Colonnade BridgePort to build 'mixed-use community hub' near Via Rail, LRT stations

Colonnade BridgePort site
ColonnadeBridgePort has teamed up with a Toronto developer to buy a five-acre industrial site at 25 Pickering Pl. near the Via Rail terminal. Image courtesy Google Maps

One of the city’s largest real estate firms is teaming up with a Toronto-based investment partner to develop what it calls an “urban village” on a prime piece of land near Ottawa’s Via Rail station.

Colonnade BridgePort said Monday it has acquired five acres of property at 25 Pickering Pl., just east of the Via Rail terminal and the Tremblay LRT station. The developer says it aims to turn the current industrial site into a “mixed-use, high-density community hub” that will include rental apartment highrises, retail space, parkland and possibly a hotel.

The Ottawa company is partnering with investment firm Fiera Real Estate, which has worked with Colonnade BridgePort on various other local development projects, including 1960 Scott St. and 315 McRae Ave. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Colonnade director of development Stephen Martin called the east-end site, which was previously owned by cleaning product manufacturer Dustbane Products, a “compelling” location because of its close proximity to light rail and the train station.

In addition, he said, the property is already zoned for mixed-use projects of up to 30 storeys, a rarity for available land in a city that puts a premium on transit-oriented development. 

“From a connectivity point of view, there isn’t anything else like it in the city,” Martin said, adding the site has potential for more than two million square feet of residential and commercial space.

Colonnade and Fiera join a growing list of developers ​– such as RioCan REIT and Killam Apartment REIT, who are constructing a block of apartment towers a few kilometres east near the Blair LRT station – that see light rail as a game-changer for an area that’s traditionally been on the short end of large-scale development projects.

Martin called the Confederation LRT line “an equalizer” for Ottawa’s east end. 

“It does change the catchment area, both from a commercial and a residential perspective,” he explained.

Colonnade and Fiera have signed a leaseback agreement with Dustbane that will allow the previous owner to continue operating on the site while the new owners draft a master plan for the property.

Connor Shea, Colonnade’s director of asset and investment management, said some portions of the land could eventually be parcelled off and sold to other builders depending on how the master plan evolves.

“The site provides a lot of flexibility in terms of what we can do,” Shea said.

Site plans for all stages of the project will require city approval, so shovels probably won’t be in the ground for at least a few years, he added. The first residential towers will likely be built out over a three- to five-year span, he said.

“Pre-COVID, we were seeing lots of demand for purpose-built residential,” Shea said. “We still believe that demand is there, but with COVID-19 and the shutdown … all bets are off. We are going to have to figure out what the timeline’s going to look like to develop it.”