ALMA Is Changing the Face of Student Housing in One of Canada's Fastest-Growing Cities

News · May 4, 2023
ALMA Is Changing the Face of Student Housing in One of Canada's Fastest-Growing Cities

ALMA provides much-needed hotel-like, community-driven student living spaces near the University of Guelph.


TORONTO, ON / ACCESSWIRE / March 29, 2023 / Following the success and popularity of purpose-built student accommodations (PBSAs) in the U.S., U.K. and Europe to address the need for quick, safe and stylish housing for growing student populations, Canada is putting itself on the map in the sector with a brand-new PBSA in Guelph-one of the country’s fastest growing cities. Launched last fall, ALMA provides hotel-like, community-driven student living spaces near the University of Guelph, filling an immediate need for housing in an undersupplied area. It is filling an urgent necessity in a region that is expected to continue to expand.

Located in a converted hotel, ALMA Guelph is the first step in a larger project to offer the best of PBSAs to students in Canada. The brand recognizes that students should live in an environment designed for their best lives-in an environment they love and can call home. They want to live in a place where everything is accessible, in a great location close to everything they could possibly need and in a safe, inclusive space that prioritizes their values, health, wellbeing and sustainability. At ALMA, students are part of a community that gives them a sense of belonging and makes them feel like this place was designed for them.

We wanted to create a brand that would resonate with its users,” says Anwar Mekhayech, co-founder of the international award-winning design firm DesignAgency, who helped develop the ALMA brand. “Our goal was a design that expresses both comfort and style, and flexibility for students to create their own living experience.”


ALMA is curated living that meets all of the expectations of today’s students. It offers three types of single or shared, fully furnished accommodations with contemporary design and amenities. Crafted for inclusive, healthy living, students will also have access to everything for their most essential needs and desires, including a commercial-grade chef’s kitchen, well-equipped fitness studio, a lively social hub with classic arcade games and ping pong tables, a work lounge, spacious focus rooms, a 24/7 laundry room, and secure bike storage. Local artists Gillian Wilson, Quinn Henderson and Devon Sioui also participated in the design of ALMA, creating one-of-a-kind murals in common areas. And, aligning with students’ values, there’s a site-wide dedication to conscientious, eco-friendly living through sustainable design and composting and waste reduction programs.


With data showing that there is a significant shortfall of student housing beds across the country and that post-secondary enrollments are on the rise, the need for quality PBSAs in Canada has never been greater. That’s why ALMA Guelph is phase one in the first of many ALMAs to come. Not only are the accommodations hotel-like, they are found in a former Holiday Inn. Through the adaptive reuse of the space-which helped minimize the project’s carbon footprint-the dated hotel was converted into a 177-room residence, delivering much-needed beds to Guelph students in just 18 months.

"We recognize that the demand for student housing in Canada far exceeds availability," says Aly Damji, Managing Partner, Real Estate at Forum Asset Management ("Forum"), the developer behind Alma. "Our first ALMA project in Guelph delivers on our core principles-we adaptively reused an obsolete hotel, thereby saving thousands of tons in carbon emissions versus building something new. We also created an expansive number of amenities that have been thoughtfully designed-even our laundry room has an area for students to congregate. We are excited about our first ALMA project and have more planned across the country."

With ALMA, Quad at York and several hundred additional beds in ownership and in its development pipeline, Forum proves that they are leaders in the PBSA space in Canada. Through the brand, they are not only filling an immediate need for student housing, but taking the opportunity to help create and contribute to vibrant communities across the country. Forum is the first to create a PBSA through the adaptive reuse of a hotel in the region. Emphasizing their commitment to sustainable planning, they saved an estimated 3,200 metric tons of embodied carbon that would have been produced during new construction, while 75,500 pounds of waste from old hotel furniture was diverted from landfill and donated back for use in the community.

About ALMA
ALMA is a hotel-like student accommodation that offers curated living experiences. Featuring fully furnished, contemporary accommodations and amenities, ALMA is situated in a convenient location and designed to prioritize sustainability, students’ health and wellbeing.. and a connection to a vibrant, inclusive community. ALMA lets students live their best life the way they want.

About Forum Asset Management
Forum is an investor, developer and asset manager with a focus on real estate, infrastructure, and private equity. Since its founding in 1996, Forum has worked with its partners to pursue value-added and opportunistic investments and achieve aggressive growth through innovation and active management. Forum is committed to exploring innovative and sustainable opportunities that deliver Extraordinary Outcomes™ to all involved. Forum’s assets under management represent approximately C$1.7 billion in enterprise value.


Forum Asset Management, Wednesday, March 29, 2023, Press release picture
Elaine McCreary


SOURCE: Forum Asset Management

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