The federal government is seeking a developer to design, build and manage a 1.6-million-square-foot office and mixed-use development to house up to 8,000 workers in East Ottawa.
The site, at the corner of St. Laurent Boulevard. and Tremblay Road, is just a kilometre down Tremblay Road from a five-acre mixed-use redevelopment site which has just been purchased by two private developers. It is also directly across Highway 417 from the St. Laurent Shopping Centre, a Morguard-owned property which company CEO Rai Sahi had mused to RENX in 2019 could be the site of Ottawa’s next major office complex.
“The vision for the parcel is to become a transit-oriented mixed-use community with office, commercial, retail and residential areas and to actively support a strong modal split that favours transit and other non-fossil fueled means of transport to and from the campus,” reads a Request for Qualifications issued April 16 by Public Works Canada (PWGSC).
It identifies the site as 599 Tremblay Rd. The property, which is currently undeveloped, is about eight acres. It was purchased as part of a 26.4-acre plot in 2009 from Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation adjacent to the highway corridor.
The 599 Tremblay proposal
The property would be developed on a 25-year land lease arrangement, with ownership of all structures reverting to the federal government at the end of the term. The government would retain ownership of the land.
The RFQ calls for the creation of a campus-style development which would also include “special-purpose space in multiple buildings as well as associated supporting infrastructure requirements including site parking.”
It also calls for enclosed walkways to connect buildings on the site and notes there is provision for an additional pedestrian overpass to link it with an LRT station and the mall across the highway.
The project must be “highly sustainable,” meeting the requirements of the Greening Government Strategy. This means all buildings would have to be constructed to net-zero carbon standards.
The RFQ calls for construction to begin as early as 2022, with occupancy to occur in phases as early as 2025 or 2026.
“Two client organizations are currently being considered to move to this new location,” the RFQ states, though it does not identify the agencies.
They would require about 1.34 million square feet of the space, leaving about 260,000 square feet for “generic portfolio space.”
Access to additional office space will be important for the feds in coming years as they vacate large swathes of existing space in Ottawa and neighbouring Gatineau to make major repairs and upgrades to their aging real estate portfolio.
This means swing space will remain in demand for an extended period.
East Ottawa potential new office site
The location of the project places it along both the highway corridor and within a few hundred metres of the St. Laurent LRT station, which is situated at the shopping centre.
This also meets government accessibility guidelines for its facilities, which are to be located (where possible) close to major transit hubs.
The LRT station, which opened in the fall of 2019, left Sahi considering the possibility of building office space in some of the excess parking lot space which is available at the mall.
“We are looking at St. Laurent Shopping Centre,” Sahi told RENX during a 2019 interview in Ottawa. “We have some excess land there.”
He suggested several options, including office space, multiresidential or perhaps a hotel.
“Major development opportunity at St. Laurent is our focus,” Sahi said, noting the LRT station is just a half-dozen stops from Parliament Hill. “With the train being there, St. Laurent is really just part of downtown.”
In addition to the transportation networks and shopping mall, 599 Tremblay is walking distance from the 110-acre Trainyards shopping district.
Another major proposed development
It is adjacent to Eastway Gardens, a low-density residential area which features detached and semi-detached housing, townhomes and some small apartment buildings. That community, however, could soon be bracketed by two major developments.
Ottawa’s Colonnade Bridgeport and its Toronto-based partner Fiera Real Estate just purchased a five-acre redevelopment site at the other end of Tremblay Road, just over a kilometre away. They plan a mixed-use, multiresidential-anchored development of up to 2.3 million square feet of density on that property.
The area is already zoned for what Colonnade Bridgeport director of development called “trends-oriented development,” allowing a wide range of uses as the city encourages densification inside its “green belt” to alleviate urban sprawl.
An existing preliminary development plan for the 599 Tremblay site shows a new residential district which would buffer the office project from the existing Eastway Gardens community.
The RFQ calls for applicants to express their interest no later than July 15. The feds are hosting an information session via webcast on May 7.