Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 05/13/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
A Toronto-based real estate investment trust has added three Winnipeg buildings -- its first acquisitions in the city -- to its rapidly expanding property portfolio and hopes to add many more over the next few years.
"We certainly see there are a number of properties we'd love to own in the market," Jay Charbonneau, director of investments for Northwest Healthcare Properties Real Estate Investment Trust, said in an interview.
"But for every buyer, you have to have a seller."
Charbonneau said discussions are underway with several other property owners, but no other deals are imminent.
"We're in varying degrees of conversations," he added.
Charbonneau said Northwest had been checking out the Winnipeg market "for some time" before it pulled the trigger on its first deal.
And it intends to be equally prudent when considering other potential acquisitions.
He said the kinds of properties Northwest is interested in include medical office buildings and community health-care offices or clinics. However, it's not interested in such things as retirement homes, he said.
Although Northwest's specialty is owning and managing health-care-related facilities, Charbonneau said it's willing to purchase other kinds of office buildings if such a deal makes sense.
Its first Winnipeg transaction is a case in point. The three buildings in the Portage portfolio were sold as a package because they're situated side by side on the same block -- the north side of Portage Avenue between Toronto and Victor streets -- and were owned by the same group -- Gladstone Finance Corp. Ltd.
But only one of them -- the three-storey one in the middle (755 Portage Ave.) -- is a health-care facility. All three floors are leased by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority for its downtown west community area office.
The two-storey building at 765 Portage Ave. is inhabited by Big Brothers and Sisters of Winnipeg, while the one-storey one at 741 Portage Ave. is an Xtra Cash outlet.
Charbonneau admitted the three-storey heath-care building was the key to the deal.
"But the plan at this point in time is to hang on to all three of them," he said. "Tenants are already in place (in the other two)... and they're good buildings. So we're absolutely comfortable with keeping all of them."
Winnipegger Hart Mallin was the developer who built the three-storey building for Gladstone in 2008-09. Mallin said the owners received multiple offers -- he wouldn't disclose how many -- when it advertised the portfolio for sale.
Ken Jones, chairman of the commercial division of the Winnipeg Realtors Association, said he wasn't surprised to hear an out-of-province institutional investor snapped up the buildings.
"I would say it is another indication of the strength of the Winnipeg commercial marketplace," Jones said.
"Rents are increasing and there is such energy in the downtown, as evidenced by all of the recent development announcements, that Winnipeg is definitely on many radar screens."
"I also think the time has come for institutional players who aren't currently in the city to finally make that decision to pull the trigger and invest here," he added. "I think you are going to see an increase in activity in the near term."
Mallin said Northwest was the perfect party to acquire the buildings, because not only does it plan to retain them for the long term, it has developed an expertise in managing health-care facilities. So Gladstone officials knew the buildings would be well cared for, he added.
He predicted Winnipeg's commercial real estate sector also will benefit from having a major new player such as Northwest in the marketplace.
"These are people that can bring capital to the market for the development of other health-care properties, which is an untapped resource," he said.
"And this particular group can also be a great partner in owning and operating health-care buildings."
A spokesman for the WRHA, which has a long-term lease for the building at 755 Portage, said it's looking forward to establishing a long-term relationship with its new landlord.
"Our needs are different than a typical office environment and it is comforting to know that we will have a landlord that can draw upon their experience from their other health-care properties in order to provide viable solutions for any issues that may arise," said Holly Madden, the WRHA's chief administrative officer, community and corporate.
Madden said the WRHA leases most of the buildings in its community portfolio, and has had issues in the past with some of its landlords.
"Although we are in the early days of our relationship with Northwest, they would understand our requirements for dealing with any heating, cooling or air-pressure issues in a timely fashion so that we can provide a safe and comfortable environment for our clients and staff," she said.
"The less time we spend dealing with building issues, the more time we can spend on serving and providing care to our clients."
Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail, or industrial real estate sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the email address below, or at 204-697-7254.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 13, 2013 B5
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Five things to expect for oilpatch results
10 dead as quake and avalanche sweep Mount Everest region
Google executive among hundreds dead from Nepal quake
Sens. Warren, Brown counter Obama on trade
VW board chairman Piech resigns after dispute over CEO
Mining-property sale a golden opportunity
Michigan vote tests pothole angst vs. will to raise taxes
Divorce and debt
With legalization, lawyers turn to business of pot
How London man may have helped trigger the 'flash crash'
Eurozone express hopes that Greek criticism will bear fruit
Starbucks stores reopen Saturday after computer glitch
Farmers plowed under
Health officials say ice cream is safe despite some recalls
Starbucks: Computer outage fixed; stores to reopen Saturday
Hopes grow for grain farmers
North America's largest powwow draws thousands to New Mexico
City sees healthy growth in economic development
New York begins effort to help startups navigate regulations
Credit union members sink massive merger
Germany's Deutsche Bank changes tack on Postbank
Hawaii poised to become 1st state to raise smoking age to 21
Address probate before it's too late
Biggest US players in the cable game
Legislature passes bill that would make Hawaii first state to raise legal smoking age to 21
No trade breakthrough expected with Japan during Abe visit
Canam revenues, profits surge in Q1
Most actively traded companies on the TSX
Vancouver-area mayors grill National Energy Board
Midwest pheasant producers are anxious as bird flu spreads
Winners and losers of the demise of the big Comcast deal
FBI: Korean firm scammed out of $375K for fake Pharrell show
How the Dow Jones industrial average fared Friday
American, United delay, change Boeing 787 orders
Wynn Resorts shareholders: Elaine Wynn won't return to board
Taking the abs out of Abercrombie: retailer tones down sexy
Ford recalls 390,000 cars to fix door latches