Founded in Kingston in 2003, Varsity Communities is a management firm specializing in purpose-built student housing communities in Canada. We work with investors, owners, developers and institutions to create communities that thrive and deliver exceptional ROI for all those they touch, including residents, vendors, and neighborhoods.
Our focus has consistently been to create living spaces that foster academic excellence, resident well-being, and tight alignment with the long-term goals of institutional partners. Varsity has graduated more than 25,000 residents from its Canadian communities. Our team has successfully completed the initial lease-up of 4,500 beds of new student housing development, with an additional 2,400 beds of new student housing development in our pipeline before the end of 2027. The Varsity team has grown in size and skill into one of Canada’s premiere student housing operators, responsible for over $2.1 Billion in real estate.
Our vision is to build our communities, our colleagues, our customers, our vendors, and ourselves. We relish our role in the growth and sustainability of the world’s best communities and aim to be the Canadian management firm community leaders look to for highly competent real estate investment and management.
Varsity Communities is focused on creating academic success for our residents, career growth for colleagues, and superior financial performance for our owners. We are driven to deliver ROI—not just Return on Investment, but also Return on Individual. In other words, we believe in generating positive impact and financial growth by investing in our team and in the communities we serve so that everyone reaps the benefits.
Founded by A.J. Keilty, a then recent graduate of the Queen’s University School of Business, with an assignment to manage a 7-bedroom home at 407 Earl Street. Using high quality photos, included Wi-Fi internet, bi-weekly housekeeping and a rental auction system that generated rent 50% higher than budget.
Acquired property Louise House – 329 Johnson Street, secured Starbucks Coffee Company as our first commercial tenant and began renovations to transform the 24-bed residence in to a mix use commercial and residential apartment building. Early exposure to Howard Schultz’s company practices and business philosophy heavily influenced Varsity’s culture.
Teresa Gagnon join as our first full time housekeeper, who began building a culture of caring for our residents with in-unit cleaning services. She gets a lot of hugs when her residents graduate.
Partnered with former housemates Oskar Johansson and Bernard Luttmer of Podium Developments to form Varsity Realty, a company that invests in new development projects. The first office was in Oskar’s den in his downtown Toronto condo. The close relationship has remained in place to this day.
A.J. Keilty is elected President of the Kingston Rental Property Owners Association for a 2-year term. Completed construction and leasing of 16-bed Earl Town Homes
Completed construction and leasing of 24-bed Liberty Terrace, and occupied our first official leasing office on the ground floor.
Completed Construction and leasing of 350-bed Unity Point, serving downtown Kingston, Ontario near Queen’s University. Broke ground on 350-bed Unity Place and founded Portsmouth Residential to make and manage build-to-rent family homes in eastern Ontario.
Winner of the Queen’s Alma Mater Society’s Golden Key as Kingston’s Best housing provider. We deepened our relationship with Peak Campus and Blue Vista to jointly seek out Canadian on-campus management assignments. We were ready early with use of zoom for virtual meetings which helped us transition quickly to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Completed construction of the 438-bed University Towns condo in Oshawa, Ontario directly beside Durham College and Ontario Tech in Oshawa, Ontario. Our General Manager and his team got to play air hockey with the Mayor of Oshawa. We began working with Blue Vista Capital Management to operate institutional scale management assignments. After 8 years of effort we secured a building permit to construct 204-bed Unity Point.
Completed construction and leasing of 393-Bed University Studios in Oshawa, Ontario directly beside Durham College and Ontario Tech in Oshawa, Ontario. The ground floor opened with our second Starbucks location as a tenant. Continued deep focus on team education creating Varsity Academy. Purchased our new home office building in Kingston.
Completed construction and leasing of 110-bed Phase 3 of Taylorwood Town Homes bringing the total to 430-beds in Oshawa. Put up our first crane to build University Studios. Held our first all hands Varsity Summit in Kingston to build team connection enhance our skills.
Completed construction and leasing of 380-bed Simcoe Town Homes, in Barrie, Ontario serving Georgian College. Move in day was a big success. Following the sale of 1,000 beds our team received a big surprise bonus.
Completed construction and leasing of 110-bed Phase 2 of Taylorwood Town Homes in Oshawa, Ontario. Recruited an amazing team to operate Taylorwood. Broke ground on Simcoe Town Homes in Barrie, Ontario.
Introduced New Varsity Logo and started using Matterport to offer 3D virtual tours. Completed construction and leasing of on 210-Bed Phase 1 of Taylorwood Town Homes in Oshawa, Ontario.
Completed construction and leasing of 185-bed Park Lane II and started construction in Oshawa, Ontario beside Durham College and Ontario Tech.
Completed construction and leasing of 110-bed Albert Terrace.
Completed construction and leasing of 55-bed Park Lane I and continued to refine our 24-hour turnover process.
Doubled the size of our Kingston home office to 1,100 sq.ft. at 337 Barrie Street, Kingston and grew our team by 50%.
Completed renovation and leasing of 56-bed Bakery Suites and grew our property team to 10 people. Started on-campus marketing events.
A.J. Keilty is President & CEO of Varsity Communities. He graduated from the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) and is a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM), which recognizes leading experts in commercial real estate investment. A.J. is responsible for overseeing all aspects of investor relations, investment approval, asset management, governance, and business management. For nearly 20 years, A.J. has been leading a team of asset managers and property managers specializing in student housing, condominium corporation management, and multi-family real estate development. When he isn’t leading our team or inspiring the real estate leaders of tomorrow, A.J. can be found snowboarding or competitively sailing.
Connor Patterson is Chief Operating Office (COO) for Varsity Communities. He graduated from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education, has completed his Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) Director Training and most recently, earned a Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation from the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). Connor grew up in the hospitality industry and not long after graduating, found his way into real estate management. As COO, Connor leads the organization’s ongoing operations, procedures and profitability. He is driven to develop and grow the next generation of industry leading professionals. In 2020, Connor was selected to serve on the IREM Next Gen Advisory Board where he works with other industry leaders to help young professionals find inspiring careers in real estate management. Connor is a huge baseball and college football fan, and with any free time, is voraciously consuming podcasts and audiobooks (he believes everyone should listen at 2x speed to learn more, faster).
Hunter Le Blanc is Vice President – Finance for Varsity Communities. He graduated from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours), and holds CPA, CMA (Chartered Professional Accountant), as well as CIM (Chartered Investment Manager) professional designations. Hunter oversees all aspects of finance and administration for Varsity Communities, but enjoys dabbling in every angle of our portfolio when he finds time for it. Hunter has extensive experience with data analytics and the use of numbers to gain valuable insight to tackle everyday business problems. When Hunter isn’t busy on a zoom call, he is probably at the ski hill, either mountain biking or snowboarding, near his home in Kelowna, BC.
Laura McMurray is the Vice President – Culture of Varsity Communities. Laura is currently working towards her Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of employee relations and company growth. From recruitment to career development, Laura is constantly focused on cultivating and improving the unique Keilty Realty Culture experience. In between her HR duties, she has overseen and coordinated the construction build-out of three co-working spaces within the downtown Kingston area, managed by Keilty Realty’s Co-working company, VentureClub. When Laura is not at the office, you can find her planning out her next DIY home improvement, dreaming of her next travel destination, or playing around with her two dogs.