Real Estate News Exchange (RENX)
c/o Squall Inc.
P.O. Box 1484, Stn. B
Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5P6
Canada: 1-855-569-6300

Regional Group buys iconic 3-tower Ottawa office property

183,000-sq.-ft. former Corel HQ known for distinctive gold glass outer shell

The former Corel building at 1600 Carling Ave., in Ottawa, now known as the Churchill Office Centre. (Courtesy Regional Group)
The former Corel building, at 1600 Carling Ave., in Ottawa, now known as the Churchill Office Park. (Courtesy Regional Group)

One of Ottawa’s most distinctive office properties is back under local ownership, with Regional Group announcing Friday afternoon it has acquired the visually striking gold-hued Churchill Office Park at 1600 Carling Ave., just west of the downtown core.

“It’s one of those buildings everyone knows, everyone has seen, they drive by on the highway, that gold iconic building,” said Sachin Anand, Regional Group’s senior director of acquisitions, in an interview with RENX. “I knew it as a kid growing up, obviously under a different name.

“I think it’s a prestigious milestone that we’ve achieved in acquiring this asset. It’s known, it’s a beautiful building and we’re very proud to say this is under our management.”

Instantly recognizable locally for its exterior of full-length golden windows, it was originally built as the headquarters for global tech firm Corel. Under its new name, the property was most recently owned and managed by Manulife Investment Management.

Regional Group has not released the purchase price. 

Three mid-rise towers

The property comprises three distinctive octagonal interlinked towers, of six, seven and eight storeys. It sits on a 4.3-acre plot of land and includes almost 500 parking spaces, including 200 underground.

The building also offers a tree-filled entrance lobby and a large suite of amenities, including EV charging and a dedicated car washing facility. It is located along a transit corridor and just metres from the city’s main east-west route, Highway 417.

Its stature in the market aside, Anand said Regional Group has solid business reasons for acquiring the property. The third-generation, family owned company has been filling out its portfolio of suburban Ottawa office for the past several years.

“We’re a firm believer in office going forward in the long run,” Anand explained. “It’s taken a bit of a beating, in the perception of the asset class, but we view that as an opportunity. In this case it really does fit with the office that we like to acquire, which is class-A, high-quality, suburban and close to transit.

“It is in line with our program, that if it is high-quality, class-A office we want to be one of the controllers of that space, that market. This is another nudge in that direction of owning and managing some of the best class-A suburban office space.”

35,000 sq. ft. of space available to lease

The next task for Regional Group will be to lease up the approximately 35,000 square feet of vacant space in the buildings. However, even here Anand sees an advantage. The 19 per cent vacancy is almost totally comprised of four contiguous blocks of space, which he believes will make it easier to lease.

“This building is a little bit unique in that it has larger pockets of space,” Anand noted. “It’s really looking for 5,000- to 10,000-square-foot users to come in rather than smaller 1,000- to 2,000-square-foot footprints.” 

He also believes it will be easier to attract higher-quality, longer-term tenants to blocks of that size, especially considering the current tenant mix and the building’s location.

“That was another reason why we liked this asset. It has no government tenants, it is private-sector focused, it has got wealth management, accounting firms, law firms in there. Stuff that really doesn’t disappear with COVID and work from home,” he noted. ”There is also some health care in there. It’s a good tenant base, private and expanding.”

Being an Ottawa-based company is another advantage as it seeks new tenants, he said.

“Yes, our roots and our tentacles are quite far-reaching, especially in our backyard. We are already fielding requests for leasing. It’s a great quality asset.”

Regional Group still in acquisition market

Anand said the building has been very well maintained, as had a previous property which Regional Group acquired from Manulife in November 2022. That property, the 221,000-square-foot, three-building Qualicum Centre campus, has a very similar profile.

“That is one of the reasons this is our second transaction with this group,” Anand said. “It is well managed.” 

Regional Group owns and develops commercial office, industrial, retail and multiresidential properties and offers investment, land development, property management, asset management, commercial leasing, and tax and valuation services. Its portfolio is in excess of three million square feet.

It also has a very active home-building affiliate called eQ Homes. 

The company has been a consistent officer buyer over the past several years, with the former Ottawa Citizen building (a mix of office and industrial space in the city's west end) also among its acquisitions. Anand said that is not about to change.

“Suburban high-quality class-A office is something that we will continue to buy,” he said. “We’re always pens up. We’ve been pens up for the past two or three years.

“We’ve been able to stay active and that has allowed us to be one of the first calls that people make when they have a property for sale because they know we are looking at it, we are transactional, we do offer, and we do tie up the property. We’re looking to close.”

Industry Events