New York real estate firm taps Zibi development for first Canadian property

Zibi announces separate deal to supply office space to federal government
The federal government will lease space from Zibi's forthcoming office building starting in 2021.

A company that rents communal living spaces in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles has chosen Ottawa’s Zibi mixed-use development for its first project outside the United States.

New York-based Common announced Monday it will open a 252-bed rental housing complex at Dream Unlimited’s Zibi redevelopment project on the Ottawa River. Common currently owns properties in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C., and plans to expand to more than a dozen in the U.S. and foreign markets over the next three years.

“Cities are facing similar housing challenges throughout the world ​– urban populations are rising, and housing supply is not keeping up,” Common’s founder and CEO, Brad Hargreaves, said in a statement.

“With Dream and their Zibi development, we have found a fantastic partner with a longstanding history in Canada and an unparalleled location to bring co-living to Ottawa.”

The company said its Ottawa project will feature a mix of co-living suites – where residents have their own bedrooms but share other facilities such as bathrooms, lounges and kitchen space – and traditional apartments. The building will also include a rooftop patio and a gym.

Common says rents at the new complex will start at about $1,225 a month for a bedroom in a co-living suite, which it claims is about 30 per cent less than the going market rate for a one-bedroom apartment in the area. Rents for traditional residential units will start at about $2,065 a month.

The project is expected to be completed in 2022 and will also include “local retail” on the ground floor, the company said.

“Common is a great way for people to be able to live affordably in the centre of the most urban cities and neighbourhoods in homes that are fun and exciting,” Dream president Michael Cooper said in a statement.

Since opening its first co-living space in New York City in 2015, Common has grown to more than 800 rooms in 27 buildings in the U.S. The company recently announced a US$300-million expansion into four more cities south of the border, with plans to add units in several other cities, including 500 rooms in Toronto.

Zibi also announced Monday it has signed a 15-year agreement to supply office space to the federal government – the first major commercial lease deal at the 34-acre development.

Under the agreement, the feds will lease about 158,000 square feet of space in an eight-storey, 185,000-square-foot Class-A office building next to Chaudière Falls. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy in early 2021.

A partnership between Dream Unlimited, Dream Hard Asset Alternatives Trust and Ottawa-based Theia Partners, the $1.5-billion Zibi project is expected to include more than four million square feet of residential, retail and commercial development once complete, along with eight acres of riverfront parks and public plazas.

Zibi’s first residential condo opened in the fall of 2018, with the second expected to be ready for occupancy early next year. The entire development, which is located at former industrial lands on Chaudière and Albert islands, is eventually slated to house up to 5,000 residents and employ 6,000 people.