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Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Regional Sections > Canada > Ontario > SSP: Local Ottawa-Gatineau > Urban, Urban Design & Heritage Issues

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  #21  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2012, 7:24 PM
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By doing that, you would INCREASE development outside the City of Ottawa even further as developers would have no other place to go, and possibly even send jobs out there if the City blocks infrastructure connections as companies would not like it seeing a lot of their employees end up gridlocked...such is especially true to Rockland which still is a 2-lane road...
are you saying Ottawa has lost jobs to Rockland? do you have examples of this?
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  #22  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2012, 7:28 PM
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are you saying Ottawa has lost jobs to Rockland? do you have examples of this?
No it hasn't happened yet. But if traffic congestion increased even more on 174 as a result of a development freeze moving all new single homes outside the City of Ottawa, it might happen in the future.
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  #23  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2012, 3:11 AM
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Originally Posted by eternallyme View Post
No it hasn't happened yet. But if traffic congestion increased even more on 174 as a result of a development freeze moving all new single homes outside the City of Ottawa, it might happen in the future.
I don't think job sprawl to rural eastern Ontario is much of an issue in Ottawa. The biggest employer, the federal government, is pretty committed to maintaining its employment within Ottawa itself - although it is less committed to downtown than it used to be (cf RCMP in Barrhaven), and this is unlikely to change.

If there is any current or future job ''sprawl'' in the region, it is more to Gatineau than anywhere else. Not Carleton Place, Kemptville or Rockland.
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  #24  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2012, 3:52 AM
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Agreed. New jobs in those communities are mostly retail-based, and employ almost exclusively local residents.

I drove through Kemptville for the first time in years last week, and saw pretty much the exact same power-centre-type big box mall as exists in Carleton Place and Rockland. No one's commuting from Nepean/Orleans/Barrhaven/Kanata to work in one of those places.
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  #25  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2012, 3:41 PM
Dr.Z Dr.Z is offline
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Originally Posted by eternallyme View Post
By doing that, you would INCREASE development outside the City of Ottawa even further as developers would have no other place to go, and possibly even send jobs out there if the City blocks infrastructure connections as companies would not like it seeing a lot of their employees end up gridlocked...such is especially true to Rockland which still is a 2-lane road...
Maybe, but by how much is the tougher question. Demand for singles is not so simple. Some buyers would choose to locate further out for that product but some will also choose to absorb existing resales or different housing. By how much to the respective choices is determined by a lot of factors.

At any rate, there is enough existing designated vacant land supply for 17 years. I'm sure in a decade we will have a better handle on how significant gas prices will be for 60+km one way commutes.

WRT to employment, employers like to locate in established commercial areas that have a market catchment area. You have to be a large employer that knows the majority of your workforce is commuting from the south for example. Otherwise you are just shifting long commute times for your other workers. Plus if you locate where other employers are you have access to a larger workforce (stealing from the next unit) to replace lost workers through resignations or retirement.
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  #26  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 1:12 AM
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Recent waves of NIMBYism threaten progressivity, dynamism in Center City

This isn't an Ottawa article but it's interesting to see Philadelphia is having the same issues as Ottawa. Their Centre City neighbourhood sounds a lot like Centretown.

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Recent waves of NIMBYism threaten progressivity, dynamism in Center City

Posted on April 18, 2012 by Greg

Lately it seems Center City residential development is picking up serious momentum as new projects and proposals are popping up everywhere. This is great news for Center City as it looks to build off continued population gains, add new residents, and become the desirable true ‘24-hour’ urban center. Standing in the way of these ideals are the same small groups of existing residents that have defined the status quo and stymied new development across cities for decades: NIMBYs. In Philly, an alarmingly high number of recent projects have either been thwarted or scaled down due to the incessant cries of a few residents.

Despite Market West’s latest embrace with high density residential development, much of Center City is still not too keen on the idea of taller buildings in their neighborhood. Over in Washington Square, a developer’s desire to build a condominium tower behind the Dilworth House while repurposing the historic structure has been blocked by neighbors and preservationists desire to maintain the property as a single-family house. In Old City, Brown-Hill Development’s plan to build a mixed-use project at 2nd and Race streets has been put on-hold because a few residents believe the new structure would be too tall and represent an “overbuildup.”

Down on Broad and South streets, a new mixed-use, TOD project being developed by the Dranoff Development Company has been scaled down because a few neighbors worried a new tall building would “loom” over their homes. And over on the parking lot at 18th and Lombard, Noah Ostroff’s project has faced serious resident pushback because the new homes are simply “too tall.” (The Zoning Board of Adjustment approved the Lombard Estates zoning variance at its April 4 meeting. -ed.)

From an urbanist perspective every one of these projects should receive the green light; none are so offensive to the existing neighborhood character to warrant such strong resentment. Not that the expressed concerns aren’t understandable, but NIMBY attitudes alone can’t dictate Center City development policies. By nature cities are dynamic creatures that are constantly evolving out of their current form. The city’s zoning code and other development policies must reflect this reality and allow for flexibility to meet demands. Quite simply, Philadelphia can’t remain in its current form forever, nor can it aspire to its colonial roots. To do so would diminish urban progressivity, hinder business and population diversity, and thus limit person-to-person interaction in an era where knowledge sharing is increasingly important. On top of this, scuttling attempts to increase density lead to a fixed housing supply and higher rents while lessening the City’s potential revenue streams.

