RioCan Appoints Harden to Manage Quebec Retail Centres: Interview

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RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust announced that Harden will assume third-party property management for the REIT’s 18 Quebec retail properties.

Harden is a second generation, family-owned real estate company whose primary focus is owning and operating commercial, residential, and industrial properties in many communities throughout Quebec and Ontario.

RioCan said the partnership strengthens RioCan’s regional position, leveraging Harden’s local expertise and full suite of property management capabilities tailored for the market, including leasing, development, construction, and administration services.

Harden x Riocan
Jonathan Gitlin

“With a common focus on performance, customer-centrism, and cultural excellence, we are confident that Harden is perfectly positioned to manage our retail portfolio in the Quebec region,” said Jonathan Gitlin, President and CEO of RioCan. “RioCan’s Quebec properties have proven resilient through the pandemic and there are significant growth opportunities embedded in the portfolio. Harden’s long-established and in-depth understanding of the local real estate landscape will further support growth and extract value from our presence in this market.”

Tyler Harden, co-CEO of Harden with his brother Chris, said the company will work closely with RioCan to provide their tenants with exceptional service and well-maintained properties that it and their customers will be proud of. 

Tyler Harden

“We are confident the Harden team has the expertise and talent to execute our strategy of enhancing the experience and value of the portfolio.  We will accomplish this by curating a synergistic mix of uses, providing a high-quality retail experience and eco-responsible environment, and investing in the communities we serve,” he said.

RioCan and Harden said they have an established relationship, with each owning a 50 per cent interest in Les Galeries Lachine in Montreal, where Harden is responsible for the management, leasing, and redevelopment of the property. Recently, RioCan agreed to sell a 50 per cent interest in the Trust’s Mega Centre Notre-Dame property to Harden for $34.5 million. The transaction closed on March 30th.

Mega Centre Notre-Dame (Image: RioCan)

“We also knew it was something we could help them out with the rest of their portfolio. We had certain conversations over the last couple of years and ultimately they made a decision they would like for us to be the ones that work within their portfolio in Quebec as partners in certain instances and in this particular case basically as property managers as well as taking care of the leasing, the construction and the development or redevelopment of their properties. So that’s our role.

“So for us we’re really excited to be able to partner with RioCan or expanding on our current partnership that we have had with them for the last couple of years. What does this does for Harden it allows us to continue to scale our business, comprised of quality retail portfolio in Quebec and give ourselves development opportunities within the portfolio to lean on the services that we offer, namely development, leasing, construction and our management platform, to be able to extract maximum value for obviously the partnership but most importantly putting together a program where the retailers are living obviously in that portfolio as well other services that we are going to be adding are able to do so proudly and confidently and not have issues from a day to day perspective, or very little. That’s essentially our role within this partnership.”

Harden said the relationship with RioCan is also adding a lot of square footage to its development pipeline which is positive and productive for the company. The 18 retail properties in Quebec comprise just over 2.55 million square feet.

RioCan Greenfield (Image: RioCan)

As of December 31, 2021, RioCan’s portfolio included 207 properties with an aggregate net leasable area of approximately 36.4 million square feet (at RioCan’s interest) including office, residential rental and 13 development properties. 

Harden, who’s head office is located in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, currently owns and operates over five million square feet of net leasable area of commercial space. It has several projects under development – two million square feet of net leasable area of industrial, 500, 000 square feet of net leasable area of commercial, and over 2,000 residential units. 

Tyler Harden said the company’s roots began in 1949, where his grandparents founded a jewellery store named Harden’s Jewellers, located in Hawkesbury, Ontario; a small town on the border of Quebec and Ontario. In 1975, William Harden (Tyler’s father) joined the family business and expanded it to a total of 7 stores; along with his brothers, Reg and Brent.

Harden was founded by Tyler and Chris’ father, William, in 1985. Over the following years William had developed several commercial properties in Ontario and Quebec, mostly retail shopping centers. Chris and Tyler joined the business in 2006 and 2008, respectively, and worked very closely under their fathers’ guidance and mentorship until this past January where they were appointed Co-CEOs. 

“We were confident that Harden was the right partner to help them unlock the value embedded within their Quebec portfolio. We had certain conversations over the last couple of years and ultimately RioCan made the decision to expand our current relationship and in this particular case become asset managers that are responsible of the management, leasing, construction, development and redevelopment of their properties.”

Centre St-Martin (Image: RioCan)

“We’re very excited to be able to partner with RioCan and expand on our current partnership that we had formed in 2019. This partnership allows Harden to continue to scale our business, comprised of quality retail properties and give ourselves further development opportunities within the portfolio.”

Harden and RioCan agreement applies to the following properties :

  • 2335 boul. Lapinière
  • 279 rue Saint-Charles
  • Centre Carnaval Pierrefonds
  • Centre Concorde
  • Centre René A. Robert
  • Centre RioCan Kirkland
  • Centre Sicard
  • Centre St-Jean
  • Centre Sainte-Julie
  • Centre St-Martin
  • Galeries Laurentides
  • Galeries Milles Iles
  • Mega Centre Notre-Dame
  • Desserte Ouest
  • Place Carnaval Laval
  • Place La Prairie
  • RioCan Greenfield Park
  • Vaudreuil Shopping Center

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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