One of Ottawa’s largest developers and property managers says the launch of light rail has the potential to breathe new life into an often overlooked corner of the city’s office market.
The office vacancy rate in Ottawa’s east end stood at 19.6 per cent at the end of the second quarter – more than double the citywide rate of 9.8 per cent, according to data from real estate services firm CBRE.
However, with development land and existing buildings in close proximity to several east-end light-rail stations – namely Tremblay, St. Laurent and Blair – some say government and private-sector tenants could soon be giving the area a closer look.
“(LRT) is going to be a boon for the east end,” said Brent Arseneau, leasing manager at Colonnade Bridgeport. The firm’s portfolio includes the six-storey office building at 250 Tremblay Rd., adjacent to both the Via Rail and new LRT stations.
Speaking on the Ottawa Real Estate Show, Arseneau predicted that more tenants will start to take note of the east end’s lower rental rates once it’s connected by rail to downtown. He argues that LRT will also increase the area’s appeal for organizations with a younger, urban-dwelling workforce that can offer staff a light-rail commute of less than 10 minutes from downtown.
While its portfolio stretches across the city, Colonnade Bridgeport is investing heavily in projects located near both the first phase and planned expansion of Ottawa’s light-rail line. One example is the recently completed Westboro Connection mixed-use project on McRae Avenue, which features residential rental units, office space leased by tenants including Pythian and ground-level retail anchored by Farm Boy. A second phase is planned around the corner on the site of the former Trailhead Paddle Shack at 1960 Scott St.
“We've got spots all along the rail line,” Arseneau said. “Colonnade Bridgeport is really a transit-driven development opportunity company right now.”