No one is asking for wholesale demolition of Philly’s historic districts or skyscrapers in the middle of Society Hill or Rittenhouse. But it’s clear a more tolerant view towards new development – especially taller development – is needed. New urban forms and in varying locations need to be welcomed – ones that feature higher densities while still catering to quality designs that Center City residents expect. With a more open mind towards new development, progress can be made, more residents will be welcomed, and a better Philly can evolve.

-By Greg Meckstroth for PhiladelphiaRealEstate.com
http://blog.philadelphiarealestate.c...n-center-city/
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  #27  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2012, 3:15 PM
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Originally Posted by kevinbottawa View Post
This isn't an Ottawa article but it's interesting to see Philadelphia is having the same issues as Ottawa. Their Centre City neighbourhood sounds a lot like Centretown.
Concerns over height from existing residents is an issue for most urban municipalities. Its actually, ironically, the toughest for those that live in existing high-rises with a decent view that would be obstructed by a new high-rise.
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  #28  
Old Posted Apr 25, 2012, 4:15 PM
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Building a better suburb

Building a better suburb

[note: this column had a different - and less accurate - title in the paper version: The suburbs need to keep growing ]

By Randall Denley, The Ottawa Citizen April 25, 2012 7:57 AM

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion...316/story.html

If we are going to build a better Ottawa, we need to start by asking the right questions. In the days leading up to this week’s planning “summit,” we have heard plenty of concern from politicians and design experts about “suburban sprawl,” but the fact that our suburbs are getting larger is not the problem. The right question is not “Should our suburbs keep expanding?” Inevitably, they will. The better question is “What should those new suburbs be like?”

The term suburban sprawl implies uncontrolled, low-density development at the edge of the city. That’s not the case in Ottawa. New development lands are approved by city council, and most of the development has gone to Orléans, south Nepean and Kanata, exactly the areas where it was planned to go. Some Ontario Municipal Board decisions have expanded the urban boundary faster than the city would like, but the additions are minor.

New suburbs are dense, too. The density of houses and townhouses in new suburbs is just slightly higher than that in the Glebe. Look at the townhouse-dominated development in our suburbs and you will realize that these extensive housing blocks on tiny lots just couldn’t be much denser. The idea of big suburban lots with picket fences is a myth.

Ottawa is also not experiencing a hollowing out of the centre of the city. Fully 57.5 per cent of the population lives inside the Greenbelt. Only 32.6 per cent of people live in the suburbs.

As Ottawa continues to grow, though, the suburban percentage will become larger. Despite a fairly aggressive program of intensification, there simply aren’t enough development opportunities inside the Greenbelt to meet the need. That’s why Ottawa’s suburbs need to grow.

But let’s get to the important point. The problem with Ottawa’s newer suburbs is that most of them lack the necessary ingredients of a successful neighbourhood. Those would include community centres, rinks, libraries, parks that are not just playing fields, sidewalks, bike paths, retail a person could walk to, and employment.

That can change, but it’s going to take a concerted effort by the development industry and the city. Let’s start by asking some different questions. What are the most successful neighbourhoods in Ottawa? What makes them good? How can we do that in the suburbs? What are the most successful suburbs elsewhere? How can we meet or exceed what they have to offer?

For the city, improvement will come from fewer counterproductive rules and more creative collaboration. Developers claim, with some validity, that the city’s rules for road width, setback from the road and lot sizes tend to make every suburb the same. That’s what happens when government imposes a template. Lot sizes are so tight in the suburbs now that developers are sometimes not allowed to plant trees because they will interfere with underground services.

Developers also say they face an additional disincentive to try something different. Despite years of political promises, approvals are still painfully slow for projects that meet all the standard conditions. Try something different and they will be in the queue forever, developers fear.

The city needs to take this criticism seriously and ask developers what creative things they want to do. Are there really such plans, or is it a bluff? Let’s see the good ideas and clear information about what the city needs to do to make them happen.

The city isn’t upholding its own obligations. There have been recent improvements in building suburban parks and recreational centres somewhat more quickly, but the city has no minimum, standard list of what it will build to make a community more than a sea of houses. As long as people in new areas can drive to services elsewhere, that’s good enough for the city.

Communities need jobs, too. The city has been too eager to allow employment lands to be rezoned for other uses. More jobs in the suburbs doesn’t mean everyone will move there to be close to work, but it creates that choice.

Neither the city nor the development industry has done much to articulate what a good new development ought to look like. There is value to both in doing that. More important, there is value for the generations of people who will live in these neighbourhoods.

The lack of any clear goals or intelligent discussion about how to build better suburbs leaves us trapped in the same position. There is little visible improvement in the look or livability of our new suburbs.

Now is the time to tackle this issue. A city’s official plan only gets a major review once every 10 years, and this week’s planning summit is the first step in that review. The work Ottawa is starting now will be complete in about 18 months, the new plan itself approved in two years. After that, we won’t get another good opportunity to discuss these issues until 2022. If nothing is done, the city will have changed markedly by then, and not for the better.
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  #29  
Old Posted Apr 25, 2012, 4:44 PM
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I think I agree with Denley? Weird. ok.

Let's get the ball rolling. My first suggestions:
1) No more spaghetti streets. Bring back the streetcar suburb grid. It is the only way to create likeable, walkable, and civilized (i.e. not through back alleys/paths or parking lots) connections between residential and commercial areas.
2) Bring back the backlane. This will allow more street trees and porches and fewer snout houses.
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  #30  
Old Posted Apr 25, 2012, 4:46 PM
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What is it with people from Kanata?

