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Meet Ottawa's 2020 Forty Under 40 recipients: Real estate and hospitality – Ottawa Business Journal



Several of this year’s Forty Under 40 recipients have directly shaped Ottawa’s urban landscape by managing one of the city’s historic retail spaces, working wonders on key construction sites and repositioning downtown hotels.

In this first group of Forty Under 40 profiles, we meet this year’s recipients from the real estate, construction and hospitality sectors:

David Coyle, district building systems manager, PCL Constructors Canada

In 2009, a tragic explosion badly damaged the Cliff Central Heating and Cooling Plant, crippling the ability of the facility to heat approximately 50 buildings in downtown Ottawa.

As an emergency measure, a temporary heating plant was quickly constructed near the Supreme Court of Canada. PCL’s David Coyle was part of the leadership team that developed the conceptual layout, schedule and planning as well as site supervision during the construction and commissioning phases of the project. Utilizing his industry contacts, Coyle found all major pieces of equipment and sourced qualified mechanical and electrical contractors capable of performing the emergency repairs under an exceptionally stressful time and difficult site constraints. With teams working 24/7, the temporary facility was successfully commissioned within 37 days.

Early in his career, Coyle was frequently brought in as a “firefighter” when projects required additional resources and expertise – typically during crunch time – to help manage various stakeholders to efficiently and effectively solve complex challenges.

Throughout his career, Coyle has had a hand in the building systems of many of the city’s most recognizable buildings, including the Canadian War Museum, Constitution Square Tower Three and West Block.

He’s the primary point of contact for the majority of PCL’s relationships with local mechanical and electrical subcontractors and is often requested by name among clients seeking to do repeat business with PCL.

Jessica Greenberg

Jessica Greenberg, vice-president of asset management, Osgoode Properties

Overseeing a North American residential property portfolio that includes approximately 5,000 homes across several cities, Jessica Greenberg has played a key role in helping Osgoode Properties grow.

She was part of the corporate team that executed recent acquisitions of hundreds of rental units in Ottawa as well as Georgia. Greenberg subsequently helped manage the repositioning and pricing strategy of the newly acquired properties, increasing revenues and valuations.

Within the company, Greenberg has helped to increase employee retention through several measures, including the development of internal training programs, new hiring processes and onboarding protocols.

Outside the office, Greenberg was selected as a member of the 2020 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, which brings together emerging leaders from Canada’s business, labour, government, NGO, education and cultural sectors for a two-week leadership experience 

Greenberg is also active in the community and serves as a director with the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, chairing the organization’s Emerging Generation Campaign from 2016 to 2018.

Ashley Hopkins

Ashley Hopkins, president and CEO, Paradigm Properties

In only nine years, Ashley Hopkins worked her way up from a temporary administrative assistant at an Ottawa property management firm to become the company’s CEO.

A key turning point in Hopkins’ career came in 2016, when Paradigm Properties’ then-owner decided it was time to retire and wind down the business. Those plans changed when Hopkins negotiated a deal to keep the company running and purchase it several years later.

Hopkins restructured the business, a process that included reassigning and retraining staff and doubling the company’s headcount to 10 employees. During that time, the company achieved significant year-over-year revenue growth. She also secured several new contracts, including an agreement to manage the city-owned buildings at historic 55 ByWard Market Square and nearby 70 Clarence St.

Her work on enhancing one of the city’s most popular destinations for residents and tourists goes beyond her work at those two properties. She sits on the board of the ByWard Market BIA (as well as the board of the Wellington West BIA) and is a volunteer with the ByWard Market Security Council.

Hussein Valji

Hussein Valji, president, H&N Hospitality

Hussein Valji has a knack for finding innovative ways to persevere through some of the hospitality industry’s most challenging periods.

He took over an independent hotel just prior to 9/11. As travel demand slumped, he took the opportunity to renovate the property and rebrand it as a Howard Johnson. The moves led to sales multiplying several times over and a highly successful exit several years later.

Valji used the proceeds from the sale to acquire the Econo Lodge Downtown Ottawa, only to soon be hit by the effects of the financial crisis. Recognizing that its style of outdoor corridors did not appeal to all travellers, Valji worked to market the property to truck drivers, bicycle groups and other demographics that want direct exterior access to their rooms while also enclosing the upper floor. The efforts paid off with significant increases in guest satisfaction scores and sales.

Over the past decade, H&N Hospitality has continued to expand into new hospitality markets such as Brockville and St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu while netting several industry awards.

With the hospitality sector facing its biggest challenge in a generation due to the COVID-19 crisis, Valji has worked to give back to the wider community by opening its rooms to front-line hospital workers as well as providing truck drivers with an opportunity to shower, eat and recharge at no cost. Since the start of the pandemic, H&N Hospitality has provided more than 150 room nights at no charge.

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Toronto's real estate market is rebounding fast as pandemic restrictions lift – blogTO



Home sales are surging in Toronto once again this summer after a brief yet steep drop due to COVID-19, and prices are following suit despite holding steady (if not increasing in most parts of the city) amid the pandemic.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB)’s latest Market Watch Report, released on Tuesday, indicates that GTA realtors made 8,701 residential sales in June of 2020 — a whopping 89 per cent jump from the previous month’s figures.

