There is a vacant triangular plot of land at the corner of City Centre Avenue at Albert, just across from the Bayview OTrain Station and Tom Brown Arena, and beside the existing 8 storey City Centre office tower. The land has been owned by Phoenix development for some years. They have applied for rezoning for two 31-storey condo towers and a four storey office building. Each tower would be similar in height and size to the Metropole tower built further west on Scott near Westboro Station. The Metropole development, with townhouses clustered at its base, turned out well, despite its scary height. (I have an instictive distrust of developers bringing high towers).
How tall is enough? The City-owned lands to the northwest (now site of the snow dump) are planned for high rise apartments in the 23 storey range. The Escarpment plan, recently approved by the City for the lands along Albert between Booth and Bronson, calls for 23 storey (75 metre) heights. The site immediately south of the Phoenix property has been approved for similar heights for about 15 years. LeBreton Flats itself is zoned for 7 to 14 story buildings. This site should not be zoned any higher than 75m in my opinion.
The small office building component proposed at the City Centre Avenue/Albert St intersection does relate to the pedestrian on the street, but the set-back towers do not. We need to enhance the pedestrian environment, perhaps by structuring the towers more as a podium of town houses and having set backs as the tower goes upwards.
A wider multipurpose path, treed on both sides, should replace the current sidewalk along the curb. The development should also promote direct cycling and pedestrian access to the transit hub at Bayview and the NCC Ottawa River parklands, by integrating links along the O-train line under Albert and the transitway bridges. There is too much surface parking in the current proposal; putting all resident parking underground would improve the landscaping greenspace and promote walking and transit use.
(note: this post is based on my column for the March edition of the Centretown BUZZ community newspaper)