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BGO buys 50% of Ottawa Sun Life building for $207.5M

A BentallGreenOak fund has acquired a 50 per cent stake in a prime piece of real estate in Ottawa...

IMAGE: The Sun Life Financial Centre, a 960,000-square-foot, class-A office complex in downtown Ottawa. (Google Street View)

The Sun Life Financial Centre, a 960,000-square-foot, class-A office complex in downtown Ottawa. (Google Street View)

A BentallGreenOak fund has acquired a 50 per cent stake in a prime piece of real estate in Ottawa’s downtown core which grants access to one of the city’s new LRT stations – The Sun Life Financial Centre.

At present, BentallGreenOak is releasing few details about the deal.

Rahim Ladha, its vice-president of corporate communications, did confirm to RENX this week via email a transaction which “involved BentallGreenOak (formerly Bentall Kennedy) on behalf of its Prime Canadian Property Fund acquiring a co-ownership position.”

Word of a deal first surfaced this week in Altus Group’s latest Commercial Investment Newsletter.

Registry documents associated with the property, obtained by RENX, confirm the transaction took place in April.

The BentallGreenOak-managed fund bought the 50 per cent stake in the property which had been owned by Alberta Investment Management Corp. (AIMCo). The other 50 per cent interest is owned by Sun Life Assurance Co.

The transaction is valued at approximately $207.5 million, making it one of the largest commercial real estate deals of the year in Ottawa.

BentallGreenOak is part of SLC Management, which is the institutional alternatives asset management business of Sun Life.

The Sun Life Financial Centre

The Sun Life Financial Centre is a 950,000-square-foot class-A office complex that has earned Platinum certifications for both LEED EB and BOMA Best. 

It consists of two towers joined by an atrium. The 15-storey tower at 99 Bank St. was built in 1977 and the 17-storey tower at 50 O’Connor St. was built in 1984. The Bank Street tower houses Ottawa’s venerable Rideau Club.

BentallGreenOak, a global real estate investment management advisor and real estate services provider, has also served as the property manager of the Sun Life Financial Centre.

TheBentallGreenOak fund’s decision to take an ownership stake in the property comes with the launch of Ottawa’s new light rail transit (LRT) system. The LRT opened to the public this past week after about 16 months of delays.

99 Bank/50 O’Connor is one of several marquee addresses in the downtown core which are entry points to the stations along the LRT’s downtown underground tunnel portion.

Up to 10,000 transit riders per hour are expected to pass through the property’s atrium, to the Parliament Station below, during peak periods.

$30M facelift for LRT

In preparation for this flood of foot traffic, the Sun Life Financial Centre in recent years underwent a $30-million facelift, which included a complete renovation of the atrium space and the addition of a European-style “food hall” called Queen St. Fare.

The property boasts a YMCA, conference centre, restaurants, retail shops and other service businesses.

David Pridham, director of leasing for the property, told the Ottawa Business Journal in 2015 the renovation served a two-fold purpose – to better manage the mass of people and to modernize the design to attract and retain tenants.

Last summer, Epic Investment Services, a property management and mortgage services company, announced it would “assume asset management responsibility on behalf of an institutional investor’s 50 per cent interest” in the property.

Epic did not respond to requests for information on the latest transaction.

In its July 2018 press release, Epic named a number of notable tenants of the Sun Life Financial Centre:  PwC Management Services, the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, House of Commons, law firms Dentons Canada and Nelligan O’Brien Payne, and the Business Council of Canada.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was edited shortly after publishing to add additional information provided by BentallGreenOak clarifying the involvement of the Prime Canadian Property Fund, and BGO’s history with the complex.

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