Anthony Giuffre is founder and CEO of Avenue Living Asset Management.
Tell me how Avenue Living started.
Giuffre: In the mid-2000s, my business partner and I were reviewing multi-family real estate investment. There were already some major success stories in the buy, enhance value and hold arena, like Boardwalk Real Estate Investment Trust, Mainstreet Equity Corp. and Northern Property REIT.
However, in 2006, the real estate market in any centre with ties to oil and gas was red hot, which didn’t leave much room for the little guys trying to break in. We had to run under the feet of the giants, which we did by exploring secondary and tertiary markets.
Avenue Living began with the purchase of a modest, 24-unit building in Brooks, which we renovated and turned into a good earner within six months. We still have that building, along with 330 others.
What are your assets today in terms of market value, how many buildings do you own and where are your assets concentrated?
Giuffre: We reached a big milestone this spring – $1 billion in assets under management – and currently we’re north of $1.1 billion. This includes 7,650 multi-residential apartment units across 330 buildings, 440,000 square feet of commercial space and 22,000 acres of agricultural land.
We’re big believers in the value proposition of the Prairies, with properties diversified across 18 markets.
Can you explain your company philosophy and how it operates?
Giuffre: Brick by brick, building by building, we’re in all of our investments for the long-term. We’re one of the largest owner-operators of multi-family residential real estate in Western Canada.
Staying true to our entrepreneurial roots, we’re driven by a philosophy that includes: investing with value focus, operating with discipline, monitoring appropriate diversification and pursuing opportunities with an unconventional approach.
This means that not only are we determined to create the best value we can for our investors, we also put our customers’ needs first. During the recent regionalized recession, we invested over $100 million of capital throughout our entire portfolio. This year, we’ve created more than 100 new jobs in Alberta and Saskatchewan, growing our workforce by 25 per cent.
We’re also a big believer in fostering positive community impact – we partner with 40-plus not-for-profit organizations to support initiatives ranging from attainable housing, food drives, toy drives and much more.
Are you now looking for more growth in terms of assets for the Calgary market?
Giuffre: Absolutely. We invested more than $50 million in 360 townhomes in northeast Calgary in just the last quarter (the third quarter of 2018).
We’re always on the lookout for properties that fit our model: buildings that we can manage more effectively, with room to enhance value and NOI (net operating income). Given current market conditions in Calgary, there are definitely additional multi-family assets that we’re reviewing.
Are there any other markets you see potential for Avenue Living to grow in in the near future?
Giuffre: Currently we’re in 18 markets across the Prairies and we plan to expand within those markets. We’ll also enter new markets where we see opportunity.
In the last year, we’ve raised $205 million, which we’re already using to acquire new properties and to create further value in our existing properties. We’re targeting to raise $150 million in the next 12 months to continue investing in multi-family assets in the Prairies.
We see significant opportunity to continue creating value, generating additional cash flow, and creating new jobs. It’s all part of our continued growth strategy.
– Mario Toneguzzi