A small street in the heart of Kanata North has become a hotbed of new office development as builders scramble to address a flood of demand for new, modern workspaces in the west-end tech hub.
Colonnade BridgePort is the latest local property management firm that says it wants to put up a new commercial building on Solandt Road, a street roughly a kilometre long that intersects with March Road and Legget Drive.
In a site plan recently filed at City Hall, Colonnade BridgePort says it’s proposing a five-storey, 100,000-square-foot Class-A office facility with 355 parking spaces at 3026 Solandt Rd.
Brent Arseneau, the firm’s director of office leasing, told OBJ the four-acre property on the southeast corner of Solandt and March roads is ripe for new development as companies in Kanata North’s burgeoning tech sector search in vain for more space to accommodate their rapidly expanding workforces.
“There hasn’t been a building built out there for multi-tenant purposes in a generation,” he said.
“We just haven’t seen that, and tenants are running out of space. Every company is competing for the best talent. They want to be located right in the middle of where the best talent is. They want to be in a premises that can attract the best talent.”
With office vacancy rates in Kanata North falling to single-digit levels not seen since the city’s original tech boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Colonnade BridgePort is far from the only company that believes the neighbourhood is long overdue for a new wave of office construction.
Late last year, KRP Properties and the Regional Group also announced plans for new projects on Solandt Road. If all the proposals come to fruition, they’ll add nearly half a million square feet of new inventory to that street alone.
And, Arseneau notes, it’s not just traditional hardware and software tech companies that could be among the tenants occupying these gleaming new towers.
Just down the road at the southwest corner of Solandt and Legget Drive, Gatineau-based cannabis company Hexo occupies 40,000 square feet of space in another property managed by Colonnade BridgePort. A few hundred metres north on Legget, fellow pot producer Canopy Growth runs a satellite office at KRP’s Kanata Research Park.
Arseneau says the likes of Canopy Growth and Hexo represent a new generation of companies that require top-tier engineering talent to help them deliver their products as effectively as possible but aren’t what most people think of as “tech” firms.
“You’ve got these growing companies that really do want to be out there,” he says. “It’s still technology, but it’s a brand new avenue.”
The veteran leasing agent, who’s served clients in Kanata North for more than 15 years, says as much as two million square feet of office real estate could be up for grabs in Kanata North over the next 24-30 months as leases expire and tenants start shopping for space that better suits their needs.
With that many potential customers eyeing new digs within the next two years, fortune will favour the bold when it comes to new builds, Arseneau predicts.
“The level of risk that owners are willing to take in Ottawa is lower than several other markets in Canada,” he says. “I think those who are willing to take the higher risks saying that, ‘You know what? We’re going to fill 50 per cent of this building (leased before starting construction) or 60 per cent of this building and move on,’ are going to have much more success and they’ll be able to move much quicker than those who say, ‘I’m going to need 80 per cent filled in this building.’”
Pending site plan approval, Colonnade BridgePort hopes to have the property finished and ready for occupancy by the fall of 2021. The $20-million project will include amenities such as outdoor patios, green space and potentially a restaurant on the ground floor, Arseneau said.
“Employees who work there expect more out of a building than just some walls and cubicles,” he said. “They want that environment where they can interact with people.”