11 février 2011

The Quebec Report

Peter Coughlin Named to McGill’s Board of Governors

Peter Coughlin, co-founder of Redbourne Properties Inc., a Montreal-based real estate and investment company formed in 1995, was named to the McGill University Board of Governors this week.

Prior to forming Redbourne, Coughlin was President of Claridge Properties Inc., the real estate holding company for the Charles R. Bronfman family. He holds a BComm from Carleton University and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario. Coughlin is the former Chair of the Board of Lower Canada College and is currently Chair of the Montreal General Hospital Foundation.

The Board of Governors is the University’s highest governing body. It is composed of 25 voting members, including members at large, student, staff and faculty representatives, and two observers. It generally meets six times per year.

Is Caisse Losing Faith in Hotel Business

According to the Vancouver Sun, the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec is evaluating the hotel industry and may conclude that the high capital costs don't justify the returns.
Canada's biggest pension fund manager has majority stakes in several high-profile properties including Ottawa's Chateau Laurier hotel, the Hilton Toronto and the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The head of its real estate subsidiary, SITQ Group, said the fund will put certain properties up for sale this year with a view to possibly exiting its hotel investments entirely within three years.

"Hotels is a risky industry that takes a lot of capital for a return comparable to what I could get from the office building market," Bill Tresham told Montreal newspaper La Presse in an interview published Wednesday. "It's probably not our line of work."

SITQ spokeswoman Caroline Lacroix said the fund is currently doing a review of its entire hotel portfolio. She cautioned that no decision will be made until the review is complete. "We don't know what assets of our portfolio might be included."

The Caisse manages one of the world's 10 largest portfolios of real estate assets, with SITQ holding hotels, apartments, and retirement housing investments worth $4.7-billion as of December 2009. It also owns several prestigious office buildings, business parks and apartments in Canada, the United States and Europe.
Mr. Tresham, who steered Trizec Properties in Montreal and Chicago before being named chief executive of SITQ last September, has been executing a strategy by the Caisse to refocus on its best-performing assets following an unrealized loss on real estate of $4.8-billion in 2009. The fund has abandoned the business of mezzanine loans, which are risky but potentially high-yield debts secured by ownership interest in a company.
Mr. Tresham said the Caisse has several properties that are ready to be sold in the near term. "They're good buildings located in strong markets and into which we've put some money." He did not specify the names of hotels to be unloaded first.

The Caisse's stable of hotel investments is sizeable. It includes 55 properties owned jointly with the Westmont Hospitality Group under the Fairmont, Hilton, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and other banners as well as five Westin hotels co-owned with Starwood Capital Group.
The pension fund has already signalled publicly that it would pare down its hotel properties, saying in its most recent activity report that it planned to "decrease its percentage of hotel assets" while increasing its holdings in the apartment sector.
In the summer of 2009, Real Estate Alert, a trade industry intelligence website, reported the Caisse was shopping around a portion of its stake in the Fairmont hotels valued at $2-billion in a bid to reduce its interest. It said the Caisse was not under pressure to sell and was unlikely to accept offers that do not meet its expectations.
The timing appears better now as valuations have climbed back up with the economic recovery.
The business was the first to feel the impact of the 2008 recession, as the drop in tourism and corporate travel pulled down occupancy.

SITQ was forced to delay the planned renovation of several properties, with spending largely limited to the revamps of the Westin hotels in Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto.

New Board of Directors at CREW Montréal


New generation establishes its presence among women working in the commercial real estate field

The Montréal chapter of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women), the association that promotes the success of women in the commercial real estate field, has elected a new Board of Directors at its Annual General Meeting. CREW Montréal is in better shape than ever after its first eight years of existence, with a new generation of leaders ready for a commercial real estate market that is beginning an anticipated recovery.

Here are the new members of the 2011 CREW Montréal Board of Directors:

Chairman: Nathalie Bédard – Donati Maisonneuve

Past Chairman: Danielle Lavoie – Arcturus Realty Corporation

Chairman-Elect: Louise Boutin – Langlois Kronström Desjardins, L.L.P.

Secretary: Julie Lanteigne – De Grandpré Chait

Treasurer: Carole Guérin – PSP Investments

Director of Strategic Planning: Alison K. Chave – Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

Director of Communications and Public Relations: Johanne Marcotte – Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc.

Director of Development and Recruitment: Marie-Josée Bolduc – Arcturus Realty Corporation

Director of Finance and Corporate Sponsorships: Sandra Neill – Services Intégrés Lemay et associés inc.

Director of Regular and Annual Events: Mireille Cloutier – Fraser Milner Casgrain, L.L.P.

“We are entering 2011 with plenty of optimism as signs of recovery are finally being felt in the commercial real estate market,” says Danielle Lavoie, Past Chairman of CREW Montréal. “I am confident that the new team leading CREW Montréal will inject new energy into our association, capitalizing on accomplishments and continuing our efforts to promote the achievements of women in the commercial real estate field.”


