Rental real estate is in short supply and high demand in many Ontario markets, and Guelph is no exception. As such, Oakley Ridge — a six-storey purpose-built rental building slated for 166 College Avenue West — is coming at a good time.
The project is one of Pinemount Developments’ latest, and will bring 110 new dedicated rental units to Guelph’s Old University neighbourhood, which is just a short walk away from the city’s largest commercial district, known as Stone Road, Centennial Park, and the University of Guelph campus.
The development will accommodate a mix of one- to three-bedroom units and a number of ground-floor townhomes. As well, the building will accommodate a total of 133 parking spaces, 78 of which will be located underground.
Oren Turkienicz, Vice President of Acquisitions for Pinemount, admits he’s a little biased when it comes to Guelph — he is a U of G alumni — but spending time in the southern Ontario city has allowed him to truly understand the housing types that tend to flourish there.
“When you look at these secondary markets, especially markets like Guelph, that have had sort of a rental heyday back in the 1960s, ‘70s, and earlier on, there just haven't been any newly created units. And there's still such an increase in the population and residents looking for rental accommodations,” Turkienicz explains.
In addition to the fact that Guelph’s population is rising, Turkienicz points to several other market fundamentals that have drawn Pinemount to the city, including its robust employment sector and strong post-secondary presence. He expects that it will be a mix of residents — professionals, students, families, and even empty-nesters — who will eventually call Oakley Ridge home.
Oakley Ridge is coming together thanks to a joint partnership with Toronto-based real estate investment firm, Harbour Equity. Josh Lerner, Senior Vice President of Investments for the firm, says they were brought onto the project around five years ago. At that time, Pinemount had already secured the development site at 166 College Avenue West.
“Pinemount was in the process of completing a rental project in Barrie that was a similar size. We saw it and it looked great, and that gave us a lot of confidence in their ability to execute our development plan,” says Lerner. “With the land cost coupled with what is a very tight rental market, we thought there was a good opportunity to develop this property as a rental building.”
More broadly speaking, Lerner says it’s a pretty advantageous time to invest in the rental sector.
“Because of the current rate environment, a lot of people who would otherwise be buying homes are having to rent, and there's been good rental rate growth,” Lerner explains. “And there are still a lot of people coming to Canada who, when they come, they want to rent, so we think that rental will continue to be relatively strong in the current market.”
Construction on Oakley Ridge is now well underway, and the building could be move-in ready as soon as the first quarter of 2025.
Upon completion, it will tout a robust suite of amenities that speak to the modern renter, including a lobby area with a coffee shop feel, a pet spa (on the ground floor), a shared working space (on the second floor), an indoor theatre and golf simulator (also on the second floor), a fitness room (on the sixth floor), and several outdoor and indoor amenity spaces that will be distributed throughout the development, including on the 6th-floor terrace and rooftop.
More notable still is the inclusion of a 6,000-sq.-ft space on the ground floor to be programmed for children. This feature stems from the site’s original use. Before Pinemount acquired 166 College Avenue West, the site was occupied by the College Place Retirement Residence.
“We're probably going to integrate this type of use into a lot of our new projects as well, because daycare is such a good use — it's such a good draw for new families,” Turkienicz explains. And if you're a young professional with a young family, who needs a convenient place to have your kids watched in a safe environment while you go to work, why not have it basically in the lobby?”
Generally speaking, Turkienicz says rental projects today really have to empathize with not only the communities they serve, but the new normal of the longer-term, possibly life-long renter.
“They have to be amenitized appropriately... and it’s not as simple as, ‘hey, here's a party room, here's a lobby,’ and that's that. There has to be more of a well-thought-out approach,” he says.
“And I think we're bringing that to the table with Oakley Ridge. Our rooftop amenity is going to be more than what you would get in a typical rental, our lobby is going to have more of a coffee shop feel — a sitting area feel — and not just something that just lets you in. We understand that rent is expensive and it's a big life choice, and when people move in, there's an expectation that 'if I'm going to pay top dollar, I should receive top quality.’”
This article was produced in partnership with STOREYS Custom Studio.