Claridge, 505 Preston @ Carling

Claridge today unveiled proposals for a very tall condo at the corner of Preston and Carling, facing Commissioner’s Park and Dow’s Lake. This would be the tallest building in Ottawa, taller than Place de Ville Tower C (Transport Canada), and taller than the Metropole condo in Westboro.

The 45 storey building is designed by David Pontarini, a prominent high-rise designer based in Toronto. Here is a view from Dow’s Lake:


The podium levels would possibly contain office uses, which is good mixed-use for a building. There are no details yet as to the amount and location of parking. Just a bit visible to the left of the tower (in the picture above) is the outline of the Soho Italia tower, currently proposed for 30 stories, by Starwood Mastercraft. Their building just lost value as the Claridge building trumps their view.

In the sketch below, the view is from somewhere in the midst of the NRCan office sites in the northeast, so we are looking to the south west.  This time, the Claridge building is to the left, the Soho Italia is to the right, with Preston running between the two:


Squint carefully and you can just make out the bell tower of the little German red brick church at the base of the tower. The first house at the base of the Soho ghosted-in building is the Topkapi restaurant. The artist has kindly envisioned a new high rise for the Dow Motors site (beyond the Soho building) but I don’t know why it wouldn’t be at least as tall, given its front row location and much bigger lot plus it’s right on top of the OTrain Carling Station.

CTV did a news report on the project, at this link is the text as well as the video of the site:

I must confess to some puzzlement at the Preston BIA position that this building doesn’t cast a residential shadow whereas the Soho Italia one does. Why the focus on residential?  Maybe it depends on who’s house is being shadowed. Obviously they both throw shadows, one down each side of the street, which will definitely darken the first blocks of Preston. It will be interesting to see a shadow study with these two towers in place, and maybe the Dow Motors one too. Note that all these high rises contradict the Preston neighborhood plan which called for Preston to be a traditional low rise mixed use main street, with high rises set back from the low rise street.

Of course, these two towers will change the look and feel of the existing neighborhood in the area. That’s exactly what intensification and high rises do. The current Bayview-Carling CDP plan, in progress ever so slowly and seemingly designed to report only once all the available lots have been bought up and rezoned, does call for a lot of redevelopment along Carling from LeBreton to Sherwood on the north side of Carling; and on the south side of Carling too from Preston to Sherwood (which many people erroneously think is parkland when it has been zoned for intensive mixed-use development for many years).

From my perspective in the Dalhousie neighborhood, I’d like to see some delay in this land rush, and maybe the guiding hand of a full-time planner working right now. The City has been unwilling to devote the staff time to plan this area in a timely manner, maybe we should import George Dark to give us a more detailed plan for the Gladstone – Preston – Carling – LeBreton street rectangle. This could include the OTrain station itself, and a proper redesign for Carling Avenue that doesn’t rip out the green median as do current city traffic plans.

This area has such potential, can we do it right?

27 thoughts on “Claridge, 505 Preston @ Carling

  1. Long, drawn out sigh… It feels like the same conversation over and over. This design contradicts that design, the height should go from lower to higher at the Ottawa river, the height should go along the o-train track stations, there shouldn’t be any height, where is the grocery store…

    I’ve been to a few of these meetings and it always feels like every developer in this area – including Hintonburg development too – has no idea what the other developers are doing. There is not an overall vision (sorry CDP people, no one is listening). Interesting that this drawing includes SOHO building. It is going to hard to sell those upscale condos when they see who their neighbour is going to be.

    I find it interesting that they have left the church and the surrounding houses. The developer has already approached these places with an offer to buy.

  2. Will it look as cheap as the Claridge Plaza I, II, III and IV? The height it one thing, but the quality of the building should be at the top of the priorities.

  3. So people buying on Carling expecting Dow’s Lake views might get a view of another condo instead? Nice. Sure looks like Carling from Bronson to Sherwood is going to become a condo canyon girding Dow’s Lake, which implores an acceleration of LRT improvements along the O-train line, including a bicycle-friendly underground crossing below Carling. The development on the south side of Carling? Sounds like it should be pushed as more mixed used commercial than condo residential, given the proximity to Dow’s lake, and the amount of residential opposite.

