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All Maison Birks Stores in Canada to be Reopened

When the pandemic forced most businesses worldwide to shutter their doors, Birks Group wasn’t the exception. The luxury jewellery retailer temporarily closed all its Maison Birks stores across Canada to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Fast forward several months, and we can now finally revisit all Maison Birks stores, albeit following specific health and safety guidelines.


Concierge Service and Online Shopping

Although all 28 Maison Birks stores across Canada were closed until recently, customers could still shop online. Even with the stores open once again, they can always make orders online and have their timepieces and jewellery delivered straight to their door.

A big part of Birks Group is working closely with clients to help them find their perfect timepiece, necklace, ring, and a wealth of other jewellery pieces.

Following the lockdown, the company launched a concierge service in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.

The pandemic hasn’t put a stop to celebrations, such as anniversaries and graduations, so Birks made a mission to be there for all its clients. Canadians could make orders by phone or email to get a top-notch concierge service and receive their orders by mail.

Even with all the stores reopened, they can still reach out to Birks by phone to enjoy its luxury concierge service.


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Cannabis & Coffee: Is Mixed-Use Retail Taking Over the Market?

The Canadian cannabis industry has been growing at a steadily fast pace ever since it was officially legalized. With such a huge growth its only natural that this market offers great business opportunities, and why there is a growing number of retail CRE investors looking to get in on the action.

It was only recently, Toronto received its first Aegis Brands recreational cannabis store. Aegis and its investors saw Toronto as a fantastic starting point and the first location to further expand into Ontario, which should be no surprise given the market’s growth. 


From Coffee to Cannabis Coffee

Aegis Brands, formerly known as Second Cup Ltd., was focused on being a coffee retailer with more than 350 cafes and shops Canada-wide. But recently, the company has suffered some losses in recent years, and thought to find a new approach and take to grow. 

With how the retail cannabis market is growing, the company decided to expand beyond coffee and try its hand in the cannabis space. Thus, the name change from Second Cup to Aegis Brands to give rise to a new identity and create a new vision for providing cannabis to consumers.

This new approach sparked the inspiration for the name of the new cannabis dispensaries; being called Hemisphere Cannabis Co. By using the word hemisphere this alludes to the fact they aim to help cannabis consumers, no matter if they’re first-time users or they’ve been shopping for a while; serving the whole breadth or “hemisphere” of potential customers. The environment they aim to create will try to match customers’ desires along with a personalized experience. 

Aegis Brands opened its first Toronto cannabis coffee shop using the same location as a previous Second Cup cafe.

Aegis Brands, like many other stores and CRE investors, are finding that providing mixed-use has a lot of value. Instead of taking over the Second Cup, Aegis Brands chose to instead add value at the same location. Shortly after announcing this new vision, they acquired Bridgehead Coffee, a coffeehouse chain with headquarters in Ottawa. But they won’t stop here, they are still looking for mixed-use opportunities in coffee, cannabis and food service spaces.


More Hemisphere Retail Stores To Come

Aegis Brands is getting more serious about investing in retail cannabis within Ontario, as you can see with the new Hemisphere Cannabis Co. stores already in the works to open at a later date.

Currently, the company plans to open up 3 additional in Toronto, as well as establishing a presence in Ottawa, Ajax, and Orleans later down the line. Everyone can expect new locations to open up in the coming months.

The CEO of Aegis Brands, Steven Pelton, stated in a press release recently: “Given our unparalleled access to top-tier real estate assets across the country, and the incredible shared services that Hemisphere will be able to tap into as part of the Aegis network, we truly believe the potential for this brand is limitless.”



Despite the rough patch with Second Cup cafes recently, Aegis Brands seems to be steering to a brighter path to success. The retail cannabis industry in Canada is not done growing and will continue to do so, so Aegis Brands’ new strategy will help keep the company going much longer. Of course, nothing is for certain, but it’s looking like a smart decision at the moment.

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Final Construction Phase for Bayside Toronto

Commercial real estate investors are constantly searching for ways to keep their funds moving and growing. Toronto continues to prove be a magnet for CRE investors and projects similar to Bayside Toronto, a luxury waterfront development located in the East Bayfront. These projects and their investor’s funds continue to work for them even during covid-19.


T3 Bayside

T3 Bayside will also be a mixed-use space, except it will have commercial use. It will feature offices and retail properties, all leased by the CBRE Group, Inc.

