Werkliv focuses on building affordable student housing | RENX
Daniel Goodfellow went from helping “mom’s bank” to buying his first condo in 2002 while studying at mcgill university, to the construction of a 19-story student rental complex in downtown Montreal that promises affordable prices to students.
When completed in May 2022, the $ 48.5 million MildorÃ© at 2025 Peel Street will house approximately 279 students in 70 apartments. The 85,000 square foot project is being built by Werkliv Group, which Goodfellow founded in 2012 and now leads as chairman.
Werkliv has approximately $ 200 million in real estate developments in Montreal, Halifax and St. John’s.
We are a long way from the days when Goodfellow was a student, when he was looking for accommodation near McGill: âThe owners weren’t great and the prices were high. As a result, he bought a condo on Clark Street and remodeled it to house himself and two roommates.
âI thought there was something to it. I had filled my own need and in a way that made sense. I thought I could do it again, âhe told RENX, but it took a while to get started:â Real estate is a capital intensive thing and I didn’t have one.
By 2012, however, Goodfellow had graduated from the physics program and was doing better with real estate investments than his job. He quit his job and launched Werkliv, buying two sixplexes on the Plateau Mont-Royal in Montreal and transforming them into student apartments.
Werkliv “pure play developers”
Werkliv has completed a dozen student housing projects and has 19 employees. âWe are pure-play developers. We go there, we develop it, we rent it, we stabilize it and then we sell it. We are not a player who keeps our inventory.
In downtown Montreal, Werkliv’s other student rental apartments, which have been renovated, include:
– the 73,000 square foot Summerhill at 1575 Summerhill Ave. with 150 occupants;
– the 42,000 square foot The Marbridge at 1245 rue Saint-Marc with 113 occupants;
– and the 18,000 square foot Newport at 2087, boul. de Maisonneuve. with 50 occupants.
âWe are densifying each unit,â says Goodfellow, with two-bedroom apartments converted to three bedrooms. “This allows students to divide the rent by more people (and) reduce the cost per capita.”
The apartments are also furnished, which reduces student expenses.
At MildorÃ©, monthly rents will average $ 885 in furnished three- or four-bedroom units ranging from 800 to 850 square feet.
In comparison, Goodfellow says the typical price around McGill for an unfurnished apartment is around $ 1,000 per month per student in a three-bedroom apartment that rents for $ 3,000. âHere you have a furnished apartment in a new construction for $ 885. “
Upbrella used to build Le MildorÃ©
The MildorÃ© (pun on the downtown district of the Golden Square Mile) is built above a preserved ground-floor facade, a requirement of the city.
Instead of being built with a crane, the building will use technology from Upbrella, in which the roof is gradually lifted using hydraulics, each floor being completed below.
âThe floor plate is very small, so there aren’t many places to install a crane,â says Goodfellow. In addition, since much of the construction will be done in winter, the use of the Upbrella system saves a substantial amount on heating costs and makes the work environment safer.
The MildorÃ© heating and cooling system will use the domestic water supply to regulate the temperatures in the apartments. The integrated piping system âis not that different from a geotechnical heating and cooling system,â says Goodfellow.
In addition to 60 bicycle parking spaces, the building will have a few common study areas and a laundry room.
âWe focus on affordability, so we put in place equipment that we think the students will use,â says Goodfellow. “We tend to stay away from swimming pools and gyms, things they already have in college.”
However, the study rooms were found to be useful because there is a lack of study space at McGill nearby.
Other developments of Werkliv
Werkliv also operates The Commodore at 1675 Oxford St. in Halifax, a 33,000 square foot building with 100 occupants.
The six-story Seymour located at 1400 Seymour Street is currently under construction in the capital of Nova Scotia. The 170,000 square foot development will house 491 students, cost approximately $ 61 million, and is expected to be completed in September 2022.
In St. John’s, the 200,000 square foot Lambe’s Lane project at 6 Lambe’s Lane is currently in the permitting phase. It aims to accommodate 700 students.
Atlantic Canada is “an underserved market,” says Goodfellow. Unlike Ontario, whose student housing market is well served by developers, “we found that no one was really paying attention in Atlantic Canada.”
The fundamentals, which include low vacancy rates and affordable prices, “made a lot of sense.”
Goodfellow says affordable student housing is increasingly difficult to find in cities like Montreal, where housing costs are rising. âMore and more students are coming from outside the region to an already incredibly tight housing market,â he says.
He notes that Werkliv suffered no loss of rent during the pandemic, instead boasting “zero vacancies and zero delinquency.”
As for future developments, Atlantic Canada, particularly Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and other cities in Quebec are on Werkliv’s radar.
âThis is what we do,â Goodfellow says of student housing, âWe do just that. We do it very well. We would just like to do more.