Minto Apartment REIT makes first move into B.C. by backing Vancouver-area project

Lonsdale Square

Ottawa-based Minto Apartment REIT made another move to expand its national footprint this week, entering the West Coast with a deal to help finance a new rental project in Vancouver.

The REIT is providing $11.9 million in funding for a joint venture between its sister company, Minto Properties, and a subsidiary of B.C.-based Darwin Properties to build the first phase of Lonsdale Square, a master-planned community in North Vancouver.

The six-storey building will feature 116 rental suites as well as 7,800 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Once construction is complete, the REIT will have the option to purchase the building at five per cent less than its appraised market value.

Subsequent phases of the Lonsdale Square project call for a new park, more retail development, a daycare and a $200-million recreation centre. Under an agreement with Minto Properties, the REIT could eventually own a stake in an additional 700 rental units at the site.

Since it was formed in 2018, the investment trust has grown its portfolio from just over 4,000 suites at 22 properties to 7,200 units at 29 properties in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton.

“The Lonsdale Square development opportunity represents a great way for the REIT to partner with a highly reputable local developer and enter the Greater Vancouver market, meeting our strategic mandate to be in all six of Canada's major real estate markets,” CEO Michael Waters said in a statement.

Minto recently said its portfolio “continues to generate solid performance” despite the pandemic as rent collection rates were consistent with pre-COVID levels in the third quarter. 

The company reported its funds from operations – a key cash-flow metric for REITs – for the three-month period ending Sept. 30 increased 22 per cent year-over-year to $13.2 million