Real Estate News Exchange (RENX)
c/o Squall Inc.
P.O. Box 1484, Stn. B
Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5P6
Canada: 1-855-569-6300

Unitii sells Calgary apartment tower, plans to build new multires

The Chelsea Estates in Calgary. (Courtesy Unitii Corp.)
Chelsea Estates in Calgary. (Courtesy Unitii Corp.)

Calgary-based Unitii Corp. has sold Chelsea Estates, a 179-unit residential rental high-rise in Calgary, as it gears up to develop several hundred residential rental units in its pipeline in the city.

Unitii is a fairly new entity, founded by Lisa Russell and Jason Fleury in September 2021, but the pair have deep roots in the city's development and construction industry. 

Russell, who is principal and co-founder, had previously been senior vice-president, corporate development with another Calgary-based apartment specialist, Boardwalk REIT.

Fleury has been in the building and development industry for a number of years and is also president of Trimount Construction. 

“We’re very busy, very active,” Russell told RENX of their newest entity. 

Alberta apartment market attractive

She said affordability in Alberta is making it attractive for real estate companies to move forward with purpose-built rentals. 

“There’s also continued migration into Alberta in general and it’s in our backyard and we have the ability to buy/sell," she explained.

"Most of this is just based on relationships and decades of industry experience. We’re able to compete. It’s from finding that piece of land, to rezoning it, to building it, to leasing it up, to managing it.

"We can do all of the above and in between that is the financing on the back end.

“We see great opportunity in Alberta. Alberta continues to diversify and we believe in the long term. And the sun is shining in Alberta. It hasn’t had a tough go over the last decade and in the last couple of years it’s been moving in the right direction and we feel that there’s great opportunity here.”

The Chelsea Estates sale

She said the company bought Chelsea Estates, in the Beltline community just outside Calgary’s downtown core, in January 2023 and the sale closed in February. 

The purchaser of the property is Globe Capital Management, a Winnipeg-based firm with a $2-billion-plus portfolio of over 8,000 apartments across Canada.

Russell said Unitii bought Chelsea Estates for just over $34 million and it was sold for $48.25 million. Commercial real estate firm CBRE helped facilitate the transaction.

Unitii is a real estate holding, investment and development company. It invests in land or legacy assets and Chelsea Estates was the one legacy asset the company still held in its portfolio.

It has some land in the Mission neighbourhood of Calgary, which is currently being taken through re-zoning. 

“It will be a multifamily boutique build that settles nicely into Mission with form and character. Form and character is very important to us and the community,” Russell said. 

The multifamily rental project, to be known as Davis Block, is proposed to consist of 71 units.

Aspire in Victoria

Lisa Russell, principal and CEO of Unitii Corp. in Calgary. (Courtesy Unitii Corp.)
Lisa Russell, principal and co-founder of Unitii Corp. in Calgary. (Courtesy Unitii Corp.)

Unitii is also currently building 234 units in Victoria for developer Boardwalk. Named Aspire, the first  phase of occupancy is expected in November.

It also is currently building 369 units in Calgary named East Hills Crossing, with the developer being Minto Communities. The first phase of occupancy is expected in Q4 2024.

Also in the pre-construction phase is a 200-unit project in Calgary with developer Mancal Properties. Russell said Unitii is working with the developer and consultant team on development permit drawings.

She said the company is also in various stages of tendering or discussions with developers on over 1,000 units, located in several different communities across Calgary. Unitii is also looking to acquire more assets and land.

“We’re just seeking out other investments,” Russell said.

“We think there’s still quite a bit of opportunity in Calgary and we are seeking out different opportunities both in land acquisitions and building acquisitions, existing buildings, with the value-add play similar to what we did with Chelsea on different levels of scale.”

Russell said there is a shortage of all types of rental units - from student housing to standard rentals - in the market.

Higher interest rates are putting pressure on people and many are not able to afford to jump in as homebuyers. At the same time, the price of homes keeps rising.

“We think there’s a big space in the rental environment in Alberta,” she said. “We’re growing. I think we have a bright future and we see lots of opportunity.”

CORRECTION: This article was updated to correct the sale price of Chelsea estates, to clarify the title of Lisa Russell and the ownership of the Aspire project in Victoria. RENX apologizes for the incorrect information.

Industry Events