Long-term thinking and avoiding reliance on the oil and gas industries were behind Hungerford Properties’ recent decision to purchase Edmonton’s Royal Alex Place.
The 11-storey building, with 44 residential units and three storeys of commercial space is in the downtown at 11112 101 St. NW. It’s close to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, one block from a new Metro light rail transit line station, within walking distance of Kingsway Mall and six blocks from the new ICE District that includes Rogers Place (the new home of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team), an outdoor concert area and other future developments.
“We like the neighbourhood and the correlation of demand for the property with the hospital,” said Hungerford Properties partner Michael Hungerford.
“We see a lot of hospital workers and related businesses in the health services industry in the building and neighbourhood already, and we like that in a market that has some challenges with oil and gas-related businesses. We have some insulation from that.”
Hungerford couldn’t reveal the purchase price due to a confidentiality agreement with the vendor, which he said was a family.
Royal Alex Place is partially occupied
Royal Alex Place is partially occupied, with one commercial floor, a small space vacated by the previous owner and a few vacant residential rental units available. Hungerford said the company will invest a substantial amount of money in refurbishing the interior and exterior of the building and will take care of deferred maintenance.
Ayre & Oxford has taken over management of the building and will work closely with current tenants to minimize any disruptions to them during renovations while Hungerford makes improvements to try and attract doctors and support staff as well as health service suppliers to its office space.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for tenants looking to locate in a building that’s going to be benefiting from a landlord that’s putting money into the building and will be professionally managing it,” said Hungerford.
“We’re optimistic and confident in the local market that we can fill those spaces … We think we can outperform the market right now.”
Hungerford will contract management of Royal Alex Place’s 144-space parking lot to a third party. Due to its proximity to the hospital, which is in the midst of a $4.5-billion overhaul, Hungerford said parking is in high demand in the area.
“A significant amount of that is unoccupied and we’ll look to create short-term metered parking as well as public parking for monthly parkers.”
Hungerford’s other Edmonton properties
Hungerford acquired the Ledgeview Business Centre, an office complex with ground floor retail on the edge of downtown Edmonton, two years ago. It has since made more than $6 million in upgrades to lobbies, washrooms and elevators while modernizing the building’s systems. The office space includes a shared boardroom and a new shower and change rooms.
Hungerford’s other Edmonton area property is the new multi-phase Paragon Business Park, which offers customizable warehouse and office condominium space in nearby and easily accessible Sherwood Park.
“The overall market has been tough,” said Vancouver-based Hungerford of his company’s Alberta investments. “Decision-making is slow and vacancies have been increasing in all asset classes.
“But our company’s philosophy in general is to look at longer term horizons, and ups and downs in the market present challenges but also opportunities. You can expect us to continue to add to our portfolio in Alberta.”
Hungerford also has residential and commercial properties across Western Canada.