  4. Great to see! Hope the NIMBYs dont get in the way, and this building is built.

  5. Nice to see Claridge has time for all these other ceiling-busting condo tower ideas – what with the magnificent Le Breton Flats development racing along as it is.

  6. Cue the hysterical residents would would only be able to see this building if they stood on their roofs and peered into the distance. I I would be able to see the top of this from by cramped back door 4 blocks away. That tiny sliver of sky doesn’t do anything for me, though.

  7. On the point about the BIA and shadows, I think that the Soho will be close enough to Carling it and the new Claridge building will likely be in each other’s shadows. If Soho is going up, then there is no point in fighting now. You can’t put shit back in a horse.

  8. Is it just my impression, or is this much taller building receiving a much less hostile response than the significantly shorter proposed soho condo? Is it just because it’s half a block further south? Or am I mistaken in my perception? Did the Soho discussion wear down peoples resolve thereby allowing Claridge to swoop in and reap the benefits?

    I like the idea of tall buildings here. The above-ground parkade of the Soho was a non-starter for me, but frankly, giving Claridge license to build a 40 story tower makes me nervous….they’re terrible! Maybe some flicker of shame will be kindled in their hearts that will cause them to actually give a damn about this building, given it’s prominent location.

    1. the original SoHo also had the patently offensive 7-storeys of above ground private parking going against it.

      1. edit out the “also,” in the above sentence. I think the combination of the parkade, the video screen, the false-ringing claims to “a sexiness that could only be achieved with these exact dimensions,” and going for a big splash in the newspapers turned a lot of people off of SoHo. I also agree with Eric that SoHo took a lot of spleen venting and shocked reactions, which have now dissipated to some extent.

  9. Evensteven:yes, the ongoing soho debate has allowed people to vent. And time to get used to the idea. And time for those who favour the idea to marshall their opinions (ie, the property owners in the area who can make bundles by selling).

    I’m not sure why you say Claridge is terrible. Their low rise on Bolton is v.nice, and the four plaza buildings on rideau are certainly OK. The most contentious bldgs are lebreton, and there the credit/blame must be shared with the NCC plus their current isolation in a bombed out beruit landscape. As more buildings are built — and, btw, they are shifting to red brick — the current ones wont look so isolated and jarring. I did a post previously on the next phase. I recommend going for a walk around them.

    And for this site, they have shopped for a famous international architect. I’m sorta glad we didn’t get Gehry.

    1. “I’m sorta glad we didn’t get Gehry.” me too, he personifies the over-rated, context-hating, self-agrandizing hack style of “Great Architecture”

  10. It’s my neighbourhood and I’m not against development. That lot has stood empty for years, as has the opposite end of the same city block. The actual space – if they really do intend to keep the church and exsisting houses – is tiny. It used to be an old gas station. The space may even be smaller than the SOHO site across the road.

    More details are needed. Where will the parking go? Is there any issue with multi-level underground parking construction, considering the proximity to Dow’s lake?

    What is the point of any of Ottawa’s current zoning bylaws? They obviously aren’t taken into consideration, so why not save everyone the hassle and just remove them all….

    Putting the tallest building beside Dow’s lake limits other development in the area taking advantage of the view, hence the previous plan to go from low to high, ending with talled buildings in Lebreton flats. If we want to attract good development, we need to look towards the future and towards all the other empty lots along Preston.

