Housing

Northview, landlord to many northerners, set to be sold


Northview REIT, the territory’s largest private landlord, is set to be acquired by new owners in a deal valued at $4.8 billion.

The transaction was announced by the real estate investment firm Starlight, which is joining forces with fellow real estate firm Kingsett Capital to buy Northview.

The deal is not final, but Northview’s board has recommended investors in the REIT (an abbreviation for real estate investment trust) accept the offer – which will earn any investor $36.25 per unit they hold in the trust.

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Northview, which has long possessed a dominant share of the NWT’s rental market, is often the butt of complaints from tenants who bemoan the condition of the company’s units, the way rules in buildings are enforced (or not enforced), and the cost of doing business with Northview.

In particular, there was ire from tenants when it transpired Northview had for years illegally collected ongoing pet fees. When the company’s wrongdoing came to light, it offered full refunds but no further compensation.

Kingsett Capital – one half of Northview’s proposed new ownership team – also has a history of involvement in northern real estate.

Toronto-based Kingsett already owns the Bellanca building, a vacant 10-storey office block in downtown Yellowknife.

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The building has sat empty for years, despite its prime location in the city’s heart and a need for additional housing units.

A recent $20-million plan to convert the Bellanca building into homes never came to pass. Last year, the NWT Housing Corporation said the plan had in part ground to a halt because Kingsett did not send over expected documentation to keep the proposal moving forward.

Northview, which owns many thousands of housing units across Canada, operates more than 1,000 units in Yellowknife alone – spanning more than two-dozen separate locations.

Its sale follows an initial bid from Starlight and Kingsett in October 2019. There was no specific mention of Northview’s NWT properties in a Thursday news release outlining the proposed deal.

In that news release, the prospective new owners implied there may not be that much change on the front line, suggesting they would retain existing staff and arrangements.

“We look forward to building on Northview’s tenant focus by maintaining high-quality, well-operated, and sustainable buildings,” said Daniel Drimmer, president and chief executive of Starlight.

Drimmer said his company “has high regard for Northview’s management and intends to retain substantially all of Northview’s site-level employees and operational staff, as well as its offices in Calgary and Toronto.”

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