It is good to be (still) living, in a time when transportation is finally focusing on people who walk, people who cycle, and not just people who drive. Yet to come, of course, is any concern for the people living … Continue reading Some real ped improvements, and some not
I went to a public talk the other evening. It was soooo depressing. The speaker is an architect and town planner. And professor. And consultant. And urban design reviewer. The secret to better cities? Hire more architects. Not just any … Continue reading Depressing evening with an Architect.
The projected build out of Albert and Chaudiere Islands * starts with the material already at hand, ie the existing buildings. The former brick and stone mill buildings will be converted to commercial uses, starting in 2015. These offer the quickest revenue opportunity for the developer, Windmill, and I imagine it is much easier to attract firms rather than condo residents. Particularly hi-tech-y firms which show a propensity to edgy industrial sites in other cities in part due to their often young employee age group and non-conventional self-image. The first buildings to be converted will most likely be on Albert … Continue reading Building LeBetter Flats, part 5, The Isles
I’ve been a tich occupied recently; along with neighbours we’ve been trying to influence the Preston-Carling secondary plan. Regular readers here will recall our lack of enthusiasm for the way this study was run run over us, To provide a detailed list of suggested improvements would be so long as to bore you to tears. Councillor Holmes has pared down the list to a shorter group of four resolutions, all of which lost at Planning Committee last week. Now I do understand Committee members voting to support the plan produced by their department, according to the marching orders transmitted to … Continue reading Good planning vs legalities
I have written (too-) much previously about the details in the Preston-Carling and Preston-Gladstone plans. The Preston-Carling documents go to planning committee on Tuesday. I will be there, and speaking. Albeit with great reluctance. The Preston-Carling plan in particular was hijacked from the planning staff by city executive. The biggest and first clue was George Dark and his planning charade. He launched a veritable snowstorm of high rises onto the area. It wasn’t an ordinary planning exercise, so much as a snow job on the community, designed to burry the yokels. Its brazenness taints the “profession” in my eyes. Amongst … Continue reading Supping from a poisoned chalice
IMO, the Gladstone CDP plans hit a number of high notes: public pathway along the west side of the OTrain cut ped-cycling link at Laurel-Oak Street new park space on the PWGSC lands just southwest of Plouffe Park a fine new plaza above the Gladstone OTrain Station, well framed with higher buildings that are not on the traditional Preston main street protection for the low rise dead ends in the BLISS group, and less-likely-to-last protection for Louisa Street the first creation/expansion of a high-density low-rise zone seriously put forward in a CDP (in Option 2, west of BLISS) development, hopefully … Continue reading Gladstone CDP (part vii) Overall impression
The Gladstone CDP is so named to distinguish it from the Preston-Carling CDP and Bayview Station CDP, and Bayview Yards CDP, LeBreton Flats plan, and Scott Street CDP, all of which are adjacent. But make no mistake, Preston Street is the commercial and visible heart of the Gladstone district CDP. What did the planners do to the traditional main street heart of Little Italy? Consider the policies in the City’s new Official Plan: Community Design Plans or Transit-Oriented Development Plans will be required to establish maximum building heights and locations for intensification within the boundaries of their study areas, based … Continue reading Gladstone CDP (part v) : Preston Traditional Mainstreet
The Gladstone CDP covers an area that was once an industrial heart of the City. There are many “brownfield” areas (former industrial sites, possibly contaminated) and a number of ongoing industrial uses: In the Google Earth view shown above, the big reddish building is the PWGSC warehouse at 1010 Somerset, also known as the “Oak Street complex”, and most recognizable to passersby for the outdoor stoneyard along the OTrain bike path. On the west side of the tracks, the Canada Bank Note building and its huge parking lot take up an entire block. The triangles of land between it … Continue reading Gladstone CDP (part iv): Mixed Use
We already know the Preston-Carling CDP favours a lot of very high high-rises, maybe 40 floors high, with heights tapering down as one goes northward from the Carling edge into Little Italy. This tapering is quick, but each increment is big: it goes from 40 to 18 floors in half a block, 9 to 4 in the space of a back yard lot line. Claridge, Richcraft, Starwood, and Domicile were quick out of the gate with high rise proposals; Tamarack with a mid rise (albeit in the low rise zone). In contrast, the City’s new Gladstone CDP is proposing less … Continue reading Gladstone CDP (part ii): City Proposes Second High Rise Cluster on Preston
