Historically, Ottawa hasn’t had the same demand for condos as other metropolitan cities. Our demographics didn’t dictate it, our job market wasn’t growing enough (outside of the government), and externalities didn’t put Ottawa on the map. Fast forward to today and things have changed. Baby Boomers are starting to retire and reconsider the value of their massive home against the realities of what they need now and moving forward. Ottawa is being talked about as “Silicon Valley North” with the massive success of Shopify and countless other companies that are about to hit. Nationally, the spotlight is on Ottawa. Toronto and Vancouver have seen major pricing spikes in real estate and declining numbers on livability forcing people to look at alternatives i.e. Ottawa. As a result, condos are a major talking point in the Ottawa real estate market. Not all condos are created the same, which are heavily influenced by the developer. The condo market is evolved and has been shaped by several developers over the decades. Here are the top five condo developers in Ottawa (in no particular order):
Urban Capital brought the trendy feel of Toronto condos to Ottawa. Specializing in the soft loft feel (exposed concrete and high ceilings in a new build), they took the condo market by storm with the three-phase East Market Condos. Based on that success, they went straight into Centretown and cemented themselves in Ottawa with a 24-story high-rise, The Mondrian. Urban Capital’s momentum and popularity were at an all-time high in Ottawa and they had one more gift… ok two, for Centretown. They single handily revitalized Centretown south of Gladstone Av with Central and The Hideaway.
- Style: Art Deco
- Founded: 1983
- First Project: Glassworks
- Best Project: The Merit
- Popular buildings:
Charlesfort Developments is the most distinct condo builder in Ottawa. Their art-deco style sets them apart from the pack and leaves a lasting impression wherever they build. Think I’m kidding, what’s one of the only things you can remember on Bronson Ave around the Glebe… the McDonalds? How about that cool building less than a block away? Thank you, Glasgow Condos! Wherever you look centrally in Ottawa, Charlesfort has a presence. The Golden Triangle has the Merit, Old Ottawa East has The Glassworks, and Centretown has Hudson Park, to name a few.
- Style: Big high-rises
- Founded: 1986
- First Project: ??
- Best Project: Icon
- Popular Projects
Claridge Homes is arguably the Condo Developer that has impacted the downtown condo market the most. Founded in 1986, Claridge started out as a home builder before expanding into condos. Today, their main claim to fame is twofold. One, they have shaped the Byward Market condo market into their own. They built York Plaza Condo, Claridge Plaza Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4, 700 Sussex, and (most recently, even though it’s not a condo) the Andaz Hotel. Moving slightly west, Claridge is about to make history. On the corner of Preston St and Carling Ave, a superstructure is being built. The 45-story Icon will be the tallest condo building in Ottawa. The first of its kind, the Icon will redefine the skyline in Ottawa and will spark the redevelopment of Preston St. that is long overdue.
- Style: Lofty feel, Art Deco, modern finishes
- Founded: 1976
- First Project: ??
- Best Project: Studio Argyle
- Popular Projects
Founded in 1976, Domicile Developments made a niche for itself in the low to mid-rise building class. They have primarily built units with lofty features (high-ceiling and big windows), blended with modern finishes. Domicile has built so many good projects over the years, it would take too long to talk about them all. Instead, here are a list of buildings Domicile has built-in popular neighbourhoods inside the Greenbelt:
Old Ottawa East:
The final entry on this list is Windmill Developments. Founded in 2003, Windmill set its sights on being the most environmentally friendly developer in Ottawa. Every one of their projects has the esteemed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. In addition, they have produced some landmark projects including The Eddy and Cathedral Hill and have a crown jewel set to launch shortly in Southminster Condos. That said, I think Windmill’s best project was The Currents, on the corners of Wellington and Holland (where the Great Canadian Theatre Company is). Ecstatically pleasing, large floor plans, and rarely an active listing in the building make The Currents a big hit!
Ottawa’s condo market is evolving. These top five condo developers in Ottawa have had a major part in shaping the market, the skyline, and the next generation of developers. They have set a precedent in the market and we can’t wait to see what’s next.