Tree trimming in Little Italy

No, it’s not Christmas tree trimming, although will come soon enough. The view in Little Italy the other day was much more Star Wars like. Instead of sending someone to climb the long-dead tree, the operator sat comfortably in a cab at truck level, and sent up this multi-positional arm. The claws grasped the tree trunk: A lengthy chainsaw blade whipped out in an arc from under the claws, slicing through the tree in less than a second. Obi Wan should be jealous as it looked like serious competition to a light sabre. In about an hour, the rest of … Continue reading Tree trimming in Little Italy

Claridge’s Icon going up

Claridge’s Icon project at Preston and Carling has reached a new low. The 8 or 9 storey underground parking garage hole has been dug and I hear cement will be pouring before the year is out. The 45 storey, 485′ high condo tower includes several floors of office space in the podium with some retail at grade. This is about twice the height of the next tallest building in the area, Ashcroft’s yellow-brick rectangular student residence building on Champagne, located beside the first glass tower of SOHO Champagne. Ashcroft’s residence will be completed by August 2016, at which point they … Continue reading Claridge’s Icon going up

Hickory – Adeline Bridge opens

The City’s newest pedestrian – cyclist bridge opened for public use today. The bridge, just north of the OTrain Trillium line Carling Station, connects Hickory Street in the Civic Hospital neighbourhood with Adeline and then Preston Street on the Little Italy side. It makes it much easier for residents to access the Preston traditional main street, and opens a new off-Carling route for east west movements. It provides better access to the Carling Otrain station for those days the OTrain is actually running, and provides every-day access from the new condos and student housing high rises on Champagne Avenue to … Continue reading Hickory – Adeline Bridge opens

Hickory Bridge off to a late start

  The OTrain multi-user path north of Carling OTrain Station isn’t plowed this year (the picture above is of a prior winter). Maybe that is due to the recent start of the Hickory Street bridge. The bridge crosses the OTrain cut, connecting Hickory Street and the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood with Adeline Street and the Carling OTrain Station and the Preston Street commercial strip. The bridge is partially funded by Domicile and Starwood Mastercraft, builders of the condos on the Champagne side. Subsequent developers will also be dinged for contribution. Ironically, the unplowed section is the most popular with walkers. To get … Continue reading Hickory Bridge off to a late start

Industrial Chic: where-ever you can find it

Thanks largely to the NCC’s penchant for eliminating Ottawa’s industrial heritage, we have extraordinarily few industrial sites to convert into condos, lofts, or trendy retail. A few years back, retail pioneers took over industrial space on Elm and Spruce Streets. The trend then spread to the adjacent City Centre building which has many great industrial features: high ceilings, cheap space, lotsa concrete surfaces. I used to joke the only thing it was missing was Stephen Beckta. A similar trend has taken over the industrial garages on Beech Street, east of Preston. The baseball bat factory gave way to architect’s offices … Continue reading Industrial Chic: where-ever you can find it

New developments on Bronson

Two new developments are coming forward on Bronson Avenue. One very big; one very small. One by a big Toronto developer; the other by a local. The small one is for a demolition and infill on the west side of Bronson between Christie and Gladstone. The proponent has tentative plans for a three storey infill, consisting of a ground level business, with two floors of apartments above. Both apartments are three bedrooms and the layout is conducive to family living. There is also a proposed basement apartment. The building is snuggled up to the north side of the lot, with … Continue reading New developments on Bronson

Condomania on Carling: Domicile joins in

Domicile has a proposal winding its way through the bureaucratic maze at City Hall. It’s for a 18 storey condo building on Rochester Street, between the Queensway and Carling Avenue, near Dow’s Lake. Here’s what the street looks like now: Domicile owns the lot running from Pamilla Street and Rochester (the intersection in the foreground) all along Rochester to the red brick wall of a 3 1/2 storey low rise.  Domicile already has permission to demolish the elderly house in the middle . Here’s an aerial view of the lot set within the south Dalhousie neighborhood: The Queensway runs east-west across the … Continue reading Condomania on Carling: Domicile joins in

Main street’s modal split

Annie Hillis of the West Wellington BIA (WWBIA) sent me the following data. They conducted a four-day survey in June, asking 830 people found along their typical older-city main street how they came to the street, their post code, and their shopping habits. The WWBIA main street runs roughly from Bayswater westwards along Somerset & West Wellington to Island Park. The modal split numbers surprised me.  Forty six percent of those found along the street got there by walking; 26% by car; 13% by bike; twelve percent by bus (numbers throughout this story are rounded off). Only 26% by car? That’s pretty low. And … Continue reading Main street’s modal split

Chinatown Art Installation

The City sets aside a certain small percentage of its major capital projects budget (such as road reconstruction) for art installations. West Siders know the ones: Preston Street granite postcards from the piazzas, West Wellie’s marble veggies, the red chairs in the Glebe. The just-getting-completed reconstruction of Somerset between the OTrain tracks and Booth had a very small art budget. One that had to cope with three distinct areas: Chinatown, the bit of Little Italy around Preston, and the OTrain viaduct-bridge. With public consultation, the decision was made to have two installations: one on the Chinatown hill, and one on the viaduct … Continue reading Chinatown Art Installation