This is part 2 of reviewing and commenting on Dalziel and Cortale’s book — A House in the CIty — promoting low rise high density housing for the inner ring neighbourhoods. Despite my criticisms in the previous post, the book is an educational read for keeners. Part 3 of their book, their take their 62 case studies from nine cities, and distill them to find the much loved classic home format that scores well against their evaluation criteria. They end up with a Georgian-style townhouse of four floors. This is enough space to be a substantial single family home, or … Continue reading A House in the City, continued
About this time last year I had a brief debate with a minion of a local architect’s firm who was employed by the city’s chief consultant to make recommendations for how many highrises could be stuffed into the Preston-Carling CDP (no conflict of interest here, no sir-e-e-e). This minion, previously described in this blog as “Spike” thought it was GREAT that the neighbourhood was undergoing renewal, revival, rejuvenation, rebuilding, etc. ad nauseum. Of particular import to him was that firms moving in were the CREATIVE CLASS. High tech firms, planners, and of course, ARCHITECTS. Like his firm, having just … Continue reading Blessed by the Creative Class
Last week a bunch of us were invitees to a “focus group” held by city contractors “THE PLANNING PARTNERSHIP”, out of Toronto. Modest name that. Fancy multicolour business cards too, with irregular corners. Die cut. Oooooh. The group encompassed a large number of planning professionals. They were slightly outnumbered by the Little Italy community invitees. The meeting started at 6.30 and the presentations consultations dialogue presentations went on til 9. It was a sort of slideshow of wonderful looking places. All elsewhere. That’s why it’s planning porn — beautiful but you can’t have it. Drool and be frustrated. … Continue reading I know Porn when I see It
There are a lot of condos proposed for the corner of Sidney and Preston (and to think this used to be a city-owned site, sold in the 1970’s. I hope we got lots of use out of that money. ), Of course, there are a few more condos proposed around these ones, condos being such friendly sociable things. In the drawing above, Sidney Street is the horizontal short street running from left to right, debouching onto Preston. Alas, it does so quite close to the Preston-Carling intersection, which might cause queueing at rush hours, so the traffic study … Continue reading Sidney – we barely knew ya ! Now it’s time to go.
Drop into the sales offices of the various developers active in the south end of Preston Street and you’ll notice a common theme. Their site is close (-er, or -est) to Preston, its lively cafe culture, the restaurants, the cute ethnics parading on the street. A big part of Preston’s charm is that it is the traditional anchor of the Italian community. Most of them may have pulled up home anchors and sailed to greener suburban pastures, but the pull of church, banquets, “card games” at the cafe, weddings … the heart returns to Little Italy. Every year the … Continue reading Streets are for cars, dummy !
Well, OK, Preston Street ain’t exactly the paradise of the song. But it is a pretty damn nice street. The City spent eleven (?) million tax dollars about 5 years ago to put the street on a road diet, to widen the sidewalks, install greened side boulevards with trees and shrubs. The front yards of residential properties were landscaped too. And the BIA contributed bike posts, tree lighting, and other features. I think most people would find it a very pleasant street to walk and shop on. It’s even better in the evenings when the lighting effects shine. The city … Continue reading Who’s paving paradise ?
The City is making admirable progress on the renewal and rebuilding of the OTrain corridor. The Bayview Station CDP is pretty good, overall.( Of course it has flaws, after all they didn’t adopt all of my suggestions.) The Preston-Carling CDP has many good elements, tempered by a few underplayed opportunities and few retrograde car-dominant ideas that are downright mistakes. But the biggest problem with both CDP’s was they were designed after the land stampede was well under way. Spot rezonings and ad hoc decisions forced the area planners to make the plan fit the evolving reality, rather than shaping it from … Continue reading Reinstating the obsolete is not planning for the future, but it is deja vu all over again
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. 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 … Continue reading 845 Carling site plan: two and half condos
The Dark CDP plan for Sydney Street is as follows. Sydney, a short, dead-end street on the east side of the OTrain track, immediately north of Carling, would be extended westwards, then turned north to join Adeline, turning both when combined into a sort of suburban “crescent” that would facilitate motoring, people running through residential streets looking for parking spaces, access to high rises that would be otherwise impossible to build on the dead ends, etc. Sydney is the L-shaped gray arrow shown below. Right now, only half of the horizontal part of the L is actually a street: Going … Continue reading Sydney Street: whose vision will prevail ?
