Ottawa firm floats 1M-square-foot business park in southeast Ottawa

Business park
An illustration from the development application for the National Capital Business Park.

With the region’s stock of available industrial real estate near an all-time low, an Ottawa company says it wants to build more than one million square feet of office, warehouse and industrial space on 100 acres of federal land near the corner of Hunt Club Road and Hwy. 417.

In a development application recently filed at City Hall, local real estate investment firm Avenue31 says it has submitted a proposal to the National Capital Commission to turn NCC-owned property at 4120 and 4055 Russell Rd. into what it calls “a premier business and industrial park.” The company is seeking a 99-year lease from the federal agency to develop the property, which is located just west of the Hunt Club-Hwy. 417 interchange in the Hawthorne-Stevenage Industrial Park. 

Dubbed the National Capital Business Park, the proposed development would contain six buildings in various sizes and configurations.

The largest structure, a warehouse covering nearly 700,000 square feet, would be located north of Russell Road on the northwest corner of the property. Five additional buildings ranging from 88,000 square feet to about 110,000 square feet would be situated south of Russell Road  “to suit the growing needs of the region’s logistics and industrial users.” 

Referring to the property as “one of the only sites of its size in all of the National Capital Region capable of responding to a large logistics and warehouse user,” the developers say the site’s location near major transportation routes would make it a prime hub for companies looking to distribute goods. 

“Logistics users recognize great value in time savings to get to and from the highway interchange as a result of direct access to a proposed signalized intersection on Hunt Club Road,” the application says.

Avenue31 did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday. An NCC spokesperson said the agency went through the “standard real estate solicitation process” to find potential tenants for the property, but said he could not provide any more details.

‘More Amazons’

A veteran commercial real estate executive said the proposal could be good news for a local industrial sector that had an availability rate of less than three per cent at the end of 2019, a near-record low.

“I think it’s a marvelous opportunity to have some really prime industrial land for large-block users in the city,” said Shawn Hamilton, managing director of CBRE’s Ottawa office.

Little inventory has been added to the city’s industrial stock in the last two decades, largely due to a lack of development-ready land, Hamilton said. But Ottawa’s location just a few hours’ drive from both the Greater Toronto Area and Montreal is drawing the attention of more and more e-commerce companies looking to satisfy growing consumer demand for same-day deliveries to Canada’s two largest urban centres, he said. 

Broccolini’s one-million-square-foot warehouse development for Amazon on Boundary Road put the Ottawa region on the map as a distribution hub, Hamilton said. Since then, the Montreal-based builder has proposed another 700,000-square-foot warehouse for North Gower, a project that’s now under review from the province’s Local Appeal Planning Tribunal after it was approved by council last December.    

“People are realizing that we’re really in a sweet spot,” Hamilton said. “We looked at Amazon as almost a fluke. The reality is I don’t think it’s a fluke, and I think more are going to come. We will see more Amazons.”

In its development application, Avenue31 stresses that the plans are still in the preliminary stage, adding the final proposal may change based on market conditions, the needs of prospective tenants and federal, provincial and municipal requirements. 

The proposal’s site plan requires the approval of both the NCC and the city, while the province must sign off on various aspects of the proposal such as stormwater management. The company says it will begin targeting potential tenants once the proposal gets to the site plan approval stage at City Hall.

According to a timeline in the development application, Avenue31 hopes to receive the necessary site plan approvals by the end of this year and start construction early in 2021, with the first buildings ready for occupancy by the end of that year.