NorthWest Healthcare Properties REIT
NorthWest Healthcare Properties Real Estate Investment Trust is an unincorporated, open-ended real estate investment trust which holds a portfolio of 62 income-producing properties across Canada, and focuses on medical office buildings and healthcare real estate. Pioneers and leaders in this sector, the company’s assets include over 4 million square feet in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and is the largest non-government owner and manager of medical office building and healthcare facilities in Canada.
Founded in 2003, NorthWest Healthcare Properties operated as a private corporation, steadily and consistently acquiring 45 properties and an insider expertise on the specialized requirements for properties of this type, until undertaking its Initial Public Offering in 2010.
Today, NorthWest Healthcare Properties is realizing its vision of being Canada’s healthcare landlord, with an overwhelming market majority for managed and operated medical buildings, solid financial books and a proven track record of providing high-quality and comprehensive property management services to its tenants. Since going public, the company has acquired an additional 17 properties totalling over $400 million worth of investment.
Peter Riggin is CEO of NorthWest Healthcare Properties. Riggin, who joined the company in 2004, credits NorthWest Healthcare Properties’ Chairman and founder, Paul Dalla Lana with the vision to create a new, institutionally-owned property sector as the key to the company’s success. “The medical office building market is a fragmented market, meaning there was an abundance of assets owned by individual owners. We strongly believed in the healthcare trend that privately owned and professionally managed medical office buildings are a growth part of the healthcare business primarily because of increased need for the services provided by our tenants from an aging population, as well as the focus by governments to reduce spending on healthcare, which will likely result in more services being provided outside of hospitals, which are typically expensive to operate.”
Combined with its solid business and real estate background, NorthWest Healthcare Properties delivers exemplary professional services that often go far beyond a typical tenant/landlord relationship. NorthWest Healthcare Properties recognizes the unique requirements of medical buildings and caters to them, including enhanced building and in-suite cleaning, records storage, enhanced recycling, medical waste removal programs, and annual tenant events providing an opportunity for tenants to meet management and other tenants.
These services are necessitated by the specialized design and construction of a medical building. “If you think of the office you may be sitting in right now,” says Riggin, “it likely doesn’t have a sink, private washroom, gas line, significant filing, abundant millwork, or secure, often refrigerated, storage for medicine, and a standard commercial office layout is often not broken up into many smaller examination rooms and offices, which is a typical medical office reality.”
Additionally, a traditional medical office building differs in comparison to another type of professional building in how it operates inside, with interaction and synergy between tenants, developing a co-dependent community.
This community, is “Win, win, win” for tenants, landlords and patients, say Riggin. “It’s a win for the patients because all of the services are under one roof, a win for the medical practitioners because they have a community of associates for referrals, and a win for the landlord because it means it is a stable asset where people usually stay in place.”
With its portfolio now unparalleled in terms of scale and geographic reach across six provinces, tenants are seeking out NorthWest Healthcare Properties because of its reputation for sensitivity to the specialized needs of the healthcare tenants. “Ours are active, very management intensive, specialized properties,” acknowledges Riggin, “But we’ve responded with a strong, internally-managed team, many of whom have been together for over five years.”
In terms of ambitions for further growth, at the time of the IPO in 2010, NorthWest Healthcare Properties set out to double its size. “We had 45 companies and 3 million square feet at that time,” says Riggin. “Now we have 62 properties and over 4 million square feet, which I believe reflects well on our abilities to execute in terms of growth.”
Further to this goal, NorthWest Healthcare Properties recently announced a portfolio acquisition of 12 medical office buildings in Ontario from GT Canada Medical Properties REIT. The deal, which is still conditional, is scheduled to close in the second or third quarter of 2012.
“We are excited about this prospective transaction, since the GT Canada properties are all multi-tenant medical office buildings that are a strategic fit with our portfolio. It is rare that the opportunity exists to purchase a portfolio of medical office buildings, and we are pleased to be able to do so to further solidify our presence in the important Ontario market.”
NorthWest Healthcare Properties offers functional medical buildings for Canadians, and believes in its ability to facilitate and augment our healthcare system. Says Riggin, “Since the tenants in our buildings are often a patients’ first, or primary, point of contact with the healthcare system, then we play an important part in the provision of healthcare.”