The three-building Carling Executive Centre at 1525, 1545 and 1565 Carling Ave. near Churchill Avenue was put on the block earlier this month and is already generating buzz in the investment community, said Graeme Webster, a partner at Koble Commercial Realty who is marketing the property.Just weeks after Corel’s former headquarters was put up for sale, another marquee Carling Avenue office property is now on the market. The three-building Carling Executive Centre at 1525, 1545 and 1565 Carling Ave. near Churchill Avenue was put on the block earlier this month and is already generating buzz in the investment community, said Graeme Webster, a partner at Koble Commercial Realty who is one of the advisers marketing the property. “It’s a prominent building that virtually every Ottawa native knows,” Webster told OBJ on Wednesday. “It’s really the only class-A campus-style building in the west end. We’re week two into the marketing of it, and we’ve seen a lot of local interest. I think it’s going to be a good mix (of potential buyers). You never know who’s going to step up.” Toronto-based Crown Realty Partners acquired the 291,000-square-foot office campus from Vancouver’s QuadReal Property Group in 2019 for $56.5 million. It was Crown’s first foray into the Ottawa market, and the company has since pumped $2.3 million into upgrading the property with amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness facility and a restaurant. The investment has paid off. While the complex was about one-quarter empty when Crown took over four years ago, the buildings now have an occupancy rate of 93 per cent with a weighted average lease term of five years. Since March 2020, Crown has completed 22 leasing transactions in the buildings, covering more than 106,000 square feet of space. “This is a prestigious office,” said Scott Watson, the firm’s managing partner of leasing and acquisitions. “We thought (with) our skillset and what we do with assets … we could definitely add value here beyond where it was and take it to the next level.” Built between 1982 and 1985, the Carling Executive Centre now has 47 tenants, all of which are in the private sector. They include financial services providers such as Investors Group and MD Management, law firm Low Murchison Radnoff LLP and up-and-coming tech startup TryCycle Data Systems, which made OBJ’s list of fastest-growing companies earlier this year. “We’ve had great success in attracting tenants,” Watson said. “It’s a great mix.” Crown Realty acquired the buildings on behalf of its fourth value-add fund, which was established in 2017 and raised more than $234 million in capital. The firm continually recycles properties as part of its mandate to upgrade assets and boost their cash flow in a bid to deliver solid returns to investors. In this case, Watson said, it’s mission accomplished, and now it’s time for Crown to make good on the original investment. “It’s a natural life cycle,” he explained. “Through very tough waters, this (acquisition) has stayed on plan for the last four years. It’s ready to go to the next group.” Founded in 2001, Crown Realty manages more than 10 million square feet of office space in Ontario. The company now owns or manages seven properties in the region. Its other local holdings include the four-building Park of Commerce on Blair Road, which it purchased in early 2022, and a share of Place de Ville, which it acquired on behalf of Toronto’s Crestpoint Real Estate Investments and New Brunswick-based investment management firm Vestcor in late 2021. While conceding the market has been “a little mixed the last 12 to 18 months,” Watson said Crown Realty remains bullish on Ottawa, adding the firm is closing in on another acquisition that is expected to be finalized shortly. “We will continue to invest in Ottawa,” he said. “It’s been a great market.” Webster said as investors seek safe harbour in stable markets like Ottawa, offerings like the Carling Executive Centre stand out. “These assets tend to do well – they’re very resilient in perceived challenging times,” he said. “We believe it’s going to appeal to a lot of investors, and we’re excited about it.”
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