Ex-Windmill partner George to lead Colonnade BridgePort's GTA expansion effort

Justin George
Justin George joins Colonnade BridgePort after six years as a partner at Windmill Development Group. Photo courtesy Colonnade BridgePort

Ottawa’s largest commercial property manager is turning to a veteran of the green building movement to scale up its development pipeline in the National Capital Region and accelerate its expansion in southern Ontario.

Colonnade BridgePort announced Thursday it’s hired Justin George to fill the newly created role of senior vice-president and head of development. 

The 38-year-old native of Surrey, England, spent the past six years as a partner at Windmill Development Group. George was a key player at Windmill, where he helped plan the early stages of the Zibi mixed-use waterfront community on the Ottawa River and spearheaded the firm’s award-winning boutique condo development, the Plant, in downtown Toronto.

George, who moved to Ottawa in 2010, previously held project management, consulting and senior leadership roles with various engineering and development firms in Canada and the United Kingdom, including WSP.

He’ll now be responsible for overseeing more than $1 billion in upcoming development projects on the books at Colonnade BridgePort. 

The locally owned firm was founded in 1985 and is best-known for managing more than six million square feet of commercial property in the capital, including Holland Cross and the Orleans Town Centre. 

"It’s a pivotal time for the company."

But Colonnade says it’s poised to enter a “new phase of growth” that includes a range of industrial, office, retail and residential projects. George said leading the effort to get all those developments off the ground was too good an opportunity to pass up.

“It’s a pivotal time for the company,” he said, noting Colonnade’s focus on transit-oriented development fits hand-in-glove with his skillset. 

George points to a series of multi-residential projects Colonnade is planning for the Scott Street corridor near the future Westboro LRT station as an example of how he hopes to bring his experience from Windmill to bear in his new job.  

George said he’s hoping to incorporate some aspects of Toronto’s Plant condo complex into Colonnade’s future builds, including an emphasis on family-sized units with large balconies and amenities such as a spacious chef’s kitchen for residents that replaced the typical party room found in most such developments.

“There was thought that went into the programming,” he said, adding his goal is to create buildings that are “inspiring and not just towers that people see when they drive around.”

GTA expansion plans

With developers facing growing public pressure to make housing and office space more environmentally friendly, George said he aims to step up the use of technology to better track energy consumption in Colonnade’s existing portfolio and come up with strategies to reduce the firm’s carbon footprint.

In addition, George – who also played a major role in planning Windmill’s 500,000-square-foot mixed-use development in downtown Guelph – hopes to boost Colonnade’s ambitious expansion plans for southern Ontario. 

The firm already has a number of projects on the go in the Greater Toronto Area, where it maintains an office in Mississauga. While the sky appears to be the limit when it comes to commercial development in Canada’s largest urban centre, George cautions that Colonnade needs to be smart with its capital as it builds out its portfolio in a saturated market.

“We’ve got a solid client base across Ontario,” he said. “The ability to work with those clients on development opportunities in the GTA market is something that we’re quite bullish on. It’s just making sure we find the right opportunities. It’s a great market, but it’s also a very competitive one.”