After closing out a year of milestones and achievements, Guelph-based Skyline Group of Companies has one more accomplishment to celebrate. The real estate acquisitions, management and investment company officially turned 15 on January 27. With three solid real estate investment trust (REIT) products collectively managing over $1.3 billion in assets, and a team of over 400-strong, Skyline and its founding partners have come a long way since 1999.
Skyline Inc. was officially incorporated 15 years ago, but the real estate business of the three Skyline founders began seven years earlier, with the purchase of a single student rental house in Guelph. Brothers Jason and Martin Castellan were able to attend university by essentially paying rent to themselves while living in the bungalow, and renting out its remaining rooms to other students. Jason and Martin soon met Roy Jason Ashdown, and the three teamed up, quickly amassing properties across the city.
Skyline currently offers three private REIT investment products, each focusing on a distinctive real estate asset class. The Skyline Apartment REIT was launched in 2006 with 1,297 apartment suites, and, eight years later, is now celebrating its recent 10,000 apartment suite milestone. Its properties are spread across 44 communities in four provinces. The Skyline Apartment REIT owns seven properties in London with a total of 632 suites.
The Skyline Commercial REIT, launched in early 2012, also celebrated a milestone achievement this year: the closing of a $242 million portfolio in April, bringing Skyline’s total assets under management to over $1 billion. The portfolio now boasts over 3 million square feet of commercial space. In October 2013, Skyline acquired a 365,000 square foot commercial portfolio in London, at Newbold Street and Consortium Court.
Skyline’s newest REIT investment, the Skyline Retail REIT, is comprised of 19 properties housing national-brand tenants in Ontario’s secondary and tertiary communities. What’s most impressive is that since inception, Skyline’s REIT investors have never lost a single penny- a truly unique and unmatched Canadian investment success story.
Skyline also takes pride in its numerous environmental initiatives, many of which are included in its Portfolio Efficiency Plan, a water, hydro, waste and gas-saving program carried out across its REIT portfolios. The company has also installed 61 rooftop solar systems across its residential portfolio; each rooftop system generates enough energy to power 65 homes a year.
Lastly, it recently installed a green roof on top of its Head Office as a contribution to a local environmental research and development project with the University of Guelph. Skyline is hopeful that this pilot project will prove successful and potentially allow installation of additional green roofs on more of its properties in the future.
Skyline is also committed to giving back to the many communities in which its buildings are located: it donates over $60,000 a year to its key charity partners, and over 2,400 hours of employee volunteer work through the Skyline Volunteer Day program.
The Skyline Group has created a unique, holistic business model in order to care for its investments, as well as its investor and tenant bases. Its umbrella of companies and in-house services ensures that acquisition, investment and legal processes are carried out more quickly and efficiently. In the company’s 15 years, its staff has grown from three to 422, with resident managers stationed at each of Skyline’s 127 residential buildings, and satellite offices in Richmond Hill, London and Ottawa.
The original Skyline founders have a positive outlook for 2014, not expecting the growth and success to stop any time soon.