Forge & Foster Brings Crowd-Investment to the Community with an Iconic Hamilton Building

Forge & Foster Brings Crowd-Investment to the Community with an Iconic Hamilton Building

March 31, 2021

Hamilton, ON – Forge & Foster Investment Management

Hamilton-based Forge & Foster Investment Management is bringing the progressive concept of crowd-investing to the Hamilton community, starting with the iconic Mulberry Building at the corner of James Street North and Mulberry Street.

Working with BC-based platform FrontFundr, crowd-investing is a concept that has gained traction across the past decade.

Different from “crowdfunding,” crowd-investing democratizes the investment process, opening the opportunity for inexperienced investors to dip their toes into private investments with smaller amounts, in exchange for ownership shares.

More importantly, for projects like this, it allows members of the Hamilton community to take direct ownership over projects that matter to them, directly where they live. 

The Mulberry Building (formerly the Hotel Hamilton) at the corner of Mulberry Street and James Street North, was extensively renovated in 2010 and has been a pivotal site in the James Street North district’s transformation into art and cultural hub, particularly with its well-known Mulberry Street Café.

Purchasing the building in 2020, Forge & Foster will focus on the expansion of the patio, renovations to the ground-floor retail units, and upgrades to the studio suites upstairs.

Those who invest in the project with Forge & Foster will have a share of ownership over the property.

“We are very committed to both preserving the cultural heritage of the building and its current operations, while expanding the quality of the experience and service it provides to tenants and customers alike,”

said Ben Ames, Partner and CIO.

“We see this as a natural progression in the building’s evolution as a cultural hub for the James Street North district. From being restored as a focal point of the emerging James North community in 2010, to cultural advancement and ownership directly by the community now,”

said Joe Accardi, Partner and CEO.

“We’re not the owners, we’re just the stewards of this Hamilton-icon as it starts its next chapter.”

About Forge & Foster Investment Management

Forge & Foster is an investment and asset management firm committed to delivering optimal returns for its investors and partners through inventively restoring and growing communities across southern Ontario.

This is done through unique property-asset investment, development, relationship, and business support initiatives, including revisioning spaces, capitalizing on emerging markets and models and forecasting future trends and opportunities.

Forge & Foster are the masterminds behind projects like the restoration of 1 West Ave. and The Ironwood, two of Hamilton’s premiere, artfully restored, vintage office buildings. 

Current initiatives include leading developments in Hamilton’s up-and-coming Innovation District, cultural live-work spaces in the urban centres of each Hamilton, Brantford, and Cambridge, film industry spaces in Hamilton’s Hollywood North corridor, and alternative living space projects in the beautiful, up-and-coming Goderich/Bluewater region.

Details of the offering can be found in the offering document at FrontFundr.com. This communication is for informational purposes only.

Resort Manager – Grand Valley

Resort Manager – Grand Valley

Forge & Foster Investment Management

Grand Valley, ON
Posted July 16, 2021
Full–time

We are excited to be hiring a Resort Manager for our beautiful RV park & campground.

If you are looking for a unique, challenging, and rewarding position in a beautiful setting and a chance to learn and grow then this could be the perfect opportunity for you.

The main aspects of the job include customer service, managing staff, maintaining the park, leasing, and sales, driving financial performance, and other duties related to property management.

This is a seasonal position and requires availability on all weekends and holidays during the summer months. There is also a nice manager residence on-site and our preference is for you to live there year-round. Our preference is a couple, and the salary would be $30,000 each.

We are looking for someone who:

  • has a warm, friendly personality
  • thrives on building relationships with others and creating a sense of community
  • has exceptionally high standards for customer service
  • is very good at solving problems
  • thrives in a fast-paced environment
  • has natural leadership skills and managerial skills
  • has an entrepreneurial spirit and an “owner mentality”
  • has a keen interest in and knowledge of the financial side of a business
  • has strong sales and negotiation skills
  • has general knowledge of property maintenance and enjoys hands-on work
  • has excellent interpersonal skills
  • has good computer skills
  • has experience in the property management, hospitality, and/or hotel industries

RESPONSIBILITIES

Specific job duties are as follows:

  • be the day-to-day point of contact for visitors and residents and respond to their inquiries or complaints
  • work with the owners to create and implement park policies and procedures
  • promote an environment that is safe, enjoyable and customer friendly
  • enforce park rules and standards and ensure compliance with all laws
  • hire, train, schedule, and supervise staff as required
  • prepare an annual resort budget
  • produce timely, accurate, and on-target financial reports
  • complete basic bookkeeping such as rent collection, payroll and invoicing
  • assist in implementing sales and marketing strategies to drive occupancy and revenues
  • market new, pre-owned, and/or brokered homes for sale in the park and prepare required documents
  • ensure that all resort facilities are maintained in safe and workable condition
  • oversees capital improvements to the park

Thank you for your interest in this exciting opportunity. If you would like to apply, please submit your cover letter and resume via e-mail.

