Land with space for 10,000 housing units near future Hard Rock casino hits market

Falcon Ridge Village
Avison Young says a 163-acre parcel of land near the future Hard Rock Hotel and Casino could accommodate up to 10,000 housing units. Image courtesy Avison Young
Editor's Note

The original version of this story incorrectly identified the architecture firm that designed the concept plan for Falcon Ridge Village. In fact, Hobin Architecture created the plan.

A 160-acre parcel of land steps away from the future Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in the city’s south end is for sale in a move that’s expected to generate significant interest from major property development firms.

Commercial real estate brokerage Avison Young, which is marketing the property, says it is the largest tract of development-ready land currently available in Ottawa.

“It really is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Avison Young vice-president Gillian Burnside told OBJ on Monday.  

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Dubbed Falcon Ridge Village, the 163.48-acre site on Earl Armstrong Road has been designated for residential and mixed-use development under the city’s Official Plan. Avison Young estimates the property can accommodate up to 8.5 million million square feet of residential and commercial development, including more than 10,000 residential units.

The land is located just south of the Bowesville LRT station, which will feature a park-and-ride facility with space for 800 vehicles and is slated to open next year as part of the Trillium line extension.  

East of the property is a 169-acre plot of land that is expected to be earmarked for employment and commercial uses. 

A few hundred metres farther east, the future Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is now under construction at the corner of Albion Road. The $350-million entertainment complex, which is expected to open in the summer of 2025, will include a six-storey, 150-room hotel as well as a 24-7 gaming floor, several bars and restaurants and an 1,800-seat live performance venue.

“There’s an even bigger play here in the future,” said Burnside. “When those future employment lands are ready to go, there will be a tie-in from the residential community to those future employment (lands) with the casino.”

Avison Young vice-president Ron Milligan said the site checks all the boxes for a “15-minute community” – so-called because it would offer a range of amenities within walking distance for residents. 

“We all know that there’s a shortage of residential land,” Milligan said. “Whichever developer purchases it, they’ve really got land that they’ll be able to develop over the next 15 to 20 years.”

A concept plan designed by Hobin Architecture on behalf of the property’s current owners calls for 16 per cent of the site to be set aside for parkland. 

Higher-density, multi-residential buildings would be located on the north side of the property closer to the LRT station, with midrise projects clustered in the middle of the site and single-family homes and other lower-density housing concentrated in the southern portion. The tentative blueprint also includes a school.

“They’ve really developed a concept plan that does work, but depending on which developer purchases the property, they may envision it a little bit differently,” said Milligan.

Avison Young says the land, which was purchased a couple of years ago by a group of local business people who wish to remain anonymous, should be ready for development in the next three to four years.

It’s coming on the market as demand for housing skyrockets and governments at all levels scramble to figure out how to get new homes built faster.

Measures such as Ontario’s Bill 23, which aims to freeze or reduce development charges for affordable housing units, and the federal government’s move to waive the GST on new rental construction projects should boost homebuilders’ appetite to develop large tracts of land such as the Falcon Ridge Village site, Burnside said.

“Obviously, there’s a great scale there,” she explained. “So it could be a (combination) of buyers bringing their efforts together with financing in the background. It could also be one major buyer that takes it on. One of the things that we hear in our initial discussions is people appreciate the scale. They see the opportunity.”

The marketing campaign officially began the same day the provincial government reversed its earlier expansion of Ottawa’s urban boundary after finding that processes used by the previous housing minister’s office did not meet the government’s standards.

The government’s about-face drew the ire of housing industry groups such as the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, which said it is “extremely disappointed” by the decision.

“The provincial government is asking Ottawa to build 151,000 new homes in the next decade. This is impeding its own housing objectives for increased housing supply, choice and balanced growth,” Jason Burggraaf, the association’s executive director, said in a statement. 

“This abrupt reversal significantly undermines our capacity to ensure an ample supply of diverse housing options.”

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