This part of the Hines’ project will include two mixed-use buildings, which will occupy over 500,000 square feet of space. Due to the high market demand and the sustainable build (the two T3 buildings will use mass timber for construction), they’re expected to attract many tenants.


Bayside Toronto

Bayside Toronto is one of the biggest Canadian commercial real estate projects by Hines, an international real estate agency, and this project is speeding up its development. Together with other investors Hines, just like ReDev Properties, are creating a mixed-use spaces that includes retail, offices, condos, cultural venues, restaurants, and shore promenades in Toronto.

Aqualuna is the fourth and final construction phase of the Bayside Toronto project. The other three include Aqualina, Aquavista, and Aquabella, all of which are luxury condominium complexes at the waterfront.

Aqualuna is also primarily a condo complex that’s a joint venture of Hines and Tridel, a Toronto-based real estate developer. Nevertheless, it will also feature a large retail space – about 18,000 square feet on the ground floor. Its total 468,000 square feet of space will also house a luxury lounge, an amenity terrace, and a pool overlooking Lake Ontario.


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Construction at University District, Calgary Maintaining Momentum

Ever since Alberta received approval in 2016 for the University District’s plan in Calgary, construction’s been handled very efficiently and swiftly. All commercial and residential spaces, public areas, and parks are developing at unexpected rates, with huge progress being apparent to all, whether they are visitors or locals.

The multi-use community at University District is prepared to reshape the face of Calgary once it is ready.


Construction Work Staying on Schedule

Although most of Alberta’s been under lockdown since the coronavirus pandemic picked up speed, not all businesses have been set back. It was determined that the construction industry falls under essential services, which helped in allowing for uninterrupted progress at University District. Work is staying on schedule and is still expected that everything will be completed by the end of 2021.

The construction progress is building up some excitement in the community, with boosted numbers of daily visitors to the University District Discovery Centre. At the Discovery Centre, you’ll be able to see detailed plans and examine the neighbourhoods future design.


Retailers Setting to Open by Late August

University District in Calgary, being mixed-use property, Alberta will provide it with all the amenities needed for a thriving community. Shops, Social spots, and services will be accessible to everyone from residents and visitors.

Some service providers and retailers are already preparing to get down to business. By late August, we should see Scotiabank, Curious Hair Skin Body, Market Wines, Denim & Smith Barbershops, and Save-On-Foods open their doors to the general public.

Residential units like August by Avi, The Brenda Strafford Foundation’s Cambridge Manor, and Rhapsody by Gracorp predict their first residents will move in by fall 2020, which will help boost pedestrian traffic and attract more retailers.


Sustainable and Accessible Neighbourhood Design

University District is the first community in Alberta, and also the largest in Canada, to get the LEED-ND Platinum certification – international certification for commitment to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighbourhood Development.

As such, the neighbourhood is designed to be accessible by all and sustainable. With everything within walking distance, residents and visitors are going to be encouraged to interact with the community and spend longer visiting restaurants, shopping malls, cafes, entertainment centers, and other spaces.

That is excellent for pumping up foot traffic and spending within the neighbourhood, making it appealing for retailers and business owners alike.



With the University District in Calgary quickly approaching its completion, it’s proving to be a wonderful investment opportunity. The project is generating interest and attracting prospective tenants and retailers. If you are curious about learning click here. 


Media, News

Toronto Mixed-Use, Multi-Tower Redevelopment

Upgrades to the commercial districts of Toronto, Ontario are always welcomed by retailers and CRE investors alike. And this time, it’s the Golden Mile district mixed-use redevelopment that’s set to undergo massive changes. This redevelopment project is expected to attract more visitors and more foot traffic. With everything going according to plan, Golden Mile’s multi-tower project is on the path to becoming the hottest part of town.


Plenty of Green Spaces 

While the multi-tower mixed-use redevelopment project initially suggested a total of 3,500 m² for parks and open spaces, the area’s been increased to astonishing 5,694 m².

This comes as great news for retailers who are expecting an increase in foot traffic. After the coronavirus pandemic’s been put under control, consumers are expected to flock to parks and open spaces and enjoy greater freedom once again, which will inevitably lead to more interest in brick-and-mortar shops, cafes and restaurants nearby, and subsequently more spending.


What This Means for Canadian CRE Investors 

With the proposed redevelopment project in Toronto, everyone’s showing greater interest in the Golden Mile district. From potential new renters in the area to business owners looking for new office space and excited retailers who are looking to increase their sales – everyone is excited to see this project succeed.

Now is a good time to invest in retail CRE in Ontario and receive a higher return on investment.


