Somebody does it better

Grocery stores, the holy grail of urban planning, marker of a high walk score and even higher real estate values, seem somewhat elusive in Ottawa. Developers tell me their floor plate requirements are fundamentally at odds with the pillars, etc that are required to hold up the condo tower above. I do look forward to see the Promised Sobbey’s in Claridge’s downtown towers on Lisgar … someday.

But recently in Montreal I noticed that they managed to fit a largish grocery store under just two and three floors of apartments. Just what most residents claim to want: non-high rise urban ¬†development. What Ottawa claims is uneconomic, Montreal managed to do on more expensive land. Here’s some pic:



The store was a whole city block on Mont Royal in the Plateau district. The view up the side street, above, shows the loading docks that cross (and block) the sidewalks. The “front” of the building had a less interrupted streetscape. Note the picnic tables (streetlife !) and nostalgia light fixtures. And the low-ish speed limit:


Here’s the residential part of the building, nicely expressed in modern materials (brick, corrugated tin siding, and coloured glass balcony panels):


Bike parking, conveniently near the front door, sheltered from rain and snow by an overhang, and real windows, transparent even, so passersby can look in the windows and shoppers look out. What will they think of next?



The exterior balconies were buffered from the hot afternoon sun by exterior shutters that provide shade, reduce air conditioning costs, and look good too:


further down the side street, the next buildings were of similar style but higher, with no retail:



The coloured glass balconies really caught the eye. There were also matching very-thin vertical glass panels inset into the brick walls to offer flashes of light. Has anyone seen coloured glass railings in Ottawa yet? ¬†Here’s a pic from Vancouver, where several colours were used, which is very appropriate for a wet-weather climate, and will offset the dreary wet concrete walls elsewhere on the building:



One thought on “Somebody does it better

  1. Speaking of more expensive property values, Costco has a store bordered by GM Place, the Georgia viaduct and the escarpment on the eastern end of Vancouver’s downtown. The 127,000-square-foot store, built by Concord Pacific, has two floors of parking below it, two floors of parking above it, and then, above that, another four towers of residential condos with 900 units.

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