Job Type
Full-time, Contract, Permanent

Pay
$30,000.00 per year

Benefits

  • Dental care
  • Extended health care
  • Life insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Vision care

Schedule

  • 8-hour shift
  • Day shift
  • Holidays
  • Night shift
  • On call
  • Weekends

Work Remotely
No

Junior Accountant

Junior Accountant

Forge & Foster Investment Management

Hamilton, ON
Posted October 12, 2021
Full–time

Forge & Foster is committed to generating positive social and economic value for communities, tenants, investors, and other stakeholders through commercial real estate projects in Hamilton and across Southern Ontario. We bring vitality to cities as a leading value-add commercial real estate investment management company.

We are looking for a Junior Accountant to join our team. You will work in our small finance team in all aspects of finance and accounting.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Your tasks will include, but may not be limited to, the following:

  • Help maintain the books for the real estate portfolios, including processing payables and receivables
  • Assist with monthly, quarterly and annual close-outs of the books
  • Generate financial statements to complete the monthly, quarterly and annual reporting packages
  • Process cheques, management fees, leasing fees and chargeback invoices to tenants
  • Assist in the creation of annual TMI adjustments and invoice and collect from or prepare refunds to tenants
  • Work with the property managers to review and post rent rolls
  • Support the property manager in answering tenant queries
  • Review and update tenant lease information in our Rent Manager software program

REQUIRED SKILLS & QUALIFICATIONS

  • A degree in finance or accounting
  • Can excel in a high volume, fast paced environment
  • Hard working and organized
  • Ability to solve problems and work independently
  • Strong Excel skills
  • Strong communication skills

Thank you for your interest in this exciting opportunity. If you would like to apply, please submit your cover letter and resume via e-mail.

Job Type
Full-time, Permanent

Pay
From $40,000.00 per year

Additional Pay
Bonus pay

Benefits

  • Casual dress
  • Dental care
  • Extended health care
  • On-site parking

Schedule
Monday to Friday

Work Remotely
No

Real Estate Analyst

Real Estate Analyst

Forge & Foster Investment Management

Hamilton, ON
Posted October 12, 2021
Full–time

Forge & Foster is committed to generating positive social and economic value for communities, tenants, investors, and other stakeholders through commercial real estate projects in Hamilton and across Southern Ontario. We bring vitality to cities as a leading value-add commercial real estate investment management company.

We are looking for a Real Estate Analyst to join our team. 

You will assist in all aspects of our business including acquisitions, dispositions, financing, asset management and accounting. This position requires strong problem solving skills, good organizational skills and an ability to work independently. Previous real estate experience or a strong interest in real estate is considered an asset.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Your tasks will include, but may not be limited to, the following:

  • Assist in the execution of property business plans including tasks related to leasing, construction, land entitlement, environmental remediation
  • Assist in creating design packages and lease proposals for prospective tenants
  • Assist in underwriting and preparing investment proposals for new acquisitions
  • Assist in creating mortgage proposals for lenders
  • Provide due diligence documentation for any properties being sold

Thank you for your interest in this exciting opportunity. If you would like to apply, please submit your cover letter and resume via e-mail.

Job Type
Full-time, Permanent

Pay
From $40,000.00 per year

Additional Pay
Bonus pay

Benefits

  • Dental care
  • Extended health care
  • On-site parking

Schedule
Monday to Friday

Work Remotely
No

Forge & Foster Brings an Exciting Development to Canada’s Prettiest Town

Forge & Foster Brings an Exciting Development to Canada’s Prettiest Town

April 22, 2021

Paris, ON – Forge & Foster Investment Management

Hamilton-based Forge & Foster Investment Management is launching an exciting new development in “Canada’s prettiest town,” The Walker Press located in Paris, Ontario.