Building a better Ottawa


BY BILL MACCALLUM, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN APRIL 25, 2012 8:35 AM

Re: The suburbs need to keep growing, April 24. [i.e. in response to the column above]

Randall Denley's column is right on the money.

Communities such as Orléans, Barrhaven and Kanata need to be more than bedroom communities, they need to have amenities that make them a place where people can live, work, shop and play.

My wife and I moved from Ottawa to Kanata in 1996 because of a town centre/main street vision proposed by then mayor Merle Nicholds.
The plan featured an exciting "main street" reminiscent of the 1950s, with shops restaurants, apartments etc., which would have turned Kanata from an agglomeration of small villages (Hazeldean, Glencairn, South March, etc.) into a city with a heart. Alas, along came amalgamation and the dream has subsequently been snuffed out by the core-centric City of Ottawa. [my emphasis]

A number of Kanata residents still cling to a faint hope that a champion will come along and resurrect the dream.

Bill MacCallum, Kanata

---

I was with this guy until he started off about the "core-centric" (!?) City of Ottawa snuffing out a mainstreet in Kanata. I'm sorry, no, it wasn't the nasty City of Ottawa but rather the developers who never subscribed to Mayor Nicholds' plan, along with the fact that trying to establish a mainstreet parallel to and within spitting distance of a freeway probably isn't a good plan to begin with - they could have tried Hazeldean or March/Teron or Castlefrank (continued northwards) or, God forbid, Richardson Side Road before it got chopped up.

Today, the best opportunities for a mainstreet in Kanata would be:
  • Huntmar
  • the "North-South Arterial" (before the traffic engineers get the opportunity to go to town on it)
  • Campeau Drive west of Terry Fox and especially its extension past Didsbury to Huntmar/Palladium
  • Maple Grove (Terry Fox to Huntmar)
  • Hazeldean (Carp River to Stittsville, though it may be too late for this bit of road to be salvaged)
  • Second Line extension from Terry Fox to Goulbourn Forced Road and the rail line (in the KNL South March Highlands)
  • and, one that isn't on the books but should be, an extension of Carling from March Road along the rail line to Terry Fox, also in the controversial KNL South March Highlands.
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  #31  
Old Posted Apr 26, 2012, 2:44 AM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is online now
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Originally Posted by gjhall View Post
I think I agree with Denley? Weird. ok.

Let's get the ball rolling. My first suggestions:
1) No more spaghetti streets.
How hard is it for the city to impose this? Seriously? Make a decision, lay down the law, and stick to it.

No more stringy-thingie "communities".

Banned.

Starting tomorrow.

How friggin' hard?
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  #32  
Old Posted Apr 26, 2012, 9:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Uhuniau View Post
How hard is it for the city to impose this? Seriously? Make a decision, lay down the law, and stick to it.

No more stringy-thingie "communities".

Banned.

Starting tomorrow.

How friggin' hard?
You are not thinking of the CHILDREN that will be mowed down by those Pilots and Yukons.

Straight streets kill children!
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  #33  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 4:20 AM
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You are not thinking of the CHILDREN that will be mowed down by those Pilots and Yukons.

Straight streets kill children!
I thought the Condos killed them? There are children left? Traffic! Congestion! Death!
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  #34  
Old Posted Jun 1, 2012, 5:53 PM
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This Urban Toronto interview with Brad J. Lamb talks about his work in the city and more importantly he gives some insight into why his relationship with Urban Capital ended. I've underlined the relevant text.

Quote:
The Interview: Brad Lamb Part 1
May 31, 2012 3:00 pm | by Craig White | 4 Comments

Recently, UrbanToronto sat down with Brad Lamb in a penthouse suite at Parc Loft Residences, a Lamb Development Corp–Harhay Construction Management–Niche Development project.

Before we dig into your career, I'm interested in starting with a potentially provocative question. Give me three Toronto projects of any vintage that irk you; ones you would drive a bulldozer into.

Just three? I can give you hundreds! Most of them are terrible, this city had unlimited potential to redo itself and we have failed miserably, it’s appalling what we've done. Anything that Plazacorp does, all of Liberty Village is horrendous, terrible. Except for the Toy Factory Lofts which we did the marketing on but weren't solely responsible for making a good project–we certainly steered the developers to do the right thing there and build something great though. All of Liberty Village is really, really bad; CityPlace isn't very good. Look up and down Bay Street, College Park is horrendous. Even the tallest building there, Aura, makes no sense to me. You want to be the highest residential project in Canada, certainly in Toronto anyway, why wouldn't you aspire to make it the most be beautiful building, why would you make it mediocre? It’s not a good building, it’s just tall, that doesn't make it good.

There is quite the discussion on UrbanToronto about Aura, about Trump, about whether these places attain what we should be aspiring to architecturally.

I think Trump from the standpoint of architecture is actually pretty good. From the standpoint of the choice of colour, it’s really bad. I think if that building had a greyer tint, a typical colour for a residential building or even an office tower, I think it would be far better than what it is. If you look at Shangri-La versus that, Shangri-La has a bit too much going on for me but it’s okay, it’s pretty good. The Trump is very simple, it’s got that silly spire on the top, but I think it’s actually an excellent hotel, one of the better ones in Canada and I think the city is better off because of it. I think the city is better because of the Shangri-La, and the Ritz-Carlton is an excellent building, but clearly an architectural bust because there's no balconies.

