The National Capital Commission is seeking a prospective leasing manager for its approximately 600 rental properties in the capital region, including a number of prominent Centretown sites.
The first step in the process began last week with industry consultation sessions, says NCC communications officer Cédric Pelletier.
The purpose of the sessions, he says, is testing the market for potential managers.
“We’re trying to gauge the interest of the industry and what they have to offer, to manage an important portfolio such as ours,” says Pelletier.
He says that while these meetings are not public, and details on interested companies are not being released, there has already been significant interest from the real estate industry in the opportunity.
The NCC controls numerous downtown properties, including green spaces along major routes such as Bronson, Wellington, and Somerset, says Pelletier. The federal agency also owns 34 properties with street addresses in Centretown.
Many of these addresses are heritage sites, such as 555 Wellington St. on the shore of the Ottawa River, home to Ottawa’s oldest mill – built in 1842 –and recently redeveloped by the Mill Street Brewery.
Brewery co-founder Steve Abrams says leasing that location from the NCC came with certain limitations, but was well worth the opportunity of operating in such a historic building.
“We fell in love with the building from the moment we saw it because of the historical significance, the beauty of the location, and how well preserved it was,” he says. “The NCC has done a great job maintaining it.”
He says before Mill Street moved into the location there were certain NCC checks that needed to be complied with, such as bilingual menus and signage, and access to the second floor for disabled people, which meant installation of an elevator and shaft.
“Once we got deeper in, we realized there was more to it than taking over a building,” he says.
Still, he credits the NCC and its leasing regulations for the beautiful condition of the building, and says that while Mill Street is only approaching the first year of its 10-year lease, the company is very happy with the arrangement.
Another notable property is the Bronson Company Office on 150 Middle St., Victoria Island, on the register of Canada’s Historic Places for the company’s role in developing hydroelectricity in Ottawa in the 1800s. Proposals were collected for leasing that property last October.
Victoria Island, an historic gathering ground for First Nations people in the Ottawa area, has been at the centre of Idle No More aboriginal protests in recent weeks, and is the site where Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has been carrying out her liquid-diet “hunger strike.”
In early January, an NCC spokesperson told the Ottawa Citizen that, “typically, people who want to use our land require a permit, but the NCC has always worked with aboriginal groups to try and give them that space to express themselves, and we are continuing to do so in this situation.”
Pelletier says another purpose of the industry sessions is to receive rental business advice on how to consolidate the NCCs’ six property groups — residential, commercial, agricultural, land, institutional, and recreational — into two: residential and commercial.
Pelletier says this grouping is common practice within the industry, and will be new practice for the NCC.
“We’re always trying to improve the way we work, our efficiency, and our effectiveness in the management of our properties,” he says.
Details of the current contract with Del Management, which ends March 31, 2014, are confidential, says Del Management chief operating officer Robb Watt.
Likewise, the potential value of the upcoming contract is not available.
Pelletier says releasing the current contract’s value could influence the next step in the NCCs’ process of finding a rental manager, which will be a request for proposals beginning this spring.