With an eye for identifying properties with distinct character and a unique history, Forge & Foster acquired the exquisite Walker Press building in 2020.

The Walker Press will be restored into a multi-use, commercial facility that will richly contribute to the growing community of culinary and craft-goods experiences in experience in Paris.

Located on 3 Yeo Street, with the oldest portion of the structure – the Maxwell wing – built in 1872, The Walker Press (est. 1910) moved into the Penman Wing in 1915.

Expanding into the Maxwell wing in 1920, connecting the two buildings in the process, they operated for over 60 years, printing everything from gift coupons to royal portraits.

With its proximity to the historic downtown district of Paris, surrounded by thriving densification projects, and rooted in a destination that is only a short drive from the urban centres of Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, The Walker Press is the perfect location for multiple emerging businesses ranging from culinary and retail, to office and light-industrial.

“Paris is a beautifully historic town and an incredible destination, we are thrilled to play a role in reviving this property and writing its next chapter,”

said Ben Ames, Partner and CIO.

“The Walker Press will be an idyllic and innovative setting for a new generation of Paris-based businesses. A perfect setting for emerging industries and employment opportunities in ‘Canada’s prettiest town,’”

said Joe Accardi, Partner and CEO.

Forge & Foster greatly acknowledges and thanks The Paris Museum & Historical Society for all their support in understanding the background of The Walker Press.

About Forge & Foster Investment Management

Forge & Foster is an investment and asset management firm, committed to delivering optimal returns for its investors and partners through inventively restoring and growing communities across southern Ontario.

This is done through unique property-asset investment, development, relationship and business support initiatives, including revisioning spaces, capitalizing on emerging markets and models, and forecasting future trends and opportunities.

Forge & Foster are the masterminds behind projects like the restoration of 1 West Ave. and The Ironwood, two of Hamilton’s premiere, artfully restored, vintage office buildings.

Current initiatives include leading developments in Hamilton’s up-and-coming Innovation District, cultural live-work spaces in the urban centres of each Hamilton, Brantford, and Cambridge, film industry spaces in Hamilton’s Hollywood North corridor, and tiny-homes projects in the beautiful, up-and-coming Goderich/Bluewater region.

Forge & Foster Brings the Tiny Homes Movement to Ontario in a Big Way

Forge & Foster Brings the Tiny Homes Movement to Ontario in a Big Way

Ontario (various regions) – Forge & Foster Investment Management

  • Hamilton-based Forge & Foster is establishing tiny home developments across Ontario with the support of Stoney Creek-based True North Tiny Homes.
  • Tiny homes movement is growing in popularity because of soaring Ontario home prices, and environmental consciousness.
  • Tiny homes can be used as both vacation and permanent residence.
  • Developments are in Ontario vacation destinations of Niagara, Huron County, and Kawartha Lakes.
  • Sites will also feature alternative vacation accommodations such as cabins and “glamping.”Hamilton-based Forge & Foster Investment Management is bringing the exciting tiny homes movement to Ontario in a big way.

Working with True North Tiny Homes (also out of Hamilton, ON), Forge & Foster is setting up tiny home and alternative living/vacation accommodations in the beautiful, Ontario vacation destinations of Bluewater (Goderich, Huron County), Jordan Valley (Lincoln, Niagara Region), and Pilgrim’s Rest (Lakefield, Kawartha Lakes), with more to come.

Tiny Homes and True North Tiny Homes

Tiny homes are not just a housing format, but rather an increasingly popular movement to live more simply and with mobility.

The industry has grown substantially in Ontario in the past half-decade, especially in response to soaring real-estate prices and a greater focus on living sustainably.

Tiny Homes can be highly customizable, allowing for greater mobility and potential to live “off the grid,” whether as a temporary living -situation or permanent year-round.

To aid in the development of tiny homes for these alternative living and vacation destinations, Forge & Foster tapped the expertise of Truth North Tiny Homes. Based out of Hamilton Ontario, True North Tiny Homes is the brainchild of Daniel Ott and life-partner JoAnna, the homes are custom built and beautifully designed, with the influence of Ott’s interior décor and design firm, White Willow Design.

With tiny homes starting as low as $100,000, and as costs and standards-of-living change across Canada, many are increasingly moving towards tiny homes for their mobility, sustainability, simplicity, and affordability.

Similarly, many municipalities are responding to this interest by changing by-laws to permit year-round living in tiny home units.

