Gladstone CDP (part ii): City Proposes Second High Rise Cluster on Preston

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 height in its intensification in the Gladstone/Preston intersection and around the adjacent proposed Gladstone OTrain Station. But high rises are in the plan, including a cluster where Preston Hardware is now, which would be “10+ stories” high (recall, the City’s high rise guidelines have a category for 10+ which means 10- 20 floors; they are not yet proposing a maximum height limit on Preston, but the six floor traditional mainstreet height limit is vigorously violated). That’s why part i of this series looked at Ashcroft Canyon as a prototype …

The City will shortly be unveiling to the public 3 options generated by its planning staff and consultants, HOK, for the Little Italy area north of Queensway to Somerset Street, with Rochester Street as its east boundary and Breezehill on the west. Running right through the district are the Preston traditional mainstreet and OTrain corridors. aerial of gladstone cdp

The Google earth snip above shows the Queensway running east-west across the bottom of the picture; just north of it is Gladstone Avenue. Preston has the orange pin on it, right beside the Adult High School playing fields. The big reddish building is 1010 Somerset Street, a government warehouse slated for demolition — in all or part — later this year. On the west side of the OTrain corridor running from bottom centre to upper left; to the left of it the white rectangular building  is the Canada Bank Note building. The little bean-shaped  artist’s palette symbol shows the Enriched Bread artists colony; it and most of the triangle of land above it are owned by Regional. The Google aerial view roughly aligns with the City drawings for the site.

The next few posts here at WestSideAction will look at each of the major blocks in the neighbourhood, covering all three options.

First up, Gladstone-Preston node. This is a major intersection and natural desire line for pedestrians and motorists entering the area. The BIA has put its Bambinos landscaping feature here. The intersection is close and tight on the west: Green Papaya and Cafe Italia are popular restuarants on the corner. On the other side, the Ottawa Community Housing’s Gladstone Terrace reflects its 60’s design by being set back in the centre of the lot, surrounded by parking lots and lawns, somewhat divorced from the street. On the other corner is the former High School of Commerce, now the Adult High School, with its soccer field, enormous parking lots, and threatre  (more on this in a bit).

option 1, gladstone intersection focus


In the snip above, the new Gladstone OTrain Station is shown at number 6. The City is now leaning to have the Station platform run north from Gladstone (prior plans had it further south). Number 7 shows Gladstone itself running east-west; the yellow triangle represents a public piazza space down from which would be the escalators to the OTrain platform. That piazza is on the south end of what is now the Public Works parking lot. On either side of the  Number 6 are 10+ storey buildings (ie, 10-20 floors). The orangey-coloured lots on both sides of Gladstone going towards Preston are 5 – 9 storey buildings. These nine storey buildings are on all four sides of the intersection, which is why the previous post in this series looked at Ashcroft Canyon, where Richmond Road runs through the Our Lady of the Condos intensification site.

Here’s what an aerial view (imagined from a point a bit further west) shows:

option 1, elevations, focus on the south


The Gladstone plaza entrance to the OTrain would be nicely framed, by buildings, but a lot of care would be needed to ensure Gladstone isn’t a raceway (motorists speed up as the space opens up).From Balsam Street to the Queensway, Preston could be built up with a four block long row of 5-9 storey buildings. (remember too, that the plan is just a plan; it will take decades to see the new buildings, but it is certain that each and every developer will be asking for more height, more lot coverage, etc. The Preston-Carling plan is barely a year old and the developers are asking for more height and look like getting it). While the sketch above shows the buildings along Preston as being mid-rise towers above shorter podiums, there are not yet any rules to ask developers for that.

The brown buildings to the left of the tall towers at Gladstone Piazza, are on both sides of the OTrain corridor, and could be office or residential towers. Regional Realty wants 20 storey towers on top of eight storey podiums; Public Works on the other side of the tracks wants to maximize the sale value of their land.

Visible in the plan as a white rectangle, but not visible in the sketch, the Enriched Bread building on Gladstone, right by the OTrain, would remain, renovated.

Shown as No 8 on the plan is Louisa Street, a short street of small houses. It is marked as remaining low rise, subject to gradual intensification (this hasn’t exactly worked out well for Norman Street immediately south, where the first development going to Planning Committee later this month asks to break the low rise zoning).

On the east side of Preston, the Adult High School is nearing the end of its functional life. The theatre in particular is underpowered and obsolete. The school does not presently serve a local purpose, being a region-wide draw. It is undetermined if the OCDSB will demolish the school and sell it for redevelopment (which is what all three plan options show), or they might reduce its size and sell off underused portions of the block. Each city option includes the soccer field in the centre of the lot. Whether or not the OCDSB moves soon or not, a better site layout could be found once the board’s needs are determined. It is valuable and right to plan now for the site, rather than leave it out of the intensification plan.

The City has three options for the area. Option 2 puts a cluster of much higher buildings at the corner of Preston and Gladstone:

option 2 intersection close up


Keep in mind when viewing the plans that they do not show actual buildings, they are conceptual land use regulations only. They are subject to change over time. Property owners can always ask for more. Redevelopment will occur when property owners and developers deem the market right. It is not as if all the existing uses will be wiped away and all new stuff built over the next decade. The shelf life of a plan like this is only about a decade or two, then it might be redone to suit the needs of the 2030’s. The Province and City are committed to Smart Growth (intensification) and its the development fees from all these new buildings that will pay for the new LRT and OTrain lines.

The City hopes to have originals, much more clearer than my scans, up on its website Tuesday (the Friday posting didn’t happen).