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Stability rules commercial roost

Average year on sales front

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The new mixed-use facility at the former site of Canad Inns Stadium will include Winnipeg's lone stand-alone Target store.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRES Enlarge Image

The new mixed-use facility at the former site of Canad Inns Stadium will include Winnipeg's lone stand-alone Target store.

This year will go down in the books as an average year for sales of investment properties in Winnipeg, according to preliminary data compiled by Colliers International.

The commercial real estate firm said with about a week left in the year, a total of 77 commercial properties had changed hands for about $425 million.

That dollar total is about on par with the yearly average for the last decade, the company said. And while it was also a 21.4 per cent improvement from 2012's tally of $350 million, it still fell well short of the record of $762 million set in 2007.

Don White, executive vice-president of national investment services with Colliers Winnipeg office, said the biggest difference between this year and 2007 was supply.

"If our market saw more volume on the listings side, we'd see more sales."

He also noted that, unlike in 2007, there weren't any large portfolios of properties that became available this year to help boost the year-end numbers.

He said one of the year's biggest transactions was last January's sale of two retail properties -- Madison Square on Ness Avenue and Rougeau Plaza on Regent Avenue -- to Toronto-based Stathallen Capital Corp. for $60 million.

Another was Artis Real Estate Investment Trust's acquisition of the remaining 50 per cent stake in the Royal Bank office tower at 220 Portage Ave. for $40 million. (It already owned the other 50 per cent).

White noted there was still a lot of interest in the Winnipeg market this year from out-of-province and institutional investors.

"Really what has happened is our city has become a very real secondary-investment market in Canada," he explained. "There is a lot of out-of-town money wanting to get into this market."

He said out-of-town investors like the fact Manitoba has a diversified and stable economy that doesn't see the kinds of wild fluctuations some other provinces experience.

They also like the fact Winnipeg is in Western Canada, which has been the country's best-performing region in recent years, he added.

Ken Jones, chairman of the Winnipeg Realtors Association's commercial division, agreed 2013 was "a somewhat typical year" for commercial real estate transactions.

"No one segment of the market hit any home runs, but they couldn't exactly be called stagnant, either."

Jones also cited the Royal Bank office tower deal as of the year's most notable investment-property transactions.

He said one of the highlights in the industrial sector was the unveiling of several new projects at CentrePort -- the new inland port that's under development on the western edge of the city. In the retail sector, he singled out the ongoing redevelopment of the former Canad Inns Stadium site into a new mixed-use development that will include the city's first and only stand-alone Target department store.

"And last, and arguably the least, was the office market," he said, "which mostly consisted of the continuing shell game of existing tenants moving from one location to another, with unfortunately very few requirements from new companies coming to Winnipeg."

Jones, who is an office-leasing specialist with Shindico Realty Inc., said another interesting aspect of 2013 was the rash of exciting new capital works projects that were announced.

Among them were the proposed SkyCity Centre retail/condominium development on Graham Avenue, the $180-million-plus expansion of the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg, the proposed redevelopment of the James Avenue pumping station on Waterfront Drive, the proposed Grant Park Pavilions mixed-use development on Taylor Avenue and the commencement of work on a new Alt Hotel, which is part of the 311 Portage Avenue at Centrepoint development.

"The list is impressive by any standard," he said, "and with any luck, they will all reach full potential."

Jones said that with all these developments taking place, "2014 should be very interesting, indeed."

"And I'm anticipating (this) will not go unnoticed by the major national and international players who will be attending the Winnipeg Real Estate Forum scheduled for the spring," he added.

White also predicted local and out-of-province investors and developers will be watching closely to see how quickly all of this retail, office and multi-family residential space is absorbed into the market.

"The developers will build it if the people demonstrate a willingness to pay for it," he added.

 

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.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 30, 2013 B6

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