Avison Young in Ottawa
Avison Young’s Ottawa office opened in April 2008 and is now one of the larger Commercial Brokerages in the region. As part of a lean, streamlined team of professional and support staff, its brokers focus on tenant representation, small investment-sale mandates and development land acquisition and dispositions. This National Capital Region office continually works on assignments for some of Canada’s leading professional services firms, and oversees leasing mandates across the country.
As Canada’s capital city, greater Ottawa boasts a population of 1.3 million residents straddling the Ontario/Quebec border on the banks of the Ottawa and Rideau rivers. The fifth largest metropolitan area in the country, its major employer is the federal government, followed closely by its advanced technology sector boasting over 1,500 companies. Dubbed “Silicon Valley North,” world leaders include companies such as Shopify, Apple, QNX and a growing number of bio-technology and world-class medical research concerns, fueled by six major hospitals in the region.
Supporting its technology base, Ottawa is home to four post-secondary institutions and is considered to be the most bilingual major city in the country. Due to the stable nature of the Federal Government as an employer, Ottawa typically posts low unemployment and a very stable local economy. Growing employment diversity, including tourism, as well as proximity to Montreal and Toronto make Ottawa a quality-of-life choice for a growing number of professional and business services employers.
Due to the strong presence of the federal government, Ottawa’s 46 million square feet of office space boasts one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country. The mix of office product in the capital city is dominated by institutional investors who typically prefer Class “A” and Class “B” product. Outside of government, office tenancies tend to be smaller than most other economic centres, with tenancies averaging 5,500 square feet across the region. Larger tenancies tend to be based in the core, while the advanced and biotechnology sectors tend to gravitate to the west end Kanata market – know in Canada as “Silicon Valley North.”
With a well-educated, bilingual workforce, very low unemployment relative to the rest of the country, and what is considered by many as the most affordable large city in which to live, Ottawa’s retail sector has witnessed steady growth over several decades. American retailers have discovered this region, as many of the urban developments that have sprung up during the recent housing boom are now being serviced by retail centres with an increasing variety of new shopping concepts. As the region is still under-serviced on a per-capita basis, retail developers continue to see excellent returns on their development projects.
Ottawa’s industrial market can be characterized as small but well suited for its purposes. Located 60 kilometres from the Highway 401 transportation corridor, Ottawa is very much at the end of a spoke on many of the hub-and-spoke distribution centres that dot the route. With the west island of Montreal a short 200 kilometres away and the U.S. border 60 kilometres from the city limits, major distribution facilities are absent from the product mix in the region. Most new industrial product can be broken down into 5,000-square-foot bays and, in keeping with the service nature of industrial tenancies that dominate the tenant rolls in the region, many properties feature an office component.
Ottawa’s stable workforce and low vacancy rates in both office and multi-residential investment grade assets have created a very desirable investment climate for both offshore and domestic investors. Multi-residential properties never make it to the open market as multiple bidders present offers in what turn into private auctions for well-connected, dominant players. Trophy office assets and the occasional good-quality industrial property that make it to market also attract multiple bids. Steady and consistent, albeit not spectacular, rates of return are hallmarks of the Ottawa investment market. Consequently, Ottawa provides something that many investors are looking for – a safe place in which to invest capital.