An interesting demonstration of evolving design came to west siders this week courtesy of our high rise developers. Better design is everywhere these days. For that we can credit the popularity of industrial design schools, increased awareness of graphic design elements, and the popularity of design-centric programs on TV and the ‘net. Now we can see it on our skyline by craning our necks. Up on Cathedral Hill, Windmill developments installed their crane for their new condo tower. It is the conventional design. Dare we call it the ‘old fashioned’ design? Notice the complicated support wires, the heavy concrete block … Continue reading Spring Craning
The City’s (in)famous Bayview-Carling CDP process has been sputtering along for a very long time. In January, the City cut it into three segments, each their own CDP. Rather like the myths about worms, does each section have a heart and ability to keep on wiggling? Interested observers can trot off to Tom Brown Arena this Tuesday evening to see the purported “final” draft of the Bayview Station area plan. You can send your doppleganger to the Albert Street reconstruction open house being held the same night at the Dalhousie Community Centre. Since the two projects overlap planning areas, it … Continue reading Suddenly, Bayview Station CDP doesn’t look so bad
above: elderly gent attempts to give directions to city engineers who will shortly zoom off – but in what direction? The section of Albert Street that runs through LeBreton Flats is up for reconstruction starting this year. Total reconstruction, as in deep sewers, new watermains, new pavement and curbs. But the wiring won’t be buried that is a cost imposed on suburban areas not in central Ottawa. What will be the changes? Well, we don’t know for sure. The contract is being given to the Rideau Transit Group while the project is in the design stage, with more unknowns … Continue reading Albert Street reconstruction – Back to the Future?
Here are the last 27 of my comments on the Carling-Preston CDP draft plan originated by George Dark and put forward by the City of Ottawa. 45. Proposed mini-parks or squares at Preston-Carling, Beech-Rochester, Adeline-MUP, Dow Motors site, need not be assumed by the city but can be mandated as green space (not vehicular zones) and left in the ownership and maintenance of the adjacent buildings, with appropriate legal provisions, similar to the Hudson building on Kent. Never underestimate the susceptibility of this city to arguments to turn such miniparks or plazas into loading zones or stack lanes. 46. … Continue reading Carling-Preston CDP: 72 ways to offend, concluded, part iv
Height Map 14. The Sherwood Drive intersection is not well enough handled. The triangular block (now a mini-mall) offers opportunity for a higher building with distinction and possibly good landscaping. Then allow low zoning for a long, linear building(s) along Carling east of Sherwood, creating a noise buffer, lower-rise gateway to the Civic Hospital area, with a courtyard between it and Domicile’s towers, creating a variety of heights in this composition rather than just a collection of towers that obstruct each other’s views. I am pleased to see some mention of sight lines in this report, a planning issue … Continue reading Carling-Preston CDP: 72 ways to offend (part ii)
Recall that the City hired George Dark to come up with the Carling – Preston mini-CDP that is supposed to be part of the bigger Bayview-Carling CDP that has been stalled and starved and rendered partially stillborn (in that development applications are approved before the plan is in place). The City asked for comments by Feb. 11th and your faithful scribe dutifully complied, sending in a lengthy missive of 72 whines, complaints, and helpful suggestions. In the thought that some reader might want to see these pearls of wisdom, I will reproduce the letter over the next few posts. There … Continue reading Carling Preston CDP: 72 ways to lose friends and generate animosity
So the Bayview-Carling CDP is late. And its boundaries keep changing. And it looks like it’s a Plan chasing the buying decisions of condo developers. And oops, they missed those developable Carling Avenue lots the Feds have just posted For Sale signs on. Could it get worse? Yes. The City has divided the CDP into three smaller ones. The Bayview end is still not put to bed, with developers already wanting to change where the City will permit high rises, and how high they may be. And the City itself is changing its Bayview Yards plan to accommodate new ideas, like a … Continue reading More Embarrassment for the Bayview-Carling CDP (part ii)