“This result represented a very substantial increase over the May 2020 sales result, both on an actual (+89 per cent) and seasonally adjusted basis (+84 per cent), and was only down by 1.4 per cent compared to June 2019,” the report reads.

Considering that sales were down 53.7 per cent year over year in May, and 69 per cent in April, that’s not a bad data point at all.

Some GTA market segments and regions even saw growth in June, most notably detached homes and townhouses in parts of the GTA “surrounding the City of Toronto.”

Detached and townhouse sales were up 10.4 per cent and 7.8 per cent respectively in the 905, according to TRREB. Home prices were up across the board for all market segments and parts of the GTA.

“The average selling price for all home types combined was $930,869 – up by 11.9 per cent compared to June 2019,” reads the report. “The actual and seasonally-adjusted average selling price was also up substantially compared to May 2020, by 7.8 per cent and 9.8 per cent respectively.”

New listings are up slightly, year over year, by 2.1 per cent, but TRREB reports that “active listings” are down by about 28.8 per cent.

“It will be important to closely monitor housing market conditions as economic recovery continues in the second half of 2020 and into 2021,” said TRREB CEO John DiMichele.

“The persistent lack of listing inventory in the GTA understandably took a back seat to COVID-related issues in the short term, but supply should once again be top-of-mind once the recovery takes hold, in order to ensure long-term affordability in the GTA.”

Hey, at least rent prices are down.

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Zara Founder Unveils $17.2 Billion Global Real Estate Empire – Financial Post



(Bloomberg) — After making a fortune in clothing, Amancio Ortega turned his attention to real estate.

The Spanish billionaire’s property holdings have soared to 15.2 billion euros ($17.2 billion), his firm revealed Tuesday for the first time, giving him the largest real estate portfolio among Europe’s super-rich.

Ortega, 84, the founder and owner of fashion label Zara, invested 2.1 billion euros in real estate last year through various subsidiaries of his holding company Pontegadea, according to an emailed statement. Pontegadea, which owns 59.3% of Zara parent Inditex SA, had a net income of 1.8 billion euros for 2019, including 1.64 billion euros in Inditex dividends and 621 million euros from real estate assets.

Ortega, Spain’s richest man, has diversified his fashion fortune to preserve his sizable wealth, investing more than $3 billion in U.S. real estate in recent years.

Acquisitions include landmark properties like Manhattan’s historic Haughwout Building and Miami’s tallest office tower. Last year, his investment firm completed a $72.5 million deal for a downtown Chicago hotel, which followed purchases of a building in Washington’s central business district and two Seattle office buildings.

As well as being landlord to tech giants such as Inc and Facebook Inc, Pontegadea also counts Inditex rivals Hennes & Mauritz AB and The Gap Inc as tenants.

The son of a railroad worker, Ortega has a net worth of $58.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the bulk of which comes from his majority stake in Inditex. His fortune has slumped more than a fifth this year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced Inditex to close stores. The company’s shares have fallen 22% this year.

Aside from real estate, Ortega has also invested in energy and telecommunications, buying a 5% stake in Enagas last year. In 2018, Pontegadea bought a 9.99% stake in Telefonica SA’s tower unit for 378.8 million euros.

Pontegadea said it expects to receive 646 million euros in dividends from Inditex in 2020.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Fraser Valley real estate sales surges in June after COVID-19 slump –



Property sales in the Fraser Valley bounced back in June as buyers and sellers adapted to COVID-19 measures, according to the region’s real estate board.

The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board says it had 1,718 sales in June, more than double the number of sales in May.

Over the last few months, the pandemic nearly brought the real estate market in the Fraser Valley to a standstill.

“It’s never happened in the board’s history that we’ve had an increase of that much from one month to another, from one May to one June,” said Chris Shields, president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.

Daniel Planko is finally ready to sell his mother’s large Cloverdale home now that some COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted for weeks. (Mike Zimmer/CBC)

According to Shields, there are three factors at play: historically low interest rates, pent up demand, and buyers and sellers who are feeling a bit more comfortable operating in a post COVID-19 market.

“During the lockdown period with COVID-19, there were a lot of people who were planning on buying or selling and put their plans on hold,” Shields said.

“Because we’re deemed an essential service, only the people who had to buy and sell were coming out during those months.”

The president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board Chris Shields is cautiously optimistic that the market is stabilizing under the new normal of COVID-19. (Mike Zimmer/CBC)

Daniel Planko is one of those people who put plans on hold when the pandemic began, but he’s finally ready to sell his mother’s house.

“When we were ready it was the middle of the lockdown,” he said. “Stay at home was the messaging we were getting, so we just stayed at home.”

Surrey Realtor Lucky Gill agrees the real estate market has completely turned around since the beginning of the pandemic.

“It’s definitely a seller’s market right now. We’re seeing a lot of demand on the buyers end so we have a lot of organic, multiple offers happening.”

However, Gill is still urging some caution.

“Any buyer that’s entering into the market needs to do all their homework and make sure that the financial stability, job security, everything’s there. They need to do their due diligence before entering. It’s a calculated risk.”

Surrey Realtor Lucky Gill is warning buyers to make sure their finances are in order before venturing into the real estate market. (Mike Zimmer/CBC)

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