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 (certain similarities in function there…) and some food establishments that probably depend a lot on the lunch crowd from NRC next door.
Latest on the block is Beechbone, an offshoot of Whalesbone. Currently open just 11 to 4 on weekdays, it’s rather like an oversize food truck. Only two inside tables, plus some outside picnic tables, it offers fresh seafood take out.
As for converted lofts, our own “distillery district” or warehouse district … not likely unless someones makes new “old” buildings. The recent sneak peek at a twelve storey condo project in the ‘hood was pulled back by the developer for some re-cladding when the preview audience panned the [somewhat annodyne] modern exterior in preference for something grittier and more reflective of the neighbourhood heritage. This doesn’t mean “faux historique”, of course: just look at the Urban Kaos-designed red caboose building at Breezehill and Somerset to see a neat spin on industrial chic.
The new Tamarack building proposed beside the Grace Hospital has a facade that is alternating planes of old industrial and very modern.
I like the old industrial bits best. What do you think?