Former Wally Becker garage in Hintonburg could become six-storey development: HCA
Posted by Trevor Pritchard on Friday, June 15, 2012
Hintonburg's former Ideal Motors garage is being eyed by developers who worked on the tower housing the Great Canadian Theatre Company, according to the president of the neighbourhood's community association.
Jeff Leiper recently told OpenFile Ottawa that there have been talks between the Windmill Development Group and the Hintonburg Community Association over a possible six-storey mixed-use condo building on the site of the garage, located at the intersection of Wellington Street West and Irving Avenue. Former owner Wally Becker died "a couple of years ago," and the property is now in the hands of his sons, said Leiper.
While the proposal is in the early stages—Windmill hasn't purchased the land yet— there are some intriguing ideas being considered for the former garage, which has been empty for the past few months. According to Leiper, Windmill is contemplating a 45–50 unit development with fewer parking spots than condos—a relative rarity in Ottawa development circles.
"They're assuming they're selling to people who don't own cars. That's fairly forward looking of them," said Leiper. The proposal, which would also include retail at ground level, fits within the community development plan and sets off "no alarm bells," he added.
OpenFile contacted Jonathan Westeinde, Windmill's founder, in late May about the project, but our email went unanswered. A second email sent today hasn't been answered yet, either—although if it is, we'll update our post. Windmill was involved with building The Currents, an upscale, environmentally friendly highrise at Wellington Street and Holland Avenue that houses the Great Canadian Theatre Company at street level.
According to the HCA's page on neighbourhood developments, there will be a public meeting if the plans are formalized. Based on this Ottawa Citizen story from a couple of years ago, the Wally Becker garage has been a part of the Hintonburg landscape since at least the early 1970s.
I was very surprised when the house on Irving immediately behind the Wally Baker/Ideal Motors lot was sold recently in pretty run-down shape, and it seems to have gone to someone who's fixing it up (as a single-family home), and not to the garage's owners or a developer to assemble into a bigger footprint to play with. (this lot is not that
big, and has a funny shape that could make for a striking building, but that I imagine would pose some challenges for both designing and constructing a 6-storey building on the site)
Anyway, I would be thrilled to see a new mid-rise in Hintonburg (the first on new one on Wellington*!). I believe that all of the adjoining and nearly-vacant lots facing this one from the north side of Wellington St are owned by the same person/family, and these have the plus of being much deeper lots than Wally Baker; a Windmill Wally Baker project would help to quickly ripen these lots for fine developments of the same scale, IMO.
Funny/ironic for me to read that Windmill would be targeting car-free buyers, because I always imagined that if I was building on this lot, I would pay tribute to the automotive history of the street and give it a 1950s auto racing theme: it would be called "1000 Wellington" with the type used for the thousand number "borrowing" from the Audi logo, mod artwork and furniture in the lobby and hallways would evoke 1950s European racers, etc. It's ironic, because I try to live relatively car-free. ;-)
*I think that the Currents is too tall and the one at Wellington-Sherbrooke is too short to count.