OTTAWA - The location is unbeatable, with tremendous views, sprawling grounds and a profound sense of history.
But the place needs work, and the current tenants are a rowdy bunch.
Still, an international real estate consulting firm figures that, solely as an office building, the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings is worth $87.9 million, a 138 per cent increase from 12 years ago.
Altus Group used standard valuation methods for office buildings to come up with the value of the venerable structure, including its iconic Peace Tower.
It's a tongue-in-cheek estimate, of course, since the building is a priceless national icon filled with tens of million of dollars worth of paintings, sculpture and stone carving and woodwork.
Its coveted perch overlooking the Ottawa River is a national gathering place for Canadians, a role highlighted every Canada Day.
"Considered one of the most iconic heritage buildings in Canada, the Centre Block is clearly a unique building that has value beyond what can be measured through traditional real estate methods," said Colin Johnston, president of Altus Group’s research, valuation and advisory practice in Canada.
"Our Parliament buildings, including the Centre Block, are national symbols of government, and a site of architectural beauty and historic significance. However, the Centre Block is also an office building and influenced by factors and trends affecting the broader market."
Office space in Ottawa is in demand.
"The Centre Block’s increase in value as an office building reflects an increase in rental values in Ottawa, combined with a general improvement in investment market conditions for commercial real estate," said Johnston.
Altus says original Centre Block cost $1,373,633 at 1866 rates.
After the 1916 fire which destroyed everything but the Parliamentary Library, the government spent $11 million to rebuild the Centre Block.
The Altus estimate does warn that the building needs work. The government admits that mortar is crumbling, the wiring and plumbing needs modernization and there's asbestos to deal with.
Public Works plans to spend as much as $500 million over the next decade to refurbish the Centre Block, most of which dates back to the 1920s.
The consulting firm says the Centre Block valuation is the first in a forthcoming series of similar assessments of famous Canadian landmarks.
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