Multiple plans for condominiums, retail and office developments have cropped up on the previously underused lots in the area surrounding Preston Street.
Champagne Avenue is currently as celebratory as its name suggests. Construction workers are building hom, Domicile Developments's urban condos, with the foundation complete and the first of 12 storeys being raised.
Right across the street, Mastercraft Starwood is selling "hotel-inspired condos" for its 16- and 20-storey towers that will soon rise high above the streetline. The property that once housed the Ottawa Humane Society may soon feature two buildings integrated into the Ev Tremblay Park next door. And the list goes on and on.
Many a community consultation has heard from neighbours who don't want such tall developments, but Dalhousie Community Association president Eric Darwin said it's an inevitability from which the neighbourhood will benefit.
"There's a reason there's a construction boom on Preston Street," he said, adding that nearby Somerset Street will likely be next. "Conveniences of living are very popular these days. People want to live in these neighbourhoods."
But it's not only condos popping up, it's also mixed-use buildings – and if those are done right, they will be a great addition to the area, Mr. Darwin said, especially if the tall towers beyond the first few floors are set back by a few metres.
While main streets often accommodate retail chains and big-name brands, side-street developments offer something a little more distinctive, he said. He hopes that will be the case for many of the off-Preston Street developments.
"I think that's what makes a neighbourhood attractive; storefronts, cafés, esoteric places like a Spanish bookstore," he said.
Lori Mellor, executive director of the Preston Street Business Improvement Association, said she agrees Carling Avenue has so far been underdeveloped.
"We understand that density is important to continued development of the neighbourhood," she said. "But how can we densify and still protect the village-like feel?"
Recent news that the Dow Honda dealership will be sold to Richcraft Homes for development came as no surprise to Ms. Mellor.
"It would be a much prettier use of the spot," she said. "It would be something that would bring us more neighbours. I think it would be very good for the area to be developed."
The influx of people working and living in the new buildings may finally make the area eligible for a grocery store – something that hasn't happened because not enough people currently live in the area to support one.
"We're not going to be petrified and frozen (and think that) it will look like this forever," Mr. Darwin said. "Change is good."
(Arnon Corp. development site, currently a surface parking lot)
Arnon Corp. found out earlier this month that the City of Ottawa plans to expropriate about 15 to 20 per cent of the 0.9-hectare lot on which the company had planned to build two office towers.
The city will use the site for west-end light-rail transit development, building a connection to a maintenance yard that could be constructed at ground level, above ground, or below ground.
"Until we know which of the three options they're going to avail themselves of, we're in a state of limbo," said Michael Casey, Arnon's vice-president of development, pointing to media reports speculating that Carling Avenue may not even be used for LRT.
When Arnon learns further details of the land expropriation, it will decide whether it can go ahead with plans to build a 15- and a 20-storey office building with 800 parking spaces.
"The entire Preston Street area is intensifying in a fashion which will make it a wonderful place to be," Mr. Casey said.
(hom Urban Condos by Domicile Developments)
Construction is underway on a 12-storey highrise apartment building with 94 units facing Champagne Avenue, and a three-storey six-unit townhouse dwelling facing Hickory Street.
Eighty per cent of the units have been sold, according to a representative in the sales office next to the site, which is currently filled with construction equipment and workers.
(Former location of the Ottawa Humane Society; purchased by Ashcroft Homes)
The boarded-up building that used to house the city's stray cats and dogs moved across town to West Hunt Club Road last year, leaving behind what will soon be torn down to make way for another mixed-use development.
Ashcroft Homes purchased the property and plans to develop two buildings at heights of 22 and 25 storeys for primarily residential use. Approximately 252 condominium units will begin on the fourth floor, above what will be designated "plaza-park-pedestrian use" and integrated with the Ev Tremblay Park right next door.
The project involves the "remediation and/or refreshing" of the park's recreational elements including bocce ball and basketball courts, climbing walls and water pads.
125 Hickory St. (125 Champagne Ave. S.)
(SoHo Champagne by Mastercraft Starwood)
A sales office currently sits on the site of the future mixed-use SoHo Champagne development, which will be comprised of two towers of 16 and 20 storeys each, containing 301 apartment units, 23 townhouse-type units and a podium connecting the two buildings. Commercial space will be featured on the southwest corner of the site, according to documents filed with the city in September 2010.
Construction will begin later this summer and more than 70 per cent of units are sold in the first tower.
(SoHo Italia by Mastercraft Starwood)
A proposed 30-storey condo development right next to the Little Italy archway would include approximately 232 residential units. The first four floors would be used for retail and office space.
Jason Ryan, Mastercraft Starwood's manager of marketing and sales, said the company is in the process of applying for rezoning.
(Plouffe Park warehouse owned by Public Works)
Public Works owns the land between Somerset Street and Gladstone Avenue, but has been unable to use the warehouse on the property since 2002 because it is no longer structurally sound.
"We are planning for deconstruction in 2013," said Public Works spokesperson Mélanie Quesnel in an e-mail to OBJ. "Following demolition ... (Public Works) will review all of its options with respect to the future use of this property."
In 2010, the Preston Street BIA commissioned Montreal-based Groundwork Consulting – made up of students from McGill University – to develop a plan for the site.
The Marco Polo Mixed-Use Urban Village they envisioned would include 237,000 square feet of residential space, a theatre, library, affordable housing, a grocery store, LCBO and year-round farmer's market.
(Claridge Tower by Claridge Homes)
In May, Claridge Homes' vice-president Neil Malhotra announced plans for a 42-storey tower that would be the tallest building in the city. The 128-metre building would include retail space on the ground floor, two or three floors of offices and 220 to 250 residential units.
Mr. Malhotra said at the time that he hoped to build by 2017.
Records show Claridge purchased the 15,700-square-foot property from Imperial Oil in March for slightly more than $9 million.