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Colonnade BridgePort making inroads in the GTA | RENX – Real Estate News EXchange



IMAGE: Hugh Gorman, the CEO of Ottawa-based Colonnade BridgePort. (Courtesy Colonnade BridgePort)

Hugh Gorman, the CEO of Ottawa-based Colonnade BridgePort. (Courtesy Colonnade BridgePort)

Ottawa real estate investment and management company Colonnade BridgePort’s first move into the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) was both successful and short-lived. In the past couple of years, though, it’s been establishing an ever-firmer footprint in the market.

Colonnade BridgePort has made a name for itself in Ottawa over the past 35-plus years.

In 2017, it bought a property along Highway 427 and planned to use it as a springboard to enter the GTA, but got a strong offer to sell before executing its strategy.

“Within six months, we were in and out of the market,” chief executive officer Hugh Gorman told RENX.

Colonnade BridgePort returned a short time later, after accepting an invitation from an Ottawa institutional partner to assist with some challenged assets in Richmond Hill. The company has continued to grow in the GTA, and is now involved with just under three million square feet of properties, largely through connections with Ottawa clients who hold portfolios in the region.

“It was a natural progression to go into the GTA,” said Gorman. “We see significant opportunities for growth in our services business, but also on the investment side in terms of diversifying and where we’re deploying equity.

“Our model is that we work a lot with institutional partners in our services business and, when we find opportunities, we often invest alongside our institutional partners.”

Colonnade BridgePort’s services

Colonnade BridgePort is a full-service real estate company offering property management and leasing services, acquisition, development, investment management and asset management for commercial and residential properties.

In addition to its Ottawa headquarters, it has also opened a second location in the city as well as offices in Mississauga and Toronto.

Colonnade BridgePort manages more than eight million square feet of commercial real estate throughout Ontario. It’s involved with more than 120 properties, more than 200 annual lease transactions and approximately 1,500 tenants.

The firm has worked on establishing a solid infrastructure and platform and adding people to support its GTA growth. Its two most recent hires, Colin Ross as director of GTA leasing and Chris Coleman as director of asset management, are the next steps in its evolution.

“We don’t create markets, but we have to be able to make sure that we can execute at the asset level,” said Gorman. “We’ve got to be adaptable to market conditions and make sure that we’re adapting strategies on an asset-by-asset basis to meet those objectives.”

Colonnade BridgePort’s GTA portfolio

Colonnade BridgePort’s move southwest from Ottawa has seen it become involved with a lot of small and mid-sized assets in cities including Mississauga, Hamilton, Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo, Brampton and Richmond Hill.

“We’ve got everything from suburban office to small-bay industrial to larger-bay industrial to retail,” said Gorman. “We’re really covering the spectrum of asset classes, and it’s predominantly a services portfolio for our key clients.”

Colonnade BridgePort remains an active developer in Ottawa and is looking for opportunities to reposition assets or develop new properties in the GTA. Gorman wants the company to become a more important player in the market and is making that a priority before considering a move into another new region.

“We’re long-term believers in Toronto, and our business model is such that we’re building for the long term,” he said. “There are more than enough opportunities there to satisfy our appetite for scaling up.”

Dealing with COVID-19 challenges

COVID-19 has negatively impacted the Canadian commercial real estate market, both for owners and tenants. Gorman wants to help good tenants survive, but he acknowledges there will be casualties.

Colonnade BridgePort’s leasing team is spending 70 per cent of its time dealing with COVID-19-related issues as opposed to new leasing, according to Gorman, and he concedes it won’t be as easy to do business in the future.

“We’re going to have to adapt to a market where there are more vacancies across the board, specifically in retail, and ultimately in office with the sub-lease space coming to the market.

“We know the markets we’re in. We’re active and we know the brokers and the tenants and we’re going to have to work that much harder to make sure that we generate consistent revenue out of the portfolio.”

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Fort McMurray real estate agent pushes shop local campaign for Christmas



A Fort McMurray real estate agent is encouraging people shop local by creating a video series called 30 businesses in 30 days.

This month, Melanie Galea started posting videos showcasing small businesses in Fort McMurray. From pet stores, to coffee roasters and spas, Galea has been trying to remind locals about what businesses they could be shopping from.

“It just seemed like it was needed more than ever,” said Galea.

“These business owners are ready for Christmas.”

She said there are concerns that businesses are going to be shut down and several businesses have already closed during the pandemic and flood.

“People are staying home, they’re maybe not spending quite as much money. Some businesses are doing well, but I’ve seen businesses shut down because of what’s happening right now.”

Galea did a similar promotion in 2015, making videos to showcase 30 businesses. Thirteen of those stores have since closed.

Galea put a call out for businesses to contact her about making a video, and she was even surprised to find out about companies she had never heard of before.

“It’s great to see there are new businesses,” said Galea.

“The reaction has been fantastic.”

Galea said her videos have even inspired former McMurrayites. She said a former Fort McMurray resident, now living in Edmonton, reached out to Galea to ask about buying gift cards from Fort McMurray shops.


Carley Johnson sold her first bag of coffee in February. She’s seen an uptick in customers since Melanie Galea posted a video about the coffee company. (Submitted by Carley Johnson)


The entire series took about 100 hours to create. She charged $50 per business to do the video, but it’s costing her more than $250 per episode.

“This is my give to the community,” said Galea. She started filming the series in the beginning of October.

Carley Johnson, owner of Firebag Coffee Company, started selling coffee and coffee accessories in February. She roasts coffee at her home in Fort McMurray and sells it online and at local markets.

Since her video went live, she’s had people reach out to her saying they didn’t know her business existed and says her sales have increased.


From left to right, Catharine Vangen, Michael Langille, Kimberly-Ann McGregor and Brandon Kelloway. Langille stands with the employees of his pet store; he says some people don’t even know his shop is still open after the April flood. (Submitted by Michael Langille)


The company does free delivery in town, and she says they do about 25-30 orders a day.

“Since the video’s run I’ve probably had at least 5 to 10 new people contact me every day.”

“It’s wonderful,” said Johnson.

Michael Langille’s video hasn’t gone public yet — it’s slated for Dec. 9. He’s the owner of The Little Pet Company, which is in the midst of expanding.

“Some people think that we’re still shut down since the flood,” said Langille. “It’s about broadcasting that we’re here.”

He said many people thought the flood destroyed the shop, which it didn’t.

The store was “busier than ever” for the first few months of the pandemic, but recently noticed a “sgnificant change” in the number of customers coming in.

Langille said he doubled his store’s inventory with the expansion, but “we’re not seeing double the sales by any means.”

“We might’ve seen a ten per cent increase, which is not what you want to see when you’re expanding your business.”

He’s hoping the video gets people coming into the store, and spending their dollars in town, rather than online.


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JPMorgan’s Pil Sees Quick Return to Office Boosting Real Estate



(Bloomberg) — People will likely return to the office more quickly than expected and that will help boost the price of some commercial real estate, according to J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Investors may be making a mistake by extrapolating the future from the current situation with lots of working from home due to Covid-19, according to Anton Pil, global head of alternatives at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, part of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Top malls worldwide should see a faster-than-expected rebound in traffic, he said, and there’s an overshoot in expectations about how many people will want the status quo versus returning to the office.

“I’m expecting a pretty significant rebound in valuation,” Pil said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Financing terms are at some of the lowest levels that we’ve ever seen, and the income generation continues to be quite strong, at least if you own top-notch offices in strong locations.”

Urban centers have been able to survive previous pandemics and will do so again this time, Pil said. He pointed to the co-working trend as evidence that even when people could work from home they found there was value in being around others.

However, investors are taking things slowly at this point, with commercial real estate dealmaking in the third quarter far below pre-pandemic levels, according to data from CBRE Group Inc. and Real Capital Analytics Inc.

Pil also said that easy monetary policy and available financing means that it’s harder to tell which companies have simply been hurt by the pandemic and which have business models that just aren’t viable. J.P. Morgan Asset Management has stuck to a relatively conservative approach that’s focused on the actual assets companies own, he said, to avoid potential trouble on that front.

Venture capital will be a very robust market over the next year or two, Pil added. Lots of new businesses will be started by people who were laid off or had salaries reduced during the pandemic, he said, plus the efficiency of working from home and broader adoption of cloud computing has made starting a business cheaper and easier around the globe.


Source:- BNN

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Toronto’s Real Estate Board Tells Brokers Stop Showing More Than 2 Years of Sold Data – Better Dwelling



Toronto’s golden age of real estate brokerage innovation is coming to an abrupt end. Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) sent a memo this week, on sold data. The board informed brokers they will only be allowed to show two years of data going forward.

TRREB Ordered To Allow Brokerages To Show Sold Data

The board formerly known as TREB was sued by the competition bureau in 2011. The bureau argued it was anti-competitive to prevent real estate brokers from sharing sold information. This dispute went on for years, until the supreme court finally rejected any appeals in 2018. Shortly after, the board provided member brokers with a data feed, complete with sold data. Almost immediately, this brought Toronto real estate out of the dark ages.

Release of Sold Data Drove Brokerage Innovation

Allowing the display of sold data led brokerages to build a number of Zillow-like products. Some brokers began providing sold data to clients going back over a decade. Toronto’s formerly dated, agent-driven model, was suddenly refreshed. Buyers were able to research, without an agent acting as a direct barrier to information. Unfortunately, that wasn’t TRREB’s intention.

TRREB Memo Demands Halt On Displaying Data Over 2 Years Old

TRREB sent member brokers a reminder this week that included a restriction that was previously unclear. The board notes several restrictions, but the biggest one is how much sold data can be shown. The memo reads, “Only two (2) years of sold data can be displayed or accessed at any time on the VOW, Website, or App.” 

The updated interpretation of the bureau ruling is going to have a big impact. Starting soon, brokerages will restrict sold data to just 2 years. Much of the innovation that allowed people to research on their own will disappear. Instead Toronto will return back to it’s agent-driven model, where individuals have to request details from agents. This coincidentally will also conceal readily available sold data from the 2017 detached frenzy.

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