There are some examples of great stuff, but there are more examples of hideous product. Like what you see right in front of you [801 King West], that building is horrible. The problem is that we sell in all these buildings, so when I come out and say publicly how much I hate most of the condo buildings in the city and we get residents calling us and saying "thats fine, you're never going to sell my condo when I go to sell it", they are missing the point. The point I'm trying to make is that this is led by consumers. We can’t change what’s here, but we can change what’s coming. Developers will continue to build these horrible, mediocre, forgettable products as long as people will buy it. People need to be better educated and more aware of why they shouldn't buy it. It’s not just about buying a home, you're in a way co-financing the creation of a piece of architecture by buying an apartment because that’s what buyers do these days. And so in effect you are sponsoring the creation of something mediocre so why not sponsor the creation of something that’s good, or great?

You started by selling, and you got into developing after that. Was that partly because you were concerned about the built form of the city and wanted to have more say in that?

You know, it was an evolution. I started selling real estate in 1988 in Toronto and specialized in condos, and I can’t say I had any special appreciation for architecture back then. Not that I didn't like art or architecture; I wasn't necessarily aware of great architecture beyond great historical architecture because I wasn’t exposed to it. I was only really exposed to it once I started making enough money to travel and to really see and have my eyes opened as to what’s good and what’s bad. I also took a natural interest in architecture and design, and so by self-educating myself about what was better and what was bad – and because I always want to be as good as I can be at whatever I do – when I started to develop I said ‘okay, if I'm going to do this, I want to make sure my stuff is good’. So the early things I got involved with as a partner were good, but not great because I didn't have complete control. Now I have complete control. I’m completely responsible for something that is not great so I’m going to tell you that everything we are going to do is going to be great. I’m going to do the best I can to make sure my buildings are beautiful; not just beautiful for the moment, but that we put thought into making them beautiful for a long period of time.

Were there any particular buildings that inspired you in your travels? Styles you wanted to emulate? When you began to develop you did have a very strong idea of what you wanted, as you've really only gone with two architectural firms since: Core and architectsAlliance. You have publicly stated that they are the best modernist firms in the city.

It was more like there were so many architects that I couldn't work with that I would say, ‘Okay; listen. You know this building in New York? Here’s the address. I love elements of that building. I want you to take that building and deliver it in Toronto. Something like that, not exactly like it, but I want these elements. Perhaps the way the windows are treated, perhaps the way the podium is, perhaps the way it turns to a park, or whatever, just some features’, and I would struggle with architects to get it. They would basically say “Look, I'll do anything you want.” I don't want that, I don't want you to be whatever I want, I want you to be who you are. And so I think the best architects are the those who refuse to do want you want entirely and say “Listen, I get what you're saying, I get the idea of what you want, but I'm a modernist and this is what I do and I will not build drivel.”

What I loved about Peter Clewes when I met him in 1990 was that I knew right away he was brilliant; he's a fantastic architect and you know, he's become 10 times better than how he was when I met him. I think he is one of the world's best architects and we are so lucky to have him working on such average products as high-density housing. The guy could be designing museums, school buildings, and operas around the world, he's a brilliant, brilliant architect… and so when I can use Peter – and I can’t use him for everything because I'd have a city of Peter and you can’t do that – so I use him whenever I can because he understands what I want, he gets it, he's infinitely more talented and more aware of great design than I am, and he teaches me everyday when he designs buildings for me. I can’t find anyone that I respect as much architecturally as him.

Then when it comes to Core, there are three partners there, all very good and I've used all three of them. I think when I compare them to other firms, I look at other buildings that other firms do and I go ‘okay, almost right’ except for that, ‘almost’. When I look at Core and I look at architectsAlliance – I think it’s the best firm in the city, the Core guys are going to kill me, they get a lot of work – but Peter Clewes is the best working architect, he's going to do as much work as I can give him until he doesn't want to work anymore. But the guys at Core are very talented as well, and if I were to say that they were the second best – they may not want to hear that – but in my mind, of the thousands of working architects in Canada, I think they are the second best. Even when we bring international architects to do work here, famous big names, I still look at these guys and I think wow, you guys really are good.

They get the details you want otherwise you wouldn't be going to them…

They get the details and they also don't offer too many details. You know, the problem with a lot of architects is that they don't get that many jobs so they want to put everything they know into it and you have four or five conflicting ideas. I think a building should be one idea, maybe, sometimes two. But anything more than that I think there is too much going on and it’s all competing for my eyes, it’s all competing for attention.

And there’s a whole city for the other ideas…

Right, exactly, so you know, really, less is more.

The great Miesian mantra.

Said for a very good reason: because it’s true.

Take me through some of the milestones in your development career, if you would recall some of what you learned along the way on particular projects. Obviously, like anyone, you started small and the projects have been growing since but you don't have to have a big project to have a gem.

What I knew about development was the marketing side, the design side, because when I was hired as a broker, I worked with the architect. I was a very strong voice with designers and architects - they did what I wanted them to do - and I was unhappy when the developer was unhappy. I had a very strong hand in all the projects I did as a developers' salesperson. Probably a stronger hand than I should have had, but that’s how I wanted it to be and so when I first started, I partnered with people that I respected who knew things I didn't know so I could learn.

One of the first companies I worked with was Harhay construction management. A principle of that was an older gentleman by the name of Walter Harhay and he knows a lot about construction, heavy construction, so he was a good person for me to listen to and I did Zen Lofts and 169 John with him. I bought the land for both those projects, and when I brought it to him, I said: ‘You could develop this and I'll take a piece’; in both those cases I took 25% of those projects. It was enough for me to risk a bit of money, and it was enough for me to be involved in most aspects and learn a lot.

