There is lots of coverage about what is in the two proposals to rebuild LeBreton Flats. The Citizen, for example, offers good photo spreads and text.
If you prefer original sources, here are the links to the two proposals. My advice is to skip the videos, they are all flash and camera angles zooming in and out on the still pictures. Just go the slide shows to see the pictures themselves.
There is no one to walk you through the proposals, which is a shame. Both proponents need 10 minute and 20 minute YouTube videos that walk the viewer through the project. Perhaps they could hire someone good at presentations while they are at it?
The two proposals are both similar and yet very different. Yes, both have arenas, which they both call Event Spaces, since they must be used more than 40 times a year. And yes, an arena there can work, can be accessed primarily by transit, and can be a good neighbour, if done right.
The Rendez vous (RV) proposal has a more complete community, with 4400 residences, when fully built out in 25 years (or more). Devcore has 2400 units.
RV offers a integrated neighbourhood with residences and hotels intermixed with attractions in a fairly fine grained mix. Devcore split the site in two, putting a world’s fair or museum mall collection of attractions north of the aqueduct and the residences along Albert Street.
Both promise about 50-55% of the site to be open space / public space. Presumably this includes road surfaces. It was never clear if this includes Albert Street surface, or Wellington / Sir JAM parkway, or even if it includes the NCC’s waterfront along the River. Rather than too little green space, I am concerned both proposals have too much. One of the reasons Lansdowne feels empty is the spaces are too wide, too focussed on game day (or here, Canada Day) crowds. To work, those public grand allees and promenades have to be filled with people. Twenty four seven. Three hundred sixty five. Four seasons. We do not need another Sparks Street, let alone 10 of them. We simply dont have enough cannons to shoot down them.
RV puts a walkway all the way east-west through the side above the LRT tracks. This also facilitates north-south movement through the site. Devcore left the track open air, but grassed it between the rails, making the aqueduct corridor more open.
RV replaces the soon-to-be-closed Preston Extension (which actually has a city street name, does anyone out there know what it is?) with a new road that must rise up quite high to get over the tracks and out to the museum intersection. They treated the underside of the bridge very well. I hope the city does half as well under the Booth Street overpass. Devcore takes Preston north but terminates it before it gets to the Parkway, which is a really surprising option.
RV put the arena, err, event centre, right out at the edge of the parkway. Gotta make sure everyone on the parkway sees it. But then they widened the view plane along Wellington so that motorists get the NCC’s sacred view plane for car commuters from the rise in the road over the railway tracks, and people inside the event centre also get a great parliamentary view. But, and its a major design flaw in the proposal, this requires yet another green space on the south side of Wellington, ie a park opposite the existing Bluesfest park. They tried to gussy this up with a feature walk, but it isn’t on the pedestrian or resident or visitor desire lines, and the wide open road simply encourages cars to speed up, as it continues the parkway’s continued frustrated hayfield landscaping. Neither proponent bothered with scenic placemaking for transit users, so the Bayview Station, on the highest piece of land in the area, with great potential views of the downtown and the river, gets ignored. The NCC is just plain oblivious to transit; the City simply directed that views not be taken into any account. Pimisi gets slightly better treatment, with a thin view out to the War Museum spike.
Devcore put their arena right up close to Bayview Station, where the Confederation and Trillium lines meet, which is very logical, and even better region building if the trains extend north over the unused unloved Prince of Wales railway bridge. Because Devcore leaves the LRT tracks open air along the aqueduct, transit users will get a view of the Epcotty-buildings. And daylight. The drawback to the RV decision to bridge over the tracks is the further sewerizing of transit users — tunnel downtown, a brief glimpse of daylight at Pimisi, tunnel under LeBreton, daylight at Bayview, ditch through to Westboro, then tunnel along the parkway, then tunnel along Richmond … Ottawa will be very scenic, provided you dont take transit.
Both proponents talk a lot about a variety of housing units. Towers of apartments or condos are obvious. The low rise stuff is less visible. Certainly no one is offering 1500 sq ft starter bungalows, but the “townhouse” units at the base of the towers, or in the RV case, long rows of them in building podiums, are necessarily built like the high rises, of concrete. So they cost $600 a sq foot or more … but potential inhabitants can go a few blocks away and buy wood frame ones for $400 a sq foot, and in the far ‘burbs, for $300 a sq foot. Commuting in Ottawa-Gatineau is still pretty easy, so it will continue to be tempting to drive further, unlike Montreal or Toronto where long commutes are difficult, which makes paying more to live closer to the core more attractive.
I’ll write more over the next few days. In the meantime, go see the models on display at the Museum today til 9 or so tonight.
The show was very crowded yesterday. Public interest bodes well.
I noticed the sign in tables, and info tables, were populated by women, who also directed traffic flows. Men in suits strode the hallways and manned the podiums. Because its 2016.
As soon as the public question period started last night, the only NCC board member I recognize left the room. Valued input, indeed.
And the NCC, which earlier this month hosted an urban forum event on urban blogging, didn’t invite bloggers (or was it just me?) to the media pre-shows. Mind, I was on the CBC this morning, right after Eugene Melnyk, and yes, I checked the seat cushions for money.