Pop-Up Convenience Store in Chinatown

Yesterday, in a matter of a few hours, Chinatown got a new convenience store. Located at the corner of Somerset and Bronson, the arrival of the new retail outlet reflects an innovation in Ottawa planning. Normally, gas stations have the pumps out near the intersection, and the store/paypoint at the back.

In urban planning terms, this leaves a big gap in the urban fabric. At this location, the store is being located in prime space at the intersection corner, and the pumps are behind it, less visible. (See previous story on the planning:  https://www.westsideaction.ca/rescue-bronson-part-v-gas-station-flip-flop/  ).

The foundation for the new store consists of concrete piles:

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The prefabricated outlet arrived in three pieces: front half, back half, and end cap that bridged the two retail parts. The first section to arrive was the “back” half of the store, which has only a single door facing Bronson. Most of the store will face the gas station itself. A convenience store needs some solid walls for the “wall of freezers” so it couldn’t have a glass front on Bronson. Maybe the lessons of this installation will improve for the next one.

The store section arrived on a giant flatbed, and was hoisted off by a crane:

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the section was carefully put down on the blocks:

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The tiny metal tab will be screwed to the  concrete pillar foundation. That’s it, just a few bolts is all that will hold it in place (don’t slam the door on the way out):

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The workers on site moved quickly, as the next section was en route. All three sections were scheduled to be installed on the same day. The crane and installation crews would work until the job was complete. Workers told me they were eating at the Yang Sheng restaurant across the street, and thought it pretty good.

The distant sound of sirens and electronic whoops heralded the arrival of section two, escorted up Somerset Street by two police cars leading a long parade of No 2 buses and cars, who were about to be delayed another thirty minutes while the “storefront” section was put into the lot:


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Squint at the photo below and you can see the retail portion of the store came complete with glass front, doors, finished ceilings, light fixtures, and shelving units. This must have been quite the sight on the 401 (the trucks — and presumably the modules — came from Grimsby, Ontario).

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In the midst of the traffic chaos and pedestrian scramble to squeeze around the trucks, Ottawa’s bravest decided to return two fire trucks to the No 2 Station on Preston. They could obviously see the traffic tie up but that didn’t detour them at all. The aerial ladder truck made it by the storefront, stopped under the Chinatown Royal Arch, much easier than the pumper did:

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The giant flatbed with its over-wide load took quite a while to jiggle into the lot, here supervised by a mythical Chinese guardian lion, aided and abetted by Canada Post:

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The flatbad was driving over the curb and sidewalks repeatedly, while pedestrians and cyclists squeezed by. Apparently, giant trucks manoeuvring on sidewalks doesn’t warrant much safety concern, unlike, say, a giant elk outstanding in a field:

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The front section of the pop-up convenience store finally slips into the lot. It was very tight.

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The only damage was a slight scrape to the side of the store structure where it rubbed the concrete base of a utility pole:

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4 thoughts on “Pop-Up Convenience Store in Chinatown

  1. A most efficient process. Thanks for taking and sharing the photos, Eric!

    I stopped by last night after dark and saw all the crane commotion. I asked a worker when it was likely to open, and he didn’t have a clue; he just said “all I know is we are here to deliver the store”.

    I had just assumed that it had been built in the previous few days, in which I hadn’t been by the site, but now I realize why I hadn’t seen it under construction AND what the worker meant.

    The sidewalks on the gas station corner were intentionally left in temporary pavement because they knew that the gas station was going under construction. That way the permanent sidewalks can be installed without worrying about being torn up or damaged by the construction.

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