CIBC listed as 150 Elgin tenant

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Another major tenant appears to be lined up to take a sizable block of space inside downtown Ottawa’s newest private-sector office tower.

The name and logo of CIBC Wood Gundy - the bank’s retail brokerage division - are displayed alongside confirmed tenant KPMG in architectural renderings contained in a minor variance application circulated by the city’s planning department. The building’s owner, Morguard, is requesting permission to place identification signs on the fourth and seventh floor of the building under construction at 150 Elgin St., at Gloucester Street.

CIBC Wood Gundy currently occupies a full floor - roughly 33,000 square feet - at 50 O’Connor St. inside the Sun Life Centre. CIBC World Markets is believed to occupy approximately 25,000 square feet several blocks over at 222 Queen St., according to one local broker.

A spokesperson for CIBC said no lease has been signed, but offered no explanation why the bank’s logo appears attached to the building.

The broker for CIBC, Brian Furman of Toronto-based Blackwood Partners, declined to comment on any potential lease, as did the broker representing Morguard, Paul Bennett of Colliers International.

Sources say obtaining the signage is a condition attached to CIBC’s agreement to take space inside 150 Elgin St. Another source said the bank did not explore renegotiation options at its current location within the Sun Life Centre, which raised some eyebrows in the local real estate sector given that soft demand for downtown office space has landlords offering deep discounts to tenants.

David Pridham, director of leasing at Bentall Kennedy, which manages the Sun Life Centre, confirmed that he’s received scant information from CIBC or its broker about the company’s real estate intentions.

Construction on the 21-storey office tower at 150 Elgin St., named Performance Court, is proceeding ahead of schedule and should be completed in time for its January 2014 opening, said Mr. Bennett.

While he projected that roughly 95 per cent of the 325,000 square feet of office space will be leased by next summer, only two tenants have been publicly confirmed.

The Canada Council for the Arts, which will be leaving Constitution Square on Albert Street, is taking roughly 85,000 square feet on the second, third, fourth and fifth floor. KPMG, which will be leaving Place Bell on Elgin Street, will lease an additional 63,000 square feet, according to Mr. Bennett, who says there is still a large block of vacant space in the building between floors seven and 14.

There will also be between 18,000 and 25,000 square feet of ground-level retail space that will be filled by restaurants, coffee shops and service-oriented businesses such as dental clinics.

Mr. Bennett said the landhold is holding off on signing retail leases until the bulk of the office space is under contract because some office tenants are requesting to have a presence on the ground floor.

He said the foyer will feature a 40-foot-high video wall in the building’s foyer that will profile the building’s tenants.

The office tower is incorporating the historic Grant House - formerly Friday’s Roast Beef House - into its design. A high-end steak and seafood restaurant had originally been planned for the property, but Morguard terminated a lease agreement with well-known local restaurateurs Marisol Simoes and her husband, Zadek Ramowski, who also co-own Asian fusion restaurant Kinki and the Latin-style Mambo, both located in the ByWard Market.

That prompted a $1.5 million lawsuit last fall.

Mr. Bennett said there are no plans as of yet for the Grant House, but said it is likely the space will be used for offices. The lack of an elevator, its heritage designation and building code issues make other uses a challenge, he said.

“It’s not a simple matter to just plunk a (tenant) in there without being very careful and imaginative.”