Montreal developer plans first foray into Ontario with National Capital Region highrises

Gatineau highrise
Gatineau highrise

A Montreal-based developer is launching its bid to expand beyond Quebec’s borders with ambitious plans to spend more than $300 million on a trio of rental apartment and mixed-use projects in the National Capital Region.

Selection Group announced this week it expects to build more than 1,000 rental suites at three sites in Ottawa and Gatineau over the next two years. The two Ottawa projects ​– a pair of retirement residences in Orl​éans and a mixed-use joint venture with SmartCentres REIT at the corner of Clyde Avenue and Baseline Road ​– will be the company’s first foray into the Ontario market.

Rudy Hanel, Selection Group’s director of development for Ontario, said Ottawa’s large francophone population, high percentage of seniors living in retirement residences and proximity to Montreal all work in its favour.

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“For a group expanding outside of Quebec, it’s a logical step,” he told OBJ. “It’s easier to tackle this market.”

The company’s marquee project in the capital will be two residential towers on the northeast corner of Clyde and Baseline. A 15-storey highrise will feature 230 units targeted at seniors, with amenities that include optional meal plans and assisted living facilities in 28 units. The other building, a 13-storey tower with 180 rental suites, will be aimed at empty-nesters who are looking to downsize and other “mature” tenants, Hanel said. 

The two buildings will rise above a two-level podium that will include shared common facilities and roughly 7,000 square feet of retail space. There will be three levels of underground parking at the site. 

Selection Group has a 50 per cent stake in the $150-million development, with SmartCentres holding the other half. The southern Ontario-based REIT already owns a strip mall on the property anchored by Walmart, and CEO Peter Forde said in a statement the project is part of the firm’s “overall strategic plan” to add mixed-use developments to its retail properties across Ontario.

Noting the growing trend toward combining retail and residential complexes, Hanel called the new partnership with SmartCentres a “great opportunity” for both companies. 

“It’s a very attractive way to grow,” he said, adding the developers plan to file a site plan application with city in the next couple of months. Hanel said the property is already zoned for mixed-use development, and the companies hope to begin construction on the project early next year.

Demand in east-end rental market

Selection Group also announced upcoming projects in Orl​éans and Gatineau this week.

The $120-million Orl​éans development will feature a pair of rental buildings – a 10-floor, 255-suite highrise targeted at seniors and empty-nesters and a smaller building with 100 units aimed at a variety of tenants. The company hopes the complex near the corner of Innes and Mer Bleue roads will be ready for occupancy within the next 18 months.

Selection Group spokeswoman Mylene Dupere said city officials told the company there is a “real need” for more rental housing in Ottawa’s east end, adding the Orl​éans market is a “good fit” for the firm due to the area’s large number of French-speaking residents.

Finally, the company said this week it is launching a $113-million development on the other side of the Ottawa River in Gatineau.

The firm’s proposal for 245 Boulevard du Plateau includes two towers of nine and eleven stories with more a total of more than 300 rental units. At least one of the buildings will be aimed at retirees, Dupere said, with the first phase expected to open in the fall of 2020.

Founded 30 years ago, Selection Group has more than 50 housing complexes built or in the works, mostly in Quebec and some south of the border. The company’s focus on the retirement rental market has paid off with rapid growth as the population ages, Dupere said, noting its revenues have risen 300 per cent in the last three years.

The Laval-based firm now employs more than 5,000 people and recently invested in a partnership to redevelop the site of the historic Molson Brewery on Montreal’s waterfront. With Ottawa opening the door to the Ontario market, the company is “looking aggressively” at expanding into the Greater Toronto Area and other major Canadian centres, Hanel said.

“We’ve been talking a lot about doing business in Ontario and the rest of the country,” Dupere added. “It’s really exciting for us.”

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