Practical advice for Ottawa tenants as Kanata market tightens

Merkburn's property at 4043 Carling Avenue
Merkburn's property at 4043 Carling Avenue

A buoyant Kanata office market, propelled by a resurgent tech sector, is great news for the local economy as firms hire new staff and expand their physical footprint.

But the tightening market is a double-edged sword for firms in Kanata that are looking to improve or expand on their leased space.

“In the last couple of years, any tenant that needed to grow or find new space in Kanata had an abundance of options,” says Kevin Rougeau, the managing partner of Merkburn Holdings. He adds that landlords aren’t able to accommodate overholds on currently leased space as much as in the past simply due to demand.

Rougeau’s advice is for tenants to start planning well in advance of their current lease expiring, and to be mindful of several key dates in their current agreement.

“Now, with the market tightening, tenants have to plan further ahead. There has been a significant change in the available product in that marketplace,” he says.

Shifting market

Vacancy rates in Kanata not long ago hovered around 18 per cent – what many experts would consider a troubled market. But in the past couple of years those rates have tightened to closer to eight per cent.

Mr. Rougeau says a combination of startups, high-tech and government demand, coupled with reduced supply, are making for the tightest commercial real estate market Kanata has seen in years.

He emphasizes that if you want to stay in your current building, it’s crucial not to miss the option-to-renew period stated in your lease, which typically starts between six and nine months before your lease expires.

And if you want to find new space, Mr. Rougeau says it’s a good rule of thumb to start the planning and review process as early as a year to 18 months before the end of your current lease.

“Companies don’t just need space – they need suitable space that meets their business needs and desired corporate image,” he says.

Mr. Rougeau’s firm, a privately-owned, local company that’s been in business for nearly 50 years, has around 30 buildings and close to a million square feet in its citywide portfolio. In Kanata, Merkburn Holdings has more than 200,000 square feet, with another 30,000-square-foot office building in the development stages. He says they have around 40,000 square feet that’s readily available for lease.

“And that ranges from raw space that can be custom fit to any tenant’s needs, to readily available office space that’s already fit up and is business ready,” he says, adding the firm’s speed of service, local ownership, strong client relationships and ability to help clients adjust in changing marketplaces are some of Merkburn’s strengths.

“We can do complete turnkey services from start to finish. We can help with planning and design, submitting building permits to the city, fit ups, all the way to giving them keys at the end of the day where they can walk in and start running their business.”

Considering your next move? Merkburn Holdings has a diverse portfolio of office and industrial properties across Ottawa. Check out Merkburn.com for leasing opportunities.