Shopify makes room for 2,500 more Ottawa staff with Laurier Avenue expansion

234 Laurier Ave.

Already approaching capacity at its Elgin Street headquarters, Shopify has signed a multi-year lease for 18 floors inside the office tower at 234 Laurier Ave. that will enable it to hire up to 2,500 additional employees.

The Ottawa e-commerce giant will take over floors two through six of the former Export Development Canada building – which was most recently used by the Bank of Canada during renovations of its Wellington Street headquarters – this July. Shopify anticipates filling the remaining floors of the office tower in four-to-five floor increments in following years.

In total, the space adds up to approximately 325,000 square feet or roughly 70 per cent of the downtown office tower.

Shopify’s building lease with Gillin Engineering & Construction and Slate Asset Management will last at least 10 years, a company spokesperson says.

Greg Scorsone, Shopify’s director of internal operations, says the company’s 150 Elgin St. headquarters still has “a little bit more room to grow in,” with 750 employees in a space capable of accommodating 1,100 individuals. He says the new building is about anticipating the impending growth.

“We hire people so quickly that filling up has not ever been a problem,” he told OBJ.

The new building is located at the corner of Laurier Avenue and O'Connor Street, a couple of blocks away from Shopify’s current headquarters. Mr. Scorsone says the company will have to do some renovations before the space is ready to take employees early next year.

“We definitely need to make it Shopifyish. We have a standard for how we build our space and we want to continue that,” he says.

Construction is also underway in Toronto on the King-Portland Centre, where Shopify will act as the anchor tenant. Mr. Scorsone says the development is on track to come online in the first quarter of 2019 and will feature a capacity of approximately 1,100 employees.

Currently, the company’s Toronto presence stands at 300 employees. This compares to 170 employees in Kitchener-Waterloo, 90 in Montreal and 20 in San Francisco.

Local employees are excited to mark the new Ottawa expansion, Mr. Scorsone says, adding that the new building is a testament to the company’s commitment to building a multibillion-dollar company in the National Capital Region.

“It’s a big commitment for us, and it’s a big commitment for Ottawa.”