845 Carling site plan: two and half condos

Richcraft purchased the Dow Motors site, shown below. The Dark CDP calls for two towers on the site; Richcraft is proposing three. Or more accurately, two and half.

dow motors site


They are proposing 3 buildings for the site, one facing Carling, the second in the middle of site, which would also include a new OTrain Station, and the third at the north end of the site, facing Adeline. The first two towers would be very tall, in the 48 storey range, but with the recent addition of height to the Claridge Icon tower at 505 Preston (corner of Carling), and the CDP calling for the Dow towers to be the tallest in the area, I think we might see these towers grow a bit taller yet. 

City Council will vote on April 24 on how this site will develop, without the benefit or discomfort of specific prior public discussion, if it decides to  adopt the Dark plan. Sure, a formal rezoning and site plan approval will follow, but the key decision will be April 24th (addressing the number of towers, their height, and the choice between the piazza or the asphalt street). Followed, no doubt, by an OMB appeal if the developer comes up unhappy.

Most of the currently-proposed towers in the CDP area are square-ish: Soho Champagne, Soho Italia, Claridge Icon. So are the existing Domicile 3 mid-rise towers. The Richcraft proposal is for two high rise oval-ish towers (their third building, on the north end of the site, isn’t yet developed, it is shown as a simple rectangle only as a place holder. Presumably we might get a matched triplet).

Here is the view from the east, looking west:

tower elevations seen from the east

The two tall towers are in the 48 storey range; shorty is proposed at 18 but I think that is still too tall for facing Adeline Street. Recall that the neighbourhood is all up in arms about the 18 storey tower Taggart proposed for 95 Norman, and is still opposed to the Dark plan’s suggestion that Taggart be limited to “just”  9 stories. But Dark does call for buildings facing Adeline to be a step down from the super-tall ones facing Carling, and he suggests — and the City accepts — 18 stories as the suitable height. Have developers ever built shorter than the zoning?

Actually, Richcraft also owns the site immediately north of their large site, on the north side of Adeline. I hear rumours they are proposing a fourth building of nine stories there. That certainly makes sense from a draw-a-descending-line-from- the- tallest-to-the-low-rise perspective, but will further infuriate the Little Italy residents.

Whatever height council eventually comes up with the east edge of the OTrain corridor will most likely apply to the all the lots north of Adeline. But will it apply to  the third tower of the Dow Motors site too, which sits on both the edge of the OTrain corridor (likely to be 9 or fewer floors height limit) AND on the south side of Adeline (which is destined for approval at 18 floor height limit).

The arrangement of the towers on the site is shown here, with Carling Avenue running along the bottom of the picture:

tower clustering


Claridge’s Icon tower is shown off to the far right. The Current CIBC bank site is shown marked as a “future highrise”. Apparently Richcraft and CIBC are somewhat cooperatively planning the tower arrangement between Preston and OTrain.

Soho Italia is approved but marketing hasn’t yet started up, no doubt to prevent cannibalizing sales from Soho Champagne. The plans never show the 7-storey Co-Op building immediately abutting Soho Italia on its west side. That’s the Cinderella of the block, but alas, no wand-waving fairy godparent is waiting in a nearby pumpkin patch. That building will continue to provide a contrast to the luxe condo towers.

The podium levels of the buildings are shown in dark shading; the towers in lighter gray. A new street or lane is shown running where the CIBC drive-in banking now is. Sydney Street is extended through the Dow Motors site as a privately-owned two way curvy lane (for traffic calming) opening out to Adeline, which in the developer’s fondest dreams becomes a through street west to join Hickory. The private lane is intended to  be open to public traffic at all times.

Richcraft’s buildings two and three share a joint podium. In would be between those two buildings  there would be a single garage entrance to all three towers. This leaves all the rest of the ground level frontage to be retail space. The buildings themselves would generate some foot traffic. Lots more would come from people going to the OTrain Station, and some might wander in from Dow’s Lake, Commissioner’s Park, or Preston Street. Here’s the proposed circulation pattern (but watch out, the diagram is turned 90 degrees from the one above, with Carling now on the right):

space between towers


The previous post showed artist’s conceptions of how the space between the towers might be developed, pending city approval (or the city might opt to have the space a regular asphalt street, but they aren’t asking us for our opinion).