Then I started to work with Urban Capital – one of my small clients that became a large client – which David Wex and Mark Reeve operated. For years they were good friends of mine and I did all their projects in Toronto. When I suggested in the early 2000s that Ottawa would be a good place to go because there was this gigantic high-tech thing happening with JDS Uniphase and Nortel and a bunch of companies, and projections for private sector hiring were very high, and it was starting to look like the public sector wasn't going to be the only economic engine of that city. So, through the hirings and firings of the public sector, you would have a straighter line for employment. They said “Okay, we'll do that, but you have to invest with us and put your money where your mouth is”, so I said okay and we bought an old shopping centre parking lot in the ByWard Market. The shopping centre had already been knocked down, and it was an area we ended up calling the East Market because it wasn't really in the ByWard Market which is a very vibrant, nice place. It was on the edge where the Salvation Army is, and there was a bit of dirtiness to it which I kind of like in sites like that; it’s always good, I think, for a city to have some grit.

An urban patina…

Absolutely. So we bought that and together we developed 420 condo units. It was my third project and it was huge; it was East Market phases 1, 2 and 3. And then what happened is the guy that owned the land for East Market also owned the land for Mondrian, so then we went and did Mondrian as well and there, we had a 50% equity partner. So I had a ⅓ of ½ of those projects, David had ⅓, Mark had ⅓, and I had ⅓, and then this company called Doran – an Ottawa builder – had half. We did the same thing on Mondrian which was 250 units and we did very well with it. We also did very well with the East Market, and so at that point my development company was beginning to earn millions of dollars of revenue and I had the ability to do more things, so I started to.

There was a development site in Toronto on Charlotte Street at Oxley, and I offered it to Dave Wex if he wanted to partner with me, and he said “I don't like the site.” I said “You’re crazy, it's a fantastic site.” So I went and bought it myself and brought in a couple of small, minority partners and I turned that into Gläs. You know, I had another opportunity to work with Urban Capital in Ottawa on a project called Central. I was involved in phase one as an equity partner, again a third of half, and in the end, a lot of our clients started to get a little upset with me having the nerve to be open about being a developer. So I started to get some push-back when I bought another site where we were going to do Work Lofts on Carlaw. And I bought another site next to that and I was going to do Flatiron Lofts, and I bought a third site to do 330 King Street. I had four or five reasonably large-scale developments on the go, and sort of vaulted into the mid-range of developers with 800 units on the go at a time. I started to step on people's toes and they got upset, and some of my bigger clients fired me. Now, you don't have to be brilliant, sitting in a room with your developer clients and saying "I feel like maybe this is a conflict of interest" and with the frequency of that coming up over the course of a year it became clear to me that it was not going to continue, we were not going to be doing projects for a lot of our large clients like Freed, Context, Urban Capital and Lanterra. I wanted to keep my brokerage in the developing business, so I just bought a ton of sites and said “Well fuck you, I'm going to do this myself. I'll market my own, I'll develop my own, I'll sell my own, I'll do everything on my own. I don't need you.”

I made that decision in 2006 and we really expanded a lot in that year; we started buying a lot of sites. I was fortunate because I had sold a lot of condos in 2005 and 2006, thousands and thousands of new condos for all these clients that were big developers. And I also bought units in all the buildings. I didn't buy one or two, I bought a lot of them, more than they bought in their own buildings. I had more faith in their buildings than they did and at that point, I also had my development profit start to form. So I actually had a very large amount of money that I could expand my development company with and I didn't need other people. You always need money, to borrow money from banks and there's always partners but I had enough money that I could expand and we just blew up in 2006-07 to over a thousand units. Now I think we've got 14 projects on the go – not counting our Caribbean stuff – 14 projects in Ottawa, Toronto and Calgary, and probably another 3 or 4 coming in the next few years. We're not as aggressively pursuing property as I was because we have a lot on the go and also because the market is mature, not that it's completely mature, but it is maturing and it's time to slow down.

I did want to ask you about how you've seen the Toronto market evolve in the time you've been selling, and how people have responded to what you're bringing to the market.

You know, when I began on the new development side of things, my first client was Context and my second client was Urban Capital (at that time I think they were called Red Rocket or Scrappy Dog or some funny name like that; it was Dave Wex's company). Howard Cohen was a true modernist, a pretty visionary guy, and he was also a good guy to learn from – he was very meticulous about how he wanted a design or development to intersect – the difference there is he understands good work. Doing projects for him and for some of the other people that care about design really taught me a lot about what’s important about development. It wasn't just to build a house, it was to build a beautiful house - and it’s pure - if you build a beautiful house and your client loves it and you make a profit, it’s a beautiful thing. Everyone is happy and the city is better off.

So I saw with some of these early developments how happy people were – I just wanted to do that stuff – and so when I started to work on my own, and even when I worked with Peter Freed – when he started out he didn't have a lot of money really on the condo side of things – it was fun because it was like learning from an open book in terms of wanting to do some good stuff. And when you see people react to a good product that you're doing, it was exciting. So I think the one thing I can say today is that a lot of people used to believe I was… they would come and say “this is a Brad Lamb building.” It was never a Brad Lamb building. I was doing the marketing and sales, but it wasn't my building. That really resonated with me, that there was a brand here, and I could take it and export it and do something in Toronto where people would come and say “I’m here because Brad Lamb is involved and because he's involved, I know it’s going to be a good building. It’s going to be design conscious and a cool-looking.” That's what our brand is about: delivering stuff where the details are everything.

