Sim Preston: Claridge strikes again

The Soho Italia project by Starwood Mastercraft has been controversial since it first became public knowledge through this blog early in the year. The + or – 35 storey condo tower put a major hole in the established urban plan for the neighborhood and multi-year traditional main street plans. The tower, a short block north of Carling Avenue, is aggressively positioned to maximize views.

Not being in the “first row” along Carling, it runs the risk of being blocked by competing towers should ones be built where the CIBC is, or Dow Motors (whose site has NO height limit on it) or other vacant lots along Carling, all of which have the enviable position of marvelous south views over the Lake and Farm, a huge NCC park at the doorstep, and fine dining and pubbing along Preston. More recently, signals have been insifying from the Feds that some of the Natural Resources Canada lands along Booth and Rochester will up for disposal very soon (like, within a year; soil remediation has been done and we are in the “wait one year” cooling off period). Once approved, the Soho Italia project will have to get shovels in the ground quickly to sell the pieds a ciel before another condo developer announces.

[as an aside, I have several times mentioned to developers or their agents that they should be going after the Sir John Carling Building, which the Feds propose to raze to the ground, even though all the grassy area between it and Carling is already zoned for high rises. The obsolete office building should be gutted, reclad, and sold out as a condo]

The arguments for the Soho Italia project have always been of concern. They will look immensely credible to the OMB. And the proponent is stickhandling the deal through the political process rather than through the planning process, which is much less favorably inclined to the project. These arguments to permit a high rise apply equally well to all the adjacent lots — indeed, they apply to virtually the entire length of Preston.

Imperial Oil, I think,  owns the lot at the NE corner of Preston and Carling. I recall it as one of the very well decorated gas stations at Christmas time, back in the day when businesses did such a thing. The site was decontaminated a little over a year ago, and approved for sale. 

Now Claridge definitely positions itself as a leading condo developer, and is careful to line up a string of developable properties. It has a number of Centretown and West Side sites either approved for development or coming on stream. They own the ex-Chinese supermarket lot at Breezehill and Somerset, immediately north of Devonshire School. They have approved towers in the 28 storey range on Queen and Lyon (3); Nepean and Gloucester (2), and Lisgar just south of Place Bell (where the Big Square Hole is) (3 towers).

When Starwood Mastercraft applied for heights in the mid-thirties for Soho Italia, I heard through the grape vine that Claridge vowed to get every one of their 28 storey approvals revised to also be 35. This would add about 7 floors to each building. This would be quite profitable.

So now that Claridge has bought the lot at Carling and Preston, will they want to add 7 stories to the Soho total and go for 42? Why not, the sky’s the limit.

Claridge's new tower will block some of the Soho Italia views of Dows Lake and Commissioner's Park

Shown below is the SimPreston photoshop done up by my graphic artist (aka dependent child), which replaced Dow Motors and CIBC with tall condos; and also the vacant Esso station lot on the right (east) of Preston, now owned by Claridge. We don’t know what will be proposed yet, but we will know shortly tall-ly.

13 thoughts on “Sim Preston: Claridge strikes again

  1. I think the lot you are talking about is on the NE corner of Carling/Preston and not the SE corner….I thought Suny’s Petroleum owned it and not Imperial Oil.

      1. Suny’s owned the station at Preston & Adeline. It is now vacant and used as parking. I don’t think it has been decontaminated yet. I used to fill up there all the time.

  2. Oh the traffic woes we will face in Civic Hospital. Sherwood will become a drag strip for the condo owners going to and from the Queensway.Amazing the ‘unintended outcomes’ that can happen with development.

    1. This is so true! One of the many problems with putting so many people in a small area. One regular commenter to this blog often talks about height of buildings as being a mental thing we need to get over without thinking about the consequences to neighbouring communities from exactly what you note above.

  3. It sounds like you’re leery of these developments, is that an accurate assessment? As long as these towers are south of Adeline, I think I can live with it (although one shudders with what Claridge might come up with). As a new resident of this neighborhood (without a car), more people means…more walkable amenities? Hopefully? Is there a fear that these towers will creep north?

  4. I wonder if the owners of the new Domicile condo building west of Champagne will get “Hudson Park’d” if someone builds on the Rogers store land between it and Carling Avenue – good bye nice park views..

  5. I kinda like the look of the sim, except for the “diagonal” towers which don’t interact very well with the street.

    Cut out the Towers In A Park motif, ensure good solid ground-floor uses, and we’re in business. Height, schmeight.

  6. I really don’t mind that mock-up at all. In my view, that location is pretty much perfect for intensification given the current land uses and proximity to mass transit. Higher buildings make a lot of sense there. I also like the idea of a southern gateway to Preston. Of course it will all come down to design, design, design. I’d love to see some landmark buildings that mix uses and integrate well at street level.

    Normally I’d wonder whether the buildings should step back from the park, but in this case I think you want the tallest buildings at Carling so as not to impact the low-rise profile of the Preston mainstreet further north. I really do think that the impact of some taller buildings on the neighbourhood will be quite limited.

    For the commenter complaining about traffic, unfortunately I see that as something that we are all going to accept in a denser city. But at the same time, I wonder if the impact will be as significant as the commenter suggests. Hopefully this will be planned right and the condos will come with services that will allow residents to do a lot more walking that driving. And though we seem to be going in the wrong direction at the moment, longer-term transit improvements should provide a viable alternative to driving. These buildings will be right on the O-Train line.

    Sadly, as long as there are wide-open routes for drivers, most people will choose that alternative. From that perspective, a little congestion is not a bad thing. Hopefully some traffic management will prevent residential streets from becoming throughways.

  7. I don’t mind the height at all – I never fly down Preston Street at an altitude of 100 meters in my private non-existent airplane. I do however walk down Preston Steet all the time, where the height of the building has nowhere near the same affect on me as whatever goes on the street level. Boo! to concrete parking garages and yay! to cafes, restaurants, and interesting shops. It will be a shame if the developer addresses some people’s height concerns by chopping off a few floors while failing to address the infinitely far more important concern of street-level, street-level, STREET-LEVEL!

  8. I like intensification near bike paths, public transit, shopping, and parks. Where else? Much better than land-eating single homes spreading the suburbs and requiring cars or long bus rides.

    But the Ottawa planning department really needs to develop a policy on how to handle lots of big residential buildings and enshrine it in the official plan so the OMB doesn’t just cave to the developers as they usually do.

    Consider what the growing assemblage will look like. Require street-level shops, not blank walls. Plan how the sunlight falls on the public places, the sidewalks, the streets thru the day and thru the year.

    Consider what the residents need in terms of local facilities – shopping, libraries, parks, churches, clinics, as well as LRT trains. See

    Encourage walking and cycling. Make accessible secure bike parking racks mandatory for all the shops. Install/widen bikeways and plan access to public transit. Make active transportation easier and more convenient than driving. Eliminate parking requirements.

    The City has zoning tools. It should use them to make a place people want to continue to live, not just a place for developers’ profits.

  9. The Canada Lands Company and developers run this city; the people of Ottawa are mere bystanders. The Canada Lands Company is a Crown corporation that privatizes federal land – for example, the 310-acre CFB Rockcliffe; the AECL property at Tunney’s Pasture and the National Defence Medical Centre land on Smyth Road in Ottawa.
    The Crown corporation and developers routinely alter zoning laws- – – their high-priced lawyers can appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.
    Also, the Sir John Carling Building is an award-winning Federal Heritage Building, and Canadian artist Takao Tanabe painted a huge mural in the lobby of the building.
    I cannot understand why anyone would celebrate the destruction of the Sir John Carling Building.

Comments are closed.