Is this quarter-billion deal the priciest residential real estate deal in Ottawa history?

“It’s extremely rare you would see something of this scale and quality ever surface in a market like Ottawa, which is pretty tightly controlled"
island park apartment buildings
The buildings off Island Park contain 642 suites and two commercial units.

A three-building rental apartment complex in Westboro has sold for $267-million in what is likely the largest residential real estate transaction in Ottawa history.

Homestead Land Holdings purchased Island Park Towers at 185, 195 and 200 Clearview Ave., just west of Island Park Drive, in a deal that closed last week. CBRE, which helped broker the sale, said the previous owner was a private developer from Montreal that had owned the buildings for more than a decade. 

According to LinkedIn, the previous property manager was Montreal-based Acmon Inc.

Nico Zentil, senior vice-president of capital markets at CBRE’s Ottawa office, said a residential transaction of that size in the city is unprecedented.

“It’s extremely rare you would see something of this scale and quality ever surface in a market like Ottawa, which is pretty tightly controlled,” he told OBJ. 

The buildings contain 642 suites and two commercial units. According to Homestead’s website, the apartments are being upgraded with new cabinetry and stone countertops as well as new appliances, lighting and flooring.

The Kingston-based company already owns and manages two dozen properties in the National Capital Region and recently filed an application to construct a 25-storey apartment tower with 235 units near Baseline and Greenbank roads. 

Homestead did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. 

Zentil said CBRE’s Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal offices started marketing Island Park Towers in May. He said the properties were “hotly pursued” and attracted multiple bidders, calling the price “a testament to the strength of the Ottawa residential market right now.”

While Ottawa’s rental vacancy rate more than doubled to 3.9 per cent last year as a flood of new units came online at the same time as the city’s population of students and new immigrants – groups that typically rent rather than buy – plummeted in the wake of the pandemic, Zentil predicts the market will bounce back quickly.

“The appetite for large Ottawa multi-res deals seems to be pretty consistent,” he said, adding that institutional investors tend to view the city as a “safe haven” for capital due to its steady economy and comparatively large student population. 

Zentil said the volume of commercial deals in the capital is also starting to pick up as confidence in the economy slowly rebuilds. 

“We’ve had a bit of a sleeper year,” Zentil said. “I think that by the end of 2021, we’re all going to be pleasantly surprised at the level of investment volume that we’ll see in this city.”