Private-sector growth adds to development pressure in Ottawa’s west-end

kanata
An aerial view of Kanata.

By: Sam Cooley

Something remarkable happened last year in Kanata’s real estate market.

After remaining stubbornly stuck in the double-digits for a decade, office vacancy rates – already on the decline for several quarters – reached 7.9 per cent. Class-A rates, at 6.4 per cent, sunk to the lowest level since 2007, according to real estate firm CBRE.

While Kanata’s surging tech sector is one of the main drivers, it’s also reflective of the underlying economic health of the area that’s being demonstrated in new retail and hospitality projects.

“As a hotel developer, west Ottawa has always performed well for hotel occupancies. It’s a stronger market than, let’s say, eastern Ottawa or Gatineau,” says Mathieu Mault, CEO of Activar, a Glebe-based firm that’s planning a four-storey Microtel Inn & Suites on the north side of Highway 417, across from Tanger Outlets Ottawa.

In recent years, the community has seen several new developments, including the popular shopping plaza, a 70,000-square-foot Cabela’s sporting goods store and the new home of Carpenters Union Local 93.

Mault and Barry Nabatian, director of market research for Shore-Tanner & Associates, both cite the area’s consistently growing and well-paid population as a factor for development.

“Private-sector jobs, mostly in IT, are all knowledge-based industries,” Nabatian says. “It has a multiplier effect. That’s why you have so many jobs there.”

Nabatian calculates that Kanata has some 48,000 jobs – more than double the 20,000 positions in Orléans and well in excess of the 12,000 in Barrhaven, he says, adding that Kanata’s young professionals have among the highest income levels among residents under the age of 40 across the National Capital Region.

That’s helping to increase pressure on developers to put shovels in the ground.

West Ottawa Land Holdings, which is affiliated with Taggart Realty, wants the city to rezone approximately 34.8 acres of land at the southwest corner of Palladium and Campeau drives, around Cabela’s hunting and fishing store.

“Absorption has finally caught up,” says Derek Howe, vice-president at the Taggart Group of Companies. “It’s very encouraging to see the activity in Kanata. As major landowners, we are very excited over what could happen over the next few years.”