Ontario Tiny Home and Alternative Living/Vacation Resorts

Supporting the growth of the tiny home movement with sites where they can be easily accommodated, in addition to other forms of alternative living/vacation – such as RVs or “glamping” – Forge & Foster has begun to acquire and repurpose former RV and camp resorts across Southern Ontario.

The first three that Forge & Foster are launching this year are: Jordan Valley (located in Niagara’s Lincoln township), Bluewater Village (located in Goderich, Huron County), and Pilgrim’s Rest (Lakefield, Kawartha Lakes), with more currently underway.

All acquired between 2020 and 2021, each site will be revitalized and redesigned to appeal to a higher standard of experience. Specific attention will be paid to amenities and ambience, such as horticultural growing spaces aligned with the surrounding Niagara wine region at Jordan Valley.

On these initiatives, Joe Accardi, CEO of Forge & Foster says:

“Between the pandemic and the current Canadian real-estate market, the past year has drastically shifted both how people live, how they play, and how they explore.

From living more simply, affordably, and sustainably, to getting out and exploring your own backyard – like these beautiful destinations across Ontario – we want to make sure we’re not just ahead of the curve on these trends, but directly driving the opportunities they hold for new and emerging industries.”

Adding to this, Ben Ames, CIO of Forge & Foster adds:

“Cost of living has skyrocketed for younger people.

Couple that unaffordability with the Work From Home movement; people don’t have to live in urban areas.

With wifi access scaling to rural areas, the attraction of a lower cost of living and no sacrifice to quality, we are seeing an incredible amount of demand for a more experience-based way of living.”

About Forge & Foster Investment Management

Forge & Foster is an investment and asset management firm, committed to delivering optimal returns for its investors and partners through inventively restoring and growing communities across southern Ontario.

This is done through unique property-asset investment, development, relationship and business support initiatives, including revisioning spaces, capitalizing on emerging markets and models, and forecasting future trends and opportunities.

Forge & Foster are the masterminds behind projects like the restoration of 1 West Ave. and The Ironwood, two of Hamilton’s premiere, artfully restored, vintage office buildings.

Current initiatives include leading developments in Hamilton’s up-and-coming Innovation District, cultural live-work spaces in the urban centres of each Hamilton, Brantford, Cambridge, and Paris, film industry spaces in Hamilton’s Hollywood North corridor, and tiny-homes projects in the beautiful Niagara, Kawartha Lakes and Goderich/Bluewater regions.

Hamilton approves rezoning for 769 unit development at Corktown Plaza

This week witnessed a higher than average volume of transactions take place including a mix of all asset classes. The most expensive transaction this week was for 50 acres of agricultural land, located near Binbrook, in Hamilton for $17,000,000 or $337,435/acre. This could either indicate a future industrial development or speculative future residential development given the existing zoning. Other notable transactions include 117 John St N, which looks to be part of an assembly for the 41 Wilson St acquisition by First Avenue Investment Counsel and Broccolini Construction’s purchase of 10 acres in Cambridge, further cementing their foothold in Southern Ontario. In the news, the city of Hamilton has approved a rezoning application for a  proposed 769 unit, 27, 14 & 8 storey development by Slate Asset Management. Feel free to reach out with any questions regarding the GHA transactions or news.

Update brought to you by: Alex Manojlovich, Forge & Foster Investment Management

 

Please click the “GHA Sales Transaction Database” link below to view the most recent transaction activity.

GHA Sales Transaction Database

Corktown Plaza rezoned for proposed 27 storey development

Hamilton Store Fixtures building approved to be 13 storey condo

Emblem Development’s 1 Jarvis

Nokia & City of Hamilton: Smart City Innovations

Creativity and collaboration meet at Millworks

Fed’s, Province and LiUNA close to aligning on Hamilton LRT deal

Ontario plans to expand Greenbelt to include Paris, Galt Moraine and others

Toronto condos including co-working spaces

How Canada’s real estate market defied expectations

Jobs lost in 2020 hit workers with wages below Canadian average 

Canada’s life sciences sector needs more lab space

Altus Group National State of the Market 

Home renovation boom sends lumber prices to record price

Toronto set to be home to e-sports performance venue by 2025

With demise of mobile home parks in Kelowna, affordable home ownership slips away for many 

If you’re looking to keep your finger on the pulse of all Hamilton residential and commercial real estate projects and trends, subscribe to Forge & Foster’s free weekly newsletter here!

