U.S. real estate private equity firm Spear Street Capital has acquired O Mile-Ex, a Montréal-based artificial intelligence (AI) and technology hub.
No financial terms were disclosed.
The sellers were Canadian real estate development and investment firm TGTA, Québec private equity and venture capital firm Fondaction, and several local pension funds.
In 2014, TGTA and Fondaction partnered in the acquisition of two buildings that now make up the nearly 400,000 square-foot O Mile-Ex. TGTA designed, developed, financed and managed the project.
O Mile-Ex today houses some 20 tenants, including Element AI, a Montréal-based AI solutions company backed by venture capital investors.
Major real estate deal – Canada’s largest artificial intelligence hub, O Mile-Ex, is changing hands
MONTREAL, Aug. 26, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ – O Mile-Ex, one of Montreal’s biggest real estate success stories in recent years, has just been sold to Spear Street Capital, a San Francisco real estate fund that develops buildings for companies active in tech and other sectors in markets such as Canada. The announcement was made today by Martin Galarneau, a partner at TGTA, who is the project’s developer and one of the four owners of the two-building complex. Other owners include Fondaction and the Ville de Québec pension funds.
“There’s a lot to like about this transaction, which reflects the market’s strong interest in our building and for Montreal in general,” says Martin Galarneau. “Spear Street Capital’s bid was the most attractive offer and the most reassuring in terms of the future of the project. Given their experience and their portfolio of assets, we believe they’ll be able to uphold the vision that has guided us in designing, developing and managing this one-of-a-kind workspace that contributes to the Montreal of today and tomorrow.”
“We would also like to applaud our institutional partners for their outstanding support and, especially, the trust they placed in us from the outset of this project,” adds Galarneau.
“When we partnered with TGTA in 2014 to acquire the two buildings that now make up O Mile-Ex, they were almost entirely vacant and located in a devitalized area. A few years later, these buildings are the focal point for a neighbourhood that hosts the best teams in the world in terms of artificial intelligence and that helps make Montreal a leader in the field. This is a perfect example of urban renewal, which is at the heart of our investment strategy in real estate; we are very proud of it,” said Stephan Morency, Fondaction’s Chief Investment Officer.
O Mile-Ex: An extraordinary real estate project
Located at 6650–6666 Saint-Urbain, the 400,000-square foot former textile mill was acquired in 2014 and fully converted by TGTA, which also financed, designed, developed and managed the project. O Mile-Ex welcomed its first tenants in 2016.
Recognized as Canada’s biggest artificial intelligence hub, it now houses some 20 tenants, including Mila, IVADO, Thales and Element AI. Innovative players from a number of booming sectors, including video games (Behaviour Interactive), multimedia production (4U2C, a division of Cirque du Soleil) and life sciences (Rogue Research), also have offices there.
TGTA’s goal was to help its tenants attract top talent by creating a unique complex that’s more of a living environment than a conventional place of business. It features a gym, board game area, daycare and a cafe operated by chef Martin Juneau, owner of Restaurant Pastaga, and his team. This summer, a park was added to the back of the building on a site that was originally intended as a parking lot, but later repurposed to add more space for greenery and relaxation.
What’s next for TGTA
This outstanding project was completed over a very short period of five years. “With our flexible structure and highly skilled team, we have the agility to seize opportunities that pop up on the market like we did with O Mile-Ex,” adds Martin Galarneau. “This deal will allow us to pursue our mission of carrying out other ground-breaking projects in Montreal.”
TGTA is a real estate development and investment firm based in Montreal since 1989. The firm is owned by Bernard Thibault, Guy Trudeau and Martin Galarneau. Known for its expertise in office and residential buildings, TGTA also has extensive experience in other areas of real estate, including commercial, industrial, seniors’ residences, hotels and land development. With its skilled team as well as its organizational and decision-making structure, TGTA has the agility to seize diverse market opportunities and quickly close a wide range of development projects and transactions. Over the past 10 years, TGTA has focused its efforts mainly on Montreal, but has also been active in southeast Florida. In that time, TGTA has gained significant expertise in the requalification of sites and buildings in sensitive areas of the city.
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