New rink to add value to Accora Village: Ferguslea

A new outdoor rink at Bayshore Park might mean more fun for residents, but the company that funded the project says it will ultimately be good for its bottom line as well.

The Ottawa Senators Foundation unveiled the facility last week as part of its Sens RINK (Recreational Investments in Neighbourhoods for Kids) initiative to build 20 outdoor rinks in the region. The rink will be used year-round, with basketball nets replacing hockey nets in summer.

The rink will be managed by the City of Ottawa, but the $160,000 price tag was covered by Ferguslea Properties, a local firm that owns nearby Accora Village, a large set of rental properties. The company is also contributing $90,000 toward a city project to revamp nearby Bayshore Park by adding a new all-purpose field, entertainment stage and walking paths.

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“We see the Sens rink and the revitalization of Bayshore Park as just a really, good solid business opportunity for us to add more value for the residents that live here in Accora Village,” said Steve Ryan, Ferguslea’s vice-president of asset management.

Three years ago, Ferguslea announced it was putting $40 million into upgrading the residential community over a 10-year period. Among the improvements are several “green living” projects, including a ground-source heat pump in one of the high-rises that reduces the need for natural gas heating.

The area, which was built by Minto between 1962 and 1975, is home to about 7,000 residents who live in nearly 2,500 apartments and townhomes and 1,000 garden homes. Ferguslea has owned the properties near the Bayshore Shopping Centre since 1997.

The new rink and park project probably won’t directly impact rental rates at the site, Mr. Ryan said. But he thinks they might help attract new residents to Accora Village, which currently has a vacancy rate of between three and four per cent.

“As we invest in our buildings, certainly our rents will be adjusted as well,” Mr. Ryan said.

Rent for a two-bedroom apartment at Accora Village starts at $1,178, slightly higher than the overall Ottawa average of $1,136 reported by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation in its latest survey.

Ottawa’s citywide vacancy rate of 3.2 per cent in April was 0.5 percentage points lower than the same month a year earlier, according to CMHC, but still above the national rate of 2.7 per cent.

Mr. Ryan said the local rental market is not as robust as many property owners would hope.

“I think the market is steady,” he said. “Is it as strong as we’d like it to be? Not necessarily.”

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