Claridge buys Rideau Street Metro for $22.15M

One of Ottawa’s largest condo builders is expanding its downtown footprint with the purchase of a 1.25-acre supermarket and development site.

Claridge Homes paid $22.15 million for the property at 245 Rideau St., at Cumberland Street, according to data published by real estate information firm RealTrack. The vendor is listed as a numbered Ontario company represented by Ottawa real estate broker Brent Taylor. Sources say the property, which has been on the market for several years, is owned by the Taylor family.

At approximately $406.80 a square foot, the purchase price ranks as one of the highest for land in Ottawa in recent years, according to statistics compiled by Colliers International. Claridge is widely thought to have set a record for local land prices when it paid $625.53 a square foot for the 14,423-square-foot lot at 505 Preston St., at Carling Avenue. Not far from the Metro site, Phoenix Homes paid $454.30 a square foot for the 13,207-square-foot site at 256 Rideau St. and 211 Besserer St., according to Colliers.

A description in the RealTrack report says the 245 Rideau St. property is fully leased to Metro, but does not indicate the term length. A spokesperson for the Montreal-based grocery store chain was not immediately available for comment.

The report also says the property was purchased “for future (in 5-10 years) development of a residential condo building of up to 30 storeys with ground floor retail.” Claridge Homes vice-president Neil Malhotra did not respond to a request for comment.

Claridge recently purchased the Union of Canada office building and development site in the ByWard Market and has applied to convert the property into a hotel. Across the street from the Metro, the homebuilder is currently constructing the third and fourth phases of its Claridge Plaza condo development. The two projects will contain approximately 450 units and build on the approximately 500 units within the first two phases of the development.

“Claridge has been developing in and around that area for several years,” said Ross Tavel, a sales representative at Royal Lepage Performance Realty.

Many of the new condominiums being constructed downtown are targeted at young professionals and first-time homebuyers. It’s a market segment that’s under some pressure from tightening mortgage rules and limited opportunities with the city’s largest employer, the federal government.

But despite the rapid increase in Ottawa’s downtown condo inventory and signs of a slowing real estate market, Mr. Tavel says the condo resale market remains “excellent.”

“The days on market has been a bit higher, but it is very healthy.”