The Société du Havre de Montréal announces the appointment of a new Chairman to its Board of Directors and confirms the broadening of its mandate

MONTREAL, Feb. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - The Board of Directors of the Société du Havre de Montréal (SHM) announces the appointment of its new Chairman, Mr. Jacques Coté. Mr. Coté was the SHM's first President and CEO from 2002 to 2007, and acted as interim President and CEO in 2010. He thereby replaces Ms. Isabelle Hudon, President of Sun Life Financial, Québec, who chose to move on after six years as Chairman while she will remain on the Board of Directors. Ms. Hudon wishes to thank SHM members for their trust and highlight the work and determination of the Board members who generously contribute their time and insight to ensure the success of this major urban project.

"The Société du Havre has reached a key phase of its mission, explained Ms. Hudon. During the last five years, I have had the pleasure of actively taking part in the initial phase of the Havre's revitalization, as laid out in Vision 2025. I was also directly involved in the detailed pre-project study of the Quartier Bonaventure project and in the public consultation process. As City of Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay announced the launch of the revised Quartier Bonaventure project last August, I leave knowing that the project has begun and is well on its way. I am confident that with the current team, led by Jacques Coté, this project will be completed as planned. I also believe that the team will remain the steadfast champion of its spirit, which seeks to provide the downtown area with a grand entranceway while streamlining the urban landscape between Old Montreal, the Faubourg des Récollets and the South-West borough and improving public transportation."

In light of this, an agreement signed between the City of Montreal and the SHM calls for the creation of a joint project office, which, under the City's financial responsibility, will first ensure the completion of the definitive drawings and specifications, followed by the completion of Phase 1 of the Quartier Bonaventure project. This office will work in close collaboration with the ministère des Transports du Québec and the Agence métropolitaine de transport.

"The project office will benefit from the professional expertise of City and SHM professionals in terms of project management, engineering and urban planning, said Mr. Jacques Coté. All the mission-critical elements have been put together to ensure the success of the Havre's first major redevelopment project".

This agreement also broadens the SHM's mandate, which comprises the updating of the Havre de Montréal's Vision 2025 and the development of an attractive and quality urban project made possible through the redesign of the existing Bonaventure Expressway. As part of the Bonaventure sector's urban development, the SHM will also support the economic, cultural and institutional tradition of this territory located south of Windsor and Central Stations. Finally, the SHM is tasked with promoting Quartier Bonaventure's real estate opportunities to potential private and institutional investors, particularly the development sites made available as a result of the demolition of the Expressway.

Through this expanded mandate, the SHM's role as promoter of the Havre's development is revitalized. With this five-year agreement, the City of Montreal confirms its commitment to pursue the Vision 2025 orientations. For this major undertaking, intervention strategies will need to be developed in concert with municipal services and boroughs, government authorities and citizens. The SHM will also need to act as a facilitator with public and private stakeholders in the carrying out of multipurpose projects on the Havre de Montréal's territory. To this effect, the SHM will need to enter into partnerships with the territory's key players from the tourist industry, university institutions, such as the École de technologie supérieure and McGill University, the Canada Lands Company and major land owners located between the southern limit of the Business Center up to the Port and the Lachine Canal.

Sheraton Opening New Airport Hotel
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced this week that Sheraton Hotels will expand its portfolio in Canada with plans to open a third Sheraton hotel in the Montreal area.

The Company said Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel is scheduled to open in April 2011 and features 476 spacious guest rooms, 19,000 square feet of meeting facilities, and an inviting atmosphere designed to help travelers make connections into and out of the city. Sheraton Montreal Airport will join Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel and Sheraton Laval Hotel in welcoming domestic and international travelers to vibrant Montreal.

The soon-to-open Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel is part of Sheraton brand's strategic expansion plan that will add approximately 50 new hotels and more than 20,000 rooms to the Sheraton portfolio over the next two years. Acquired by Jesta Group in collaboration with Groupe Canvar in 2009, the hotel is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation to all guest rooms and public spaces prior to opening as a Sheraton property.

"We look forward to expanding the Sheraton portfolio in Quebec as we continue to execute our targeted global growth strategy," said Hoyt Harper, Senior Vice President, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. "Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel will embody the new look and feel of Sheraton following the brand's recently completed $6 billion brand-wide revitalization, which included $400 million in signature brand initiatives designed to create community and make it easy to stay connected."

According to a release, the heart of the lobby will be the brand's signature "Link@Sheraton experience with Microsoft" - the brand's signature social hub where connections, whether face-to-face or webcam-to-webcam, take place. The hotel's guest rooms will be upgraded and equipped with an oversized work desk, custom-designed ergonomic chair, high-speed Internet, LCD flat panel television, MP3 home docking station and the all-white Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed, designed to meet AAA's Five Diamond Award criteria.
"We are proud to fly the Sheraton flag at our premium airport hotel, and are thrilled with the recent enhancements to the iconic brand. This is an excellent addition to our growing portfolio of hotels located in Europe, the United States and Canada," said Eric Aintabi, Vice-President, Jesta Group. "Another benefit of joining Sheraton is to become part of the powerful Starwood network and reach even more travelers through the innovative and award-winning Starwood Preferred Guest program."