Our interview with Brad Lamb continues next Thursday when we discuss Theatre Park, developing in Toronto generally, and what the future holds for Lamb Dev Corp.
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2012, 3:59 PM
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Part 2 for those who might be interested ...

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The Interview: Brad Lamb Part 2
June 7, 2012 12:32 pm | by Craig White | Comments

We pick up our interview with Brad Lamb following Part 1 where we mostly delved into the early stages of Lamb's career.

Now that some of your projects are getting larger, public art contributions and section 37 benefits would be going up commensurately with the size of the budget. Are you able to translate your brand, and the aesthetic you want to deliver into larger buildings?

Well, the first thing is we don't want to do phase buildings; they’re too big. The perfect number for me is around 200-240 units for two reasons; number one is it’s not so overwhelming that the building becomes massive and monotonous. What I don't really like about really big sites is that you have so much ability to do what you want that you kind of fuck it up, whereas when you have a small site, there aren't a lot of decisions and you're stuck with something. I actually like small, difficult sites.

Constraints make it a challenge...

And it brings out the best in you. When you can do anything and you have 40,000 square feet, I don't think you get the best design. So we specialize in buying smaller sites and getting a lot on them. Theatre Park and King Charlotte are like that.

When I first bought Theatre Park it was daunting, I don't think anyone thought we would get it done. I’m pretty sure everyone said "He's out of his mind, that’s a failure for sure." It was really just absolute determination and refusing to give up belief.

The City was against it initially?

We walked into the planning department, myself and Peter [Clewes], we showed them the building – the original building was different from the one we eventually went with, but it was still beautiful nonetheless – and the planner said, “Listen, if you want me to write you a refusal letter right now I will. This is never going to happen, this is never going to get built.” And I just thought, “Fuck, after meeting us for five minutes, this is what you say?" So Peter and I just left and said, “Oh yeah? We’ll see if this building gets built."

So we worked very hard, and we did have a councillor on our side in the end. He believed in the building and, you know, I saw today in the paper the Massey Tower. Now that building is on a zero lot line. I don't know what stage it’s in at planning. It’s going to be very difficult to approve and perhaps even more controversial than our Theatre Park condos. I’m not a super fan of it, it’s a nice building, but there are things I would have done differently with it. But I think it’s a nice building and it would be much better for the city if that got built. So the planning was difficult, we lost the councillor initially but Adam Vaughan came around eventually. We gave a lot of money under Section 37, we gave a lot of money for an arts contribution. You know, if you buy the land right, and you get enough density and you can sell it for enough money, a million dollars here and there for an arts contribution and Section 37 isn't the end of the world. It’s a $130-million tower, there’s money that can go towards the city that can make things right for them. The interesting thing about the art contribution is that we are working with five international artists right now to narrow down our art park...

This is in the forecourt at Theatre Park?

The forecourt park is going to be designed by one of five well-known international artists. There will be sculptures on it, the benches will be sculptures, the water feature will largely be designed by them, the choice of materiality will be made by them, so this whole thing will be done by an artist. And we’re just going through the culling process now, there will probably be an announcement soon. It’s just another thing you have to do, but you know, art and architecture are one and the same and I think people forget that, right? They forget that architecture is art, you just think about it as this place to live but it isn't, it has a purpose outside of just this place to live. I’ve learned a lot about that through this art competition.

We’re actually doing one without being asked in Calgary, on our first Calgary project called 6th and Tenth. We hired the same art consultant to find us something Calgarian. It’ll be some western themed sculpture that we’re creating, and we’re doing another forecourt art park and another water feature. I think it’s the perfect way to frame a building. I mean I love when you walk around New York City and you come across some random park, and there’s always people eating lunch or talking or meeting or they set up little impromptu bars outside for the summer. I think that’s what makes a city greater, having these little things that are just unexpected and beautiful. Like I said, there’s lots of money in development when you can do something like that, that other people won’t do or won’t even consider, it makes the city better. And also, I think for us as a brand, people will know that. When they see these buildings finished, they will say “that’s the kind of stuff this guy does, we want to buy into his next building" and hopefully we can build a brand that can push us past the borders of Canada and into the United States.

Will the completion of these projects make similar boundary-pushers easier in the future? Or are you already seeing the City come around to more atypical expressions of building?

[Lamb’s expression drops.]

Or are you still experiencing…

…a battle?

Yes.

It’s worse. It’s just an impossible city to develop in.

How does Toronto compare with Ottawa?

It’s way worse. I’ll say that this city is a nightmare to develop in. It’s a fist fight and it’s very unpleasant; it makes you not want to do it, and many talented people are sick of it.

What would you change about it?


I would fire the entire planning department. Because there has to be a change in how they see things. It’s just a nitpicking, constant battle for mediocre buildings. They have people working in the planning department… and maybe it comes from above, or it’s just endemic in the system, but I think we need to get fresh ideas. The buildings that they don't fight about… [sighs]. Look at a building like Theatre Park. I don't care what anyone says, Theatre Park is going to be a beautiful, life-changing experience for people when they walk by and be like “Holy fuck, look at this amazing building.” This would never have been built unless Adam Vaughan personally steered it through the system, because he saw merit in this project. It’s a crazy building that I think people are going to enjoy for years to come, versus what they wanted us to build which is a 10-storey or maybe 16-storey block-to-block skinny-fat building with a podium. No park--they didn't even like the park: the planning department actually tried to get us to take the park out.

They wanted continuous street-wall.

