SAMM Developments is a company with its roots in Turkey, but it has steadily been purchasing Canadian hotel assets since first acquiring four Toronto-area hotels in 2013.
SAMM is a division of Ankara-based Akman Holding. It set its sights on the Canadian hotel and development sectors early in the last decade after another company operated by owner Ali Akman, which produces fruit juices, concentrates and purees, began exporting those products to Canada.
Akman became familiar with the country during several business trips. He found Canada’s large immigration numbers, low interest rates, financial resources, stability and development activity made it ripe for SAMM’s expansion.
After selling three factories in China in 2011, SAMM turned its attention and proceeds from those transactions to investment in Canada.
SAMM Developments’ Canadian hotels
SAMM bought four hotels in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in 2013.
Increased investment appetite for the hotels led to their sale, at a large profit, in 2017 and 2018. Akman still liked Canada, however, and looked to other cities with “better cap rates and better return on our investments.”
SAMM already owned Best Western Plus Waterloo in Waterloo and grew its hospitality portfolio by $65 million last year with the acquisition of: Travelodge Suites by Wyndham Moncton, Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Moncton and a Comfort Inn in Bathurst, N.B; Travelodge Suites by Wyndham Halifax Dartmouth in Nova Scotia; and Travelodge by Wyndham Thunder Bay and Airlane Hotel & Conference Centre in Thunder Bay, Ont.
It now owns 720 hotel rooms in Canada and Akman told RENX he’s in negotiations with several hotels to acquire more. It’s targeting ownership of 2,000 rooms through the first quarter of 2021.
Akman said SAMM generally funds its projects with 35 per cent of its own money and 65 per cent in borrowed funds. Proceeds from the sale of the Chinese factories and the four GTA hotels have gone toward financing the recent acquisitions.
GTA Regal Plaza development
This includes the 2016 purchase of the Toronto Airport East Holiday Inn and 4.5 acres of adjacent land for $18 million near Highway 401 in Mississauga. The property is located in what’s known as the Airport Employment Zone.
Renovations to the 204-room hotel, now called Staybridge Suites Toronto Mississauga, were completed in February.
The next step for the 600 Dixon Rd. site, now called Regal Plaza, is a $160-million condominium office and retail mixed-use development. The 11-storey, 200,000-square-foot building will be connected to the hotel.
Regal Plaza will feature 150 condo office suites of about 800 square feet each. Buyers can also purchase five units to take up an entire floor.
Akman said Colliers was hired to do market research for the project, and its findings led to the decision to sell office condos instead of leasing the space.
“It’s in the airport zone and the corporates there would prefer to have small offices, rather than big offices, because they’ll be coming and going out of Toronto and it will be very convenient for them to have this type of usage.”
Akman expects a mix of tenants, including companies based in other cities that do business in Toronto, as well as some Toronto firms. Part of the site’s attraction, he believes, will be the neighbouring extended-stay hotel where employees and/or clients can stay and conduct meetings, and a 24-hour shuttle service to the nearby Toronto Pearson Airport.
Regal Plaza will also feature leased commercial space on its ground floor. Akman said it will include a restaurant, a drugstore, a hair salon and a couple of other shops to service both hotel guests and office users.
Akman had hoped to receive site plan approvals this month and break ground on Regal Plaza in mid-April, though the ongoing COVID-19 situation could impact that. He hopes to launch office sales in October.
Akman said SAMM is looking at two other signature development projects in Toronto, but the deals have yet to close so he didn’t want to divulge any details.
SAMM Developments was also involved with The Kennedys, a proposed 6.9-acre mixed-use residential community next to the Delta Hotels Toronto East on Kennedy Road, just north of Highway 401 in Scarborough.
However, a “messy dispute” between Akman and minority partners in the project ended up in court, where it was ruled to wind up The Kennedys instead of allowing it to proceed.
Akman said SAMM sold the property in 2018 for twice the purchase price.
Akman Holding’s other business interests
Akman Holding’s several companies are involved with the real estate, foreign trade, food, tourism, automotive and movie production industries.
In addition to Canada, Akman’s businesses operate in countries including China, India, Argentina and Turkey, where it delivered the tallest tower and country’s first skyscraper in the late 1990s.
The company is responsible for the 222-suite Akman Condominium, the Akman Emporium shopping centre, Capital Plaza Hotel, Hotel SAMM and the Akman Medicorium hospital complex in Ankara, as well as other real estate holdings.