Toronto skyline from Lake Ontario. With a boom in construction in an already architecturally sophisticated city, Toronto is a real estate hub — something the Rotman School of Management is now poised to study and support

In the third quarter of 2023, more than 100 high-rise buildings were under construction and another 300 in development in Toronto. Already the home of iconic landmarks like the needlelike CN Tower and modern-looking skyscraper First Canadian Place, the city’s skyline is both distinctive and evolving.

Pair this construction boom with Toronto’s worldwide reputation for eclectic architecture, economic stability, and commitment to sustainable development, and Canada’s most populous city just might be the ideal location for the next great real estate hub.

One of the city’s most prolific real estate developers aims to make that happen. The University of Toronto announced today (February 29) a $15 million gift from David and Angela Feldman to fund a new real estate center inside the university’s Rotman School of Management. With the David Feldman Centre for Real Estate and Urban Economics, the Rotman School plans to elevate real estate teaching and expertise within the MBA and Rotman Commerce programs, preparing students for the significant challenges — and opportunities — facing the industry.

“As cities like Toronto continue to grow, it’s critical that we have experts who are well prepared to lead the development and management of real estate,” says Meric Gertler, president of the University of Toronto. “David Feldman’s generous and forward-thinking gift will enable U of T to educate the next generation of real estate leaders – and help us make cities more accommodating for all of their residents.”

The new center will deploy a unique, interdisciplinary approach to real estate teaching and research, according to a university press release.

Rotman School of Management

Real estate is not just property. More and more, a building is intertwined with the economic, social and environmental issues of its location. The post-pandemic surge in remote work, for example, left many once burgeoning office neighborhoods feeling more like ghost towns. Demand for affordable housing is rising as the cost of living soars. The climate crisis and other environmental issues have shined a spotlight on the true cost of construction on the planet.

David Feldman Centre research, then, will consider real estate’s relationships with things like city economics and housing price dynamics to inform how the industry responds to bigger societal issues. It will also develop and offer co-curricular programing like executive training, workshops, and public events to train industry leaders. And, students will build complementary skills in finance, negotiation, team building, leadership, valuation, investment, sustainability, and public and private financing to go along with their real estate training.

“It’s important to recognize that the issues around housing, offices and real-estate in general won’t be solved overnight. The challenges are often generational in nature,” Feldman says.

“With its multidisciplinary resources, Rotman will provide a solid foundation for the establishment of the David Feldman Centre. Our family has high expectations for the growth and success of the centre, and we believe that its graduates will possess the skills to lead and implement thoughtful solutions that meet the housing and community needs for today and for future generations.”

David Feldman is founder, president and CEO of Camrost Felcorp Inc., a real estate development firm working in Toronto for nearly 50 years. The company has built more than 70 buildings in the Greater Toronto Area, including several award winning communities and 13,000 residencies. Projects include office and commercial towers, rental and condominium complexes, senior citizen housing, and cooperative housing.

The center aims to become a worldwide leader in research and teaching for real estate and urban economies.

“This is an incredible opportunity for us to help build the leaders of tomorrow in an important industry and asset class,” says Susan Christoffersen, dean of the Rotman School and William A. Downe BMO chair in finance.

“We are located in close proximity to the leaders of the Canadian real estate industry, many of whom are significant global players. The activities of the center will help bring those leaders into our classrooms and provide in-class and experiential learning opportunities for students in both the Rotman Commerce and MBA programs as well as allow us to expand our footprint in executive education.”

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