Queensview Station Crossing (part iii)

In the West End, the Confederation Line LRT will eventually extend to Lincoln Fields, then along Pinecrest Creek (where the transitway is) and it will split into two directions from a point north of the Queensway. One leg will carry on to Algonquin College. The other leg vers westward under a city park and emerges from its underground tunnel between the Queensway and the west end bus garage on Queensview Drive. The in-an-open-cut  Queensview Station ( much like Westboro and Tunney’s Stations) will replace the lawn directly in front of The Brick. Directly opposite The Brick is The Ottawa Citizen plant, and … Continue reading Queensview Station Crossing (part iii)

The Dark-side condo shower

Back in October, the City hired George Dark to conduct a “charette” – a planning exercise for the Otrain corridor and neighborhood along Preston, south of the Queensway. As related here previously, the charette charade seemed little more than an exercise in bombarding the neighbourhood with high rises. Mr Dark presided over a large plan of the neighbourhood,  chummily accompanied by the city’s leading developers and their agents, raining down Styrofoam cut-outs of high rise apartment buildings. (https://www.westsideaction.ca/charettes-or-is-it-charades-on-the-west-side/) The local community association is holding a public meeting of upset residents in the area. The poster below pretty accurately captures their feelings. Less obvious is the sense of betrayal, … Continue reading The Dark-side condo shower

Future shape of high rises in Carling and Preston areas

Preston Street is an odd mainstreet, in that it has minimal hinterland of dense residential development. Hintonburg’s and Westboro’s main street areas are more densely built up and have large catchment areas on all sides with a mix of low-rise and high-rise built form. Preston lost its eastern residential areas when 50’s urban renewal wiped out existing urban fabric to replace it with commuter office towers (NRCan), a commuter high school (Commerce, now Adult HS), and a commercial strip predicated on a city-wide market (the ethnic Italian community) rather than an indigenous market. Thus merchants champion converting housing to parking lots, and since the merchants rarely live in the neighborhood, might be more easily convinced of … Continue reading Future shape of high rises in Carling and Preston areas

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

Intensification not without its drawbacks

On Pamilla Street an infill developer severed the side yard of a small single — the blue one to the right in the pic — and greatly intensified the site. The neighbours objected, took it to the OMB, lost, and the building went ahead. Why was it controversial? Well, the usual developer sins. They took the front and back yard set back minimums as the permissible maximum building size. So the infill house is huge — so huge, it is in fact 3 houses on one 23′ lot with shared driveway. The neighbours objected to the height, the car traffic, and … Continue reading Intensification not without its drawbacks

Owning the Podium

Much of Ottawa’s current discussion about high rises focusses on the podium, or base of the building. In theory, the wider larger base is all the pedestrian sees, and the thin elegant glass tower floats off into the sky after a generous set back. Of course, this requires a fairly large lot or thin tower. What we increasingly see are small lot edifices, where either the tower is too fat for the base, or the podium effect is just sort of drawn onto the tower by a few horizontal bits of concrete trim. I stopped recently to look at the successfully done podium … Continue reading Owning the Podium

Firestone speaks

Last week, the Dalhousie Community Association, of which I am the outgoing president, held its annual AGM. Last year our speaker was John Doran from Domicile, speaking on how to cost out a condo project. This year, we had Dr Bruce Firestone, best known as founder of the Senators. Until recently he was a professor of entrepreneurship at Ottawa U. He has been an engineer, real estate developer, hockey guy, professor of architecture, engineering, and business, a mortgage broker, author, parent, etc. He is an engaging speaker. He talks with confidence born of personal experience on the topic and the … Continue reading Firestone speaks

Planning in Ottawa, the Clint Eastwood Version

Last week the packed Urban Forum lecture heard and saw Dr David Gordon from Queens expound on planning and urban design in Canada’s Capital, 1800-2000. Note the cut-off year: amalgamation; also removing the necessity to venture views on current plans such as the LRT. He reviewed planning over the century using professorial wit and hectoring. His theme was drawn from spaghetti westerns, particularly The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. You’ll see the various planning efforts allocated to these categories in the picture below. Indeed, reviewing the outline below will give you a very complete summary of the plot. Like any … Continue reading Planning in Ottawa, the Clint Eastwood Version

Claridge application for 1050 Somerset West

Claridge is proposing a new condo tower for their site at Breezehill and Somerset Streets, just west of the O-Train corridor. The site is between Devonshire school and Somerset, in the old Chinese market store (which was Acklands AutoSupply before that). (Pending zoning approvals etc the store is being renovated and rented out to a dollar store). Immediately to the west of the site is a four storey red brick office building, opposite that is the 18 storey residential tower that looks like it might date from the sixties or early seventies. Here in a nutshell is the neighborhood context: The left picture, a … Continue reading Claridge application for 1050 Somerset West

The Dog Shelter Condos – Is Ashcroft Serious?