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Retail Reaching New Heights in Edmonton

The coronavirus pandemic has left its mark on many businesses around the world, however, the city of  Edmonton seems to be rising to the challenge.

Alberta’s capital seems completely unphased, and even thriving amidst the crisis – its success continues to be driven by strong retail and increasing interest from foreign and domestic CRE investors.

So, if you were looking for the right Canadian city that can bring a great return on investment, Edmonton might just be it.


It’s Not Only Downtown Edmonton That’s Thriving

While traditionally, most retailers have been focusing on downtown for their new locations, this isn’t the case in Edmonton. The entire city is undergoing a retail revolution, and new shopping centers and locations are being opened all around.

In South Edmonton Common, there’s now a new Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off 5th, a new Canadian Tire, and even a large Ikea. The Southgate Centre has some of the highest sales per square foot in all of Canada, and over $130 million was just recently invested in Londonderry Mall.


The City of Edmonton Blossoming

There are major construction plans in various locations in Edmonton, thanks to the Valley Line transit. The Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre is set to be transformed into a huge mix-use district with plenty of public spaces, new senior housing locations, more retail space, and more residential units, which will draw in better foot traffic.

A new shopping centre is also being planned at Millwoods Town Centre with thousands of new housing units and retail and restaurant spaces.


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Ontario Government Reopens Commercial Real Estate Construction Sites

The local Ontario Government has confirmed its past statement that they expect the reopening of construction sites province-wide. The coronavirus pandemic has closed all malls, large retail stores, and various other activities, even including construction sites. 

Some construction sites have been opened since April, but not all of them. However, this new announcement opened every construction project in May, including commercial buildings sites. 


Construction is a Large Part of Our Economy 

In 2016 alone, the whole Ontario construction industry employed over 500,000 people. This is including both non-residential and residential construction. But this isn’t just it. Many construction companies are building retail and commercial space which will help bring in new investments coming into the province. 

Without construction, other businesses are suffering additionally. The President of Residential Construction Council of Ontario, Richard Lyall, stated that “It’s critical for the government to get the economy going again as construction is a huge part of Ontario’s economy.” 


But Which Construction Sites are Reopening?

The announcement from the government includes the continuation of work on construction projects involving, commercial development, residential development, excavation, site preparation, digital infrastructure, telecommunication work, education, logistics & shipping infrastructure, and even more. 

This is fantastic news for many people, as all CRE projects in Canada were sitting in waiting for some time now. Although no one is sure if stage one of phase 2 will end in approximately a three-week or a four week period, this is still positive news for many businesses. It shows that things are moving towards a more positive direction and that we can all expect the CRE construction to get back on track again. 


Ontario Phase I reopening

This phase of reopening can exclude several businesses. Businesses like retail, indoor and outdoor household services, sporting clubs, golf courses, libraries, and more have been allowed to conduct business since the 19th of May; however, barbershops, restaurants, hair and nail salons are not included in this specific phase of reopening in Ontario.

Each sector and different businesses have different restrictions regarding reopening in order to remain vigilant in the event of another increase of coronavirus cases. 

Daily there are more retail construction sites continuing their construction operations, including construction related to hospital work, retail space, and petroleum.

Cities like Calgary have already begun preparing to reopen their retail sector and their malls, so this is can be great news for Ontario and other provinces as well. Malls have opened their doors to customers and have to keep up on taking precautions so they can keep both their workers and customers safe. 



This news is encouraging, especially for companies that have been looking to invest in CRE development. Canada is moving in the right direction and has been re-opening its economy more and more gradually each week. Our goal is to maximize investor returns and to keep communication open with every one of our investors to ensure our goals and objectives are aligned. We have a 3-step process to identify value for all our investments – from due diligence to a tax-efficient exit strategy. 

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Reopening Commercial Real Estate Construction Sites in Ontario

The Ontario local Government has confirmed their previous statement that they expect the reopening of construction sites across the state. The coronavirus pandemic has closed all large retail stores, malls, and various other activities, including construction sites.

Some of the construction sites were opened during April, but not all of them. However, this new announcement opened all construction projects in May, including commercial buildings.


Which Construction Sites are Being Reopened 

The announcement includes the continuation of work on construction projects involving, residential development, commercial development, excavation, site preparation, education, digital infrastructure, telecommunication work, logistics & shipping infrastructure, and so on.

This is excellent news, as all CRE projects in Canada were sitting in place for quite some time now. Although no one knows if stage one of phase 2 will end in a three-week period or four weeks, this is still positive business news. It shows that things are moving in a more positive direction and that we can expect the CRE construction to ramp back up again.


