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Werkliv focused on building affordable student housing | RENX – Real Estate News EXchange



Le Mildoré

Le Mildoré, set to complete in 2022, will house about 279 students in 70 apartments. (Courtesy WerkLiv)

Daniel Goodfellow has gone from getting help “from the bank of mom” to buy his first condo in 2002 while studying at McGill University, to building a 19-storey student rental development in downtown Montreal that promises affordability to students.

When complete in May 2022, the $48.5 million Le Mildoré at 2025 Peel St. will house about 279 students in 70 apartments. The 85,000-square-foot project is being built by Werkliv Group, which Goodfellow founded in 2012 and now heads as president.

Werkliv has about $200 million in real estate property developments in Montreal, Halifax and St. John’s.

It’s a long way from Goodfellow’s student days when he was looking for a place to stay close to McGill: “The landlords weren’t great and the prices were high.” As a result, he bought a condo on Clark Street and refitted it to house himself and two roommates.

“I thought there was something to it. I had fulfilled my own need and in a way that made sense. I thought I could do it again,” he told RENX, but it took a while to get started: “Real estate is a capital-intensive thing and I didn’t have any.”

By 2012, however, Goodfellow had graduated from the physics program and was doing better with real estate investments than at his job. He quit the job and launched Werkliv, buying two sixplexes in Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal and transforming them into student apartments.

Werkliv “pure-play developers”

Werkliv has now done about a dozen student housing projects and has 19 employees. “We are pure-play developers. We go, we develop, we rent it out, we stabilize it and then we sell it. We’re not a player that holds onto our inventory.”

In downtown Montreal, Werkliv’s other student rental apartments, which have been renovated, include:

– the 73,000-square-foot Summerhill at 1575 Summerhill Ave. with 150 occupants;

– the 42,000-square-foot The Marbridge at 1245 Saint-Marc St. with 113 occupants;

– and the 18,000-square-foot The Newport at 2087 de Maisonneuve Blvd. with 50 occupants.

“We densify each unit,” Goodfellow says, with two-bedroom apartments converted into three bedrooms. “This allows the students to divide the rent by more people (and) lowers the cost on a per-head basis.”

Apartments are also furnished, which lowers students’ expenditures.

At Le Mildoré, monthly rents will average $885 in furnished, three- or four-bedroom units of 800 to 850 square feet.

By comparison, Goodfellow says the typical price around McGill for an unfurnished apartment is about $1,000 per month per student in a three-bedroom apartment that rents for $3,000. “Here you have a furnished apartment in a new construction for $885.”

Upbrella used to build Le Mildoré

Le Mildoré (a play on words on the downtown Golden Square Mile area) is being built above a preserved ground-floor facade, a requirement by the city.

Instead of being built with a crane, the building will use technology from Upbrella, in which the roof is gradually lifted using hydraulics, with each floor completed underneath.

“The floorplate is very small, so there’s not a lot of places to put a crane,” says Goodfellow. In addition, given that much of the construction will be done in winter, using the Upbrella system saves a substantial amount on heating costs and makes for a safer work environment.

Le Mildoré’s heating and cooling system will use the domestic water supply to regulate temperatures in apartments. The integrated piping system “is not that dissimilar from a geotech heating and cooling system,” Goodfellow says.

Along with 60 bicycle parking spaces, the building will have a few common study areas and laundry.

“Our focus is on affordability so we put amenities we think students are going to use,” Goodfellow says. “We tend to stay away from things like swimming pools and gyms, things they already have in the university.”

However, study rooms were thought to be useful because there is a lack of study space at nearby McGill.

Werkliv’s other developments

Werkliv also operates The Commodore at 1675 Oxford St. in Halifax, a 33,000-square-foot building with 100 occupants.

Now under construction in the Nova Scotia capital is the six-storey Seymour at 1400 Seymour St. The 170,000-square-foot development will house 491 students, cost about $61 million and is scheduled for completion in September 2022.

In St. John’s, the planned 200,000-square foot Lambe’s Lane at 6 Lambe’s Lane is currently at the permitting stage. It aims to house 700 students.

