global buys offices, industrial in The Netherlands, Property Biz Canada
* 06-30-2017: CAPREIT more than doubles Netherlands portfolio, Marketwired
* 06-12-2017: Ivanhoe Cambridge building Paris Duo high-rises, Property Biz Canada
* 04-05-2017: Brookfield buys 45-property portfolio from TA Realty, CoStar Group
* 05-08-2017: QuadReal invests in U.S. student housing, Canada Newswire
* 05-26-2017: Triple Five secures financing for American Dream mall, NJ Spotlight
* 03-01-2017: Oxford Properties, British Land sell ‘Cheesegrater’, The Guardian
* 03-17-2017: CPPIB partners on student housing portfolio, Financial Post
TOP INFRASTRUCTURE STORIES: 2017
* 12-04-2017: Value of new builds along Waterloo LRT corridor $2.1B, CBC
* 05-08-2017: New infrastructure bank to call TO home, Globe and Mail
* 03-24-2017: Canada approved for China-led infrastructure bank, Toronto Star
* 12-17-2017: TTC Subway trains carry first riders to Vaughan as Line 1 extension opens, CBC
TOP SPORTS VENUES AND RESORTS: 2017
* 11-08-2017: New Flames arena ‘Plan A’ in Calgary’s Victoria Park, Property Biz Canada
* 11-02-2017: Top court Jumbo Valley decision deals blow to Indigenous peoples, Globe and Mail
* 04-10-2017: Aspen Skiing, KSL Capital Partners buy Intrawest, CTV
* 03-23-2017: Stonecreek Properties proposes $1-billion Canmore hotel development, Western Investor
TOP HR STORIES: 2017
* 11-01-2017: CAPREIT appoints David Ehrlich president/CEO, Canada Newswire
* 08-16-2017: Industry leader, CAPREIT’s Thomas Schwartz passes away, Property Biz Canada
* 05-05-2017: Gord Hicks appointed CEO of BGIS, Property Biz Canada
* 05-30-2017: Changing of the guard at Concert Real Estate, Property Biz Canada
* 02-08-2017: New CEO leads Lanesborough’s Alberta comeback, Property Biz Canada
TOP GREEN REAL ESTATE STORIES: 2017
* 10-03-2017: World’s tallest Passive House tower planned in Vancouver, Property Biz Canada
* 05-30-2017: CaGBC launches ‘ambitious’ Zero Carbon Building Standard, Property Biz Canada
* 03-07-2017: CBRE transforming offices to WELL Building Standard, Property Biz Canada