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Home Depot to open South Keys in autumn

By Kate Chappel, Ottawa Business Journal

At a time when skittish investors are pulling their money out of stock markets and spending on their homes, U.S. retail giant Home Depot is building its sixth big-box outlet in the national capital region.

The 95,000 square-foot store now under construction in South Keys is scheduled to open this fall, says Steve Kauffman, Home Depot’s national director of real estate.

“Why that area was chosen is that it’s halfway between our Nepean and Gloucester locations.  It will serve the core of Ottawa,” says Kauffman.

The store will be similar to other Home Depot locations and will include a garden centre.  There are five other locations in the national capital region, including Gatineau, Kanata, Gloucester, Orleans and Nepean.

Home Depot acquired the majority of the 10-acre property from the National Capital Commission four months ago.  Construction began immediately after the acquisition.  The land is at the corner of Bank and Ledbury streets, which is within walking distance of the South Keys shopping plaza.  Home Depot will join a handful of other big boxes at South Keys, including Wal-Mart, Loblaws and Staples.

Steve Lerner of Primecorp Realty, who acted on behalf of Home Depot, says Home Depot selected this site because it’s such a growth area.  “They feel this is an excellent area.  This positions them in the growing South Keys market, which has a growing population base.”

And although Kauffman declined to discuss the chain’s future plans for Ottawa, a local retail analyst suggests Home Depot is eyeing yet another new site in the south end of the city.

Market Research Corp. general manager Barry Nabatian says he wouldn’t be surprised.  “There will probably be another one in the south end of the city by the end of three years.”

Home Depot is facing stiff competition from other big-box retailers such as Quebec-based RONA Warehouse. 

Last December, RONA opened a big-box home renovation store on Innes Road in the east end.  That location is less than a kilometer away from Home Depot on Cyrville Road.  In 1998, RONA opened its flagship location outside of Quebec at 585 Hunt Club Road, which is also close to Home Depot’s western location.

Sylvain Morissette, RONA’s director of communications, says there are no plans to open another location, despite RONA’s strategy in the past.  “We have a position in the west and the east, and now we think we can respond to consumers’ needs,” says Morissette.

Nabatian says Home Depot will encounter competition at South Keys.  In addition to RONA, American powerhouse retailer Wal-Mart is now appealing regulations that limit it from selling home improvement paraphernalia.

“Wal-Mart would like to become a one-stop shop in the fullest meaning of the word”, says Nabatian.

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