The Champagne Avenue area — immediately west of the O-Train near Carling Avenue — has been a hotbed for developers recently. Domicile built two red brick mid-rise condo towers and some townhouses at the southwest corner near Carling Avenue.  He has another one – Hom – starting at the corner of Hickory and Champagne. Starwood Mastercraft has the vacant lot at the NE corner of Hickory and Champagne, where they are building two towers, about 16 floors high, the Soho Champagne. Here is an aerial view of the neighborhood, taken from somewhere above the soon-to-be-demolished Sir John Carling Building (which should instead … Continue reading The Dog Shelter Condos – Is Ashcroft Serious?

Westboro tizzy (iv) – of benefits, incentives, and selling out

I was at Development Committee some time back when they voted on the Our Lady of the Condos development on Richmond Road. Then-councillor Leadman could count heads as well as anyone, and no doubt knew the vote was going against her. The audience was chock full of angry neighbours/voters. At the last minute, she changed tactics from opposing the project to one of “if you’re going to approve it, at least get some community benefits”. The charge in the air was electric. The audience was aghast. Betrayal! Selling out!  No matter the logic of the move, the optics were terrible, my sinking stomach knew Leadman had … Continue reading Westboro tizzy (iv) – of benefits, incentives, and selling out

Westboro tizzy (ii)

Well, that Westboro post of a few days ago certainly got the juices going of a number of readers who took time to construct clever and insightful responses. The “comments”  that follow that post are a goldmine of intelligent views. Do read them if you haven’t yet. One wise reader send me the following link http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/inpr/su/sucopl/upload/The-Carlings-at-Arbutus-Walk-Vancouver-B-C.pdf which features a “case study” of a low-rise high-density infill, with the suggestion that the developer at Roosevelt should have tried harder to build within the zoning and height limit. I read the CMHC review of Arbutus Walk, and will add it to my bucket list of … Continue reading Westboro tizzy (ii)

City awards prize, whilst frowning on the design

The above house near the Parkdale market got an award of merit for urban design in the City’s recent competition. Frankly, I was surprised, and bit annoyed too. The upper deck, which doesn’t relate to the street so much as soar above it, does have a neat angled sun roof. The exterior materials are well handled, and the design is  neat. But only neat in an architectural way. I don’t think it is good urban design. First, the entire front yard of these two houses is gravel. Is it really a xeriscape garden? Fess up, it’s two car parking spaces taking up 100% of … Continue reading City awards prize, whilst frowning on the design

The Thinest of the Thin Houses

Very narrow houses are perfectly livable, if well designed. There are about 25 across the street from me on 12′ lots, which means they are  a bit more than 11′  wide inside. I think CCOC has a bunch a few blocks over, off Rochester. Nonetheless, very thin houses make City regulators expand with worry. A new group of thin houses is under construction at Gladstone and Cambridge. They replace the famous “yellow house” with its Charlie Brown zig-zag brown stripe. I have been anxiously awaiting their construction because they are thin – on 12′ lots. But the end unit, along Gladstone, is even thinner, being … Continue reading The Thinest of the Thin Houses

Faulty Prescription for Infill Problems

(Above: good looking infills that may not be possible under the proposed new rules) The City is concluding its study of infill housing projects in the downtown wards. They examined every infill built over the last few years, photographed them, and analysed what went wrong. The most obvious problems related to new buildings being too massive compared to their neighbours, too hard paved in the fronts (often leaving no soft landscaping at all) and too many  garage doors that blight the street. So, they came up with some solutions. Alas, I left the public reveal of these solutions feeling rather let down and discouraged. … Continue reading Faulty Prescription for Infill Problems