It would best suit the City of Ottawa to move its proposed Innovation Complex to Vanier, where entrepreneurs can take advantage of the surrounding neighbourhood’s services, according to the CEO of local design firm prototypeD Urban Workshops Inc.
© Google Street View image
An old city workshop at the Bayview Yards.
The not-for-profit development workshop presented its vision for the complex – the future home of Invest Ottawa – to city officials last month. It stands in contrast to the city’s proposal for Bayview Yards, a former municipal public works garage.
“It’s affordable enough that other developers can move in and take advantage of it,” said Janak Alford, the firm’s CEO, in an OBJ interview.
He likened Vanier to how some of the more expensive artsy areas of New York City today got started in the 1950s. “All the artists arrived in the cheapest areas, and over time that became an art community and that grew.”
prototypeD proposes locating the space in the former Jean Vanier Catholic Intermediate School, on Lajoie Street, near Montreal Road. The school was closed in 2009, according to media reports.
The vision, which is not put down in engineering detail yet, is to have a mixture of public spaces and boardrooms for entrepreneurs to meet with each other and investors, with the aim of avoiding the need to rent costly rooms for business meetings.
More height would be added to one side of the school for mezzanine and upper level creative workshops, expanding the available space to 150,000 square feet.
There also would be rooftop gardens, stores, design studios and professional offices on site.
A city staff report tabled in January noted the new complex “would help to meet the growing demands of new entrepreneurs in Ottawa” and be modelled after the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto and Communitech Hub in Kitchener-Waterloo.
There is no timeline released yet for construction.