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Our History

How a Simple Idea Changed an Industry



A.J. Keilty founded Varsity Properties in Kingston, Ontario when he was 24 years old. From humble beginnings in 2003 to now, Varsity has been on a mission to simplify the housing experience for students and their parents by combining the highest quality locations, features and finishes with premium hotel level guest services.


A.J. knows a thing or two about hotels and what it takes to deliver exceptional guest experiences. He grew up in the hotel business, and his parents still own and operate one of Ontario's finest Inns, the Gananoque Inn & Spa.  It was through this upbringing that he learned how it’s the small gestures of service that make the big difference in a guest’s day.


While earning a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from Queen's University’s School of Business, Mr. Keilty and several friends leased a typical 7-bedroom, 1 bathroom house in Kingston’s University District (affectionately known then as, The Queen’s Student Ghetto). While it was home to them, the place was a dump. The joy of receiving keys to their first home was quickly eroded by the sad reality that before they could move in they would be responsible for bagging and removing 48 bags of garbage left by the previous residents.  When winter came they soon discovered the massive cost of heating a very old home with poor insulation and single pane windows.  On top of that, the Landlord lived 3 hours away and took weeks to complete even the simplest of repairs.


Determined to upgrade their living situation, he and his friends trudged through January snow, waited in long lines to view properties and lost out on several homes to other competitive groups of student house-hunters. They were never able to secure a better home that was affordable, clean and well-maintained close to campus.


"Why aren't there better housing options for students?", he thought.


These frustrating experiences led him to recognize a huge opportunity in the Canadian student housing market. He decided to bring his understanding of the hospitality business to the student housing industry by founding Kingston's first rental property company that focused on providing resident services, rather than property management.  Whereas a property management company focuses on the needs of the owner, Varsity Properties provides services that focus on the needs of its residents.  The logic being that if Varsity treats it’s residents with a high level of service and respect, everything else will take care of itself, properties will stay rented and expenses due to damages will be lower.



Now after more than a decade of delivering high quality properties and service, Varsity Properties has grown its portfolio of premium student homes to provide housing services to 760 residents in 25 buildings in 2 cities.  In the beginning the firm grew through acquisitions and renovations.  Now Varsity focuses exclusively on new urban infill developments close to Ontario Colleges and University campuses. 


Park Lane, Phase 1  | Kingston, ON

In August 2011, Varsity Properties completed the construction of its 14th development. Park Lane, a collection of 18 red brick townhouse suites, located a short 6 minutes walk from Stauffer Library. We were successful in leasing the building a full 8-months prior to occupancy, and most importantly we again delivered occupancy to our residents on time.


Albert Terrace  | Kingston, ON

In August 2012, Varsity Properties completed its 15th and 16th buildings at Albert Terrace; 505 and 513 Albert Street.  The 30 red brick town home suites were the first Varsity Properties to have a private roof top terrace, complete with BBQ.


Park Lane, Phase 2  | Kingston, ON

In August 2013, Varsity Properties competed its 17th consecutive on time development, a second phase of Park Lane.   Perched on the northeast corner of Victoria Park, 1 Mack Street is home to 55 residents in 15 suites.  The private roof top terraces provide some of the very best views of Victoria Park. 1 Mack Street is the first property to receive our 2nd generation interior design and colour pallet. This includes upgraded white and grey granite counter tops, dark wood floors and a neutral light grey wall colour.


Taylorwood Town Homes  |  Oshawa, ON

In the fall of 2013, Varsity Properties began construction on its largest and most ambitious development to date when it launched Varsity Properties Oshawa. This brand new community is located directly adjacent to the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Durham College in North Oshawa. Taylorwood is a 3 phase development that when completed will be home to a community of 480 students within 8 town home buildings.  A first for Varsity, every bedroom in this new community features a private en-suite bathroom. Phase 1 was successfully delivered to the first 260 residents on September 1st, 2014.


University Suites  | Kingston, ON

After many years of work negotiating the purchase and assembly of 12 separate parcels of land at the intersection of Princess Street and University Avenue, Varsity will begin construction in 2015 on a pair of 10-storey glass condominium towers containing more than 400 units.  Designed by 5-time governor general award winning Teeple Architects, these new landmark buildings will have a hugely positive impact on the Williamsville area of Kingston. More information about this exciting project can be found at http://www.UniversitySuites.com 


Finally, after more than a decade of innovation, Varsity Properties very proudly launched our new logo during the Fall of 2014.  We believe that this simple yet collegiate design represents our excellence and culture as we continue to push the envelope as the leader of this Industry.  Here's to another decade of growth and change.