GWL Realty Advisors (GWLRA) has inaugurated its third Livmore-branded residential development and plans to build several more rental projects under the banner across Canada in the coming years.
Phase 1 of the 35-storey, 396-unit Le Livmore Ville-Marie, at 1180 de Bleury St. in downtown Montreal, is now close to 50 per cent leased after marketing and leasing efforts began in April, says Todd Nishimura, senior director, marketing, leasing and communications at GWL Realty Advisors Residential.
Construction of Phase 2 of Le Livmore Ville-Marie is scheduled to begin next year, comprising a 46-storey, 424-unit tower.
The Montreal development joins The Livmore High Park and The Livmore Bay & Gerrard in Toronto.
“To the best of our knowledge, we’re the only company in Canada to have created a higher-tier refined brand,” Nishimura says of Livmore.
A fourth Livmore will be launched in Ottawa next year followed by a fifth in 2024 in Mississauga, near Square One, Highway 401 and Hurontario Street. An additional Livmore is planned for Vancouver in 2026.
Livmore a “highly amenitized” banner
The Livmore developments are “highly amenitized,” conveniently located and “at a higher echelon of quality,” Nishimura says. “Basically, the thesis is through the freedom of rental you can do more of whatever it is you want to do in your life.”
Constructed at a cost of about $150 million, the first phase of Le Livmore Ville-Marie was built in a vacant lot next to the head office of SNC Lavalin at 455 René Lévesque Blvd. W.
GWLRA acquired the 21-storey SNC Lavalin building and the vacant lot in 2017 for $170 million in a deal that allows the engineering firm to remain a tenant for 20 years.
Le Livmore Ville-Marie marks GWLRA’s first new residential build in Montreal but the company has four other residential properties in the city: Place Concorde on Queen Mary Road in Côte des Neiges, 5999 Monkland in Monkland Village and two downtown developments – Le Demetrius on Stanley Street and the Shaughn on Joseph-Manceau Street.
Other new residential builds by GWLRA include the 128-unit Chronicle at 825 Nicola St. in downtown Vancouver and the 160-unit The Bowline at 222 2nd St. E. in North Vancouver.
GWLRA has $18.7 billion and 42.7 million square feet in assets under management in office, industrial, retail and residential.
On the residential side, GWLRA has 32 rental developments, comprising about one third of its portfolio, Nishimura says. “It is the (asset class) that has been growing the most over the years.”
Montreal’s “highly competitive” rental market
At Le Livmore, one-bedroom apartments go for about $2,000 to $2,200 per month, while two-bedrooms rent for $2,400 to $2,600, representing $3.30 to $3.40 per square foot, Nishimura says.
Units range from a 423-square-foot bachelor to a 1,225-square-foot, three-bedroom.
“It’s highly competitive,” Nishimura says, noting there are six rental competitors in the area. “Given that, we’ve done exceptionally well in our lease-up.”
To attract more renters, Le Livmore is offering one month free rent and one year free Internet.
Nishimura expects the building to be fully leased by next fall.
With borders opening in the wake of the pandemic, many of the tenants are from abroad, including South America, Mexico, U.S., Europe and China. Students and empty nesters also comprise a chunk of the mix.
The project incorporates a section of the original wall of Collège Sainte-Marie – which once stood at the site – into its exterior façade.
Co-working space a big attraction
Among the amenities is 2,000 square feet of co-working space with private and group workspaces, as well as a kitchenette and personal lockers to lock laptops and other belongings.
“I thought we built too much co-working. We did not,” says Nishimura, noting the co-working area is always busy.
GWLRA is contemplating adding more co-working space in the second phase. “We’ve had a number of new renters say, ‘We looked at you, we looked at your competition, but the deciding factor to come here was the co-working space.’”
Other amenities include a chef’s kitchen, outdoor terrace with gas BBQs, fitness room, swimming pool, sauna and yoga room, dog run and pet spa, library lounge with fireplace, screening room, private wine cellar that can be rented for $25 monthly to store 24 bottles and a speakeasy-style secret room.
“This is our most amenitized project,” Nishimura says.
The idea for the speakeasy came six years ago when GWLRA execs decided to tour new builds in the U.S., under the thinking the country to the south was ahead of Canada in terms of innovation and sophistication.
They came across the secret speakeasy in a Seattle development.
“We went ‘This is cool, this is experiential. Wouldn’t it be great to create something like that for one of our projects?’ ”