Tree makes way for Bambinos

The Preston street BIA has been planning for some years to install a sculptural bit of landscaping at Preston and Gladstone. Called the Bambinos, it is a concrete installation suggesting family, and a soccer team, and is a gateway to the Italian community. Some serious digging has been going on at the corner of Preston and Gladstone recently. I can only presume that they are installing the foundations for these sculptures.    While preparing a new foundation on the northeast corner, they uncovered an older one. Notice the tree on the crest of the little hill, beside the red stake: Last week, … Continue reading Tree makes way for Bambinos

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

Controlling creepy car lots

One of my pet grievances is parking lots on the edge of the sidewalk. Too often motorists or the lot owner “creep” all the time onto the sidewalk. In the streetscaping treatment of West Wellington the City employed portable planter boxes, planted with currant bushes, to keep the cars back. They didn’t do this for every parking lot. But now, a few years on, I saw these planters being installed in front of yet another used car lot. Bravo! When the lot is redeveloped for urban purposes, the planters can be redeployed. I delighted in noticing that the lot owner was not moving his cars … Continue reading Controlling creepy car lots

An Excess of Moral Equivalency

Dear gentle reader: this post may offend some of you with tender sensibilities, so do not read on if you are sensitive about Italians, Catholics, Afghanis, Muslims, Fascists, Tamils, Tamil Tigers, the War Measures Act, moral equivalency, PC, are Liberal, or liberal, or easily offended in any way. You were warned. And then I ask of the reader some latitude, since I am unsure myself what I think of the situation described below:   First, to get us warmed up, some satire: ThePublic Citizen, October 21, 2070: Mo Kadr stood beside his father’s name today at the unveiling of the Muslim-Canadian … Continue reading An Excess of Moral Equivalency

Public art for Somerset Street

The City has a “percent for art” whereby a percentage of capital (construction) costs of projects is to be spent on public art. West siders will be familiar with public art sculptures on Preston (postcards from the piazzas), West Wellie (marble fire hydrants), and Bank Street (the bike racks). So now it is the turn for the current Somerset construction projects running from Bayswater to Preston, and the Preston to Booth Street sections. The City combined the two projects in order to afford a larger art installation. The City encouraged artists to employ lighting. Community input suggested that the slope eastbound up from Preston into Chinatown … Continue reading Public art for Somerset Street

Inside the new Bridgehead

Bridgehead will be opening their Preston location in the fall. While the building faces Preston, their entrance will be just around the corner, off Anderson, approximately where the Preston&Leif Glass doors are now. Above: view of building along Preston St Above: view along Anderson Street. The boulevard along the sidewalk will be much improved and landscaped, and will include a patio. Bridgehead is proposing some major renovations to the building façade, closing up some doors, opening new ones, extending openings the full height. The mis-matched brick, which apparently is not original to the building, will be reclad in new material. The coffee shop … Continue reading Inside the new Bridgehead

The Secret West Side

Everyone knows the traditional main streets: West Wellie, Preston, Chinatown, Bank Street … The very success of these streets ensure they attract popular businesses with enough clientele to afford the rents. But where are the retailers that cannot afford main street? Ottawa lacks many low-value retail spaces, where specialty niche businesses, startups, and some just-plain marginal businesses can locate. Gentrification and the revival of main streets are desirable, but have the effect of squeezing out these small firms. So they slip into little-noticed spots unattractive to mainstream, main street retailers. I previously mentioned the hotbed of nifty niche novelty firms on the west side*. … Continue reading The Secret West Side

Be careful what you wish for … the story of Carling Avenue

Life, especially when it comes to municipal planning in Ottawa, is full of inadvertent disasters. Sometimes these come from the law of unintended consequences, whereby something ostensibly for the good turns out to be awful. Other times is results from good wishes, which when delivered, make you wish you had never asked in the first place. That sounds like something from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and the proposed reconstruction of Carling between the O-Train and Bronson is looking a bit grimm to me today. In a city whose new mantra is taxpayer dollar value, we are looking at an expensive road scheme that will be … Continue reading Be careful what you wish for … the story of Carling Avenue

HOM on the Champagne

Domicle has started marketing their new condo on Champagne Avenue at Hickory Street. It’s a 12 storey tower on a podium facing Champagne with six townhouses facing Hickory. The name HOM has an accent over the O to make it sound like HOME in Swedish. The marketing scheme is interesting. It’s big on IKEA style signage. The green exterior signage vandalized (graffiti) on Sunday was cleaned up by Monday morning, so they are alert. The market package inside (kitfolder) follows through on the same Ikea theme. With the popularity of design TV — the HGTV channel, for example — viewers/consumers are becoming much more design-conscious. In this case, … Continue reading HOM on the Champagne

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 …

Preston/Norman infill detailed …

Recall that a previous post looked at the potential redevelopment of this lot at the corner of Norman and Preston. In essence, the proposal is to demolish the garage and build a 3 storey apartment unit.  See,   I asked readers what they thought of the infill, and got a number of intelligent replies. So, end the suspense, what does the site owner propose? What does the project look like? These two elevations are from the City development application:   And this one is from the developer:       The landscaping plan shows the ground between the building and the street to … Continue reading Preston/Norman infill detailed …

Infill: what might fit?

As seen from Preston Street (off camera slightly to the left) looking along Pamilla Street (pronounced locally as Pa-milla). The brick house is long established; its back yard also abutted Pamilla. A double garage was built, with a ped door between the two garage doors, leading to apartments above.  It looks like it may have been commercial premises at one time, converted to housing in … when?… the forties or fifties? It has … character, and interest, and adds to the variety of the neighborhood. And provides a lot of housing units between the two buildings on the one lot. Behind the house is … Continue reading Infill: what might fit?