Reinventing an industry

By Bruce Firestone | Architecture

Apr 07

It used to be that if a nation needed a new training facility, government had to write a BIG check to get it built.

No longer.

Brian Dagenais and his group (BlackSheep Developments, BSD, have reinvented this industry.


Well, before I tell you that, have a look at this short video. This is Fortitude, a Douglas Cardinal-designed training facility to be built at Blue Sea Village Mer Bleue in Orleans, Ottawa:


The building will be constructed inside a village with a land use concept that looks like this:

So how does a $25+ million structure like Fortitude get built without a government subsidy of… $25 million?

Here are their cash engines:

1. at its core, Fortitude has a 45,000 sq ft training facility (with 40 foot high ceilings) for institutional uses, which pay a low rent (about on a level with industrial users)

2. around this, an apron of

compatible, double-loaded retail, food and beverage and other services are wrapped, which pay normal commercial rents (on par with what high-end retailers pay) that effectively subsidizes the training facility

3. the extraordinary design (including a 2-story restaurant/pub in its tower) by Canadian Museum of History architect Douglas Cardinal attracts sponsorship attention and funding

4. like Canadian Tire Centre, where the NHL’s Ottawa Senators play, BSD bought more land than they need just for Fortitude, so, as a result of the traffic generated by Fortitude, surrounding lands appreciate in value.

This is a sustainable, repeatable process and will be the model for these kinds of facilities everywhere one day, in all likelihood.

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD
ROYAL LePAGE Performance Realty broker
Ottawa Senators founder
Real Estate Investment and Business coach


postscript: the term “double-loaded” used above means that (nearly) all of the retail, F&B and other services that are paying a lot of the freight for this building have their own ingress/egress to the outside–what I call a “WOW” effect– window on the world, which means even on dark days (when the training facility is not being used), they are open and busy. They also are accessible from the interior of the building so the 1.3 million visitors to Fortitude every year don’t have to go outside to access those storefronts.

NOTE: the author coaches Brian Dagenias and the BSD group.

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.