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GWLRA ready to take its fourth Livmore, in Ottawa, to market

26-storey, 336-apartment Livmore Westboro development the fourth for the firm's upscale brand

The Livmore Westboro in Ottawa. (Courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
The Livmore Westboro in Ottawa. (Courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)

When GWL Realty Advisors brings its latest premium apartment building to the leasing market in Ottawa in the coming days, the 26-storey Livmore Westboro will be the result of a continuing evolution in the brand.

Livmore Westboro is located at the intersection of Scott and McRae streets in one of the most rapidly evolving areas of the National Capital Region. With its integrated tower, podium and low-rise townhome design, the property will deliver 336 housing units designed for a variety of demographics and family sizes.

According to GWL Realty Advisors’ vice-president of development Andrew Hollins and senior vice-president of residential Erica Penrose, the project will launch into a market ripe for new product. Vacancy is low across the city, all of the approximately 3,500 apartments delivered during 2023 were absorbed, and there is no “shadow market” to speak of due to high demand for rentals.

“We’re bullish on the lease-up just based on what the market demand is,” Penrose told RENX during a tour of the nearly completed property. She noted most of the multifamily stock in Ottawa is aging, so there is strong demand for well-located, amenity-rich new rental properties.

“Residents want to come up the quality curve and this building offers that,” she said.

Ottawa building the fourth Livmore property

Livmore Westboro will be the fourth Livmore to be delivered since the upscale brand was introduced in 2017. It follows two Livmore developments in Toronto (Bay and Gerrard, and High Park) and the first phase at Livmore Ville-Marie in Montreal.

The company is also developing Livmore buildings in Mississauga and Vancouver, and the Phase II tower in Montreal. 

While the theme of the properties is consistent, each is designed to reflect the city and neighbourhood in which it is located.

The Toronto and Montreal Livmore buildings are in the cores of two of Canada’s three largest cities. While Ottawa has just topped a million residents, the core is not yet a major residential area and the Westboro site is located just to the west of the downtown.

Penrose compared this site - which was acquired in 2019 - to the 185 Enfield Pl. site where GWLRA is developing Livmore Mississauga.

“It is outside the core but it still has good proximity,” she said, noting the future LRT station now under construction across the road from Livmore Westboro. “It is connected by transit, good transit that gets you the things that you want to be close to. I think that was one of the driving forces for the acquisition of this site.”

Westboro is also one of Ottawa’s most rapidly developing and trendy districts.

“It’s a vibrant community, it’s host to a lot of local boutiques, a lot of shops that are artisan, so being part of that was important to us,” Penrose said. “A lot of our decisions in how we select sites are 15-minute communities because we want to cater to a diverse demographic. It is making sure that demographic has the needs of their lifestyle. 

“Livmore means to live more; they are paying their rent but we will take of the rest.”

What Livmore Westboro offers

A library / lounge area is part of the seventh floor amenity package at Livmore Westboro. (Courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
A library / lounge area is part of the seventh-floor amenity package at Livmore Westboro. (Courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)

The Ottawa property includes: 56 studios averaging 481 square feet; 186 one-bedroom units averaging 597 square feet; 74 two-bedrooms at about 868 square feet; and seven three-bedrooms averaging 1,153 square feet. There are eight two-bedroom townhomes averaging 1,206 square feet and three three-bedroom townhomes averaging 1,848 square feet.

Rents range from $1,640 for a studio suite to $4,930 for a three-bedroom townhome.

The target demographics include empty nesters, downsizers and young professionals, including those with families. Penrose said the first of almost two dozen people to commit as tenants – even prior to the formal marketing campaign - is a resident of an adjacent street who is downsizing.

The property includes 9,052 square feet of ground-floor retail, an expansive main lobby and a small park. In keeping with the brand, the amenity suite is extensive and is incorporated on the seventh floor to separate the high-traffic areas from residential units and provide sweeping views of the city and across the Ottawa River to neighbouring Gatineau.

“We do try to keep those amenities separated away from where people are living,” Holllins noted. “Where possible, we do try to avoid having a floor that is part amenity and part residential units. It is not always able to be done, but this building worked.”

Penrose said the amenity level is a highlight of the building.

“You can be proud to bring family and friends and yourself into that area. They are spectacular, they are well-designed, they are generous,” she said.

The floor accommodates a fitness centre, yoga room, co-working space, media room, lounge, games area, outdoor terrace with barbecues and social spaces, dog run and spa and a walking path around the tower.

There is also a bike storage and maintenance room, with separate entrance, at ground level.

Penrose said this type of amenity package is a key reason the Livmore brand targets buildings of at least 300 apartments. “Economies of scale” allow GWLRA to provide that level of amenity at a price point accessible to many potential renters.

GWL Realty Advisors' multiresidential strategy

The firm also wants to strategically position Livmore properties among its other multifamily developments.

While GWL Realty Advisors intends to continue growing the Livmore brand, both Hollins and Penrose said the firm is very cognizant of the need to develop housing at all price points to alleviate current shortages. To this end, it continues to develop multifamily projects for a variety of demographics in major Canadian markets.

“We’d like to be able to have that multiple offering,” Hollins explained, noting it allows tenants who experience changing life situations to potentially find accommodation in other GWL Realty Advisors' properties. “That’s something we have always had in our commercial and it’s kind of taking shape in the residential.

"You can’t just do (the) Livmore brand and just cater to one band (of potential buyers), there needs to be a balance.”

Livmore is also designed as a sustainable banner - with Ottawa Westboro targeting LEED Silver certification. The building incorporates a heat pump system, low-flow water fixtures, low energy lighting, a recycling program for residents and other sustainability features.

During construction, materials were sourced locally wherever possible, including the heat pumps manufactured by a Toronto-area firm.

It also includes an expansive technology package, available in each suite for the residents to control their own comfort settings.

The technology also allows building management to monitor key systems to maximize efficiencies and ensure “we are running in that 95 to 98 per cent efficiency threshold,” Hollins said.

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