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Knightstone Capital Management Can’t Slow Down

Knightstone Capital Management just broke ground on The Upper House, Leaside’s first boutique condo, adding to a slate filled with student housing and a new mixed-use JV at Yonge and Eglinton.

No earthworm was safe at the dirt-turning for The Upper House, a seven-storey, 66-suite building at Laird Drive and Millwood Road. That’s Knightstone CEO David Lehberg, left, with Kearns Mancini Architects Inc principal Jonathan Kearns and Skygrid Construction residential GM Danny Tito. David tells us the site was among a handful of GTA properties disposed of by Canada Post. “It was a great opportunity—a half-acre in south Leaside.” And unlike other residential projects on the outskirts of Leaside that stake a tenuous claim to the area, “this is actually in the neighbourhood, not blocks away.”

Construction will take 18 months, says David, “if the weather co-operates." (Reached for comment, weather laughed maniacally and dumped water on us.) Meantime, his firm has plenty on its plate, including Whitehaus Condos, a just-launched 29-storey, 370-unit tower on Yonge Street north of Eglinton Avenue, being built in a JV with Lifetime Developments. The project (at left below) includes a large “New York-style” glass podium housing 70k SF of retail, David notes. “We’re not typically high-rise condo guys, but the attraction for us was the scale of this project and the amount of retail—we love Yonge Street retail.” (Next door, as seen in the rendering, is Montgomery Square.)

Knightstone has also made a "pretty significant move" into the student housing space, David says. It's building University Place, a 25-storey mixed-use tower at College and Spadina for 900 students (University of Toronto is a partner). In Scarborough, the firm's JVing with Centennial College on an $85M, 350k SF student housing complex with 70k SF culinary arts centre. And it’s wrapping up its latest development, a $26M revamp of the old Best Western Primrose Hotel on Jarvis Street into The Parkside, a student residence kitted out with refurbished units, new windows and a glass-covered entryway (below).    

It’s a stunning space,” David says about The Parkside, noting his team just returned from a trip to Phoenix to check out student housing, “and we finished the tour relieved that what we’ve created here is better than stuff we saw down there.” Knightstone has a diversified portfolio that in addition to multifamily assets includes industrial and retail holdings, like the 450k SF Kings Crossing shopping complex in Kingston. But David says his firm is pursuing nearly a dozen other university and college affiliated housing project possibilities. “We see great opportunity in the academic space in Canada, so that’s where we’re pushing.”