MIP leading the way for Hamilton’s surging innovation district

Brought to you by Forge & Foster Investment Management.

While Pier 8, the Hamilton airport, and the proposed film district have each received much-deserved attention when it comes to major redevelopment projects in Hamilton, another key area in the city’s future is quietly being assembled under the name West Hamilton Innovation District.

The scale of this district is massive and with its ambition comes the potential of becoming Hamilton’s next economic powerhouse.

Located right off the Highway 403 ramps, the West Hamilton Innovation District is split into two main components: McMaster Innovation Park & the Annex.

As the name would suggest, the McMaster Innovation Park side primarily consists of buildings from McMaster University including the McMaster Innovation Park Atrium, McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC), and the recently acquired Westinghouse Corporation factory.

Ty Shattuck, CEO of McMaster Innovation Park, referred to their portion of the West Hamilton Innovation District as a 2.8 million square foot Life Sciences ‘MegaHub’.

A long-awaited road connection of Frid Street to Longwood Road will unite McMaster Innovation Park with the rest of the innovative companies operating on the other side of Frid Street, aka the Annex, which is nearly entirely powered by investment management group Forge & Foster.

The result will be an innovation supercentre that will truly encourage collaboration between industry and academia.

With the enormous amount of activity anticipated for this district, we’ve highlighted the anchor buildings and businesses leading the charge in the West Hamilton Innovation District.

 The Atrium

The Atrium was MIP’s first multi-tenant building and is located in the only remaining office building that was part of Camco’s nearly century old manufacturing plant. The Atrium was the first structure in the master plan that showcased what this area could become.

This building now houses over 114 tenants, ranging from start-up companies and accelerators to research labs.

One of the tenants, Fusion Pharmaceuticals, recently made national headlines having received US $105 million from international investors for its cancer treatment clinical trials. That funding is on top of earlier investments of $46 million, making it the largest single investment ever in a Canadian startup.

 Hyatt House

A new six-storey Hyatt hotel located right off of Longwood has been highlighted as priority in order to offer visitors opportunities to stay on site while they are attending conferences or supporting the launch of a new business. The proposed hotel will contain 144 units.

 MARC

This existing building is known as the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre, or MARC for short, and it’s one of Canada’s leading research facilities based around electric and hybrid vehicles.

The 90,000 sqft, two-floor building allows for both collaborative and private spaces to develop, design, and test hybrid technology. Plans for the area call for greater expansion into the parking lot behind the building.

 New office buildings

Two 4-storey office buildings will be located south of Frid Street.

Gowlings law firm has publicly announced that they are anchoring one of the buildings in a move to “strengthen [Gowlings’] ability to enhance strategic partnerships by staying close to those who are driving progress – the researchers, the engineers, the designers.”

 CCRM Building

Late last year, CCRM announced that they had signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to partner in the development of a biomanufacturing campus at MIP focused on regenerative medicine-based technologies and cell and gene therapies.

The new building is envisioned to be Canada’s largest and most advanced Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO).

 Building 606 and Glass Warehouse

One of the largest adaptive reuse projects in the city will see the former Westinghouse Corporation factory site turned into a creative and collaborative work space.

Currently called Building 606 and Glass Warehouse, this 350,000-square-foot project will be flooded with natural light and effectively act as the heart of the new McMaster Innovation Park campus.

 

 

 New parking garage

The influx of people to the area necessitates more than just surface parking. As such, a parking garage containing 550 spots will be constructed.

 44 Frid St

After purchasing the former Hamilton Spectator HQ for $25.75 million, McMaster announced last March that it plans to turn the building into a life sciences innovation megahub, having already landed their first tenant.

Laurentis Energy Partners, a subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation, will be operating out of the building for at least two years as part of a research collaboration with MIP to advance nuclear energy innovations.

Expect lots of groundbreaking work to come out of this building over the coming decades.

 ANNEX70

Neighbouring the former Hamilton Spectator building, 70 Frid St contains a collection of buildings and businesses that have been servicing Hamilton for the past several years such as Gravity Climbing Gym.

With the growth of MIP, innovative businesses such as North Marketing Solutions and m-Health Solutions are beginning to call the ANNEX home.

ANNEX70 also possesses 5 acres of vacant land for future development.