  11. Love the artist’s sketch. I don’t mind height at that intersection, what’s crucial for me is the street level. What bugs me about the anti-height people is I get a bad feeling that the developer, paying little attention to street as it is, will concede a few stories and not bother to fix the real problem: street level while the anti-height people pat themselves on the back. This tower with offices in a podium sounds interesting. But will it be retail below the offices right on the street? I would need to know more before I would enthusiastically endorse the project. I live on Gladstone closer to Breezehill, but I love Preston Street and consider it my high street. I understand keeping the village-style to the street and restricting height as a component of that, but this intersection at Calring, a street that will likely always be a thorough fair for cars, and immediately adjacent to the O-train is worthy of having a small cluster of high rises so long as the Preston street sides of the buildings enhances rather than detracts from Preston. Parking garage a la Soho? No. But a store front or culture centre of some kind would be great. My fear is that the anti-height people will force Claridge or Starwood or whoever to chop 8 stories off while leaving a parking garage on the street level, and declare victory. Keep your eye on the ball: its not about whether this building is 30 or 40 floors. It’s about how many people are sipping lattes or enjoying a nice meal or shopping for jeans right off the street.

  12. The elephant in this room is who the heck is going to buy all these units – and will THEY actually live there, or will they rent them out to whomever? I don’t buy that Ottawa will have that many people that want to downsize and stay in Ottawa, let alone move downtown, or that there will be enough new people moving to the city to fill all these units. When interest rates go up, and investment condos go tits up, what will happen to these neighbourhoods? Good businesses ideas start small and work their way up from there. Sustainable intensification for this neighbourhood (which doesn’t even have a grocery store right now) is in the order of 6 ish storeys. When they get that base, then they can start to entertain ideas like these.

    1. The risk of building is supposedly in the hands of the developers and their investors. If the market tanks, then the price of units will drop, making them more affordable to rent or own. Is this good? These buildings will be around for a hundred years, so it is not just the market conditions and neighborhood today, it is fun to take a long term view (where was the neighborhood in 1900 when it was rebuilt, and it has lasted 100 years (well, parts of it that are left) both backwards and forwards.

    2. The fear of renters is eternal. From the novel apartment houses of the nineteenth century, to the rampant fears that a new condo tower might have renters in it, those of us who don’t own housing have long been a source of fear and anxiety for the genteel mortgage-holder.

    3. Totally depends on how they market it. SOHO across the street is to be high-end luxury condos. Will this be geared similar or as family units? How many units per floor? No actual information has been shared, except the height.

      1. 220 units, 6 per floor, all likely have some south east or west view given the screen to the north, 4 penthouse suites on 2 floors. Given the number of units I expect lots of larger suites. At 500 per square foot+ it won’t be cheap.

  13. The number of units will vary per floor, with lots of smaller 600 sq ft units on the lower floors, then 1100 ft units on the upper middle, then 2000+ sq ft units on the top ten. Actually, the views to the north are fabulous, of the downtown, as well as to the south (over the lake and arboretum). I dont think there are any bad views from the site.

    1. Thanks for that info. Where was it found?

      I think it will dominate the views to the south (Dow’s lake), which could be good or bad. Good if it means the rest of Preston development sticks to the 10 & under stories, bad if it means all new development tries to go higher to take advantage of the view. The ground level development is key here. What kind of business will it attract. It is a great opportunity to make Dow’s lake a vibrant walking area. Stop grab a coffee, an ice cream cone, a picnic to go and then head over to the green space to enjoy it. If the businesses are Mon-Fri, 9-5 type places it will be a real disappointment.

      1. Thank you for pointing that out Meg! I just moved to Little Italy because the location is great, but unfortunately Preston St. becomes ‘ghost town’ after 5pm. I feel like the area has lots of potential, and can quickly become one of the most desired neighbourhoods in the city. We just need more people and more commercial units open later than 5pm. If Claridge pursues a mix of residential and commercial units across the lake, and more developpers follow suite in the area, this could benefit both residents and business owners! p.s. we desperately need a grocery store!

  14. I doubt it gets built.
    The Vancouver real estate market is showing signs of weakness. This is likely due to the fact that foreign demand (primarily Chinese) pushed the Vancouver market up in the first place. China’s domestic RE market is now having problems and these are likely to get worse due the fact that Europe, China’s key trading partner, is entering recession.
    My bet is that we start to see RE investors all try to squeeze through the exits at the same time, the CDN RE market begins to imitate the US market, and investors think three times before splashing out on an expensive condo.

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