Dynamic years ahead for Waterloo real estate

The three-million-square-foot Blackberry real estate portfolio sale will make Waterloo one of Canada’s most dynamic commercial real estate markets over the next several years, according to a new report.

“The Blackberry portfolio sale has been an incredible game-changer for the Waterloo region, and office users have options like never before,” said Karl Innanen, managing director, Colliers International Waterloo Region, which published the report today.

Blackberry announced in May 2014 that it would be selling the majority of its real estate assets to U.S. investment firm Spear State Capital.

"I believe that the Blackberry portfolio selling, especially to a very large, well capitalized buyer like Spear Street Capital, has made it so that this will be a stronger market for investors going forward, because there won't be any downward spiral on rents or valuations at all," added Innanen. "[It is] very patient, long-term money."

The Waterloo region is already one of the most competitive office markets in Canada. And there are a lot more reasons, besides the Blackberry sale, that the city's commercial real estate market is poised for dynamic growth, including: a new Light Rail Transit system; ease of proximity to the GTA and major population centres throughout Southwestern Ontario; and a burgeoning and highly-educated population.

“Now that space has come to market, users who want to position themselves by the future LRT route, the universities, and the Research & Technology Park have the opportunity they’ve wanted for more than a decade," added Innanen. "There is now a huge influx of product available to tenants.”

Since its initial purchase, Spear Street Capital has sold off some of the former Blackberry buildings, including five to Dragon Den's Michael Wekerle.

"His goal is to house small start-up companies, investing in them as companies as well as housing them in his real estate," said Innanen.

"He bought several buildings close to the University of Waterloo to specifically go after that market."

Find out more about median house prices, capital growth and demographics in Waterloo and other Canadian cities with CREW’s free online Investment Hotspot tool.

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