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On Thursday, February 26th, 2015, students from the University of Guelph’s Real Estate and Housing Program got a taste of the local real estate landscape as they toured several buildings owned by the Skyline Group of Companies, a Guelph-based real estate acquisitions, property management and investment firm with over 250 residential and commercial properties Canada-wide.

Skyline Co-Founders Martin Castellan and Roy Jason Ashdown headed the tour, which kicked off at an apartment residence at 524 Woolwich Street, then a condo unit at 55 Yarmouth Street, Skyline’s Head Office at 5 Douglas Street, and, at the end of the evening, the Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre on Hespeler Road in Cambridge, where the group enjoyed locally-crafted fare from the Hotel’s Bruce Restaurant.

Students toured upgraded common rooms and laundry rooms, luxury suites, and the amenities at Skyline’s Head Office at the Gummer Building, which was fully redeveloped after it was destroyed by fire in 2007. Castellan and Ashdown explained the value of redevelopment and repositioning versus building, how to pinpoint the correct efficiencies to attract specific tenant demographics, and lessons learned regarding risk management and budgeting.

Skyline plans to hold the tour annually for future students in the program.

“Fifteen years ago, before Skyline was founded and Jason, Martin and I [Skyline’s Co-Founders] were students ourselves, we would have loved the opportunity to go out in the field and learn from landlords: how buildings are developed and repositioned, how to fine-tune efficiencies, and their lessons learned,” said Roy Jason Ashdown, Co-Founder and Chief Sustainability Officer of the Skyline Group of Companies. “We applaud the Real Estate and Housing Program’s professors for giving students these out-of-classroom opportunities. As a learning experience, they are priceless.”

Skyline places a high value on supporting its local students – two of its three Co-Founders, brothers Jason and Martin Castellan, were University of Guelph students at the time they purchased their first rental house on Cole Road near campus. Since 2009, the company has given an annual scholarship to an exceptional student in the Real Estate and Housing Program (and, this year, has raised the amount of the scholarship to $5,000). Additionally, Skyline’s Student Internship Program helps students transition into the workforce and gain meaningful experience in the real estate industry. Skyline has hired several students from the program into full-time jobs.

“Investing in our students is incredibly valuable,” said Martin Castellan, Co-Founder and Chief Administrative Officer of the Skyline Group of Companies. “Keeping our students informed and educated so they are ready to perform in the real estate market helps Skyline, and helps Guelph as a city. The University of Guelph provides us with a great resource for talent, and we are proud to partner with the school on this project and future endeavours.”