The strategy behind Starwood Mastercraft’s approach to getting the city tallest tower put on the city’s smallest lot seems to be working. Recall that Starwood has not gone to the planning department with their proposal, but instead has been shopping it around to the Mayor and Councilors first. They are getting their sales pitch in well before the planning “experts” the city has on staff are even allowed to look at the proposal.
This blog is “blocked” at City Hall, so employees cannot read it at work. So the if the planners at the planning dept want to know what is proposed in their city, they can get it at home from this blog or from some main stream print media (some of whom got their pictures … from me). But professionally, they are mute. Is this just what Starwood wanted?
Yesterday, CBC Morning had another story on the condo. I was bit surprised to hear myself as one of the interviewees, but then realized it was from a tape done a week ago. I was even more surprised to hear from Councilor Katherine Hobbs. Hers is the ward next door, where Mastercraft had a lot of resident opposition to doubling the height of the 125 Hickory project.
Hobbs, who sits on the planning committee that will be called upon to consider the rezoning application at 500 Preston, says of the Soho Italia : “WOW – it’s exciting”. It is a “stunning piece of architecture” in a “great location”. She goes on to describe it as a “timeless piece of architecture” that “will become a landmark”, a “source of pride”.
When the interviewer asks about how well it relates to the sidewalk and pedestrian experience, Hobbs avoids the question, but later returns with somewhat of an answer: it is a “good location for height and type of building it is”. You can hear her deliver the gold medal to Starwood at http://www.cbc.ca/ottawamorning/. (Look to the gray box on the lower right of the screen, and select the interview tape for Soho Italia/Preston).
Starwood must be thrilled that at least one councilor on the planning committee seems so enthusiastic for small-lot, very tall buildings. Claridge should be jumping up and down with joy, as they have a bunch of similar applications for 28 storey buildings in the works.
Indeed, given her enthusiasm, I would advise Starwood to reconsider its Hickory project. Go back and ask for another fifteen floors. And Rod Lahey, the architect for Starwood, is also the architect for the Our Lady of the Condos site on Richmond Road. Why put up four or five floor buildings when the Councilor is so enthused for tall ones? Just be sure to take “inspiration” from a famous building somewhere else, and it’s a slam dunk. Indeed, Hobbs already gushes over the Marilyn Munroe building in Mississauga. Surely St.Marilyn would be a good replacement for the cloistered nuns of Kitichissippi.