Ottawa

Office vacancies reach 10-year high in Ottawa

Ottawa real estate experts say the number of downtown office vacancies has reached a 10-year high and the problem is expected to get worse.
Ottawa real estate experts say the number of vacancies in downtown Ottawa, which is already high, is expected to rise.

Ottawa real estate experts say the number of downtown office vacancies has reached a 10-year high and their problem is expected to get worse.

"Vacancies are climbing. We're seeing quite high levels for the Ottawa market. We do expect to see it continue," said Kelvin Holmes, managing director with Colliers International, a real estate brokerage company.

The federal government has moved some of its offices out of the downtown core and private businesses are not taking up those spots, according to many real estate experts.

Dean Carakasis of the Building Owners and Managers Association in Ottawa said the city should be doing more to keep businesses downtown.

"There just aren't as many options in Ottawa in terms of who could be your next tenant, as you would find in other markets," said Carakasis.

"It's frustrating in the sense that we would like to see Ottawa work harder and harder to diversify its economy," he said.

Ottawa to have eco-district

Karen Pero of Invest Ottawa, a city-funded economic development group, said the city is working to attract more businesses to fill downtown buildings.

Pero said their idea is an Ottawa Centre eco-district, which would make the downtown core more sustainable and should attract tenants. Invest Ottawa is advising building owners and local businesses on how to make their buildings more green at a low cost.

The eco-district could be operating in about a year, Pero added.

On the upside, Kelvin Holmes said the high vacancies could be an opportunity for future re-development of the downtown.

"In the short term, pain. But in the long run I think it's going to benefit the city's core significantly," he said.

"It's kind of like your clothes closet. If you don't throw any clothes out, you don't have any room to put new clothes in. So the only way we can expand and grow the downtown core is by redeveloping and redesigning existing buildings."

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