Diamond Corp Raised $220M. Now What?
Diamond Corp has raised $220M for an urban fund that will create a slew of new development, adding to the firm's portfolio of ongoing mixed-use city-building projects, notably the Globe and Mail site redevelopment. President Stephen Diamond gives us an update.
We snapped Stephen at his St. Clair Ave W office. He tells us the big money his firm just generated for its third Whitecastle New Urban Fund is more than the two previous funds combined. “Except for one or two new investors, many just increased their investment in the fund,” he says, a clear indication they approve of what he and his team have been doing these past seven years. Since launching in 2008, the urban fund has acquired 52 acres of land in various stages of development, unlocking 9.1M SF in the GTA for residential and commercial real estate use.
This includes The Well, the 3M SF redevelopment of the 7.75-acre Globe and Mail site at Front and Spadina. A JV with Allied Properties REIT and RioCan REIT, the community will include 1.4M SF of residential, 500k SF of retail and 1.1M SF of office space. “A true mixed-use project,” says Stephen. The Well will have a dedicated office tower at the corner of Front and Spadina, and a public laneway will run through the development, with open space in the middle for markets or a skating rink. All buildings will have retail on the first two levels, and offices above. The project goes before council in June for approval.
Diamond's fund produced Five St. Joseph, a mixed-use project by MOD Developments and Graywood Developments on Yonge Street between Charles and College streets that does a fine job mixing history and density. Seen in the above shot by MOD CEO Gary Switzer, the development incorporates restored heritage properties on Yonge and St Joseph with a 48-storey condo. Diamond’s also partnering with Camrost Felcorp on Blue Diamond, a project on St. Clair Avenue West that Stephen notes will preserve a church facade and add new public open space and a courtyard behind. “We’re reinstituting the church as a place of public gathering."
The fund is also financing Garrison Point, a master-planned community east of Liberty Village on which Diamond is JVing with Cityzen Development Group and Fernbrook Homes. On a triangle-shaped site bound by railway tracks, Garrison will have a 4.5-acre public park and be connected to neighbouring areas via a pedestrian bridge that Stephen, an ex-municipal planning lawyer who gets the value of consultation, played a key role in bringing to fruition. “We’re creating projects that are making a positive contribution to the public realm and the city’s fabric.” (His dad, A.E. Diamond, was a founder and the first chairman and CEO of Cadillac Fairview.)
Diamond Corp's partnering again with Allied on 57 Spadina, a project (rendered above) on an underutilized site south of King Street West that'll include a 36-storey residential tower and retail at grade. And now that there's $220M sitting in Diamond's latest fund, Stephen tells us his ambitions have grown grander. “With a little more capital we’re able to embark on larger projects and have the flexibility to do them.” He tells us his team is currently working on a couple of key developments, including one they hope to unveil next month. “It’s been really, really busy for us so far in 2015. This is a pivotal year.”