It was close … very close. But the largest commercial real estate transaction in Canadian history beat out the ongoing WeWork saga as RENX’s top commercial real estate story of 2019.
The massive $7B investment announced in March involved three organizations, The British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI), RBC Global Asset Management Inc. and Quadreal Property Group, and resulted in the creation of the RBC Canadian Core Real Estate Fund.
The deal involves 40 of BCI’s Canadian real estate assets. Once the entire transaction is complete (it is happening in several phases), BCI will retain 50 per cent ownership in the properties and the other interest will be held by the fund.
“(Investors) know that BCI will care about the performance, they will care about long-term decision-making and the long-term future of how the partnership and the fund will grow,” RBC’s Michael Kitt told RENX in an interview after the venture was announced.
Major properties across Canada including the PwC Tower in Toronto, Marche Central shopping centre in Montreal and 745 Thurlow in Vancouver, are among the assets.
The transaction tops our annual RENX Top-30 Stories of 2019 list due to its scale, and the fact it was designed to allow small- and mid-level pension funds and other institutional investors to share ownership of trophy-calibre assets.
WeWork’s ongoing saga
The ongoing story of WeWork came in at No. 2 on our list because of its potential future impact. The company has stopped signing new leases and laid off hundreds of employees as a result of its cancelled IPO and a massive meltdown in its valuation. But, a recent multi-billion-dollar lifeline from investor Softbank Corp. has at least bought it some time to restructure.
Can it recover, or is there worse yet to come? Stay tuned in 2020.
Rounding out our top five are three massive Toronto developments – they stand out even during a year of major project announcements in Canada’s largest urban centre. Cadillac Fairview bought out First Gulf and will develop the up-to-$8 billion East Harbour project along the Toronto waterfront, taking the No. 3 spot.
Not very far away, Oxford Properties unveiled plans for Union Park, a $3.5-billion, 4.3-million-square foot mixed-use project across the street from the Rogers Centre. It ranks No. 4.
And No. 5 is the sale of a 60.5-acre former IBM and Celestica campus at Eglinton Ave. East and Don Mills Road, which will lead to millions more square feet of development. Aspen Ridge Homes, DG Group and Metrus Properties made the acquisition and soon after, released extensive development plans for the site.
We hope you enjoy perusing the list, which as we always say is very much open to debate. Even among RENX’s editors, there was a lot of “give-and-take” in determining the 30 finalists and then assembling our Top 10.
For the full RENX Top-30 list…
Listed below are the Top 10 stories, along with links to the original articles.
For additional links, and more details about each of the stories visit our RENX Top 30 Stories of 2019 Newsletter. There, you can see the rest of the articles on our Top-30 list, along with much more information. (Note the Top 10 are in listed in order of importance, while Nos. 11 through 30 are listed by sectors)
Finally, let us take this opportunity to wish every one of our readers, clients and those who’ve contributed to our coverage this year a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.
RENX Top-30 Stories of 2019 Newsletter