An Ottawa-based co-working company that made headlines for taking over a chunk of Shopify’s former downtown headquarters is expanding its footprint with a new location in Kanata.
TCC Canada recently opened a 30,000-square-foot facility on the fifth floor of 1000 Innovation Dr. in the heart of the Kanata North tech park. The new location replaces TCC’s previous Kanata digs, which were located in a smaller space just a few hundred metres west at 555 Legget Dr.
TCC owns and operates five co-working spaces in Ottawa and two in Vancouver. The company made a splash last year when it subleased several floors in Performance Court at 150 Elgin St. from e-commerce giant Shopify after the software firm vacated the downtown office tower following its shift to a remote-first work model during the pandemic.
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While Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke famously tweeted two years ago that “office centricity is over,” TCC president Sean Cochrane said he’s seeing a surge in demand for his company’s services from tenants that have downsized or completely ditched their own real estate footprints but still require meeting and collaboration space from time to time.
“We really seem to be in our age now, because I think what we offer has become more and more prevalent and appealing to pretty much anyone,” he told OBJ on Thursday.
“Whereas before, we were more in the smaller category with satellite offices and things like that, we’ve got big corporations now looking at us seriously because they don’t have a clue what to do with their space. They’ve either given it up or mandated that everybody work from home.”
TCC signed a 10-year lease at the building, which Montreal-based Mach purchased last year from Cominar REIT as part of a $1.5-billion acquisition of a portion of Cominar’s office and retail properties.
Tenants began moving into the space about a month ago, and about 60 per cent of its desks are now leased, Cochrane said. The client list includes heavy corporate hitters such as Dell and Westinghouse, and Cochrane said TCC is in the midst of finalizing a deal to lease up to 85 desks to one of the world’s biggest tech firms.
Meanwhile, TCC is also talking with Mach about taking over another floor in the 150,000-square-foot office complex, which was once home to software firm Entrust.
“We’re seeing a really big spike in activity,” Cochrane said. “It’s a great building (with) great infrastructure. It was very well-purposed for what we were looking for.”
TCC has made a “multimillion-dollar” investment in the facility, he noted. Among the high-tech bells and whistles is AI-powered software that digitally transcribes conversations and provides detailed meeting notes to participants.
“It’s really like having an assistant, but you don’t have to pay,” Cochrane said.
About 40 per cent of the facility is devoted to conference, collaboration and events space – four times more real estate than TCC has traditionally allocated for those uses, he added. The firm is bringing in guest speakers and live entertainers in a bid to entice workers to leave the comfort of their homes and return to the office – at least some of the time.
“The idea of forcing people into the office is not a good look, and it’s not effective,” Cochrane said. “We need to create reasons to go to the office instead of it being just a place you have to go to.”
TCC also hopes to expand its Kanata presence further at a second building that’s tentatively slated to be constructed next to the office at 1000 Innovation Dr. While that project is still on the drawing board, Cochrane said his firm is in advanced discussions with landlords in Montreal and Halifax about opening new locations of up to 30,000 square feet in those cities by the end of 2023.
TCC originally eyed a move into the Quebec and Nova Scotia markets a couple of years ago, but those plans were put on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis. Now, Cochrane says, more and more tenants are mulling a return to the office but are still unsure of what form that will ultimately take – providing a perfect opportunity for co-working spaces.
“We’ve had a bit of time to reflect now, and we’re definitely very confident about the future of our industry,” he said. “People are really looking at our model as an option because they don’t know what to do. For a lot of people, I think flexibility is one of the big (selling points).”
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