Ontario Phase I reopening

This phase of reopening does not involve several businesses. Businesses like retail, outdoor and indoor household services, golf courses, sporting clubs, and libraries have been allowed to conduct business since May 19th; however, restaurants, barbershops, hair and nail salons are not included in this phase of reopening in the province of Ontario.

Each sector has different restrictions regarding reopening in order to remain vigilant in the event of another flair up of coronavirus cases.


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Canada March 2020 Retail Sales: Who were the winners?

When looking at how fast stay-at-home orders came into effect, social distancing, work from home, and masks became more normal it’s no surprise that retail and stores took a hit in sales during March. Even with online orders and outside pick up to help ease people’s minds and keep everyone safe, many people are not shopping. You can see this fear and unease in people even in statistics, looking at retail sales data for March has had a significant decrease.


Retail Sales Data

Statistics Canada released record-breaking sales data for retailers in the country. The data is broken out by each sector and you can clearly see what has happened to non-essential businesses when they were forced to close their doors halfway through March. 

Looking at the March sales data you can capture a glimpse into the panic during the first weeks of closure and see the overall decline in sales of 10 percent in March to approximately $47 billion, just as the lockdown was starting to take effect. According to the Financial Post, only 40% of retailers were closed for an average of five business days in March. However, 91% of clothing and other such accessory stores were closed for an average of 13 days.

What is the data showing and what does it mean? Although it looks like there was a decline of 10 percent in March, if we take out gasoline and auto sales, the stats actually reveal an increase of 2.8% in retail sales in March 2020, driven mainly by grocery sales. Grocery sales have had a significant increase, accounting for a third of retail in March.

April however is likely a different story as retailers were forced to be closed for the whole month. StatsCan is estimating that Aprils’ data will show approximately a 15 percent decline in sales. 

Overall as businesses are closed in May as well, this back-to-back decline for such a long period of time will be new unchartered waters for all of us. 


Who are the Losers and Winners during March 2020?

One thing is certain; many Canadians are itching to go back to normal, so the question is, where are we headed next? 

The main deciding factor between winners and losers during this time is if it is an essential or non-essential retail business.

Retailers that sell things such as clothes, shoes, and luxury goods have been some of the hardest-hit, they lost half their retail sales if not more, as compared to last year during the same time. Retailers that did the best obviously include groceries, but also beer, liquor, and beverages; earning 20 to 30 percent more compared to March in 2019.

Other sectors that did well include health and personal care that had a 4.6 percent increase, e-commerce jumped up by 40.4 percent, and cannabis climbed up 19.2 percent.

The stark contrast in these numbers and each different market show a true divide between the retailers directly affected and those who actually boosted profits or faired well. As investors, we need to stay on top of knowing who were the winners, and who will continue to be to know exactly where to direct our investments.



As the data shows, Canada retail had varying outcomes during March 2020 but overall did okay. Losses were found in more luxury services and retail businesses but boosted in essential services. April will show huge declines in sales because of the month-long closure but May will hopefully show a bit of bounce back with retailers finding ways to still provide their services. 

Which businesses will bounce back and who will drive the eventual economic recovery, is ultimately the largest question of all and what everyone will be watching for.


Saskatchewan Introduces New Measures for Reopening Businesses

It will be a while before all businesses can return to operating at full capacity in Saskatchewan. However, many of the imposed coronavirus measures are set to be loosened over the coming weeks in an attempt to restore the economy, which means some businesses should get ready to reopen.

This comes as a great relief to many Canadian retailers, restaurant owners, and CRE investors, as things are looking up.

Since the reopening of Saskatchewan will occur in phases, and many preventative guidelines will still need to be followed, businesses will have to come up with strategies that will help them recover expenses and turn profits.


Retailers First to Open 

Many clothing retailers have adapted to the coronavirus lockdown by offering online orders and deliveries and curbside pick-ups. This trend is expected to continue even after May 19 when they’re scheduled to open their doors once again.

This is primarily because clothing retailers will have to change the way they operate when they reopen.


Bars and Restaurants to Follow Soon After 

Although the exact date hasn’t been determined as of yet, in the weeks after clothing retailers have reopened, restaurants and bars will be allowed to do the same.

The hospitality industry was among those that have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus. So it’s not surprising that bar and restaurant owners are excited to follow any imposed measure as long as they are given a chance to reopen.

And many measures will need to be followed.


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