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Zibi announces government lease, new residential tower

Ottawa’s massive Zibi development along the Ottawa River has its first major commercial tenant, t...

IMAGE: A new eight-storey office building to be built at Ottawa's Zibi development will have the federal government as its dominant tenant. (Courtesy Dream)

A new eight-storey office building to be built at Ottawa’s Zibi development will have the federal government as its dominant tenant. (Courtesy Dream)

Ottawa’s massive Zibi development along the Ottawa River has its first major commercial tenant, the Federal Government of Canada. Dream Unlimited Corp. (DRM-T) and Dream Hard Asset Alternatives Trust (DRA-UN-T) announced a 15-year lease making the feds the dominant tenant at a new class-A office building which will begin construction this fall.

Also announced today was a new rental apartment tower which will be constructed at Zibi in conjunction with Common, a U.S.-based housing provider. It will contain a mix of “co-living” and traditional rental units.

The office lease involves 158,000 square feet in the building, which will be eight storeys and contain a total of 185,000 square feet of space. The building will be Zibi’s first class-A structure, and will be located in the heart of the development adjacent to the Chaudiere Falls with views looking down the river to Parliament Hill just a few kilometres away.

Located mere minutes from the Central Business District and fronting onto Booth Street, the building will be connected by kilometres of dedicated National Capital Commission (NCC) bike trails and pedestrian walkways.

It will offer immediate waterfront access to the Ottawa River, newly created parks and will be adjacent to national museums in both Ottawa and Gatineau.

“New standard” for Ottawa offices

“Given Zibi’s prime location and cultural significance, this will be unlike any building in the National Capital Region and set a new standard of workplace experience in Ottawa,” Dream says in the release.

The building is scheduled for completion in late 2020, with occupancy to follow in 2021. In addition to the office building, there is more than 450,000 square feet of retail and commercial space in various planning and development stages at Zibi.

“Our team is very pleased to welcome the federal government to Zibi.” said Michael Cooper, Dream’s president & chief responsible officer, in the release. “This is a tremendous opportunity to build and deliver a best-in-class office building in the very heart of the National Capital Region.

“We are committed to providing an exceptional workplace that values environmental stewardship, outstanding design and community.”

Two smaller three-storey buildings on the Gatineau side (totalling about 55,000 square feet) are currently being repurposed as “brick-and-beam” type offices. They’ll border an overhead glass atrium, creating the effect of just one building, with a courtyard in the middle.

A separate, four-storey, 35,000-square-foot brick-and-beam office building is also being refurbished on the site, on the adjacent Chaudiere Island portion.

Rental apartment tower

The multi-residential tower marks Common‘s first international expansion into Canada, in partnership with Dream Unlimited. The 252-bed home, named Common Zibi, will bring new high-quality housing and address an increasing demand which has been driving up rents across the National Capital Region.

Although originally announced by Common as a 24-storey tower, a Zibi spokesperson told RENX the height of the building has yet to be determined.

The building will provide fully furnished shared lounges and large, shared kitchens, community rooms, in-unit laundry, a roof deck, parking spaces, and a gym that includes yoga space and many other amenities. Ground-floor retail will also be included in the structure.

“Cities are facing similar housing challenges throughout the world — urban populations are rising, and housing supply is not keeping up. Common’s entrance into our first city outside of the United States is a testament to not only the growing need for high-quality rental housing options, but also to Common’s ability to offer a truly unique brand of residential living that people, regardless of country, are seeking,” said Brad Hargreaves, founder and CEO of Common, in a prepared statement.

Rents are anticipated to start at approximately $1,225/month for a bedroom in a co-living suite, which Common says is 31 per cent less than a market-rate one-bedroom in the area.

Rents for traditional residential units will start at around $2,065/month. The development is scheduled to open in 2022 and will also include ground-floor local retail.

Affordable housing major issue

“Throughout Canada affordability is one of the biggest issues, and Dream has consistently developed properties to provide residents with affordable alternatives,” said Cooper in the release. “Common is a great way for people to be able to live affordably in the centre of the most urban cities and neighbourhoods in homes that are fun and exciting.

“Dream is also creating innovative affordable housing in downtown Toronto at the West Don Lands development. We hope to grow with Common in many of our communities.”

Common opened its first co-living home in New York City in 2015, and has since grown to serve more than 800 members across 27 buildings in six U.S. markets, meeting high consumer demand of over 3,000 nationwide applications per week.

Common has recently announced a $395-million expansion into four new cities, including Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Diego and Pittsburgh, with additional expansions already planned into Miami, New Orleans and Newark.

Beyond Ottawa, Common also is negotiating a pipeline of over 500 bedrooms in Toronto.

About Zibi

Zibi is a 34-acre development along the Ottawa River fronting on both sides of Gatineau, Quebec and Ottawa. Zibi will be Canada’s only endorsed One Planet Community, which focuses on sustainability, a zero-carbon footprint and community and culture.

It will comprise over four million square feet of residential and mixed-use space and will be home to 5,000 residents, 6,000 jobs and include eight acres of riverfront public and green spaces.

The first phase of land servicing in both Ottawa and Gatineau has progressed steadily during the past two years. Infrastructure required to service Zibi is community nearing completion.

The first plaza space in Gatineau is close to completion, with four additional plazas and parks and 1.1 kilometres of new multi-use pathways, currently under development. The Chaudiere Bridge road crossing, which bisects the development and is one of the main connectors between Ottawa and Gatineau, is closed to vehicular traffic for the summer to facilitate transportation and infrastructure upgrades.

Zibi’s first residential condominium building O was completed in the fall of 2018, with the second residential building Kanaal expected to have first occupancies in early 2020.

Zibi is a partnership between Dream Unlimited, Dream Hard Asset Alternatives Trust and Theia Partners, owned on a 40/40/20 per cent basis, respectively.

About Dream

Dream is one of Canada’s leading real estate companies with over $15 billion of assets under management in North America and Europe.

The business includes asset management and management services for four Toronto Stock Exchange-listed trusts and institutional partnerships, condominium and mixed-use development, investments in and management of Canadian renewable energy infrastructure and commercial property ownership, and residential land development, housing and multi-family development.

Dream Alternatives focuses on hard asset alternative investments, real estate development, real estate lending, real estate, and renewable power. The objectives are to build and maintain a growth-oriented portfolio, provide predictable cash distributions, and grow and reposition the portfolio to increase NAV.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated to add additional information about the height of the Common building. A release issued by Common listed the height at 24 storeys, but a Zibi spokesperson told RENX the height of the building has yet to be determined.

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