Claridge diversifies Ottawa portfolio with plans for new airport hotel, retirement residence

Claridge retirement residence
A rendering of Claridge's proposed retirement residence on Hunt Club Road.

Though the Claridge name often calls to mind highrise condos and new-built suburban homes, the Ottawa family-owned residential developer is continuing to diversify its portfolio with a new retirement residence and eventual hotel on a plot of land near the airport.

Neil Malhotra, vice-president of Claridge Homes, says that the developer doesn’t want to limit itself to Ottawa’s home and condo market.

“Our core competency is Ottawa. We like to do all sorts of things in the local market,” he tells OBJ.

The new retirement residence is slated for Hunt Club Road, just east off the Airport Parkway, and builds on the developer’s existing portfolio. Claridge currently owns five retirement residences and has another two under construction in Kanata and Vanier, all of which are run by partner Riverstone Retirement Communities. Mr. Malhotra says that company manages around 700 beds across these locations.

According to planning proposals filed with the City of Ottawa, the new development will feature an eight-storey retirement residence containing 145 units, with an accompanying hotel of comparable size anticipated for a later date. The proposed retirement home will feature 38 parking spaces with another 151 spots slated for the hotel, both including an underground parking garage in addition to above-grade spots.

Baby boom and bust

The impending wave of baby boomer retirees has increased interest among developers and investors in the retirement residence market.

Last year, Chartwell spent $68.4 million to buy the 127-suite Lord Lansdowne Retirement Residence on Bank Street. More recently, RFA Verdun GP paid $14.1 million for the 154-unit Palisades Retirement Residence on Metcalfe Street, just south of the Queensway, according to real estate appraisal firm Juteau Johnson Comba.

While real estate watchers say retirement residents are an asset class worth watching, they also note that demographic trends suggest that demand will likely decline in 20 to 30 years.

That doesn’t faze Mr. Malhotra.

“Post-baby boomers is a long time away. What will it look like eventually? Who knows at this point,” he says.

He adds, however, that he isn’t deterred by any fall-out in demand many decades from now: Retirement residences are flexible properties, malleable to most residential uses.

“Today in the marketplace you’re seeing things like older hotels in Ottawa being converted into residential buildings, student housing buildings. Buildings find a new purpose. Constructions usually outlast their business.”

In recent years, these have included the conversion of the Embassy West hotel on Carling Avenue and the Cartier Place Suite Hotel’s extended stay suites into retirement residences. The University of Ottawa, meanwhile, uses the former Quality Hotel at Rideau Street and King Edward Avenue as a student residence.

Mr. Malhotra says the location, nearby to the EY Centre, the Infinity Centre, and the airport, is also well-suited for a hotel. He mentions there’s a possibility for synergy between the two properties as long as they’re both under the family’s ownership; supply chains and managerial operations may overlap, and many workers in the retirement care industry got their starts in hotel service.