Posted Jun 4, 2011, 11:17 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Attika | 18 fl | Proposed
My apolgies if this proposal has already been mentioned in another thread. if it is , I can not seem to find it.
Anyways another proposal for a tall building to rival the Soho Italia project, but with a Greek name. What thinkest thou?
By Joanne Chianello, Ottawa CitizenJune 4, 2011 4:08 AM
They want to build it 36 storeys high and call it Attika.
Tega Homes is proposing a two-building development at the northwest corner of Parkdale Avenue and Armstrong Street in Hintonburg. One of those buildings would be a 36-storey tower that, if approved, would be the tallest building in the city, with some spectacular views of the Ottawa River and the Gatineau Hills.
The name is a sentimental suggestion by Tega's Greek-born CEO, Spyros Dimitrakopoulos. Attica is the province where Athens is located, but the boss's colleagues convinced him to change the "c" to a "k" so as to distance it from the infamous prison, not the usual association one looks for in a luxury condo development.
The Ottawa home builder is working with the property owner, who controls the entire block except for one small parcel: the corner occupied by the popular Carleton Tavern. Beer lovers can rest easy, however, as there are no plans to remove or redevelop the tavern. Instead, the 300,000 square-foot development is being planned around the Carleton Tavern, which, with a skinny soaring tower behind it, promises to become a true historic quirk in the quickly intensifying and gentrifying neighbourhood.
But whether it will be built as currently designed is far from settled.
Local residents aren't too happy with the height -which is more than four times the current eight-storey limit -and local politicians are questioning the validity of the developer's demands for more sellable space.
The issue is one of contamination.
The land under the site is chock full of VOCs -volatile organic compounds -at exponentially higher levels than provincial guidelines allow, due to a no-longer-used light industrial building that has been there for decades.
Tega is proposing to undertake the daunting task of cleaning up the contamination, which has spread beyond the site and under neighbouring homes. According to an independent appraisal, decontamination will take eight or nine months and require excavating 18 metres of bedrock and collecting and treating the groundwater. Even after the project is completed, a mechanism will have to be put in place to handle any residual contamination in the groundwater.
All this will cost $12 million.
The city has a "brownfield" program to help cover the costs of cleaning up contaminated land. The city is prepared to pay half of the expenses or, in this case, $6 million. But Tega says that for the development to be economically viable with the cleanup costs, it needs 50-percent more sellable space than called for in a recently approved local design plan.
In other words, instead of 200,000 square feet, Tega requires 300,000.
It's this assertion by Tega that Councillor Peter Hume isn't buying, characterizing it as an issue that is altogether separate from heights.
"We are prepared to put money on the table to provide an incentive to get builders to develop brownfields -and it's not an insignificant contribution," said Hume, who chairs council's planning committee. "Now they're saying we have to give them more density for doing the right thing?"
Hume pointed out that the fact the land was contaminated would have been built into the land's cost. He added that other developers have been able to build on previously contaminated land without asking for huge increases in sellable floor space.
"I don't want to send a signal that if you're going to clean up a site, we're going to let you build a 30-or 40-storey building," said Hume. "That's not a justification for more density."
As the proposed development is near both the Tunney's Pasture transit station and the federal government complex of the same name, it falls under the city's guidelines for intensification. Hume, who chairs council's planning committee, agreed that there are good reasons to zone it for more than the called for eight storeys.
But most are finding 36 storeys hard to swallow.
The company met with some members of the community on Thursday night and said the exchange was cordial and that residents "asked some very intelligent questions," but admitted that the locals were not in support of the record-setting height.
The proposed condo development, designed by architect David Blakely, would sit on a two-storey podium that would house retail shops and perhaps a restaurant. There'd be a six-level underground garage, seeing as Tega would have dug that huge hole for the decontamination, which would allow one parking spot for each of the planned 286 units.
An eight-storey building is planned for the western side of the site, while the 36-storey tower would sit on the eastern edge, along Parkdale. With a floorplate of about 7,000 square feet, the highrise would be relatively slender. There would be some open space between the two residential buildings.
This design was the third go-round with city planners, said Dimitrakopoulos. Tega originally proposed shorter, but broader, structures. City staff preferred a thinner, taller building that would let more light and air through the structure, as well as cast a narrower shadow on neighbouring properties.
Tega is also prepared to donate a "community benefit" for the extra height. Dimitrakopoulos is suggesting $500,000 in subsidies to artists who might be interested in using third-floor condos as residences and studios.
"In case that doesn't work out, we're prepared to offer the money directly toward another community benefit," said the company CEO.
But already, Kitchissippi Councillor Katherine Hobbs is saying that isn't nearly enough money.
"We will be seeking a significant community benefit," she said Friday from Victoria, B.C. "I would think we'd be looking for at least $1 million."
Hobbs suggested the money could go toward establishing the Hintonburg Hub, a project to bring medical and social services, as well as affordable housing, under one roof. But she added that there are too many issues still to be worked out to make any definitive statements.
"Right now I don't know what to think about the 36 storeys," said Hobbs. "I think it's high, that's for sure."
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