The space between the towers is another issue. The spacing shown above generally meets the City’s guidelines and rules, including those just approved for the Centretown CDP, and those of other major cities. But they are closer together than Dark proposes in the Carling-Preston CDP.

I think there is a big difference between a new building going up “too close” to an existing building, and two new buildings on the same site. When dealing with proximity to existing buildings on existing streets, there is limited ability to angle buildings. And existing residents are right to be unthrilled with a wall of glass apartments in front of them that both block their view and rob them of privacy.

But for planned developments, the people buying those units know where the next building is. And we see  buyers for 101 Richmond or The Central on Bank Street where units face each other across a courtyard. We either have a lot of exhibitionists or else people are willing to trade off privacy for a cheaper apartment.

I wouldn’t buy a condo with a wall of glass facing another wall of glass at close range, because those people would point and laugh at me. But someone else will.

The third tower on the Richcraft site, currently proposed at 18 stories but likely to be a lot lower, doesn’t have even partial views out to Dow’s Lake. I think it would be better to make this an oval-ish or rounded-triangle tower with the thin-end close (maybe even closer than now shown) to the second tower. If the sides of the third tower were saw-toothed, with windows facing east-west, there would be privacy for both towers and better city views. Most of tower 2 would still have good north views, ie from floor 18 to 48, where they would be above tower 3.

Richcraft is proposing the usual row of live-work loft-like apartments along the OTrain MUP, a design which they seem to have gotten right when a number of other developers in the area consistently get it wrong or fail to sell:

lofts along the otrain MUP



8 thoughts on “845 Carling site plan: two and half condos

  1. Thanks for reporting on this. I appreciate all your reportage on development issues along Preston. I have a question about the Dark plan. It proposes to extend EV Tremblay across Champagne. Who currently owns that property on the south west corner of Beech and Champage? And how come they aren’t one of the favoured developers who get to build a new condo tower?

    1. Obviously somebody owns the Beverley Appts on the west side of Champagne opposite Eve Tremblay park. I gather it is a private individual. They just got screwed, BTW, since the neighboring properties will get zoned for high rises (and thus the parcels of land are worth about 5 million, like the dog shelter site, or 3.6 million like the 95 Norman site) and their property being zoned parkland will be relatively worthless. I dunno if the city buys it based on its future zoning or current use (ie, low rise residential). I dunno if the city would expropriate it, or just wait until the owner wants to sell, but the owner cannot redevelop it. Thus is the zoning lottery, and why it is so important to lobby during the CDP process and meet with Mr Dark before he comes out with plans. The sec 37 monies and other payments from developers to the city in order to build their towers are large sums, and there will be money to buy that parcel as part of the building frenzy going on. If you are young, look for the expanded park in your lifetime; if nearing retirement, dont bank on it.

  2. I wish there was a board of qualified experts who could advise the city council and staff on these massive decisions. These experts, in my imaginary world, would have no vested interest in the development and certainly no ties to or backing from developers. I guess I am dreaming of some way in which the interests of long term residents and potential residents could be balanced. Frankly I have no confidence in City Hall’s ability to manage development on this scale even with the ‘dark’ advice.

    1. I think those impartial experts who are not financially involved, are called planning staff, who hold degrees in planning from reputable universities and who take the overall policy directions from council (who responded to public demand, or who sold the plan to the public) for intensification and densification and smart growth and curbing the urban boundary by promoting redevelopment inside the city. Any impartial outside experts (dare I mention the OMB??) would also have to pay attention to the City’s Official plan and policies, and the provincial direction, and you will get exactly what you have now. As Mayor Watson promised at the planning summit last spring: lots more tall towers. Very tall towers.

    1. Sorry, I was confusing 505 Preston (which goes to Planning Committee on Tuesday) with the ‘strategic directions’ for the CDP (which has already seen Planning Committee and will go to Council on the 24th and which includes some general provisions about what kind of buildings should go on which sites, including 845 Carling).

  3. I question whether any of these condos will actually be built, now that the condo market in Ottawa is softening. Condo prices have declined year-over-year which will scare off the investor buyers.

  4. Neil
    The market is softening but Ottawa is still a solid market and its not like people are not buying condos they are just not as the pace a few years ago when the market was red hot.

    As for investors well look at Vancouver sales are down 45% and Toronto 25% and that does not seem to scare investors off so in Ottawa with sales down 15% i doubt you will say thtas care many if any off.

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