Broccolini plans next wave of development under new management

The construction of the tallest tower to be built in downtown Ottawa in 25 years. A deal to erect Windmill Development’s condo tower at the Christ Church Cathedral property on Sparks Street. The purchase of an entire block in the nation’s capital.

Montreal-based Broccolini Construction has accomplished a lot in the capital in recent years. So after breaking ground on a new condo and hotel project on Slater Street last month, it’s understandable that the firm would pause to answer the question: what’s next?

“The projects take an awful long time in the development business – the cycle’s long – so sometimes when they’re finishing, it seems so long ago that they got started,” said Bob Perkins, vice-president of real estate and development for Broccolini’s Ottawa operations.

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“So when there’s a new wave of new projects and a new person or a new perspective, it can breathe new life into a department.”

No one is closer to the leading edge of that change than Mr. Perkins, who started at the firm in December after a career with the Taggart Group and CB Richard Ellis. His predecessor, Derek Howe, left late last year to help the Windmill Development Group with its Domtar Lands project.

Now Mr. Perkins will be spearheading the company’s plans and seeing them through to the construction phase, while at the same time preparing to expand into new areas of business.

The company’s diversity in a number of areas is helping it thwart a downturn in any one part of its business, said Michael Beach, director of planning at Broccolini’s Ottawa office.

“It’s smart to diversify,” he said. “As the economy shifts up and down, you still have this volume.”

Take the developer’s plans in the residential market, for example. The fact that analysts from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. are forecasting a downturn in the condo market this year as existing units are sold off doesn’t worry Mr. Perkins.

“If we were purely a residential builder, maybe we would be more concerned,” he said. “But we … seem to have diversified what we’re working on now and I think that’s a philosophy that we’ll continue in the future.”

He said the company is also well-positioned in that area since its flagship condo unit at 199 Slater St. isn’t supposed to open until next year. That’s when sales of residential units are supposed to pick up again.

Broccolini is hoping to further diversify by expanding into the institutional market and building schools and hospitals, said Mr. Beach.

He said the company hasn’t yet developed any clients in the field but is optimistic it will be lucrative.

”It’s pretty much the last type of building that we don’t build,” said Mr. Beach, a hard hat on his head as he stood in the mud of the condo site at 199 Slater St. “It’s hard to get into but we’re going to give it a go.”

In the meantime, Broccolini will continue to focus on what Mr. Beach describes as one of its biggest projects: the plan to purchase an entire block of Ottawa’s downtown.

The company is currently in the process of completing the purchase of the Alterna Savings building at 400 Albert St., he said.

The company isn’t willing to give out too many details – Mr. Beach said he has “some pretty crazy ideas” that “would be front-page news” if he could talk about them – but he expects a mixed-use space featuring condos, a hotel and retail.

Sidebar: A selection of Broccolini’s projects

199 Slater St.

Broccolini is joining up with Montreal’s ALT Hotels to fill the space at a large new building currently under construction in the city’s downtown. The site will feature a 23-storey condominium that the company is marketing on its own and a 17-storey boutique hotel from ALT. The Slater has 75 per cent of its units sold, according to a company press release.

Alterna block

Alterna Savings announced in July of 2012 that it planned to sell its property at 400 Albert St. in the city’s downtown. The site currently features a three-storey, 54,000-square-foot office building.

Bass Pro Shops

The company announced in November it is partnering with Bass Pro Shops on a large new development across from the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata. Mr. Beach said the development, which will feature the U.S.-based outdoor retailer taking up 120,000 square feet as the anchor tenant, will also be expanded to include more retail and other mixed-use purposes.

Cathedral Hill

Broccolini is partnering with Windmill, which is building a 21-storey residential condominium and a 12-storey office building at the site of the Christ Church Cathedral property on Sparks Street.

Export Development Canada

Broccolini and Canderel won a contract to construct this 18-storey, 479,000-square-foot office tower at the corner of O’Connor and Slater streets in 2009 in return for a 20-year lease with Export Development Canada. The building was subsequently sold to Manulife Financial for $165.45 million in a deal that closed in early 2012.

(Source: OBJ archives)

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