 ANNEX150

Located at 150 Chatham St, ANNEX150 mostly consists of a single-storey 44,000 square foot flex building, along with a three-storey 35,000 square foot brick-and-beam building.

Similar to ANNEX70, 150 Chatham St is also witnessing a renaissance of knowledge economy people and businesses that are looking to participate in the exciting community growing from the WHID, including Mabel’s Labels.

Earlier in 2020, Hamilton’s own Lester Coloma produced an engaging mural celebrating the budding scientific change developing at the ANNEX.

 LRT Storage Facility

Metrolinx acquired this 14.5 acre property in 2019 as the future site of the Hamilton LRT Operations, Maintenance, and Storage Facility (OMSF).

While the LRT’s future is uncertain, the City of Hamilton’s website states that “Metrolinx and the City are working collaboratively with McMaster University to ensure the facility fits well into their vision and master plan for the area.”


In summary, West Hamilton Innovation District is poised for huge redevelopment over the coming decades and will become one of Hamilton’s strongest sources for job growth. The number of diverse companies, innovation, and research that will be concentrated into this district is staggering.

We are very confident that this new district will become a national player for Canada and we couldn’t be happier that it’s happening right here in Hamilton, Ontario.

Read the article on the Urbanicity website here.

If you’re looking to keep your finger on the pulse of all Hamilton residential and commercial real estate projects and trends, subscribe to Forge & Foster’s free weekly newsletter here!

Header image courtesy of McMaster Innovation Park.

Toronto’s Hollywood North expanding in all directions

It’s lights, cameras and action – everywhere. While just a few months ago, it appeared COVID-19 was forcing a wrap for the film industry, there’s now so much demand for production space that studios are expanding, and new ones are being built in all corners of the Greater Toronto Area.

“What the pandemic did was force a pause in production, but we have not altered course on our expansion plans,” says Geoff Grant, general manager of Pinewood Toronto Studios, which is majority owned by Bell Media. Studio clients aren’t changing their plans either; “We’re bursting at the seams and turning away viable productions because of the lack of space available.”

Pinewood’s complex on Toronto’s Port Lands currently has 11 stages, including Megastage, the second largest in North America, which, at 46,000 square feet, can accommodate sets as tall as five storeys. In November, Pinewood broke ground on an expansion that will add five more stages by early 2022, along with craft workshops in a project built by Ledcor Group of Companies and managed by Turner & Townsend.

Pinewood is one of several production centres located in Toronto’s Port Lands, a redevelopment zone east of the city core. A pioneer in the Port Lands, Cinespace Film Studios is expanding with an additional 165,000 square feet of production space.

To the east of the Pinewood complex, a big site on Basin Street is about to add to the Port Lands creative cluster. City of Toronto’s real estate agency, CreateTO, has invited proposals to build studios on an 8.9-acre former industrial site, renamed Basin Media Hub, that could include up to 500,000 square feet of creative spaces.

A rendering of a proposal for the Basin Media Hub in Toronto’s Port Lands.

According to Vic Gupta, senior vice-president of strategic development for CreateTO, “Hollywood is coming north [because] we’ve got the facilities and a skilled work force that’s world class,” along with a supportive film office that makes it easy to get permits around the city. Another advantage is Port Lands’ proximity to diverse locations throughout Toronto that can stand in for almost any city in North America.

Many studios are developed in retrofitted warehouses, but increasingly stages are being purpose-built to create height for hanging equipment and obstruction-free space within the building, Mr. Gupta says.

The city has developed renderings of Basin Media Hub, but they are tentative. The successful bidders will design and build their own facilities, with the land remaining city-owned on long-term leases, Mr. Gupta says. “There could be multiple tenants; we’re leaving this up to the industry.”

“We’re looking for proposals with a sense of design and sustainability,” he adds. “When fully developed, [Basin Media Hub] will be a destination not only for the industry but for the public.” A waterfront promenade with public access along the edge of Lake Ontario is a requirement of the development.

And it’s not just the Port Lands where studio capacity is expanding.

Industry equipment specialist William F. White International Inc. will open its third production centre in converted warehouses in Mississauga in February. Whites Studios Cantay facility, which will include four studios, as well as offices and wardrobe space, joins recently opened Century Studio and another production centre, Edwards Blvd. Studio. The company is continuing to scout for more production locations because there’s an increasing demand, says Rick Perotto, White’s vice-president of business development.

