Innovative investment fund led by a master at winning property change approvals has some big-name backers

(Source: Globe and Mail)

Mr. Diamond’s Whitecastle New Urban Fund – launched last fall with $70-million raised from big industry players including RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust and Sterling Silver Development Corp., as well as Mr. Diamond’s own family venture capital firm – is a real estate investment fund with a distinct difference. Its aim is to identify urban properties in Toronto where the zoning can be changed to permit much higher use, shepherd those zoning changes through the complicated approvals process, and then either sell the property at a substantial gain or develop it on its own or with partners.

The fund has already made its first acquisition: a block of century-old storefront buildings with extra land behind them on the southwest corner of Yonge and St. Joseph streets in Toronto. Once rezoned, the plan is to restore those storefronts to their former glory, providing 35,000 square feet of prime retail space, and then build a 49-storey, glass-walled condo tower behind them.

What promises to be Mr. Diamond’s competitive edge is his successful career as a municipal affairs lawyer. For 20 years, he was the go-to guy when developers needed a deviation from the official plan, increases in permitted density or a change in zoning for projects.

Read Terrence Belford’s full article “A man with the rezoning touch” in the Globe and Mail (May 5, 2009).

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