RENX’s 2020 summer commercial real estate review

IMAGE: A street-level view of the 87-storey tower proposed at Toronto's downtown Bay and Bloor intersection. (Courtesy Herzog & de Meuron)

A street-level view of the 87-storey tower proposed at Toronto’s downtown Bay and Bloor intersection. (Courtesy Herzog & de Meuron)

Labour Day has passed and fall looms. That means it’s time for us to play catch-up on the commercial real estate scene across Canada.

If you’ve been out of the office during the summer (we mean that in the figurative sense considering how many folks are working from home these days), and are wondering if you’ve missed any major Canadian commercial real estate news, then read on.

We present the 2020 version of RENX’s annual Summer Commercial Real Estate Review.

We’ve included a selection of the most-read and most significant stories written for RENX since June, followed by a few of the most insightful submissions from our Columnist Contributors.

As with previous summer reviews, these stories are not listed in order of importance, because depending on your sector(s) and market(s) of interest, what’s vital for one CRE professional to know might not be relevant to others.

So welcome back to work . . . and read on . . .

Dutch firms plan 87-storey downtown Toronto high-rise

Dutch developers Kroonenberg Groep and ProWinko are proposing an 87-storey, mixed-use high-rise which would tower over the downtown Toronto intersection of Bay and Bloor Streets. If approved and built as proposed, it would be Canada’s tallest building. Read the full story

WalMart plans new GTA warehouse, part of $3.5B investment

WalMart will build a fifth distribution centre in the GTA as part of a $3.5-billion commitment to its Canadian operations during the next five years. The centre will join another 300,000-square-foot facility under construction in Surrey, B.C.; and major upgrades to a third facility in Cornwall, Ont. Read the full story

ELAD Canada acquisition talks ‘progressing well’

Shortly after word of the sale of an interest in ELAD Canada to Plaza Partners and Argent Ventures became public, the CEO of ELAD Canada confirmed talks were “progressing well.” The transaction involves an initial payment of $225 million for 37 per cent of ELAD Canada as well as two U.S. properties. Read the full story

RioCan sells 50% interests in Toronto, Ottawa developments

RioCan REIT continued its trend of bringing in partners on major developments, selling 50 per cent interests in two of its residential-based projects to Maplelands Development Inc. (Dufferin Plaza in Toronto) and Killam Apartment REIT (Luma at Elmvale Acres in Ottawa). Read the full story

See also: RioCan continues to develop heavy slate of projects  Read the full story

Dream launches $2.5B Calgary Alpine Park

Calgary’s ongoing economic challenges didn’t deter the construction launch of the massive $2.5-billion Alpine Park mixed-use development by Dream Unlimited. The 646-acre master-planned community will be home to about 10,000 residents, plus retail/commercial space, parks and amenities. Read the full story

498 housing construction projects delayed in GTA: BILD

Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) survey found 498 residential construction projects by its members in the Greater Toronto Area had been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Toronto itself, 65 per cent of these projects were delayed three to six months and 32 per cent faced delays of greater than six months. Read the full story

Coquitlam plans dense, vibrant new downtown core

Coquitlam is embarking on a major urban planning mission that will take decades to realize: the transformation of 1970s suburban strip malls and parking lots into a rich, diverse and walkable urban core. Read the full story

Canderel buys Montreal office building, plans new build

Canderel purchased 6600 Saint-Urbain in Montreal from Olymbec in a move by the developer to expand its presence in the Mile-Ex neighbourhood, an increasingly popular hub for artificial intelligence firms. The developer also plans a 250,000- to 500,000-square-foot office development at 155 Beaubien Street West in Mile-Ex. Read the full story

Choice buys Toronto West Block, Weston Centre for $206M

Just a week after reiterating it was in the market for acquisitions, Choice Properties REIT (CHP-UN-T) said it would spend $206 million to acquire two Toronto mixed-use office and retail properties from Wittington Properties Ltd. Read the full story

Signet sells 7 Toronto apartment buildings to Starlight, Timbercreek

IMAGE: 2050 Keele St., in Toronto is part of two apartment portfolios sold by Signet Group to Starlight and Timbercreek. (Google Street View)

2050 Keele St., in Toronto is part of two apartment portfolios sold by Signet Group to Starlight and Timbercreek. (Google Street View)

Starlight and Timbercreek purchased seven Toronto apartment buildings from Signet Group for $193.7 million. The portfolios, which comprise 675 apartments located within the City of Toronto, range from a 187-apartment high-rise to an 18-apartment block. Read the full story

Rosefellow to build 3 Montreal, Ottawa-area industrial sites

Montreal developer Rosefellow and its financial partners will invest about $160 million to acquire and develop three industrial sites in Pointe-Claire in Montreal’s West Island; in Montréal-Est; and in Casselman, Ont., near Ottawa. Read the full story

Q2 2020 was RioCan’s ‘most unusual quarter’: Sonshine

Ed Sonshine called it “the most unusual quarter” of his 26 years as CEO of RioCan REIT. Q2 2020 will go down as one of the toughest financially for the trust, but both Sonshine and president/COO Jonathan Gitlin focused on restoring future value and growth during a financial results call with analysts. Read the full story

A sector-by-sector analysis of Canadian CRE: Altus

Accelerated evolution in all commercial real estate sectors, particularly in technology and work-from-home strategies, was a key theme as Altus Group offered a sector-by-sector breakdown on the impact of COVID-19. Read the full story

Office sublease market growing in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in sublease office space in major Canadian cities, particularly Vancouver and Toronto. Market experts expected the trend to continue and to expand to other cities as occupiers take stock of the coronavirus impact and future work habits. Read the full story

Rocky View County’s explosive growth continues

The recent announcement of a 1.23-million-square-foot Lowe’s Canada distribution centre in Balzac is the latest example of how the area just outside Calgary has become a magnet for huge commercial real estate developments and job growth. Read the full story


Can this many transit-oriented developers be wrong?

John Clark, Value, Weighed & Measured: Land values continue to rise. Real estate continues to sell. Developers continue to commit millions toward new developments where the emphasis is on intensification. Read the full column

Top-6 ways the workplace is changing post-COVID-19

David Bowden, CRE Matters: The “great work-from-home experiment” has resulted in changes and realizations. We have adjusted how, where and when we perform our duties. We have accelerated our adoption and use of technology. We might have shifted our views on how we would like to work and interact within our offices. Read the full column

If we want affordable housing, the numbers must work for everyone

Naama Blonder, Design, Policy and Canadian Cities: Earlier this summer, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the locations for Housing Now’s Phase II sites. They are part of Toronto’s initiative to increase the supply of new affordable rental housing within mixed-income, transit-oriented communities on city-owned lands. Read the full column

Investors should be parking cash in industrial CRE

Barry Stuart, Saskatchewan Edge: In spite of the negative economic impact of COVID-19, the sale and lease activity within our existing industrial market continues. Saskatoon’s vacancy rate rose marginally by 0.12 per cent, to 5.86 per cent, according to ICR Commercial’s recent Q2 report. Read the full column

The proven way to accumulate wealth

Greg Placidi, CRE Wealth Insights: Amassing a fortune doesn’t typically happen overnight. Building wealth takes time. Sure, you can make a quick buck . . . but we all know Aesop’s old fable: slow and steady wins the race. Read the full column

Don is a veteran editor and journalist with four decades of experience in print and online news, including 20 years at the Ottawa Sun. Prior to joining RENX, Don was…

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Don is a veteran editor and journalist with four decades of experience in print and online news, including 20 years at the Ottawa Sun. Prior to joining RENX, Don was…

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