Yeah, that’s how they think: nothing different, nothing new. It’s a problem. I have looked at a lot of terrific development sites in the city and I backed off on buying them depending on what ward they're in and who we have to deal with, because we know if it’s anything remotely adventurous or difficult it could be a battle.

You need the right councillor behind you to get it through.

You need the right councillor, with a vision. Adam Vaughan has a terrific vision for the city. What he got Context to do with The Lanes at King West… that would never have happened in any other ward. We had that original idea coming from the councillor, not a planner, not a developer, a councillor forced that. He encouraged us to do it at King Charlotte, because he saw all the back lanes – it’s such a mean little street, Charlotte – but it could be beautiful and he said "I want you to create some retail down in the alleyway”. We had a tiny floorplate but we carved out a little bit of retail halfway down the alleyway that could be a cool little bar or bodega or something with a patio. We even talked about closing off the street at night to provide for a patio, where you could walk through half and the other half is patios. It’s creative thinking, it’s like city-building thinking, right? We need more guys like that, we need the planning department to think about stuff like that, and it’s extraordinarily frustrating. Their attitude now is unless you have essentially three-quarters of an acre, you should not be able to build a tall building, and you know how tall a tall building is? Ten storeys! So over time you go to them with a project on a quarter acre, you get nothing but push-back. The problem is that you end up not being able to build anything and it gets underused. How many parking lots do you see around Toronto?

Quite a few, slowly disappearing.

Quickly disappearing. Downtown, parking lots are disappearing at an alarming rate, and we need to be more efficient about what’s left. How are we going to fill the city with the bodies we need to and keep it competitive on a global basis? That’s the other thing they're not thinking about. We need to be competitive with Chicago and Silicon Valley and Los Angeles and New York and for that matter, places like St. Petersburg, right? We have to be competitive on a world scale and are we thinking that way? Are we thinking about the resources and the infrastructure that make people want to live in Toronto? Do we have the beauty? If we don't, we’d better.

So the system isn't set up to create buildings of beauty?

I don't think the system is set up to create buildings of beauty that are economically feasible. I am all for designing beautiful buildings and putting your best out there, but there has to be a profit involved because no one’s going to do it for free. We have a horrible log jam going on in the City with what I would call small marginal sites, like that site that Context is doing at Lanes. I looked at that site for years… Every time someone hit my car, I used to get Bianchi Brothers to fix it, so I knew those guys. They used to come to my office when I was across the street, telling me why he wanted to buy our auto repair thing. It’s a shitty site – I can’t get something built on the corner – and what’s going to get built there is going to be magnificent. That’s the kind of foresight we need in Toronto.

So far, the sites you have been building on were parking lots mostly. Have you had to take much down?

Yeah, we've taken stuff down. 330 King [The King East] was a single storey warehouse, and we had to take down a gas station for Flatiron Lofts. We took down a leather warehouse for Work Lofts, and in Ottawa, for one of our sites called Gotham, we've had to take down five small apartment buildings.

What I want to get at with that is that with the parking lots disappearing – Theatre Park’s going on one – how do you see the city changing in terms of being able to find the sites you want for future projects? Are you having to go into places that have more significant existing buildings?

We are, this is what’s happening now in Toronto. People are buying five or eight-storey relatively useful buildings that may have a cap rate of four or five, even at the new price, and they're knocking them down. You know, King-Charlotte is a four-storey warehouse and we’re knocking that down. It still has economic life. When we bought it, it was another offer on it, and they were going to keep the building. There are situations where we are buying product that still has a use. I’m assembling things right now so what I’m not doing is launching five or six projects in Toronto a year. I’m going to ration it down to two because we want to look at other cities, and we have the infrastructure now to do projects, so we want to set it up elsewhere so we can mitigate our risk in markets. I have five assemblies going on around the city where I’ve acquired from two to three adjoining properties and we’re going to expand those till’ we control all of the adjoining properties. They are future development sites.

How do you feel about heritage aspects? Have you been assembling at any sites where there will be an intention to retain heritage stock?

We have a site at Berkeley and King that I bought over a period of three years, and I think we have one of Toronto's oldest buildings – it’s from 1858 I believe – it’s pre-Confederation.

On the northwest corner?

Yeah, it’s the Klaus building. We own that and everything around it, and our first thought was to knock it down and just build up. But it turns out it’s historic. I think it was registered but not listed, and we didn't see a lot of tremendous architectural narrative. It’s from the 1850s or early 60s, but it’s not exactly an example of any terrific movement, it’s just an old building. But I appreciate that it’s important to keep, so we’re now going to work around it, and we've rented everything around it for ten years, so we’re in no rush to do anything there. But I think ultimately what I will do there is an office building, and were thinking now of incorporating the entire building in it. We’ll have to fix it because it’s taken a swift kick, but I think were going to try to bring that whole building into an office tower and either make it a restaurant or some interesting retail usage… or maybe Klaus will stay there, I don’t know. That’s our only experience personally with it. I’ll tell you now I’d prefer not to [save it].

We also have an offer on a site with a very important historic building right now, and you just don't know what you're going to get stuck with. Sometimes with historical apartments, you just keep two sides of it and other times you have to keep the entire building intact. If you're buying a 13,000 square foot site or floorplate of a building with 7,000 square feet, you've just benignly ruined it, that site can’t have anything on it. So you never know with historic buildings or the historic department what you're going to get, you don't know what you're going to get from the councillor of the ward, and, well, you always know what you're going to get from the planning department: no! So my preference would be not to do it, but if you do it right and make it economically feasible, we would.

