Soho Italia sets the bar disappointingly low

Soho Italia is the proposed 31 storey condo tower by Mastercraft-Starwood, slated for the corner of Preston at Sidney Street (almost at Carling Avenue). We have now seen their landscaping plan. Get out your hanky. It is to weep.   Sidney Street (the developer cannot even spell it right)  runs east-west across the bottom of the picture. Carling Avenue parallels Sidney, just a few metres further south. Preston is running north-south on the right side of the drawing above. Recall that the rainforest of tall towers the City is encouraging in the Preston-Carling CDP, its Strategic Direction, and its new … Continue reading Soho Italia sets the bar disappointingly low

Soho Italia: please sir, can I have some more?

  Very much as expected, Starwood-Mastercraft is back asking for more Soho Italia. More height. More commercial/office space. Starwood made a smart move when it bought the Sidney-Preston site a few years back. It was the only site zoned for a high rise. They adroitly parleyed that approved thin concept tower to a much fatter, much taller condo. But they haven’t marketed the Soho yet, probably because it would be too hard to market three towers in close proximity (they have twin towers on Champagne/Hickory, just two short blocks away). Then they found themselves left on the second shelf as Claridge got … Continue reading Soho Italia: please sir, can I have some more?

Condonaught on Preston

Seen on Preston: large crane at site of future condo tower Soho Italia: And the reason for the crane? Here is condo-naught William McElligott, author of the best-selling photo book Ottawa. He’s going to be hoisted up 260′ on the end of the crane to take photos on a clear Ottawa today, so that condo buyers will know exactly what their October views will be like. The crane revs up its mighty motor, and the boom starts to extend higher, while the hook descends towards the ground. There is a safety rope hooked to Mr McElligott, so he could slide back … Continue reading Condonaught on Preston

High rises: Gladstone southwards

Yesterday’s post covered high rise intensification — on an east-west axis — along the north edge — the Carling Avenue line — of our  community. Today’s post covers a north-south line drawn roughly along the OTrain cut from Gladstone to Carling. It is not clear if the drawing (second pic, below) puts the line along the OTrain cut or Preston Street itself. This post is somewhat speculative. Here is the area in Google Maps: Recall that there is a proposed LRT station on the OTrain corridor near Gladstone. Generally, the station is drawn running from Gladstone to the Queensway, with its north exit … Continue reading High rises: Gladstone southwards

What condo buyers see

There’s a big flurry of condos going in around the Preston – OTrain corridor. There are obvious attractions, such as shopping and dining on the traditional main streets (Preston and Somerset/West Wellington). And easy access to the numbers one and two employment centres (downtown, Tunney’s Pasture) and minor ones such as NRCan, Agriculture, or Gatineau. And being on one or both of the  two major passenger rail transit lines, and Carling Avenue/Queensway for motorists. But what will the residents see? Alas, I am unable to hold my camera up 23 stories, let alone 42, but here are some pictures from the top of … Continue reading What condo buyers see

Sim Preston: Claridge strikes again

The Soho Italia project by Starwood Mastercraft has been controversial since it first became public knowledge through this blog early in the year. The + or – 35 storey condo tower put a major hole in the established urban plan for the neighborhood and multi-year traditional main street plans. The tower, a short block north of Carling Avenue, is aggressively positioned to maximize views. Not being in the “first row” along Carling, it runs the risk of being blocked by competing towers should ones be built where the CIBC is, or Dow Motors (whose site has NO height limit on it) or other vacant … Continue reading Sim Preston: Claridge strikes again

What should go at street level? (part ii – the bad)

I wrote this post last week for, you should have read it there! It got a number of responses so for this version of it I have corrected and clarified some things. There are also more pictures, because that is the WSA style! Thank you for reading. __________________________________________ What should go at street level? Large property development firms are seldom compared to little domesticated birds. But in some ways they are canaries in the coal mines of the urban streetscape. And the song these messengers sing is not a cheerful tune for downtown pedestrians. Consider this not-so-old  downtown condo: … Continue reading What should go at street level? (part ii – the bad)

It’s a Soho World After All …

Soho Champagne & Soho Italia have a sales office at the south end of Preston, on the proposed Soho Italia site. Now the sales office is really an information office, as there isn’t yet anything to sell on either location, nor is there much information. They will take your name if you are interested in the Soho Champagne (first tower of which is at the top of the photo, in dark; its larger sibling is shown transparent, as is the Soho Italia tower) and ask for “community support” for the Italia Tower. I declined to give my support, and the rep … Continue reading It’s a Soho World After All …

