University of Toronto
A framework and action plan for the campus edge
University of Toronto (UofT) is one of the largest landowners in its namesake city. The university’s Downtown (St. George) Campus occupies approximately 180 acres in the heart of Toronto, a thriving real estate market. Under the leadership of President Meric Gertler, UofT has made a renewed commitment to its role as an anchor institution for Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Having identified a number of sites with potential to strengthen the university-city relationship, UofT engaged U3 Advisors in November 2017 to help focus their efforts by creating a strategic framework for real estate engagements at the campus edge.
U3 worked with a steering committee comprised of key university administrators and solicited feedback from stakeholder groups—including the university’s Real Estate Advisory Committee, Business Board, and Principals, Deans, Academic Directors and Chairs—that informed decision-making. Working with this coalition, U3 ultimately developed a strategic framework built around identifying objectives for future real estate projects and developing strategies for the implementation and evaluation of those projects. The result: the Four Corners Strategy document, which articulated the university’s twin goals for campus edge real estate: facilitating amenity uses that support the academic mission and growing and diversifying the university’s revenue. These goals are supported by a group of more specific objectives, ranging from furthering civic engagement to using real estate to attract and retain world-class faculty.
Four Corners further outlines a series of potential strategies for achieving those objectives, including evaluating and leveraging potential third-party partnerships and curating retail spaces, dining establishments, and other amenities that enhance the university and neighborhood environments. In addition to the strategic framework, U3 developed a capital and phasing model for a 15-project portfolio of near- and medium-term projects as a tool for the University to forecast cash flows and expenditures, and in turn evaluate and make decisions about project programs, project sequencing, use of university debt, and third-party partnerships.