UrbanToronto readers will be interested in knowing what’s coming up in the next year or so. Park is registered, you have Work Lofts and Flatiron Lofts finishing, you have Theatre Park going deep into the ground now, you have King-Charlotte going into the ground...

Well so we have those, we’re moving people in in late May in Flatiron, it will be June or July for 330 King. Theatre Park is about a year and six months away. Riverside is about a year away, it’s moving fast. Were going to get King-Charlotte into the ground in May, that’s our plan to break ground. Brant Park which was launched as a smaller building: the City wanted us very much to finish that block up, very difficult land owners on that block but we managed to make deals with the balance of them, so the building is much bigger now. So we called it a Phase Two because we have a whole section of units now to sell. With that building, Phase One sold very well so I think we’ll be in the ground either August or September of this year.

The Brant Park condos Toronto, by Lamb Development CorporporationThe Brant Park, image courtesy of Lamb Dev Corp

And then we have nothing planned for Toronto to be in the ground any time soon. We have a site we've tied up in the Queen West area, we're going to do a very cool building there.

We also have Gotham in Ottawa breaking ground in May, we have SoBa which we launched in May, and will break ground one year later. We’re trying to create a new area because it’s a bit of a dead zone around there – there’s Centretown, but it’s wedged up against the highway so it’s really like no-mans land – and then you get to the Glebe and it’s really nice. So we’re sort of creating this new identity for the area and developing it, were going to do other sites in the area.

SoBa condos Ottawa, by Lamb Development CorporporationSoBa Ottawa, image courtesy of Lamb Dev Corp

And we have this thing in Calgary called 6th and Tenth which we launched in May.

Is that southwest of the Calgary tower? Or southeast? In Calgary, it’s all quadrants.


We’re 6th Street and 10th Avenue, so we’re southwest.

If this was Calgary down there [gestures], and the stampede’s on the other side, it’s in the Beltline, it’s all changing there very quickly. The Beltline is a great place to develop, it’s perfect for what we do, and there’s a lot of interest in Calgary in our product. There’s a second project that we’re working on right now that will incorporate a hotel with a 27-storey condo tower, and we’re just looking at the details of that. That should come later this year or next year, also in Calgary.

Do you look for stuff near the C-Train in Calgary? Is there any consideration paid there?

Well it happens that our first site is close to it but, you know, when you're in the Beltline and you're a few blocks east or west of the centreline in Calgary, it’s a five minute walk to everything. So it hasn't been a big problem for us.

6th and Tenth condos Calgary, by Lamb Development Corporporation6th and Tenth in Calgary, image courtesy of Lamb Dev Corp

I’m an urbanist, so people are always trying to get me to buy stuff outside of downtown cores and I have no interest. I don't understand why people live there, I just don't know what they like, I hate it. So I can only get involved in things I understand, I know what I want and I figure that if there’s other people like me, it'll sell.

We have this very exciting project in the Dominican Republic and we’re going to make a big announcement about it soon, and were going to 1,500 units on 500 acres, about 1,000 hotel rooms, 300 condos and 200 golf villas, we’re going to do a PGA golf course. It’s a very important part of the country because it’s ecologically protected, it’s next door to a national park. Normally you could do 20,000 units on 500 acres, the density is 3 an acre – it’s not a lot, we have a site in partnership with someone else in the Turks and Caicos and the zoning is 20 an acre – so its very, very light. Peter Clewes is a small partner in that project in the Dominican and he was our chief designer in our initial master-plan, and he went down and told the chief architect of the government that we are going to go very lightly on the land, and so she took that literally and went off and wrote a new zoning over the next year based on treading lightly on the land. I had to tell her we’re going to tread a little heavier than that; we have to build something!

So there’s lots on the go. We’ll probably do another project in the spring of next year in Toronto, but we won’t be announcing it for several months.

Is that the Queen West one?

Yeah.

Well, we will look forward to that. Great to talk with you.

Thanks.
The link has pics - http://urbantoronto.ca/news/2012/06/...ad-lamb-part-2
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2012, 4:10 PM
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TL;DR - Toronto has a much worse planning department than Ottawa.
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2012, 4:20 PM
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Like that Theater Park render; wow. what a striking tower with all the different bits, lines, masses, etc. but somehow it doesn't schlop into a po-mo mishmash for me; and the forecourt is very interesting. Fingers x'ed that bolder designs are to come here from him, too. (I recognize there's a process to creating a space in a market: moving comfort levels, cultivating appetites, etc.)
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2012, 4:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTWAP View Post
TL;DR - Toronto has a much worse planning department than Ottawa.
Yeah, that stood out didn't it? He seems to be a pretty hyperbolic guy (but gives real good copy, a great interview to be sure), so I wasn't sure how much face value to give that remark...?
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2012, 5:24 PM
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Yeah, that stood out didn't it? He seems to be a pretty hyperbolic guy (but gives real good copy, a great interview to be sure), so I wasn't sure how much face value to give that remark...?
I wonder if the Ottawa planners are just bored sick with the same old shit from lame Ottawa developers. Someone shows up with new ideas and they can't keep their hands off him.

"Oooooh, Brad. You're so edgy and coooool."
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2012, 6:06 PM
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Talking

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Originally Posted by RTWAP View Post
I wonder if the Ottawa planners are just bored sick with the same old shit from lame Ottawa developers. Someone shows up with new ideas and they can't keep their hands off him.

"Oooooh, Brad. You're so edgy and coooool."
ewwwww, GROSS!

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