The Cantay facility is also close to another new TV and film production hub in Mississauga, CBS Stages Canada, which opened in 2019. The 260,000-square-foot complex on Matheson Boulevard East, near Dixie Road, features six soundstages, production offices and support facilities.

And in addition to expanding in the Port Lands, Cinespace has developed the 50,000-square-foot Titan Studios as part of a multi-year expansion of its Kipling Campus in Etobicoke, west of the city core, where The Handmaid’s Tale and Netflix’s superhero series Titans were filmed.

“The industry is alive and well in Toronto,” Mr. Gupta says. According to the Toronto Economic Development agency, it provided more than 44,000 jobs in the Toronto area and pumped more than $2-billion into the local economy in 2019.

“While everyone has had to take a deep breath for a while, everybody is very optimistic about the future.”


Hamilton gets ready for its closeup

The Aeon Bayfront Studios in Hamilton could open as soon as February.

AEON STUDIO GROUP

As soon as Aeon Studio Group announced plans to convert a former manufacturing plant in Hamilton into production studios, they were getting calls from prospective tenants.

“While there are 900 film-related businesses and 9,000 people employed in production in Hamilton, until now there has not been a real film studio facility in the city,” says Jeff Anders, a co-founder of Aeon, which has a master plan to build Hamilton into an international hub for film, television and digital media production.

The company took over the former manufacturing plant on Queen Street North the first week of December and is aiming to have it open as Aeon Bayfront Studios by Feb. 1. The building’s former owner, power equipment maker AVL Manufacturing Inc., is moving to a new location in the Hamilton area.

The studio will feature a 27,000-square-foot clear-span mainstage with a 50-foot ceiling, 40,000 square feet of additional production space of varying ceiling heights and 6,500 square feet of furnished offices. In addition, there are four acres of outdoor space suitable for backlot uses, as well as a paint shop with two paint booths.

“We looked at several other buildings over the past three years and they were not nearly as good as this one,” says Mr. Anders. The modern building will get additional soundproofing and electrical upgrades, but it is in exceptional condition, he adds.

The studio is located across the street from the Barton-Tiffany lands, a city redevelopment site of former industrial sites in the north end of Hamilton. Aeon has longer-term plans to build on a 15-acre parcel it calls the Hamilton Studio District, a hub for the creative industries, which will feature studios, offices, retail and residential space. Aeon’s real estate partner is Forge & Foster, a Hamilton-based investment firm.

“Hamilton is getting busier and busier because you can make it look like anywhere and the locals love us,” comments Robbie David, an Aeon co-founder who has been producing films in Hamilton for many years. As part of its services, Aeon also launched a location representation service, which helps productions find unique filming locations in the Hamilton area and arrange with property owners to offer their spaces up for rent for film and TV productions.

“Hamilton is a top 10 Canadian city, but it’s not huge, so within a small radius you have locations that look like Chicago or New York; you have suburbia, the post-apocalyptic Stelco complex and the Niagara Escarpment within a 10-minute drive,” Mr. David says. “You can literally set up to shoot in an industrial setting and a forest in the same day.”

How has Hamilton’s commercial real estate held up in 2020?

Brought to you by Forge & Foster Investment Management.

It isn’t news to anyone at this point, but 2020 hasn’t been the greatest year for a wide variety of business ventures.

Lockdowns, closures, restrictions, and uncertainties have done a number on countless Hamilton residents, institutions, businesses, and enterprises; and though a vaccine is poised to eventually mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we aren’t out of the woods just yet.

However, in spite of the considerable struggles of this year and a number of heartbreaking local closures, Hamilton has nonetheless seen the steady birth of numerous new businesses and a continuing rise in the investment in commercial real estate within the city, despite a downward trend when the pandemic first touched the city back in March.

To learn more about it from the inside, I spoke to Alex Manojlovich, Strategy & Acquisition Associate at Hamilton real estate investment firm Forge & Foster.

Here is what Alex had to say about the state of commercial real estate in Hamilton for 2020.

What is your opinion on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the commercial real estate market? 

Alex: From the outset of the pandemic in March and April, Hamilton witnessed the volume of commercial real estate (CRE) transactions dwindle, but it didn’t take long to ramp back up in the summer and fall months.

Initially, there was a lot of uncertainty and some skepticism, especially with businesses facing restrictions stemming from COVID-19, but the government’s fiscal policies and programs have done a good job so far of floating most local business and subsequently associated CRE value.

