City making space for Ottawa Tourism at 150 Elgin

The organization responsible for driving tourists to the capital is set to become a tenant at one of the premier new office buildings in Ottawa’s downtown.

Councillors on the City of Ottawa’s finance and economic development committee voted Tuesday to allow Ottawa Tourism to move into the building at 150 Elgin St.

The body would be taking over space the building’s owner, Morguard, set aside for the municipality when it purchased the property from the city in 2004.

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The agreement between the city and Morguard initially called for 7,604 square feet of “public benefit space” to be set aside for a concert hall for the Ottawa Chamber Music Society.

In 2011 the two sides agreed that the building would be constructed without the concert hall. Morguard, however, would still have to provide a similar amount of space that provided some kind of benefit to the city.

City staff recommended that space instead be used as offices for Ottawa Tourism.

“Such an arrangement would allow Ottawa Tourism to have the benefit of this new Class ‘A’ office space and location without any significant increase to its current operational budget,” the report reads.

A city staff report on the subject said Ottawa Tourism, which currently has its offices in the Varette Building at 130 Albert St., would be an ideal candidate for taking over 6,500 square feet of space on the building’s 14th floor.

That’s because the high-quality building – it will have views of the Rideau Canal and access to a rooftop garden – would better allow the organization to pursue its mandate of bringing tourists to the capital.

The staff recommendation is conditional on the City of Ottawa managing to negotiate a 10-year lease deal at market rates.

Staff believe the lease rate should be reduced by Morguard’s tenant allowance to Ottawa Tourism of $1.3 million to account for the “public benefit space” the city was supposed to receive when it sold the property in 2004.

The staff report on the subject also contains some new details about the tenants who are set to move into the building.

An embassy is set to move in on the 14th floor alongside Ottawa Tourism, the report reads.

It also said that the city wanted to move Ottawa Tourism into the building’s seventh floor, but that Morguard was “pursuing a major tenant that would occupy all the space on floors 6 to 13” so this wasn’t possible.

The Canada Council for the Arts and KPMG are the only tenants Morguard has confirmed so far. However, CIBC was also listed in documents filed with the city.

Morguard said it plans to have the building fully leased by 2014.

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