Downtown’s changing skyline

Ottawa has a curious bunch of downtown buildings dating from the Robert Campeau era (1960’s and 70’s). They all share a certain formula: towers “inspired” by famous buildings elsewhere, usually built on massive ugly windowless podiums, and with no apparent front doors. Consider the Centennial Towers, whose entrance used to be facing a drive through arch, mercifully removed during its last renovation. Or the Marriott hotel, also sitting on a rough concrete windowless podium, its entrance facing a mid-block driveway well concealed from motorists and pedestrians alike. Or the black cube Place de Ville office towers, some of which still have their entrances … Continue reading Downtown’s changing skyline

Soho Italia promoters set up tame blog

The developers and promoters for the Soho Italia project have set up their own blog to counter the critical coverage and commentary they have been getting in the media and blog world. It’s at  Unfortunately, you cannot elect to keep informed of exciting new posts and drooling interviews with the architect as there are no subscriber or feed options. They don’t actually own up to being behind the blog, but it’s pretty obvious they are, it contains their advertisements, discount opportunities to buy their condos, and very carefully selected media exerpts. One odd word of ownership creeps in … Over … Continue reading Soho Italia promoters set up tame blog

On development styles, and what is planning anyway…

I hope that many readers of this blog also read the comments. Most of them are really good, some rise to absolute excellence (and that’s not just because I agree with the writer …).  I will not repeat the material submitted in comments as a “post”; I prefer to write new stuff each day. And there’s too many good comments anyway. In discussing Soho Italia, the 35 storey small-lot condo proposed for 500 Preston, I lamented that it did not relate well nor contribute to sidewalk life. This ignited a debate amongst readers. Some people prefer the “courtyard” approach whereby condo buildings are … Continue reading On development styles, and what is planning anyway…

Soho ho

The Starwood-Mastercraft sales trailer is being fitted out at the corner of Sidney-Preston. Not surprisingly, some people think this is the sales office for the Soho Italia project, their 35 storey condo that soars to new heights (they hope). But alas, it is the sales office for their Soho Champagne project, the twin towers proposed for 125 Hickory Street at Champagne Avenue, over by the dog shelter on the other (better? wrong?) side of the tracks. I presume the sales model in the picture is actually unwrapping one of the boutique hotel-room sized condos. At the other end of the trailer … Continue reading Soho ho

Soho Italia gets one councillor’s vote

The strategy behind Starwood Mastercraft’s approach to getting the city tallest tower put on the city’s smallest lot seems to be working. Recall that Starwood has not gone to the planning department with their proposal, but instead has been shopping it around to the Mayor and Councilors first. They are getting their sales pitch in well before the planning “experts” the city has on staff are even allowed to look at the proposal. This blog is “blocked” at City Hall, so employees cannot read it at work. So the if the planners at the planning dept want to know what is proposed in their city, … Continue reading Soho Italia gets one councillor’s vote

Sim Preston

Remember SimCity, a computer game that was all the rage a few hundred years ago? It’s still around. I recall that gamers could take the base maps for SimCity and create them as a specific city,ie Ottawa. Then one could run out scenarios to see consequences. City Councillors voted to hold the urban boundary, increase density, and simultaneously zoned the majority of the urban area as “out of bounds” for increased density. The result would have been predictable in thirty minutes of playing SimCity as high rises would sprout up along the transit corridors and those few areas zoned high rise, as well as various zoning-busting … Continue reading Sim Preston

Soho slow to planning dept

The Soho Italia project continues to interest people. I am interested in knowing what the city planners think (they are professional planners after all, and I like talking to the ones who are knowledgeable about what constitutes good urban design). And the project location  is within the design priority area, it is subject to the urban design review committee for review. A preconsultation with the urban design review committee is also required before the formal review of the design by the committee. And of course the developer has to apply for zoning, variances, and all those other things. But alas, despite … Continue reading Soho slow to planning dept

Soho Italia – the developer’s proposal

 Note: the land on the south side of Carling on each side of the O-train corridor is shown as green space. It is NOT parkland. The City’s Official Plan calls for this area along Carling to be developed as a high-density mixed-use centre, ie more condos and offices.  The facade of the podium facing Preston appears to have a fair bit of glass. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a Photoshop rendering of this facade. How the building relates to the street is very important for a livable street. In the background of the above picture you can spot the 125 Hickory … Continue reading Soho Italia – the developer’s proposal