Paragon Design Build, an up-and-coming local real estate firm, has launched its own dedicated online rental portal, a move the company hopes will help it corner the "affordable luxury" market in Winnipeg.
Over the past several years, Paragon has become one of the city’s major players in the infill development field, bringing over 30 houses, condo-style apartments and duplex projects to market. Many of those projects, including a six-unit development at 584 Gertrude Ave., leased out in less than two weeks.
Company president Nigel Furgus says that in the early stages, there wasn’t necessarily a need for a centralized service, but by 2025, it’s his hope that over 500 units will be under Paragon’s management. So in late September, the company launched rentwinnipeg.ca — a one-stop shop for prospective tenants to peruse and current ones to manage their tenancy at the click of a button.
"We looked at other top rental sites, and to us they felt dated and lacked an interactive feel," Furgus says. Developed by local company Prolex Media, the site includes features like online applications and online credit-card payment for rent or deposits, something not commonly available for rental apartments in the city. The site also includes high-resolution photos of furnished suites, as well as transit times and maps for commuters.
The website also allows potential tenants to book a virtual tour of vacant units, an option Furgus says many out-of-city clients have already utilized. "People are actually committing over FaceTime," he said. "It’s working very well."
Options like those are normally only available for home-buyers, not renters.
"What we’ve found is our tenants aren’t only looking for high quality, but high value," Furgus said.
Paragon has also brought in Aaron Alblas as the director of property management, who Furgus said will deliver concierge-style service to tenants.
The units Paragon has built thus far are expensive as far as rentals go, with current availability ranging from around $1,100 to $1,850 per month. However, the units are large, with modern finishes, high ceilings, and included appliances like in-suite washers and dryers and dishwashers. Pets are also allowed.
Properties currently leasing include a large apartment complex at 30 University Cres., and coming soon are condo-style developments on River Avenue, St. Mary’s Road, and Rue St. Jean Baptiste, plus a 50-unit building at 255 Bell Ave., in Osborne Village.
Furgus says tenants have so far tended to be veteran renters looking for more quality, or downsizers looking to live in convenient locations with more services available. Paragon has historically targeted infill opportunities in River Heights, and have a pair of side-by-side townhouses on Hector Street underway.
In all, the company has 28 active development sites in the city, so the website will be filled with more options sooner than later, Furgus said.
"Over the next five years, we will definitely get to 500 units," he said.
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.