This article is sponsored by the Westboro Village BIA.
As Ottawa businesses reimagine how they make the most of their workplaces, many local firms are taking a closer look at commercial space in some of the city’s central neighbourhoods.
The second and third-floor spaces above the restaurants and retail shops on and around Richmond Road in Westboro – as well as several recently constructed mixed-use buildings – are leveraged by entrepreneurs, professional service providers and startups looking for flexible and easily accessible workspace, surrounded by amenities.
They include accounting firm GGFL, rapidly growing tech company Pythian and marketing agency KarmaDharma, which recently vacated its old Richmond Road office in favour of larger space that it could share with a website development company.
Neither company imagined their search for a larger office – which included visits to spaces in downtown Ottawa – would lead them just a few hundred metres down the street.
But it quickly became clear that the amenities the company had grown to love in Westboro Village just couldn’t be matched elsewhere, says Peter Georgariou, CEO and founder of KarmaDharma.
Not wanting to leave behind the close-knit community and direct retail access, the team packed up the office and traveled just minutes away, taking over a larger space on the second level of 346 Richmond Rd.
“Our team loves Westboro, and the space we found was such a better fit for us than anything else we viewed,” he says. “For staff to be able to go out for a walk at lunch, grab food from a local cafe or pick up groceries on the way home is a huge bonus.”
For Georgariou and his team, who have now fully moved into their new space, the opportunity to stay and work in Westboro is an option both they – and their customers – are celebrating.
“We inevitably always hear from our clients that they love coming down to see us because they love the neighbourhood and poking around the shops,” says Georgariou. “Being here is definitely a win-win scenario for everyone.”
Westboro Village offers professionals the best of both worlds: an urban vibe, but without the traffic and transit congestion of downtown.
“Some businesses are starting to shy away from the big glass towers, where you don’t know your neighbour and have long waits for the elevator,” says Rick Eisert, a broker at Royal LePage Team Realty. “We have smaller buildings, parking and even e-scooters now, so getting to Westboro and moving around isn’t an issue.”
Accessing Westboro Village will become even easier in the coming years when construction of two new light-rail stations – Westboro and Dominion – are complete. For motorists, the community is easily accessible from all corners of the city via Highway 417, the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and the Champlain Bridge. And cyclists have smooth commutes on the multiuse pathways that run along Byron Avenue and the Ottawa River.
But it’s not just a shorter and more pleasant commute that gives Westboro-based employees a better work-life balance.
The neighbourhood is home to a highly diverse mix of food retailers, grocery stores, pharmacies, gyms and salons that makes it easy to squeeze in a haircut or workout, or pick up food for dinner, into a busy workday.
“There’s so much to offer your staff,” says Judy Lincoln, executive director of the Westboro Village BIA. “They can access so many amenities without having to leave the neighbourhood.”
She adds that Westboro’s unique character, combined with the high number of locally owned and managed businesses, gives Westboro the feeling of a close-knit community that’s not always seen in other areas of the city.
It’s a sentiment Georgariou says he also feels when he’s visiting retailers and other companies in Westboro.
"From one business owner to another, it's nice to get to meet the person you're supporting," he says. "They need our business, but we also need them."