Coupled with a dearth of new construction, capital’s vacancy rates expected to remain low for several years

(Source: Globe and Mail)

The global economic meltdown may be emptying office buildings in many Canadian cities but, thanks to the federal government’s voracious appetite for new space, “for lease” signs in the nation’s capital are few and far between.

Although Ottawa’s robust high-tech sector has softened, the federal government is eating up large chunks of space being vacated by companies such as Nortel Networks Corp., as well as taking up blocks of new space soon to be on the market, says Bruce Wolfgram, a vice-president at brokerage firm DTZ Barnicke in Ottawa.

Moreover, it is on the hunt for more than three million square feet of additional space to replace expiring leases and outdated buildings, starting in 2011, according to Lucie Brosseau, a spokeswoman for Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Coupled with a dearth of new construction – there are just two new office buildings under construction, the first to be completed in May and the other in late 2011 – Ottawa’s vacancy rates are expected to remain low for several years, according to industry experts.

“The federal government is in serious rental mode. When things slow down in other cities, there is all kinds of vacant space, but when it happens in Ottawa, the government swoops in and takes it,” Mr. Wolfgram says. “If you are going to have empty space, there is no other city in Canada that’s better to have it in than Ottawa.”

Read Randy Ray’s full article “Feds’ appetite keeps Ottawa buildings full” in the Globe and Mail (April 7, 2009).

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