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  #1  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2008, 7:05 PM
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waterloowarrior waterloowarrior is online now
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re Hotel & Residences (Canlands A Development) | 17 fl | Approved

11 March 2010 edit: website http://www.rehotelandresidences.com/


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NCC plans new mixed-use tower for Sparks Street
Patrick Dare
The Ottawa Citizen
Wednesday, July 02, 2008


OTTAWA - It's been a dream at the National Capital Commission since the 1980s: Breathe some life into Sparks Street with a distinctive new building where people live. Now the commission feels it finally has the right plan that will make it happen.

The NCC this week approved a two-building complex at its "Canlands A" property, which is between Sparks and Queen streets, just west of Metcalfe Street and within easy walking distance of Parliament Hill. Today the Sparks Street side of the property is two boarded-up buildings and the Queen Street side is a parking lot.

The commission, after many years of false starts, has chosen David Choo's Ashcroft Urban Developments as the developer for the property, with a design from Ottawa architect Roderick Lahey. Under the deal, the developer will have use of the land for 66 years, beginning Dec. 1 of this year, paying $166,500 each year. The two parties can renew the lease when it comes due.

Ashcroft won the project after a national request for proposals. The NCC has owned the land since the 1970s.

Ashcroft is to construct a building that is six storeys on Sparks Street and a building that is 16 storeys on the Queen Street side, where ground level is much lower. The development is to have rental units in the lower floors, perhaps a small hotel. In the upper floors there are to be condominium units. In total the plans call for 135 units. On the ground floor, stores are to front on Sparks Street. There will be some offices, underground parking and a restaurant on the Queen Street side of the complex.

The design includes a stairway between Queen and Sparks streets to improve pedestrian access and a courtyard between the buildings planted with ironwood trees. The project requires the use of clay brick and high quality materials and the restoration of the facade of the 1873 Centre Theatre building on Sparks Street. The TD Bank building next door will be torn down.

Peter McCourt, director of real estate management at the NCC, said that if people live on Sparks Street or occupy hotel rooms, businesses will operate to support them and the street will become "more interesting and lively," which is what the commission is after. Sparks Street is dominated by business and federal government offices, which has led to complaints that the street dies after five o'clock in the afternoon.

Mr. McCourt said the project will complement the other NCC residential project at 126 Sparks, where Morguard Corporation created 35 suites that are rented out.

"We're quite excited about this," said Mr. McCourt. "I'm hoping for good things here."

NCC chairman Russell Mills said: "We've needed that for a long time."

For the architect, Mr. Lahey, the project is something that has taken a long time but holds great promise. The project began in 2006 and could face two more years before construction begins, due to the City of Ottawa's slow approvals process.

Ashcroft will need a minor variance from the permitted zoning, though there should not be significant opposition since the change will not block sunlight to neighbours, which has been one of the biggest stumbling-blocks for new buildings on Sparks Street. The project represents a lot of what the city is after in urban development: a mix of business and residential uses, as well as building in an older neighbourhood that already has city services.

The project is a rare opportunity because of the uniqueness of the site.

Above the seventh floor people will have a spectacular view of the lawns and buildings of Parliament Hill. Those on much higher floors will also have views of the Ottawa River and the landmark buildings of the capital.

"It's one of the most unique sites in Canada," said Mr. Lahey. "It's going to be a shot in the arm for Sparks Street."

© The Ottawa Citizen 2008



Last edited by waterloowarrior; Mar 11, 2010 at 6:01 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2008, 8:07 PM
adam-machiavelli adam-machiavelli is offline
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OH MY GOD! How many shades of brown and grey are they planning to use? Good for them for putting more residential units downtown. But seriously, that thing is hideous!
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  #3  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2008, 8:22 PM
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Another truimph.

Quote:
For the architect, Mr. Lahey, the project is something that has taken a long time but holds great promise. The project began in 2006 and could face two more years before construction begins, due to the City of Ottawa's slow approvals process.
Who's the architect? this guy?

