Calgary-based rental firm heralds $1.5 billion landmark

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Diversified portfolio of 9,000 residential units across 18 markets in the Prairies, on track to grow to more than 10,000 residential units in 2020

Calgary-based Avenue Living Asset Management says reaching the goal of $1.5 billion in assets will give it the tools it needs to grow even more quickly. 

“This is a huge achievement, especially considering our company has weathered two significant recessions,” said Anthony Giuffre, CEO of Avenue Living. “Now our size allows us even more economies of scale and scope across our three funds.”  

Avenue Living has thousands of residential rental properties across Western Canada, Through its three funds – Core Trust, Opportunity Trust, and Agricultural Land Trust – the company has built its real estate asset base across the Prairies, owning and operating residential, commercial and agricultural properties.

Avenue Living was founded with the purchase of 24 rental units in Brooks, Alta., for $3 million in 2006. Today, its assets feature a diversified portfolio of 9,000 residential units across 18 markets in the Prairies, on track to grow to more than 10,000 residential units in 2020. It also has more than 400,000 square feet of commercial space and more than 37,000 acres of agricultural land.

“In May of 2018, we were at $1 billion. Now, a year and a half later, we’re at $1.5 billion,” said Jason Jogia, Chief Investment Officer for Avenue Living. “It’s exciting for us because it shows that the market likes what we’re doing. Together with our positive relationships with our lender partners, this has allowed us to aggressively grow our asset base. It’s very validating.

“We’ve spent $100 million renovating 6500 suites, so the valuation of our assets continues to improve. And our recent acquisitions in Calgary and Medicine Hat have pushed us over that $1.5 billion mark.”

Jogia said Avenue Living has identified more than 3,000 rental units across the Prairies that it can buy in 2020.

Brad Wall, former premier of Saskatchewan and special business adviser to Avenue Living, said the company is a Western Canadian success story.

“The company is choosing to make very significant and successful investments in Saskatchewan and Alberta – despite the ongoing challenges presented by stubbornly low commodity prices,” said Wall.

“They’ve grown so rapidly in a short period of time and in a very difficult economy in Saskatchewan and Alberta in terms of the commodity price situation. So it’s sure nice to be a part of a company that’s actually investing in Western Canada when there’s other stories unfortunately of companies retreating from Western Canada in different sectors perhaps. It’s certainly a positive thing.

“Part of the success is they’re not afraid to go into markets that maybe aren’t at the top of the list for others in the space – others in the sector. For example, they look well beyond Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Calgary . . . Avenue Living is looking for opportunities in smaller places to provide workforce housing. That’s the other key. That’s the advantage they have. They invest in those places. They improve them.”

Avenue Living’s business model is providing economical housing for the workforce housing population. This niche market is geared to essential workers who are the backbone of every city, making up almost 40 per cent of the Canadian population.

In the near future, the company will be launching two new funds – Avenue Living U.S. Real Estate Fund and Avenue Living Storage Properties Fund.

“Even as they’re looking to expand to a different line, they’re still increasing their investment in Alberta and Saskatchewan,” said Wall.

Mario Toneguzzi is a business reporter in Calgary.