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RioCan leases large ex-Canadian Tire Ottawa site to Altea Active

Active lifestyle company to open its biggest 'wellness and soclal' club at two-storey Carling Avenue location

A RioCan property at 1660 Carling Ave. in Ottawa has been leased to Altea Active for a 129,000-square-foot fitness, wellness and social facility. (Courtesy Altea Active)
A RioCan property at 1660 Carling Ave. in Ottawa has been leased to Altea Active for a 129,000-square-foot fitness, wellness and social facility. (Courtesy Altea Active)

UPDATED WITH DETAILS FROM ALTEA: A new-concept active lifestyle company which has been expanding across Canada, Altea Active, has leased a 129,000-square-foot former Canadian Tire store in Ottawa from RioCan REIT for what will become its largest location.

Altea announced the lease for 1660 Carling Avenue, in the west end of Ottawa, on Thursday morning. It will be Altea’s fourth location in Canada following other facilities in Winnipeg, Vancouver and Toronto.

The Ottawa facility is to open in 2024, the company said in its announcement.

“We are thrilled to be bringing Altea Active to the Ottawa community,” said Michael Nolan, co-founder, and chief operating officer of Altea Active. “Much more than a gym, our club is a social wellness experience that offers premium studio fitness programs, equipment, and services to like-minded, wellness-conscious people sharing the same journey. 

“Our mission since Day 1 has been to elevate and encourage the social connections that organically develop in our clubs.” 

Altea will invest over $30 million in the Ottawa site "to provide a state-of-the-art facility featuring the best in fitness, wellness and social offerings to Ottawans who are passionate about health", a company spokesperson told RENX in an exchange of emails.

The 1660 Carling Ave. property

Among the amenities are fitness studios, strength and cardio areas, personal and small-group training facilities and “luxury hospitality.”

The sprawling, two-level Ottawa facility was vacated by Canadian Tire in 2022 when the store moved a few blocks east to a former Sears location at the Carlingwood Shopping Centre. A new wing of the mall was constructed for the CT facility, which is currently the chain’s largest store in Canada.

RioCan bought the 1660 Carling Ave., property in 2008 from Canadian Tire for a reported $40 million.

In the wake of its departure, RioCan had filed an application with the City of Ottawa to build up to 1,700 condominium units in a mixed-use development of six towers as high as 40 storeys. With the signing of Altea’s lease, which the Altea spokesperson said extends for up to 50 years and includes the full five-acre site and parking area, that project will be on hold but not abandoned.

In a followup email to RENX, RioCan chief operating officer John Ballantyne said the REIT will continue with the zoning process to get the approvals on place for a potential redevelopment at some future date.

"Upon completion of the zoning process, we will add the site to our zoned development pipeline for redevelopment consideration in the future, if and when it is deemed appropriate to do so in order to best serve the evolving needs of our tenants and the community," Ballantyne wrote.

He said RioCan's development pipeline across its portfolio is about 42 million square feet. Of that, about 15 million square feet is currently zoned for development or redevelopment.

Altea Active's plans for the Ottawa location

Altea says the Ottawa club will include nine multi-purpose group-fitness studios; a hot yoga studio; a theatre style cycle studio; a boxing studio; an antigravity fitness studio; a fusion studio; a small-group training studio; a private reformer pilates studio; a dedicated women’s-only studio including cardio, strength-training and fitness areas; and the signature studio featuring HIIT, core, dance, boot camps and other strength & cardio sessions. 

The club will also feature an eight-court indoor pickleball club and a five-lane, 25-meter lap pool aquatic centre.   

A recovery lounge will include massage therapy, compression and vibration therapies, cold-plunge immersion, and a meditation lounge with its own Himalayan salt wall. 

Co-working and social amenities will include Topgolf Swing Suites sports simulators and a 6,200-square-foot outdoor Sky Deck for member socials and private functions; a smoothie bar, Starbucks and the Catalyst Kitchen & Cocktails relaxation area.  

Altea Active Ottawa will also offer an Active Kid’s Club featuring a mini gym, arts and crafts, and quiet zones to support members with children from newborns to age 11.

Other Altea Active locations

The Ottawa location will be its largest to date. Other facilities include:

  • an 80,000-square-foot facility in Winnipeg which opened in November 2019; 
  • a new 89,000-square-foot social wellness club in Toronto’s Liberty Village neighbourhood which opened in March 2022; 
  • and in Vancouver, the presentation centre for a 43,000-square-foot location has recently opened at 102 East 1st Ave. The full facility is slated to open in the fall of 2023.

Altea is also planning locations for Milton, west of Toronto, as well as Calgary, the spokesperson told RENX.

Although the Ottawa site is a former retail location, Altea is not exclusively sourcing this type of property.

"It may be a good fit as long as the demographic profile / data fits our requirements," the spokesperson wrote. "We’re exploring former office spaces in key urban markets but most of all, we’re working with major residential and mixed-use developers as a premium value add amenity for their residential developments.

"Of the current and planned locations, Altea Active has two new-build, stand-alone sites, one as the anchor tenant of a residential tower, one as the anchor tenant of a commercial tower, and the Ottawa location which is a custom redesign of a former retail space."

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was updated after publishing to include replies from Altea and RioCan to email questions which had been sent by RENX.

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