Dream Team acquires full control of Ottawa/Gatineau Zibi project, buying out Jeff Westeinde’s interest for $14.6 million

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Dream Impact Trust and Dream Asset Management Corp. (DAM) have taken full control of the 34-acre Zibi redevelopment along the Ottawa river in Ottawa and Gatineau after acquiring shares of Theia Partners, including Ottawa contractor and developer Jeff Westeinde.

The trust reported the news in its second quarterly report. Real Estate News Exchange (RENX) reports that the Dream team will share ownership on a 50/50 basis, and the purchase was settled with a cash payment of $9.1 million and a promissory note for $5.5 million.

Weistende will continue as Zibi Canada president after the transaction.

“My role is largely unchanged,” Westeinde told RENX. “Theia continues to work with its partners at Zibi on high-level strategy onsite, leading the sustainability file and community engagement.”

Westeinde said that, for Zibi’s syndicate of investors, the long-term plan has always been for it to become an income-generating development. Serving as an asset management firm is much more in Dream’s wheelhouse than it is for Theia.

“Now is as good a time as any,” he said. “My confidence in the team at Dream to continue to take Zibi in the right direction is huge.”

Zibi is scheduled to be completed in 2032 – but RENX quoted Dream Office REIT COO Gordon Wadley as saying: “We are not holding ourselves to that. We want to do it right.”

Zibi is a complex development involving shoreline and islands in two provinces and on two cities, on land sacred to Algonquin First Nations. The National Capital Commission is also a stakeholder.

zibi rendering

“Zibi goes way beyond bricks-and-mortar development,” Wadley was quoted as saying. “Sustainability, climate resilience and social equality have never been more front and centre at the forefront of society. These have always been our key pillars.”

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CHMC) announced in July a $70-million investment for Zibi, most of which ($60 million) will be used to construct Zibi Block 10. This 15-storey building will provide Gatineau with 162 new units of rental housing.

The balance will be applied to connect 200 affordable housing units to the region’s first zero-carbon District Energy System (ZCU), RENX reported.

“The ZCU relies on post-industrial waste energy for heating, and the Ottawa River for cooling. So, Zibi will not only include affordable housing, but also, affordable housing that sets a new standard for sustainability and carbon reduction,” the published report says.

Zibi expects six of its 44 planned buildings, including both commercial and residential space, to be occupied by the end of this year. The federal government is the anchor tenant of an eight-storey, 158,000 sq. ft. building on East Chaudiere Island.

RENX reports that other buildings currently under development and predevelopment within Zibi include:

  • Block 10: 162 residential units in Gatineau. This is the 15-storey building which includes financing from the July CMHC announcement, at the corner of Eddy Street and Rue Jos Montferrand.
  • Block 11: 149 residential units, 11 storeys, in Gatineau on Rue Jos Montferrand, where development started earlier this month.
  • Block 206: 207 residential units, 25 storeys, started this past spring on West Chaudiere Island, with delivery in Q2 2023.
  • Block 207: 80,000 sq. ft. of commercial class-A, seven storeys, started in conjunction with Block 206 (West Chaudiere Island), for delivery in the second quarter of 2023.
  • Block 210: a 30,000-sq. ft. heritage structure bricks-and-beam retrofit on Albert Island, next to the Canadian War Museum.
  • Block 7: “Shovel Ready” upon sufficient preleasing (160,000 sq. ft. of commercial). This six-storey mixed use structure inGatineaualso includes retail at grade.

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