Slow as watching paint dry …

Much chided as the ugliest building in Ottawa, the City Centre complex on City Centre Avenue has been spruced up over the last few years. First the stubby office tower sign was removed, and then it was painted beige and black. Now the lower warehouse bays are being painted. Some of the highlights are picked out in black, as are the doors and railings. The lowest 12′ or so has now been painted beige. This painting has taken most of the summer. Sometime in our lifetime we may see the whole thing painted.

Here are some before and after pic of the tower:

12 thoughts on “Slow as watching paint dry …

  1. That tower looks MUCH better now. If they can make the loading bays feel a it more chic-industrial rather than rough-industrial, we’ll be in business 🙂

  2. The worst thing about this complex is actually the eerie noise it produces 24×7. The second worst thing is that if a trail ever gets built along the O-Train, that the area in behind the complex seems rather dangerous. I’ve been working on countless traffic studies for the 801 Albert Street site for the past 6 years and the owners of the City Centre property have continued to remain silent about any redevelopment plans, presumably because they are waiting to see what DCR/Phoenix comes up with. They really need to tear this thing down thought because it is an eyesore, a noise pollutant and a general safety hazard.

    1. Right on. Tear it down. The central city doesn’t need the economic diversity or mix of land uses. Government offices and apartment towers were good enough for grandpappy, and by gar they should be good enough for everyone else.

  3. Yes, tear it down…because there is so much cheap warehouse space in the centretown area. Seriously, there are a lot of businesses here that find the location convenient and loading bays such as these are scarce unless you want to move out to Belfast or other warehouse areas. I don’t mind it. It’s a warehouse after all and it’s function matters more than its loveliness. Besides, with the Claridge blight across the road who will notice.

  4. I would hate to see it torn down, yet. It provides valuable lower-cost warehouse and factory space close to the core. Most cities have lots of this; Ottawa and NCC worked hard to eradicate any signs of people actually doing physcial labour. Eventually it will go …
    As for the bike path behind the complex, it will be lit, like the Centrepointe path or the Albert path is now with ped-scale light fixtures every 100′. Initially the path will be a bit isolated, but it is being built to serve the city for the next 100 years not just for what is there now. The physical safety and perceived safety of users is high on the design criteria for the path (I’m on a PAC advising on that), and with better landscaping the area will be more pleasant. Note too that the main Bayview Station access will be from the O-Train level, so peds walking or cycling to the LRT station will generally want to frequent the O-train level paths rather than the roads.
    We also want to get the first phase of the path built from Gladstone (not just from Somerset) so that it will be busier and thus increased subjective safety.

  5. Well, the tower is bland but hardly a major eyesore but the curved warehouse is a favourite of mine. Unless I’m mistaken it was originally part of the railyard roundhouse that occupied the site until the sixties. Perhaps someone more familiar with the history of the area could weigh in on that but I’d like to see it continue to provide a home for low-impact industrial/commercial businesses.

  6. Future Landfill: the roundhouse was located where Tom Brown arena is now. It was demolished decades ago. The City Centre warehouse complex was built as part of the federal railway relocation process in the late 50’s and early 60’s, whereby rail lines were consolidated, industrial areas closed down, and rail rights of way converted for highway/motorist uses. The warehouse was specifically built to have box cars on the west side and trucks on the east side — but alas, the days of single boxcar shipments was pretty much over even then, rail was shifting to bulk movements. Typical government: subsidize the roads, then subsidize the last rail shippers…

    1. Had wondered about the roundhouse, especially whilst digging through Library and Archives Canada for old fire insurance maps today. Thanks for the clarification and confirmation.

  7. I work in the building and I just bought a house on Beech Street so I found this posting very interesting. I’m looking forward to the bike path being completed as it will be an almost straight shot from home to work in like 5 minutes. Note that they have completely reno’d the interior of the building as well over the past few years. It’s pretty decent inside now but I defend it a lot as a lot of people still think of the old eyesore days. And free parking for the staff here. You don’t find that much this central.

    Interesting fact. The new CBC series Michael, Tuesdays and Thursdays, was shot here over the course of the past summer. I believe the office scenes were all shot here and the production office was here as well.

    But I suspect it will go one day. This land will just be too valuable for a giant parking lot.

  8. Ok, so that answers a memory puzzle. As a kid in Perth we visited the Loeb warehouse on the Flats for supplies and I recall seeing the trainyards and the roundhouse from Somerset St. It was a big eyebrow-raiser when I moved here many years later to find the trains all gone and just a big field where there had been a rag-tag neighbourhood.

    Still, it seems to me the architect must have thought to pay homage to the roundhouse with the long curved building that was built, and the block perhaps a nod to a railyard signal control tower.

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