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Real Estate Bisnow
January 15, 2012  
Timbercreek LTile3
SouthCore Tower
Breaks Ground

As of this morning, shovels are in the dirt at 1 York, the latest Menkes office project in SouthCore. (As our pic shows, though, somebody brought a backhoe. Reached for comment, Lance Armstrong said any advantage was fair game.)
The 35-storey, 800k SF tower, co-owned by HOOPP is the first phase of a fully-approved project that will include two condo towers (66 and 62 storeys) and 200k SF of retail. “We’re lucky, we got a nice window of sunshine this morning,” said Peter Menkes, president of Menkes Development’s industrial and commercial division. HOOPP will be a major tenant in the LEED Platinum building, having signed on for 132k SF, or 17%, of the leasable space—but naming rights are still up for grabs. The project also makes possible an extension of the PATH system, connecting Union Station with the waterfront.
After the ceremony, Peter led the party up the street to Aria Risorante at 25 York, a Menkes building seen as the catalyst for the non-residential part of the SouthCore boom. “In hindsight, we could have used much more square footage, but 25 York was the first expansion of the financial district south of the tracks, the first downtown office tower in nearly 20 years,” he says. “It was completed in 2009 and it’s incredible how fast this area became an exciting place. Excuse the live-work-play cliché, but it’s true. The people who’ve flooded in don’t need cars and don’t want them...I think 1 York will only add to the transformation.” (You could put a giant biodome over the whole area and no one would notice.)

FAM Tune-up For REIT Sector?
Even in university, Shant Poladian saw himself as an auto mechanic. Then a friend suggested some business courses so he could own the shop. “Next thing, I was doing the chartered accountant route,” the new CEO of FAM REIT says. Since 2001, he’d been a real estate equity analyst for BMO and Canaccord, and he’s eager to apply his observations. FAM has just completed its IPO and acquired 27 office, industrial, and retail properties from Huntingdon Capital (which kept a 30% REIT stake and will manage the properties). “We’ll do acquisitions, but our focus is on discipline, keeping debt levels low, to be sustainable through entire business cycles. It’s much easier to get big than to be blue chip,” Shant says. (And, no, he doesn’t do oil changes anymore.)

Name Change For Chartwell
Chartwell Seniors Housing REIT exists no more. The REIT hasn’t changed, but the name’s now shorter, permitting an acronym, CRR, that works in both official languages. Given the need to rebrand 42 Allegro properties acquired last May from Maestro Funds for $931M, it made sense to re-examine names, says CEO Brent Binions (shown introducing the new logo). “For starters, housing doesn’t adequately describe services we provide.” Chartwell also had to operate under a different handle in Quebec. “If you want a national brand it should translate well to French,” he adds. So, it’s now Chartwell Retirement Residences, a.k.a. Chartwell Résidences pour Retraités, with 186 Canadian properties, including 42 in Quebec, and another 51 in the US. (As for bilingual labels, who here spent childhood thinking Old Fort Cheddar might be a historic site?)

New Year, New Job For Kosoy
If Adam Kosoy seems more pumped than usual, understand he just got the job he’s long wanted—not that Colliers’ new SMD for Canadian Capital Markets was unhappy in investment sales the past eight years. (He's been with Colliers since '07.) “Now, in a management role, I can use more of what I’ve learned," he says, continuing to grow Colliers' capital markets platform in Canada. And if starting the new gig’s hectic, the timing’s good. Although he loves to ski and golf, he has a soft spot for US college basketball (he played Division II NCAA when his knees were good) and should be nicely settled when March Madness tips off.

Primaris’ D-Day Delayed
The Ontario Securities Commission bought 13 days of grace for Primaris REIT yesterday by ordering a Jan. 30 hearing into KingSett’s unsolicited $4.4B takeover bid. The proposed deal was to have closed this Thursday. Calling the offer “wholly inadequate,” Primaris has told shareholders not to act on the bid, which valued shopping centre specialist Primaris at $26 per share. Despite losing 6 cents yesterday, Primaris closed at $26.49 on the TSX yesterday, or about 1.9% more than KingSett is offering. Neither side is commenting on the situation. RioCan and the Ontario Pension Board are partners in KingSett’s bid.
Which perennial jingle irritates best: “Put some summer in your winter at the Toronto boat show,” or that June-August classic, “Everyone loves Marineland”? stephen.wickens@bisnow.com.
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