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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Unique Mixed Use Development Announced in Downtown Calgary

By Walsh Mannas (Calgary)
3 Eau Claire is the third office tower development to be announced in downtown Calgary and is scheduled to start development later this year.  3 Eau Claire is a mixed use office and residential condominium development that has planned two multi-residential towers to be built on top of the office podium.  The development is located in the Eau Claire commercial node in the heart of downtown Calgary.  The announcement was covered by the Calgary Herald in an article this morning which can be found here.
Shaw Communications has announced they are going to take 12 floors in the development which will consist of the entire office podium.  3 Eau Claire will be an iconic development for downtown Calgary as the residential towers will be the tallest in the city and linked with a sky bridge on the 40th level.
We have long watched employers in the Calgary market work to distinguish themselves in the eyes of their employees through leasing innovative and high quality office space.  Shaw’s move to rebuild their downtown tower and take 12 floors in 3 Eau Claire is a great example of this as the space “will feature rooftop terraces, collaborative work spaces, a wellness centre, and the latest in environmentally sustainable building concepts”.
Shaw's decision to stay in the downtown core is in stark contrast to Imperial Oil choosing to relocate to Quarry Park in Calgary's suburban SE.  These two corporate decisions are great examples of Calgary's dynamic office market with each company choosing vastly different locations to attract employees.  One reality that is consistent in both these moves is that unique, high quality office space continues to remain sought after in Calgary's tight office market.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Avison Young named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies for second year in a row

By Mark E. Rose, Toronto

On behalf of all our Principals, Shareholders and Employees, we are extremely proud to announce that Avison Young – for the second year in a row – has been named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies. 

The prestigious national award is sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, National Post, Queen’s School of Business and MacKay CEO forums. The announcement was made yesterday by the national sponsors and in a special report in the National Post daily newspaper.

Winning this prestigious award last year was a monumental achievement; winning again this year shows that our efforts to create a different kind of real estate company are paying off, and that we have established a solid, sustainable organization – one that is built to last.

We could not be more honoured to be associated with our exceptional clients, their belief in Avison Young and the extraordinary people who service their accounts and provide real solutions. 

This designation is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our employees, our tremendous growth in recent years, and our differentiated, Principal-led structure. Each Principal has a stake in the success of our firm, which drives a culture of collaboration, co-operation and client focus, across the company. We manage our business without service-line or geographic silos, in order to have a greater positive impact on our clients’ success.

This award is a recognition of our success with clients, our values, our accomplishments and our culture. Among the key pillars of the Avison Young culture are partnership, honesty and integrity. Through these values we have created a loyal base of clients. We applaud the accomplishments of all the Best Managed recipients for their commitment to excellence, and we look forward to continuing to build and sustain a culture that will enable our future success.

Established in 1993, Canada’s Best Managed Companies is a national awards program recognizing Canadian companies that have implemented world-class business practices and created value in innovative ways. Applications are reviewed by an independent judging panel that evaluates how companies address various business challenges, including new technologies, globalization, brand management, leadership, leveraging and developing core competencies, designing information systems, and hiring the right talent to facilitate growth.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Canadian Retail Landscape to Change, Observations from ICSC, Whistler 2013

By Amy Erixon, Toronto

Spirits are high when the snow is falling in Whistler.  Despite record attendance at this year’s International Council of Shopping Centers conference, it was striking how few retailers were present.  Equally noticeable was the shift from a 40%/60% split between investment and leasing professionals to about 80% leasing professionals at this year’s gathering.  The absence of buyers was ironic considering this meeting coincided with a bidding war to take over Primaris, a major shopping center REIT at significant premium to NAV (something commonly seen just as a sector peaks).     

There was a dazzling array of planned retail development showcased at the conference, all looking for tenants. Cadillac and Oxford continue to expand all of their best malls across Canada.  Ivanhoe Cambridge is planning billions of dollars of construction of myriad outlet malls in both the US and Canada.   RioCan has entered into a billion dollar Joint Venture with Tanger Outlets to sell some of its Canadian assets and develop discount malls together across Canada.   Dozens of regional players (including a number of advisors traditionally more active in industrial product) were rolling out multiple development projects.   Major changes lie ahead.    It is old news that a large number of prominent US retailers are planning expansions into the Canadian market, and that the per capita square footage of retail space today is lower north of the border.   Venerated names such as Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Coach; Staples, Lowe’s and Home Depot; Apple, Starbucks, Crate and Barrel, Body Shop, Williams Sonoma and Nine West, among others are firmly ensconced in the Canadian landscape.  Nordstrom and Target are opening their first stores in the spring.   These retailers are the best of the best, and will raise the bar on service and merchandising in Canada.  If the American experience is indicative, significant fallout among smaller players is likely.    

Those who got here first have found a very fertile ground north of the 49th parallel; in fact some are continuing to expand, confident that despite increasing competition their market share can be greater.   For example, Walmart’s response to more competition from Target is to launch 4.3 million square feet of planned expansion, of both existing stores and by adding nearly 30 new stores, detailed here: (   The CBC and Globe and Mail recently highlighted the reason why this market is so good: retail prices average 10 to 50 percent higher in Canada than prices for the same goods in the United States.  But when we look at the impact of internet shopping combined with the fact millions of Canadians cross the border every year to buy everyday goods, school supplies, specialty goods, coats, sporting goods, shoes and just about everything else(besides pharmaceuticals, which remain astonishingly cheaper in Canada), it raises the question, just how much more retail space do we need?     

Target wisely decided that the most sensible way to enter the market was to acquire stores of the failing Canadian discount chain, Zellers (Great merchandise, no staff, long lines, best locations).   Target brings to this market its uniquely effective customer targeting and micromarketing systems that enable it to compete so effectively with WalMart.   (For more information about this system and how it manipulates consumer behaviour pick up the book - The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, February, 2012).   Bloomingdales is trying to strike a deal with The Bay who still holds the anchor position in most high end Canadian malls, recognizing the department store format is garnering smaller and smaller overall market share.  Lowe’s is trying to take out Canadian competitor Rona over the Province of Quebec’s strenuous objections.  But this will not help, they are coming, either way. 

Takeaways, 1) not all of the planned space will be delivered.  2) much of the space being planned is discount oriented, what is referred to in the US as “category killer” retail.  3)  Vastly better capitalized, and accustomed to thriving in an environment of much tighter margins, these multi-national companies will change the landscape of Canadian retailing, 4)  if you are holding marginal retail assets you might want to begin to think strongly about bringing them to market, the playing field is about to get a lot tougher. 

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