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  #4  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2008, 8:29 PM
clynnog clynnog is offline
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Originally Posted by harls View Post
Another truimph.



Who's the architect? this guy?

Nope...wrong guy. Roderick Lahey & Associates do a lot of architectural design work for Ashcroft/Richcraft and other builders in town. I don't believe that they do SFR's for tract builders. Love the comment in the original article about the lengthy period of time for City of Ottawa approvals.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2008, 9:00 PM
jitterbug jitterbug is offline
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The design is completely appropriate for Ottawa: grey, box-like and stumpy. Besides, a meazly 135 units will not exactly turn Sparks Street into Times Square. It's a beginning, but that's all. Maybe things will improve, but not in my lifetime and not as long as the NCC is involved.
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  #6  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2008, 9:10 PM
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Originally Posted by jitterbug View Post
The design is completely appropriate for Ottawa: grey, box-like and stumpy.
True, but one might have hoped for some turquoise aluminium siding as well, given its proximity to the Claridge Plaza heritage site.
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  #7  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2008, 11:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harls View Post
Another truimph.



Who's the architect? this guy?

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  #8  
Old Posted Jul 3, 2008, 1:50 AM
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When will construction start?
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  #9  
Old Posted Jul 3, 2008, 3:35 AM
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According to the NCC's Summary of the 2008-2009 to 2012-2013 Corporate Plan, the building should be complete in 2011, with occupancy projected for 2011-2012
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  #10  
Old Posted Jul 3, 2008, 4:26 PM
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Well, at least this box has some detail and colour to it.

Anything is an improvement over the rigid monochrome cubes that litter our skyline...
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Franky: Ajldub, name calling is what they do when good arguments can't be found - don't sink to their level. Claiming the thread is "boring" is also a way to try to discredit a thread that doesn't match their particular bias.
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  #11  
Old Posted Jul 3, 2008, 5:56 PM
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I went by that lot this morning and got a better orientation of the site. it sure is a fine chunk of real estate! As I was standing on the corner the Peace tower chimes went off.. I'd suppose one would get used to that and it'd blend in with the background noise... kind of like someone who lives with a grandfather clock and doesn't even notice the chimes anymore.

I was also surprised by the huge trees growing in that parking lot on Queen, they must be 30-40 years old.

The TD building they want to demolish looks kind of neat inside (international style). How long has it been empty?
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  #12  
Old Posted Jul 3, 2008, 6:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harls View Post
The TD building they want to demolish looks kind of neat inside (international style). How long has it been empty?
If you mean the single-storey building right on Sparks, it's been empty for at least 2 years. They used its windows last year for displays of the Capital's 150th anniversary. It's got a tall single storey - International style indeed. It might've worked as an H&M or something of that ilk but it's probably more financially viable to join it in with the Canlands site.

