Can an older condo building compete with new?

Older apartment and condo buildings reflect the design, technology, and economic trade-offs of their day. Newer buildings offer features like higher ceilings and much larger windows.

Apartments in older buildings are often cheaper than new ones, on more spacious sites. Ideally, one could buy and older unit and get the benefits of new designs. But there is only so much a new kitchen or bathroom can do. Structurally, the buildings are locked in place.

But not all the buildings, all the time. There is a high rise out along the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway and Richmond Road, originally marketed as Olympic Tower (which I guess dates it around 1976?) that had metal panels under the windows. From the Parkway, the view suggests that a number of these were removed and replaced with glass, giving old units the floor-to-ceiling window look of new construction.

Now, I see they are redoing the windows on the river-view façade, and it looks more modern. I also suspect more units are getting more expansive glass to take advantage of that view:

august 2013 099


The adjacent buildings, Ambleside, are all concrete exteriors making any sort of window expansion very difficult.