Despite slow sales, developer still believes in commercial condos

Interest in two commercial condo developments from local firm Huntington Properties is picking up after a slow start to sales, according to an executive with the company.

By Jacob Serebrin

The company received approval to begin the developments earlier this year, but more sales are required before construction can begin.

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Craig Whitten, Huntington’s leasing manager and a partner on the project, blames the slow start on a sluggish real estate market for a good deal of the year.

“In the commercial real estate market this summer, everything was slow,” said Mr. Whitten. “We’re getting more inquiries and having more meetings with potential customers.”

Suites at The Mark, a two-building development on Richardson Side Road in Kanata, are just over 1,000 square feet and priced between $307,515 and $319,485.

At The Profile, on Thurston Drive southeast of downtown, suites range in size from 1,054 square feet and 1,477 square feet. Prices there are between $302,955 and $435,715.

Mr. Whitten said he expects that construction will begin on The Mark as soon as the snow melts in the spring.

He said that four of the building’s 12 units have been sold so far. According to Mr. Whitten, Huntington needs to sell 65 per cent of the units in order to get financing for construction.

While none of the units in the Profile have yet been sold, Mr. Whitten said he expects construction on that building to also start in the spring, though slightly later than at The Mark.

He said that rising interest rates could encourage some people to take advantage of lower mortgage prices.

“Rates aren’t going to be this low again for a long time,” Mr. Whitten said.

Commercial condos aren’t for everyone, though, he said. While he said it’s ideal for a small professional to own their own office and build equity rather than paying rent, it’s not the best option for a startup.

“You have to know what size you’re going to be,” he said.

The suites are being targeted at professionals like dentists, lawyers, mortgage brokers, physiotherapists and accountants.

While commercial condos are popular in cities like Vancouver and Toronto, Mr. Whitten said “it hasn’t been done a lot in Ottawa.”

He said there are only two other commercial condo developments in Ottawa.

“It’s a new thing,” he said. “It’s a missed opportunity by developers and real estate investors.”

“It’s not a sexy as building a nice new big building,” said Mr. Whitten.

These developments can also be slower moving, he said. With The Mark and The Profile it’s been two years since design started.

“It takes some time and effort to get it to the point where you can market and promote,” he said.

Despite the slow start to it first two projects, Mr. Whitten said Huntington has two other commercial condo developments in the works.

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