"The upcoming opening of Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel underscores the fact that high-quality conversions are driving the Sheraton brand's expansion across North America," said Paul Sacco, Senior Vice President of North America Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. "Sheraton is leading Starwood's market share growth following the completion of its comprehensive revitalization, which significantly improved guest satisfaction and loyalty and increased the brand's appeal among owners and developers."
Located on Cote de Liesse, the Company noted that the Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel sits at the entrance to Trudeau International Airport and 20 minutes from downtown Montreal. The hotel will offer convenient access to the West Island business district and numerous area attractions, including historic Old Montreal, Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Place des Arts, and Casino de Montreal.
Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel will accommodate groups of up to 600 people in its 19,000 square feet of meeting and function space. Guests will enjoy the hotel's magnificent open air gardens, indoor/outdoor swimming pool, whirlpool, steam room, and sauna. The fully equipped fitness facility will feature the brand's new health and fitness program, "Sheraton Fitness, Programmed by Core Performance," designed exclusively for Sheraton guests by its partner Core Performance.

As its core business, Jesta Group focuses its experience and resources to acquiring, developing, managing real estate properties in the residential, commercial, industrial and hotel and leisure sectors in North America and Europe.

Groupe Canvar is owner-operator of several real estate projects solidly implanted in the greater Montreal and Quebec City regions. Since its inception, Groupe Canvar has specialized in the construction and renovation of hotel, institutional commercial and residential projects.
Whiterock REIT Completes $93 Million of Previously Announced Acquisitions in the GTA and Montréal
Whiterock Real Estate Investment announced this week that it has closed $93 million to date of the $112 million (before closing costs) of previously-announced acquisitions of office and industrial buildings located in the
The GTA and Montréal portfolio acquisitions consist of multi-tenant office and single tenant industrial buildings that represent a combined 960,000 square feet and offer excellent visibility, a diverse tenant base and easy access to major arterial highways. The average remaining lease term across the assets is approximately 10 years. The majority of these properties were purchased in partnership with Return on Innovation Capital Ltd. ("ROI Capital Ltd.") with Whiterock owning a 40% interest and providing property management.
The Montreal properties are the following:

10001 Metropolitan East Boulevard is a 327,000 square foot, state-of-the-art distribution centre leased for 13 years to The Brick. This facility serves as a distribution hub for the Ottawa, Quebec and Eastern Canada markets. The Brick has been in operation since 1971 and is one of Canada's largest volume retailers of furniture, home appliances, and other home furnishings. 10001 Metropolitan East Boulevard has excellent visibility from one of Montréal's major arterial highways (Autoroute 40) and is within 30 minutes of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

1155 Chomedey Boulevard is located in close proximity to arterial highways Autoroute 13 and Highway 440. Consisting of 115,000 square feet of gross leasable area, 1155 Chomedey Boulevard is a fully leased, single tenant flex-office building that serves as the head office and distribution centre for Effigi Inc. Effigi is a 20 year old established multi-national clothing and lifestyle design firm that includes well known brands such as Gagou Tagou, Romeo & Juliette, and Black Mountain. The remaining lease term is 16 years.
1125 50th Avenue is wholly-owned by Whiterock REIT and is situated on one of Montréal's major arterial freeways. The property is extremely well located with direct access to Hwy 20 and to other major Montréal freeways: Hwy 520, 13, and 15. It is also within close proximity to downtown Montréal and only minutes away from the Montréal International Airport. Consisting of 211,000 square feet of gross leasable area, 1125 50th Avenue is a fully leased, single tenant state-of-the-art production and storage facility that serves as the sole Eastern North American distribution centre for Nellson Nutraceutical LLC. Nellson is the market-leading outsourced formulator and manufacturer of functional bars and powders. The company was founded in 1962 and is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Nellson's remaining lease term is 8 years.
Whiterock's partner on the GTA and Montréal acquisitions is ROI Capital Ltd., an investment firm based in Toronto that specializes in private placement investments, including a focus on high quality properties with visible growing cash flow streams backed by solid covenants and long term leases. With over $1 billion in assets, ROI Capital Ltd. is one of the fastest growing investment firms in Canada. 
Subsequent to the completion of the GTA and Montréal acquisitions, Whiterock's wholly-owned, co-owned and managed aggregate real estate portfolio will total approximately 7.6 million square feet across 73 properties.

Articles by: William Jegher
William Jegher is President of Wika Consulting (, a consulting company specializing in facilities management and real estate benchmarking, communications and consulting. Contact him at

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