Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Edifice Complex

The former JDS Uniphase complex in Ottawa has been sitting empty for several years now, a silent testimony to the gold rush days of high tech in the late 1990s, while various businesses and government departments have gone searching for office space.

But now the white elephant will become home to the RCMP:

The federal government is poised to sign a 25-year deal to move the RCMP into a state-of-the-art office complex, built during the glory days of the technology boom, that it will be able to buy later for just $1.

The deal with Minto Developments to make the former JDS Uniphase campus into RCMP headquarters has been in the works for months and is now awaiting the blessing of Treasury Board. The complex is located at 3000 Merivale Rd., near Prince of Wales Drive.

Documents released by Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar this week show the deal, which was confirmed by Public Works officials on Friday, will cost taxpayers about $600 million over 25 years. That number includes everything from rent, management fees, fit-ups, upgrades and moving costs, as well as the renovation of old RCMP buildings.

When the lease with Minto is up, the government can buy the 900,000-square-foot complex, which JDS built for $200 million at the height of the technology boom, for $1.

Real estate watchers call it the "deal of a lifetime," saying the federal government got well below market rates for the space.


Documents show the government is paying about $8.32 per square foot to cover rent and fit-ups compared to $22 a square foot to rent a new custom-built complex for the RCMP. The going rate for similar office space in the suburbs is about $16 per square foot.


At its peak, the JDS technology campus, built in stages over four years, had about 10,000 workers. The complex, which includes seven buildings linked by a common atrium, was loaded with the bells and whistles and amenities government workers could only dream of - gourmet kitchen, cafeteria, 300-seat theatre/auditorium and gymnasium. With road improvements, proximity to the airport and an anticipated light-rail line, the site has excellent transportation connections that will suit a police force.

Now that's what I call a bargain! Everyone would have been screaming about pork-barrelling if a new RCMP headquarters had to be built; the usual political dealing and related cost overruns would have meant it got built in Hull, for twice the budget and three times longer than planned.

Tech booms and busts, but Her Majesty's Horsemen remain on duty.

Source: Ottawa Citizen


Alberta Girl said...

Yesterday on Duffy, the word was that Pinko Jacko was wailing away in the HoC, with documents, that the goverment had paid too much???

$1? - and an otherwise empty building is occupied for 25 years?

Geesh - the opposition parties are getting desperate to find something to hang on this government.

Matt said...

well, that's $1 that never did end up in Liberal pockets. Of course they're mad.