Thankfully, we are currently seeing a stable market for the most part.

Are there any specific trends in commercial real estate you’ve noticed this year?

Alex: This year, we’ve seen massive demand for the multi-residential and industrial asset classes and a decline in retail. We’d been witnessing this trend before COVID-19 struck, and it’s only been exacerbated now due to social distancing measures. Not just Hamilton, but all of Ontario is still facing an affordability crisis for residential living, so demand for overall living space has remained strong.

I’ve noticed a bifurcation of the industrial asset class. On one hand, the demand of e-commerce has accelerated the need for distribution, fulfillment, and overall warehousing; something Hamilton’s currently witnessing at the Hamilton Airport with the Panattoni, Amazon, and DHL developments.

On the other hand, smaller industrial spaces that once may have been a car garage or paint shop are now catching the eye of general employment and are transforming into “flex” spaces. Breweries, tech companies, retail businesses, office users, and more are looking to these spaces mainly because industrial units possess more affordable rents.

As the need for a brick and mortar retail space declines and the necessity of an online presence rises, owning a retail space on a traditional high street for triple the rental rate of an industrial space isn’t as vital. I believe in-person retail will survive, but will be buoyed by local neighbourhoods in high density areas.

To me, office space is the big question mark. The appetite for it has been paused as the work-from-home movement has produced a murky future for the necessity of office space. However, it’s my opinion that offices will be fine for the most part, as people still value social in-person interaction. It’s also great to see office developments in the core progressing, specifically Core Urban’s Olympia Club and Effort Trust’s office on the corner of Hughson Street and King Street East at Gore Park.

I’m personally getting drained by Zoom meetings and I think most people are feeling similarly and will welcome a return to some face to face time. That said, it’s my belief that the current experience of working from home will open the door for greater flexibility in the future for employees.

What were some of the biggest acquisitions of the quarter?

Alex: Overall, Hamilton’s commercial real estate market for the third quarter witnessed over $322 million transact — one of the largest quarterly volumes we’ve seen in the last several years.

The largest transaction this past quarter was by InterRent REIT’s acquisition of three multi-residential towers: 600 John Street North, 35 Brock Street and 100 Main Street East (Landmark Place) for $27 million, $33 million and $76 million respectively. 600 John Street North and 35 Brock Street are located near Pier 8, and 100 Main Street East is kitty corner to the upcoming Royal Connaught developments so overall, all three assets are located in what’s presumed to be high growth areas of Hamilton.

Another notable acquisition this past quarter was 1842 King Street East, better known as Brock University’s Hamilton campus, for $11,250,000 by builder New Horizon Development Group. Given the history of the purchaser and the price point of $1.6 million per acre, it fits to be a future low rise residential development.

What area of development in Hamilton has you most excited?

Alex: There’s a lot to be excited about! The airport has attracted large suitors, some I mentioned before and some of which have not yet been publicly revealed. Downtown Hamilton is finally witnessing cranes in the air for Cobalt, Kiwi, and Platinum Condos and many more projects are in the pipeline.

However, for me, the most exciting area is the West Hamilton Innovation District (WHID), which is the McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) and Frid/Chatham Street lands (see header image). To the best of my knowledge, this is the only area of the city zoned for M1 – Research and Development, which permits tech and innovative uses and we’re subsequently witnessing fantastic growth in this regard.

MIP is a huge success story for the city and continues to grow with the purchase of the former Hamilton Spectator building, the intentions for 606 Aberdeen and Gowlings new office, and most recently their massive partnership with CCRM to construct a global biotech campus that “will be the first of its kind in the world“.

MIP tenant Fusion Pharmaceuticals has received over $150 USD million from international investors for its cancer treatment clinical trials. And if the LRT project ever kicks off, the WHID will also be home to the Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility. It’s fantastic to see world leading innovation and development occurring in Hamilton and it’s only going to continue to grow.

Finally, how can people stay informed on Hamilton’s latest commercial real estate news? 

Alex: If people are interested in staying in touch on the Hamilton commercial real estate market, we create a weekly email newsletter that highlights the latest transactions, relevant news, trends and developments. The subscription link can be found here.

Feel free to reach out to me personally at alex.manojlovich@forgeandfoster.ca

Read the article on the Urbanicity website here.