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One Planet fund invests in 3 real estate developments

The One Planet Living Real Estate Fund has approved three Ontario real estate developments, two i...

One Planet Living Real Estate Fund, Stone Abbey, Ottawa, Ontario, real estate, condo, townhouse

Stone Abbey, a $30-million condo and townhouse project in Ottawa, had its groundbreaking in October. (Courtesy One Planet Living Real Estate Fund)

The One Planet Living Real Estate Fund has approved three Ontario real estate developments, two in Ottawa and one in Guelph, the first projects since the fund’s inception.

First off the blocks is Stone Abbey, a $30-million condo and townhouse project in Ottawa, which had its groundbreaking in late October.

Stone Abbey involves the “intensification and preservation of a strategic community asset in Ottawa,” says Laetitia Pacaud, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Epic Investment Services. Epic Investment of Toronto and Ottawa-based Windmill Development Group partnered to create the One Planet Living Real Estate Fund.

The project includes the preservation and upgrade of Southminster United Church at 15 Aylmer Avenue (near Bank Street and Colonel By Drive and adjacent to the Rideau Canal) and the construction of 19 large, high-end condos and four townhouses, targeting LEED platinum. Completion is slated in the first quarter of 2023.

3 developments scheduled for Guelph, Ottawa

The other Ottawa project is Parkway House, a three-phase project with a projected cost of about $260 million. The first phase involves building a new residential building and townhouses beside the existing non-profit Parkway House, a long-term residence for adults with physical challenges.

The second phase consists of building a new Parkway House to replace the current facility at 2475 Regina Street. Built in the 1970s, the existing building is inefficient and no longer able to support the needed standard of care.

The final phase involves construction of an additional residential tower. Overall, the project will consist of a mix of condos and townhouses with the final unit count to be determined.

Baker District, the third development, is to be developed on a downtown municipal parking lot which is owned by the City of Guelph, near the central train station. It will be home to a new Guelph Public Library Main Branch, two residential mixed-use towers and a planned community college.

The first two phases, consisting of the library and two 15-storey residential towers with a total of about 350 units, have been approved and could be completed within five years.

The City of Guelph says preparatory archeological excavation work began earlier this fall in the Baker and Wyndham Street parking lots. The work is clearing archeological artifacts and human remains at the site, which was an all-faith cemetery from 1827 to 1853.

One Planet closed on its first round of funding in July. The objective was met, but Pacaud would not disclose how much money was raised.

Fund hopes to raise $75–$100M in second round

The fund hopes to launch a second round of funding in the third quarter of next year, for which it hopes to raise $75 to $100 million. “We have a deep pipeline of interested investors,” Pacaud says.

Four projects in the Greater Toronto and Ottawa areas are in the pipeline for approval and will likely get the go-ahead in Q1 or Q2 of 2022, Pacaud says. The fund is also looking at opportunities in Quebec.

One Planet Living Real Estate Fund describes itself as the first private Canadian, mixed-use opportunistic real estate development impact fund designed to accelerate the implementation of impact investing principles in real estate while generating market returns for investors.

It focuses on three sectors: partnerships with impact-oriented, urban land owners, including municipalities, non-profits, churches and CSR-focused owners; deep building retrofits; and large-scale, mixed-use communities that target carbon-neutral and socially progressive outcomes, including affordable housing.

“Amazing partnership” between Epic, Windmill, One Planet

Fund partner Windmill, which has several projects in Ottawa and Toronto under its belt, is the developer of all three of the projects. “That’s one of the benefits of our relationship,” Pacaud says. “They know how to deal with this product.”

For its part, Epic has more than $17.5 billion in assets under management. Epic’s portfolio comprises over 30 million square feet of office, retail, industrial and multi-family residential properties.

“It’s an amazing partnership,” Pacaud says.

The fund applies the One Planet Living framework, created in 2003 and governed by the British non-profit Bioregional. Bioregional describes One Planet Living as a vision of a world where people enjoy happy, healthy lives within the natural limits of the planet, leaving space for wildlife and wilderness.

The One Planet Living Framework covers 10 measurable and interrelated areas —  including zero waste, zero-carbon energy sources, promoting sustainable transportation and encouraging social equity — that must be tackled together in the search for solutions. The aim is to challenge developers to have a net-positive effect on the projects they develop.

Baker District in Guelph has received office One Planet Living endorsement. Ottawa’s massive Zibi development is the only other Canadian development to have received that endorsement.

“It’s a compelling framework that’s transparent,” Pacaud says of the One Planet Living Framework.

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