T.O.-based Crown Realty acquires Gloucester's Park of Commerce

Park of Commerce
Toronto-based Crown Realty Partners has acquired the 415,000-square-foot Park of Commerce in Ottawa's east end. Photo courtesy Crown Realty Partners
Editor's Note

A previous version of this story said QuadReal Property Group owned the Park of Commerce. In fact, QuadReal acted as the property manager.

A Toronto real estate firm that bought 50 per cent of the Place de Ville complex last year has purchased a major business park in Ottawa’s east end, its second marquee office deal in the National Capital Region in the past three months.

Crown Realty Partners said it acquired the four-building Park of Commerce near the intersection of Blair Road and the Queensway from the British Columbia Investment Management Corp. in a transaction that closed on Tuesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition of the class-A, LEED Gold-certified properties is the first for Crown Realty’s recently launched $260-million fund aimed at increasing the firm’s office portfolio in Ottawa and Toronto. It comes on the heels of the company’s purchase of a 50 per cent stake in Place de Ville for $175 million in late November.

Originally developed by Glenview Homes, the 415,000-square-foot Park of Commerce consists of four properties – a trio of eight-storey buildings and a seven-storey midrise – at Blair Towers Place, just east of the Gloucester Centre and across the Queensway from the Blair LRT station. The first two buildings were built in 1987, followed by a third in 1988 and another in 1990. 

The properties, which were previously managed by Vancouver-based QuadReal Property Group, have floorplates of up to 15,000 square feet. Key tenants include Public Services and Procurement Canada and the Canadian Medical Association.

35% vacancy rate

While the complex has a vacancy rate of 35 per cent, Crown Realty managing partner Emily Hanna said the business park’s mix of federal government and institutional tenants “provides for some stability, balancing out the risk associated with the relatively high vacancy.”

Hanna said the company believes the properties have a big upside thanks to their proximity to the Queensway, mass transit and retail amenities at Gloucester Centre. 

“We like the Ottawa East node from an office perspective,” Hanna said in an email to OBJ on Wednesday, arguing the district offers a “value alternative for businesses outside of the core.”

"We like the Ottawa East node from an office perspective."

She said Crown plans to upgrade the buildings to make them more accessible and energy-efficient as well as build out “move-in ready” suites ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 square feet in a bid to attract new tenants.

The deal also includes a parcel of land that could accommodate up to 500,000 square feet of residential development. Hanna said future construction will likely include rental apartments, adding that “ongoing residential intensification in the node will serve to further enhance its value proposition to businesses looking to offer their employees workplace flexibility.”

Crown has been on an acquisition tear since buying its first Ottawa property, the Carling Executive Park, for $56.5 million in 2019. The company now manages nearly three million square feet of office space at eight sites across the region.

In an email to OBJ on Wednesday, QuadReal vice-president of leasing Dan Gray said Crown is "growing significantly in the Ottawa market and Park of Commerce is a key piece of that growth."

Hanna said Crown will continue to pursue more deals in Ottawa. She lauded the stability of the city’s office sector, noting its vacancy rate of 8.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2021 was one of the lowest in the country.

“We have boots on the ground in Ottawa … and have long been proponents of that office market,” Hanna said.