Who’s Buying Commercial Real Estate in Ottawa?

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With all eyes focussed on the US election during the fall, buyers continued to show confidence in the Ottawa commercial real estate market with numerous acquisitions that reflected a positive long term outlook.

Firstly there was Couche-Tard’s (aka Mac’s) $1.6 Billion acquisition of 279 ESSO gas stations across Canada in late-October, including more than 20 sites in Ottawa.

Other purchasers of commercial real estate included a typical cross section of market participants. An examination of transactions show that November was the month of the local investor with two retail strip plazas transacting – both of which were acquired from long-standing ownership groups.

Investors were also active in the office sector, small development sites and the purchase of retirement home sites, the latter which seems to be a common theme in response to an aging and affluent population.

The momentum continued into December with a number of year-end land acquisitions intended for development. This includes vacant sites destined for automotive development in Barrhaven (Myers), the expansion of Billings Bridge Shopping Centre along Bank Street, another retirement home in Orleans (Revera) and a large apartment transaction by one of the provinces larger landlords (Homestead).

Investors turned opportunistic just before Christmas snapping up a power-of-sale by Home Trust, while institutions entered the market acquiring two group homes in the east-end (John Howard Society). Conspicuous by their absence over the past several months was the user or owner-occupant who traditionally has been the driver of commercial transactions in Ottawa. Continued access to financing at record low interest rates won’t keep this cohort on the sidelines for long.

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