The one big difference between this project and the previous aborted ones, is that the TD building is now part of the picture. The NCC, in its previous calls for proposals, only wanted the Queen Street parking lot developed.
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Old Posted Jul 3, 2008, 8:10 PM
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Curious that the HSBC building is not part of the development. I wonder if the still plan to tear it down someday for a plaza that extends from Wellington to the World Exchange.
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  #14  
Old Posted Jul 3, 2008, 9:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Kitchissippi View Post
Curious that the HSBC building is not part of the development. I wonder if the still plan to tear it down someday for a plaza that extends from Wellington to the World Exchange.
Nooooooo! Not THAT again! You're joking, aren't you?
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  #15  
Old Posted Jul 3, 2008, 10:25 PM
Kitchissippi Kitchissippi is offline
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Well the building's design does look like it belongs in a corner, doesn't it?
The subtle curve to the right kinda hints at it.
Now, if those upper balconies wrapped around it would be a dead give away.
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  #16  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 1:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitchissippi View Post
Well the building's design does look like it belongs in a corner, doesn't it?
The subtle curve to the right kinda hints at it.
Now, if those upper balconies wrapped around it would be a dead give away.
You joker. You had me worried enough to actually go back and study the rendering. The balconies do look like they wrap around but there's a space between the buildings where cars enter the garage's ramp. Which means one way or another there won't be any retail fronting onto any side plaza...
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Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 2:02 AM
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Quote:
"It's going to be a shot in the arm for Sparks Street."
Not to mention Queen Street which could benefit from any increase in activity as it is currently and urban wasteland other than the short stretch right up against Elgin. Not quite Slater Street caliber, but not far off.
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  #18  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 1:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Mille Sabords View Post
You joker. You had me worried enough to actually go back and study the rendering. The balconies do look like they wrap around but there's a space between the buildings where cars enter the garage's ramp. Which means one way or another there won't be any retail fronting onto any side plaza...
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  #19  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 6:52 PM
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Thanks! I hadn't seen that one. It's even better, much more so than a garage ramp anyway! That must be the staircase to Sparks they talked about.
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  #20  
Old Posted Jul 4, 2008, 8:53 PM
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From today's Citizen:
Quote:
Sparking life in Sparks Street
The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Friday, July 04, 2008

The proposed development between Sparks and Queen streets may not win any awards for creative or unpredictable design, but it will perform several important functions for the neighbourhood.

The National Capital Commission has decided on a two-building complex at the "Canlands A" property, a stone's throw from Parliament Hill. The fact that the lumbering NCC has made up its mind to do something with the property is heartening; even more heartening is the fact that the mixed-use design could liven the area.

The proposal would combine condo units, rental units and perhaps a hotel, stores, underground parking and a restaurant. The pedestrian mall on Sparks Street has long suffered from a lack of night life, a problem that's in turn connected to the lack of nearby housing. Even during the day, when downtown workers and tourists stroll through with their lunches, the district is bland and lethargic. If people are living there, they'll be eating there and shopping there, even after 5 p.m.

The NCC has chosen a plan from Ashcroft Urban Developments and architect Roderick Lahey. On the Sparks Street side, the building is only six storeys, and fits in well with the heritage character and open, sunny atmosphere of the street.

The Queen Street side is 16 storeys, which is appropriate, given the proliferation of tall buildings in Centretown already. The views from the upper floors should be fantastic. There are some nice elements in the design, including a space for outdoor café seating. There's an inviting outdoor staircase between the Queen and Sparks sides (with an elevator nearby for people who can't use the stairs).

But taken as a whole, the Queen Street tower is boxy and unremarkable. It's not a bad building, but it's not inspiring. No tourist will take its picture. It fits in well with the neighbourhood - a little too well. It's like any other building in Ottawa. It's the safe choice. When architects stick their necks out with daring designs, they run the risk of community scorn (and, let it be said, scornful editorials). Still, it would be nice if the design were just a little more interesting.

It's a whole lot better than the parking lot and disused buildings on the site now, though. For too long, Ottawa's core has been neglected, and much of the blame for that lies with the NCC.

The open-air parking lots that still dot Centretown are bizarre anachronisms. Yes, some parking is necessary downtown. But every square foot in Centretown - vertical and horizontal - is precious, and should be treated that way. Parking should be underground, incorporated into building designs that encourage pedestrianism and culture. Where there are customers, there will be interesting shops, restaurants and galleries. A busy street even draws in people from outlying areas; it's not very safe or pleasant to walk from a car or bus stop along a deserted Centretown Street at 10 p.m.

There are a few encouraging signs of change on Sparks Street. The new CBC building has brought more people to the area, although it does more for Queen than for Sparks. There's still a lot of work to do, but the neighbourhood is moving in the right direction.

To see drawings of the development, go to the online version of this editorial at ottawacitizen.com/views
Not a bad editorial really.
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