Atlantic Canada is “an underserved market,” Goodfellow says. Unlike Ontario, which has a student housing market well-served by developers, “we found is there was nobody really paying attention to Atlantic Canada.”

The fundamentals, which include low vacancy rates and affordable prices, “made a lot of sense.”

Goodfellow says affordable student housing is becoming harder to find in cities like Montreal where housing costs are increasing. “More and more students are coming from out of region to an already incredibly tight housing market,” he says.

He notes Werkliv has not suffered any rent loss during the pandemic, instead boasting “zero vacancy and zero delinquency.”

As for future developments, Atlantic Canada, specifically Charlottetown, P.E.I., and other cities in Quebec are on Werkliv’s radar.

“This is what we do,” Goodfellow says of student housing, “We do only this. We do it very well. We’d just like to do more of it.”

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US real estate heir Robert Durst convicted of murdering friend – Al Jazeera English



A California jury has found multimillionaire real estate heir Robert Durst guilty of murdering his longtime friend Susan Berman in 2000, the first homicide conviction for a man suspected of killing three people in three states over the past 39 years.

Durst, 78 and frail, will likely die in prison as the jury also found him guilty on Friday of the special circumstances of lying in wait and killing a witness, which carry a mandatory life sentence. Superior Court Judge Mark Windham, who oversaw the trial, set a sentencing hearing for October 18.

The trial came six years after Durst’s apparent confession was aired in the HBO television documentary series The Jinx, in which Durst was caught on a hot microphone in the toilet saying to himself, “What the hell did I do? … Killed them all, of course.”

The nine-woman, three-man jury had deliberated for seven and a half hours over three days for Friday’s decision. Durst, who has been in jail for the duration of the trial, was not present for the reading of the verdict because he was in isolation after having been exposed to somebody with COVID-19.

Windham decided to have the verdict read in Durst’s absence. Speaking to lawyers for both sides later, he called the case “the most extraordinary trial that I’ve ever seen or even heard about”.

Lead prosecutor John Lewin, who had pursued Durst for years, credited The Jinx filmmakers Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling for their revealing interviews with Durst, telling reporters after the verdict: “Without them having conducted the interviews, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

In closing arguments, Lewin called Durst a “narcissistic psychopath” who killed Berman in an attempt to cover up the disappearance of his wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, in New York in 1982.

Judge Windham receives the verdict from the bailiff before finding Durst guilty of murder [Genaro Molina/Pool via Reuters]

Durst was only on trial for killing Berman in California, but prosecutors argued he murdered three people: his missing wife, Berman and a neighbour in Texas who discovered his identity when Durst was hiding from the law.

Despite long being a suspect in the disappearance of his wife, a 29-year-old medical student, Durst was never charged. Prosecutors said he killed her, then decided to kill Berman 18 years later because she had told others that she helped Durst cover up the crime. Berman, 55, was shot in the back of her head inside her Beverly Hills home.

Shortly after the verdict, the McCormack family issued a statement urging prosecutors in Westchester County, New York, to prosecute Durst.

“The justice system in Los Angeles has finally served the Berman family. It is now time for Westchester to do the same for the McCormack family,” the statement said.

Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah reopened the case in May, shortly after taking office.

Her office issued a statement on Friday commending those involved in securing the conviction, but a spokesperson said the Westchester investigation “remains ongoing and we will have no further comment at this time”.

‘Sick old man’

Defence lawyers portrayed Durst, a cancer survivor who testified from a wheelchair wearing a baggy jail uniform, as a “sick old man”. But he withstood 15 days as a witness, nine of them under cross-examination.

During a 58-day trial spread over a year and a half, including a one-year delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, Durst testified that he discovered Berman’s murdered body when he went to visit her but did not call the police.

The prosecution also delved into the 2001 death and dismemberment of Morris Black, who was Durst’s neighbour in Galveston, Texas. A Galveston jury acquitted Durst of murder, even though Durst admitted he chopped up Black’s body and dumped it in Galveston Bay.

Durst said Black pulled a gun on him and was shot accidentally when the two men wrestled over the firearm.

Black’s death marked the second time Durst had a dead body at his feet, according to his testimony.

