Windmill attracts industry veteran for Domtar lands project

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About to embark on a landmark effort to redevelop the lands on and around Chaudiere Island, Windmill Development Group has beefed up its talent pool.

Derek Howe has joined Windmill Development Group.

By David Sali

Derek Howe, the former vice-president of real estate and development at Broccolini Corporation and a well-regarded industry veteran, joined Windmill last month. The 39-year-old will oversee the company’s financial operations, including investor relations and raising capital for the firm’s much-anticipated development of the former Domtar lands.

An Ottawa native who studied at Carleton University and earned an executive MBA from Western University’s Richard Ivey School of Business earlier this year, Mr. Howe said the chance to work on a deal of such magnitude was too good to pass up.

“It’s going to be a once-in-a-generation type of project,” he said. “That excited me greatly. There’s a great vision that’s been put forward by (Windmill founder) Jonathan Westeinde for the development of the site. That was definitely one of the main reasons why I came on board.”

Mr. Westeinde said he had a “good comfort” level with Mr. Howe after the two firms worked together on the Cathedral Hill condominium project and felt he would be a great fit at Windmill.

“I know he had lots of people in town talking to him, so we were lucky to have him choose to join our firm,” Mr. Westeinde said.

Mr. Howe said he considered a number of other options, including some abroad, before choosing to stay in his hometown.

“It largely was a combination of family reasons to stay here, coupled with an incredible professional opportunity,” said the father of two, whose wife Elizabeth, a teacher with the Ottawa Catholic School Board, also grew up in the capital.

In eight-and-a-half years at Broccolini, Mr. Howe left an impressive legacy. He helped win the contract for the 18-storey, 520,000-square-foot Export Development Canada building on Slater Street, the largest office tower constructed in the downtown core in a quarter-century, and was named one of the OBJ’s Forty Under 40 recipients for 2013.

“Essentially, I was looking for a new challenge,” he said. “I had an immensely enjoyable time (at Broccolini), I had a lot of fun, I learned an awful lot. It’s a great company, but I felt that I needed to take on a new challenge. The timing was right, and one opportunity led to another.”

The grand scale of the Chaudiere redevelopment plan has Mr. Howe eager to get down to business.

“It’ll be a very large project with lots of moving parts, lots of different phases, operating both in Ontario and Quebec,” he said. “I’m very excited, very confident in the project. We have a great team here at the company, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Organizations: Broccolini Corporation, Domtar, Carleton University Western University Richard Ivey School of Business Cathedral Hill Ottawa Catholic School Board Export Development Canada

Geographic location: Ottawa, Ontario, Quebec

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