RioCan partners with Halifax-based Killam REIT on Gloucester apartment project

An 840-unit apartment complex is being developed near the Blair LRT station.
RioCan REIT is partnering with Killam Apartment REIT on a new apartment project near the Blair LRT station. Photo courtesy RioCan REIT

Canadian retail leasing giant RioCan announced this week it is partnering with a Halifax-based real estate investment trust to build an apartment complex near Gloucester’s Blair LRT station.

RioCan said it has sold a 50 per cent stake in the four-building project to Killam Apartment REIT for $8 million. The two companies will work together to develop the 7.1-acre site near Highway 174, which is eventually slated to be home to 840 apartment units. RioCan will act as the development manager and Killam will take over as the residential property manager when the project is finished.

“We are very pleased to partner with Killam on our first rental residential development in Ottawa,” RioCan CEO Edward Sonshine said in a statement. “Killam’s experience and management expertise in the rental residential segment will ensure the success of this development project.”

RioCan, the country’s largest real estate investment trust, originally announced its plans for the southern portion of the Gloucester Silver City Shopping Centre in early 2016.

The first phase will feature a 23-storey rental apartment building with about 220 units. Portions of the retail plaza that were originally planned to be incorporated into the new development are now being demolished.

The first phase of the project is slated to be completed by mid-2019. The full build-out, which is also expected to include an outdoor park, could take up to 20 years, RioCan officials told OBJ last October.

The project is part of a national effort by RioCan to redevelop more than a dozen older, mostly suburban shopping centres across the country, including Westgate and Elmvale Acres shopping centres. Retail space and parking lots are being replaced with high-rises, many of which will also include office space and shops.

RioCan vice-president of planning and development Stuart Craig said last fall the Gloucester project, which does not include the mall or the main retail anchors, was an easy target. The retailers were struggling, he told OBJ, and a light-rail station is anticipated to make the apartments desirable to prospective residents.

“The LRT station was a great catalyst,” Mr. Craig said. “I’m not sure we would have done (this Gloucester project) without the LRT.”