May 26, 2019

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Edison Properties' bright idea

Condo-quality apartments on the upswing

Miriam Bergen and Frank Koch-Schulte of Edison Properties at the recently opened Ruth Gardens apartment/retail complex.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Miriam Bergen and Frank Koch-Schulte of Edison Properties at the recently opened Ruth Gardens apartment/retail complex.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/9/2015 (1356 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There's no danger of your wardrobe going out of style before Winnipeg's Edison Properties tackles its next new multi-family residential project.

It took more than two decades after the completion of its downtown Fort Garry Place complex for Edison to dive back into the real estate-development game with its recently-completed Ruth Gardens apartment/retail complex in North Kildonan.

Company president Miriam Bergen vows it won't be another 20 years before the company, which is celebrating its 50th year in business, takes on another new project.

"(It will be) within the next five years for sure, if not sooner," she said. "We'll just have to watch the interest rates and the (apartment) vacancy rates and for the right property."

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/9/2015 (1356 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There's no danger of your wardrobe going out of style before Winnipeg's Edison Properties tackles its next new multi-family residential project.

It took more than two decades after the completion of its downtown Fort Garry Place complex for Edison to dive back into the real estate-development game with its recently-completed Ruth Gardens apartment/retail complex in North Kildonan.

Company president Miriam Bergen vows it won't be another 20 years before the company, which is celebrating its 50th year in business, takes on another new project.

"(It will be) within the next five years for sure, if not sooner," she said. "We'll just have to watch the interest rates and the (apartment) vacancy rates and for the right property."

She said the company already has a couple of ideas in mind, although they likely wouldn't be on the same scale as the three-tower, 214-unit Ruth Gardens development.

"That was a big project," she said.

Edison vice-president Frank Koch-Schulte also confirmed the company is on the lookout for other properties to develop.

"I could see us doing more in the future if the right opportunities come along and the right processes come together," he said. "From a financing perspective, the environment is great right now."

All 25 apartment blocks in Edison's portfolio were built either by the company or Marlborough Development Corporation Ltd. (a company owned by Bergen's father, Martin Bergen).

Miriam Bergen said the firm stopped building new apartment blocks in the 1990s because vacancy rates in the city were getting too high. And by the time they came back down, the company was busy upgrading some of its older buildings so tackling any new development projects wasn't a priority.

Ruth Gardens, which officially opened last week and is named after Bergen's mother, was built on the site of a former retail strip mall the company owned at 1167 Rothesay St.

In addition to the three 10-storey towers, which are connected by a four-storey podium, the complex has two levels of underground parking, two multi-purpose rooms, a fitness centre and 10,000 square feet of main-floor commercial space.

Koch-Schulte said tenants began moving in late last year, and more than half of the suites in the complex are now leased.

While the company was hoping it would be a little further along at this point, he noted the suites were built to condominium standards, with features such as quartz countertops, glass tile backsplashes, walk-in closets, covered balconies and in-suite laundry facilities. So the monthly rental rates are higher than regular apartments.

He said rates range from $1,027 for a one-bedroom unit to $1,900 to $2,000 for a three-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot suite. Most of the two-bedroom units are about 850 square feet and rent for between $1,400 and $1,500.

Koch-Schulte said there haven't been a lot of new purpose-built, condo-quality apartment developments recently in Winnipeg, so it will be interesting to see how long it takes to rent out the suites. He said the company hopes they'll all be leased by the end of the year.

Another new condo-quality apartment block that opened earlier this year — Gauthier Automotive Group's 90-unit Lady Joyce Apartment Homes at 2390 McPhillips Ave. — was fully leased within about 3 1/2 months.

A recent report by the real estate firm Colliers International said the new trend in Canada's multi-family asset class is to build more condo-quality, apartment-style rental units. It described the target market for these units as "a stable tenant who can afford to pay a higher rental rate, but is either not yet in a position to invest in a condominium or home, or is looking to downsize and stabilize their housing costs."

Rob Preteau, an accredited real estate appraiser in Colliers' Winnipeg office, said the trend isn't as evident here as in some higher-priced cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. He said the gap in rental rates between a standard apartment and a condo-quality suite is still too wide for many renters.

However, he noted the Heritage Landing apartment complex under construction downtown on Assiniboine Avenue is a luxury-apartment project, with monthly rents expected to be in the $1,300 to $1,500 range. He said if those suites get leased up fairly quickly, other similar developments could follow.

"Once people see that that's achievable, then I think you'll see more of that kind of thing going up."

 

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

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History

Updated on Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 8:43 AM CDT: Replaces photo

12:42 PM: Removes reference to Merteen's Fine Dining and Tiffani's Fine Dining because they are no longer in operation.

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