In both cases, Durst said he at first tried to call the 911 emergency number, but later decided against it, fearing nobody would believe he was not guilty.

Besides The Jinx audio, two other pieces of evidence appeared to damage Durst’s defence. One was the recorded 2017 testimony of Nick Chavin, a mutual friend who said Durst admitted to him in 2014 that he had killed Berman.

“It was her or me. I had no choice,” Chavin recounted Durst telling him.

Durst also admitted he authored a handwritten letter to Beverly Hills police with the word “cadaver” and Berman’s address, directing them to her undiscovered body. Durst had denied writing the note for 20 years.

Durst is the grandson of the founder of The Durst Organization, one of New York City’s premier real estate companies.

He long ago left the company, now run by his estranged brother Douglas Durst, who testified at trial and said of his sibling: “He’d like to murder me.”

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Detached home in Toronto is attainable for $700,000 says real estate agent – NOW Toronto



The two-bedroom listing at 15 Beechwood is appealing to renovators and first-time home buyers

A detached home listed for just under $700,000 sounds too good to be true in the Toronto real estate market. The average price for a home in the city is at $1,000,008, the lowest it’s been since February, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). Meanwhile the average for detached homes in the city is still hovering around $1.7 million, a full six figures more than the listed $699,900 price for 15 Beechwood in the Jane and Eglinton area.

According to WE Realty broker of record Odeen Eccleston that price may actually be attainable, even though similar lots on the street sold between $865,000 and $880,000 over the summer.

 “We don’t have enough information yet about the condition inside the home,” says Eccleston. She adds that any potential buyers should consider booking a home inspector, especially since the listing is marketed to investors and renovators along with first-time buyers without providing any photos of the interior.

Listing agent Lino Arci of Re/MAX Hallmark Lino Arci Group Realty told NOW that the home is currently being rented, which is why photos of the interior have not been made available. He understands that the tenants will be moving out in a couple of weeks. He also adds that the house has been priced fairly, and is not purposefully priced hundreds of thousands below its value to spark a bidding war, a practice that buyers have been wary of in this heated market.

“If we get the asking price, they’ll probably sell it,” says Arci. “I always like to price it right on the money so we sell it quickly.”

The two-bedroom bungalow with a mutual driveway was already listed earlier in the summer, sitting on the market for 48 days before being taken off the market, which Eccleston says bodes well for buyers. Arci explains that the sellers were not happy with their previous real estate agent.

“These are older people,” says Arci. “Sometime a seller expects their agent to be there when they call them and take them through step-by-step. We’re a small team. We can do that.”

Eccleston adds that the bungalow resembles other common listings on the Toronto real estate market, where a home that has been in the family for nearly a century is finally being sold by the family or estate.

Several listings in the Toronto real estate market appeal to builders to tear down old dwellings and build modern new homes. But Eccleston warns buyers to do their math before considering such a venture. Building prices have risen to between $250 to $350 per square foot. On the lower end of the spectrum, a 2,000-square-foot home could cost $500,000 plus soft costs such as municipal permits, surveys and architectural plans, which could add up to upwards of $1.2 million when you add the purchase price. For comparison’s sake, a newly renovated home on the street sold in 2020 for $1.1 million.

But Eccleston says this house could appeal to buyers who have no interest to tear down and build anew, and instead just choose to buy the property cheaply and spend less to renovate the interior.

“Some people are paying more than that for 600-square-foot condos,” says Eccleston. “So they may be willing to put up the money to renovate a detached home that frees them up from paying condo fees.”

“Anyone thinking of getting into the marketplace, they should,” says Arci. “Rates are good. Just jump in.”


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Special Feature: Safety net invaluable in current real estate market – Canadian Lawyer Magazine



Real estate has always been considered a high-risk area of practice, and in 2020, real estate reached its highest recorded portion of claims in the market. Running a successful law practice that deals in real estate comes with unique challenges and competition.

Lawyers must ensure that all internal processes are properly adhered to, but it’s not uncommon for experienced lawyers to accidentally overlook details.

This special feature from FCT highlights the benefits of E&O products in real estate practice.

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