It’s been a year full of significant milestones for Avenue Living Asset Management, the fastest-growing company in the Canadian multi-family space. Robust investment in multi-family units, commercial and agricultural properties brought our total assets under management to more than $1.5 billion — a key achievement in our company history, representing $300+ million in growth since December 2018.
Avenue Living raised $130 million in new equity capital in 2019, bringing our total managed equity to more than $600 million, enabling us to both improve and grow our portfolio across our three investment platforms.
While the economies of Alberta and Saskatchewan experienced ongoing challenges presented by stubbornly low commodity prices, Avenue Living has capitalized on this trend by focusing on seeking value in its ongoing acquisitions program. In 2019, we continued growth with more than 1,100 multi-family apartment units purchased for approximately $150 million, primarily in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon and Regina. The volume of acquisitions also put Avenue Living on the top 20 list (by unit count) of multi-family owner/operators in Canada.
In 2019, we invested more than $80 million in building enhancements and upgrades and we continue to commit further investments in the Prairies. These improvements have enabled the portfolio to outpace the broader market’s rent growth trends, with year over year monthly rental growth at more than 13%.
Today, Avenue Living is one of the largest private real estate owner/operators in Western Canada, with $1.5 billion in assets under management across three investment platforms. Avenue Living’s portfolio includes more than 9,000 multi-residential units, 400,000 square feet of commercial space and 37,000 acres of agricultural real estate.
We anticipate significant growth momentum in 2020, and we are on track to reach 10,000 multi-family units by the second quarter.
We are also introducing two new investment platforms in new areas, US workforce housing and Canadian storage units, which will be managed by our existing personnel and systems infrastructure. Stay tuned to our website news tab for the exciting official announcement of these new funds. Meanwhile, please read on for more details about Avenue Living’s robust growth in our annual Year In Review.
Wishing you and yours a prosperous New Year!
Anthony Giuffre, Founder and CEO, Avenue Living Asset Management
AVENUE LIVING’S 2019 YEAR IN REVIEW
After reaching $1 billion assets under management in May of 2018, Avenue Living Asset Management charged to a new milestone, finishing 2019 with a total of $1.5 billion assets under management.
In 2019, thanks to continued investor support and positive relationships with equity partners, Avenue Living raised $130 million. This equity is already being deployed to grow our asset base and to increase the value proposition of the multi-family and commercial properties through capital renovations.
Continuing on our foundational mandate of capital improvements, 2019 saw Avenue Living invest more than $80 million on renovations across our Core Trust and Opportunity Trust portfolios. This investment was spent on both types of suite upgrades (classic or premier standard), shared common spaces and exteriors, to raise curb appeal into buildings that our residents are proud to call home. With more than 4000 suite turns completed, the continued investment saw rental increases across the entire portfolio of more than 13% year over year.
2019 continued to be a strong growth story for Avenue Living, with acquisitions driving growth. In total, over 1,100 multi-family units were acquired in Alberta and Saskatchewan, including 48 units in Sherwood Park, AB, our 18th and newest market.
The Avenue Living Agricultural Land Trust grew by 44% in 2019, acquiring 11,160 acres to bring the closed end mutual fund trust to 36,300 acres with a value of more than $50 million.
In the commercial category, we acquired our first retail asset in Calgary, in the heart of downtown on Stephen Avenue. In addition to this 7,700 square foot building, we also acquired the 6,500 square foot Mayfair Manor Commercial, attached to a residential building in Medicine Hat, AB.
Avenue Living also committed $1 million for upgrades to the largest asset in our commercial portfolio, Wetaskiwin Mall repaving portions of the parking lot and adding new HVAC units. With a new development permit from the City of Wetaskiwin in hand, we are exploring the potential to build an addition to the Mall, which currently boasts more than 158,000 square feet.
RECORD RENEWALS DURING RECORD GROWTH
In a year of high-performance leasing volumes for rental properties, August stands out as Avenue Living’s busiest month ever. Thanks to ambitious capital investment to refresh units and improve buildings, a record-breaking renewal rate of approximately 75% of our expiring leases was achieved in August. The trend of record breaking renewals has continued through the balance of 2019.
BRAD WALL JOINS AVENUE LIVING
In Spring, 2019, former Premier of Saskatchewan Brad Wall came on board as a Trustee to the Avenue Living Real Estate Core Trust and as a special business advisor to Avenue Living Asset Management Ltd. Mr. Wall served as Premier of Saskatchewan from 2007 to 2018. During his time in office, the province added more than 60,000 jobs in a decade of growth, while his government reformed labour legislation and regulatory environments to ensure fairness, sustainability and economic competitiveness. With his decades of experience in political and business strategy, he offers valuable insights and oversight to our growth platform in the Prairies.
SUPPORTING OUR COMMUNITIES
Throughout the past year, Avenue Living has dedicated time and resources to help the communities we operate in throughout Western Canada, supporting not-for-profits, social agencies and other organizations. We strongly believe that when we help our communities thrive and grow, we also thrive as a company.
Key initiatives include organizing a food drive that raised $15,000 in donations for the Medicine Hat Food Bank, partnering with Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids, which feeds hungry students each day at their schools and partnering with the Western Hockey League, producing the inspirational Dreams video broadcast in nine WHL arenas throughout the season.
Avenue Living sponsored the Moose Jaw Bantam Ice Girls Softball Team, the EPIC Spring Hockey Team hosting youth tournaments in Moose Jaw, Saskatoon and Winnipeg, the Canadian Mental Health Association’s annual ‘Ride Don’t Hide’ fundraising bike ride and was a donor to the HIV Community Link’s annual ‘Splash of Red’ benefit event to support programs in Southern Alberta and the ‘Connect 4’ exhibit in Wetaskiwin, celebrating Canadian Indigenous art, culture and history.
To wrap up our year of supporting our communities, the third annual Warm Hearts Coat Drive at Wetaskiwin Mall warmed more hearts than ever before, distributing coats, hats and gloves to community members in need.