Some real ped improvements, and some not

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

Blessed by the Creative Class

  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

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?

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

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

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

March of the High Rises

The City has recently seen a spate of high rise applications and project announcements. Claridge has a number of downtown high rises in the high 20- storey range: beside Bell Canada, on Nepean and Gloucester, and on Queen at Lyon (currently Barbarella’s and a parking lot). There are taller applications too. The first out of the gate* was Soho Italia, proposed for 500 Preston Street near Dow’s Lake. The Soho Italia structure is notable for several features: most of the parking garage is above grade (about 7 stories of it) clad in a perforated black metal screen; the building rises straight up occupying all of … Continue reading March of the High Rises

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

Preston BIA dumps on Soho Italia idea

The Preston Street BIA apparently has this to say about the Starwood-Mastercraft proposed 35 storey condo tower on a black podium/parking garage, at the south end of Preston Street:  “The Preston Street BIA Board of Directors met last Friday, to define their position on the proposed rezoning of 490 Preston Street. The motion below was unanimously accepted by the Board of Directors.   Motion: Whereas a developer is proposing to build a 35 storey building at 490 Preston Street, And whereas the 35 storeys exceeds the recent rezoning that allowed a four storey podium at Preston Street, and an 18 storey tower at the back … Continue reading Preston BIA dumps on Soho Italia idea

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 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