Ottawa’s InterRent REIT buys $14.2M stake in Bayview Station high-rise development

Trinity

A major Ottawa real estate investor has purchased a stake in a proposed three-tower mixed-use development at the intersection of the Trillium and Confederation light-rail lines, calling the Bayview Station area the future “centre ice” of the city’s commercial growth.

InterRent Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:IIP.UN) said Friday it has paid $14.2 million for a one-third share in the project at 900 Albert St., a joint venture that also includes local builder Trinity Developments and PBC Real Estate Advisors.

“I think the LRT is going to (have) a major impact in Ottawa,” InterRent CEO Mike McGahan told OBJ in an interview. “You look at that location, that’s really the hub of the whole LRT as far as I see it. The LRT is just going to be a huge impetus for the whole growth of the city going forward.”

The 3.6-acre site is located across from the Bayview transit station. The development proposal calls for three highrise buildings of 59, 55 and 50 storeys that would feature a mix of office, retail and residential space.

Mr. McGahan confirmed Friday that the residential component will consist of rental units. While Trinity initially said the plan would include up to 1,632 units, Mr. McGahan said Friday that number has been scaled back to 1,000. But he added that total could change again before the project is finalized.

“It’s still early stages right now,” he said. “It really depends on how we develop the mixed-use (component). We’re kind of going ... back to the drawing board to make sure that we do the best thing for the site.”

Trinity

The proposal would also include a direct pedestrian link to the Bayview transit station, where the existing north-south Trillium LRT line and the under-construction east-west Confederation line will meet in 2018.

Mr. McGahan said the site’s location near the intersection of both transit lines and just down the road from the proposed redevelopment of LeBreton Flats will make the development an attractive proposition for a host of potential commercial and office tenants. Trinity is among the firms involved in the Ottawa Senators’ RendezVous LeBreton redevelopment plan.

‘Shopify effect’

Mr. McGahan wouldn’t offer any specifics on what types of tenants are being sought for the commercial and office components at 900 Albert, saying only that he believes tech firms will be a big part of the mix.

“I really believe we’re going to get some takeup on the tech side,” he said. “I see that whole kind of Shopify effect. I think a lot more of the tech companies are going to want to relocate downtown. And to me, this is going to the centre ice of downtown as we go forward, once LeBreton gets built out.”

No start date has been announced for the project, which would contain the tallest buildings in Ottawa once complete.

The plan has drawn criticism from some nearby residents and local politicians who have raised concerns about height, parking and traffic congestion, as well as access to the site for cyclists and pedestrians. Trinity initially hoped to extend the project across the O-Train tracks to a portion of land near the Tom Brown Arena, but that idea was scrapped after residents objected.

At a public consultation last December, Trinity executives said the proposed heights were necessary to offset the projected $10.5-million cost of relocating water and sewer pipes that lie beneath the site.

Mr. McGahan said Friday he believes there is room for a consensus that will satisfy the needs of the developers as well as the concerns of the public.

“We’ll make sure it’s very well planned and well executed,” he said. “We’ll listen to the residents and that’s going to be part of our process as we go forward. We’re going to try to make something that everybody’s proud of.”

InterRent has rapidly grown in recent years, doubling the size of its portfolio between 2009 and 2017 to reach more than 8,200 suites in the National Capital Region, Greater Toronto Area, Montreal and several other cities.

One of its largest holdings is the LIV apartment building complex on Bell Street, near Bronson and Gladstone avenues.

InterRent’s shares were down six cents, or less than one per cent, to $7.74 in midday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday.