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T.O. REIT keeps shopping

Newly arrived trust buys more buildings

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Three office buildings on Hargrave Street between McDermot and Bannatyne avenues are part of the REIT's purchase.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Three office buildings on Hargrave Street between McDermot and Bannatyne avenues are part of the REIT's purchase. Photo Store

A Toronto-based real estate investment trust (REIT) has wasted no time in expanding its newly established presence in the Winnipeg market with its second major acquisition in as many months.

On the same day it announced it had finalized its May purchase of a portfolio of three office buildings on Portage Avenue, Northwest Healthcare Properties REIT said it also has entered into an agreement to acquire a portfolio of four office buildings and three parking lots in the Exchange District.

A Northwest Healthcare official said the portfolio, consisting of about 70,247 square feet of space, was purchased from an unnamed local private investor for $21 million. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

Jay Charbonneau, the REIT's director of investments, said three of the buildings are on the west side of Hargrave Street between McDermot and Bannatyne avenues -- 490 to 494, 496 and 500 Hargrave. The fourth is across the street at 357 Bannatyne.

One of the parking lots is behind the Bannatyne building, and the other two are at 508 and 520 Hargrave.

Charbonneau said Northwest Healthcare officials are thrilled to be adding to their Winnipeg holdings so soon after entering the market. And he made it clear they're eager to do more deals.

"To us, Winnipeg is an important Canadian market and... we certainly would love to significantly grow our presence in the market. We have nothing (else) imminent at this point, but certainly I wish there was."

Northwest Healthcare owns 77 commercial properties, with a total of 4.6 million square feet of leasable space, in seven Canadian provinces. Its primary focus is on medical office buildings and health-care buildings.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) leases all three of the Hargrave Street buildings, which have a combined total of about 60,000 square feet of space.

It's also the tenant in the largest of the three Portage Avenue buildings the REIT acquired in May. Those buildings are located on the north side of Portage between Toronto and Victor streets.

The largest of the three Hargrave buildings (496 Hargrave) is only about two years old. The building beside it, at 500 Hargrave, is an older structure that was refurbished as part of the same project.

Charbonneau said having the WRHA as a long-term tenant in the Hargrave buildings is one of the reasons Northwest Healthcare wanted to acquire them.

"We're excited to further strengthen our relationship with them. They are the foremost health-care tenant in Winnipeg," he said.

"And I love the Exchange District," he added. "You've got all of these great heritage buildings there... and in many cases they're investing money in them and improving them."

The WRHA operations in the Hargrave buildings include its home-care nursing program and a travel and tropical medicine clinic.

Charbonneau said the Bannatyne office building has two tenants -- College of the North and the Manitoba School Improvement.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 4, 2013 A14

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Updated on Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 6:18 AM CDT: replaces photo

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