Condos over the Queensway

Elizabeth
Elizabeth Howell
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Developer says discussions with city show desire for intensification

Catherine Street, running parallel along the Queensway, is poised to turn into a gold mine for condo developers thanks to the city's intensification efforts, says one builder with a stake in the area.

An artist’s conception of SoBa. The design may change as the building is finalized.(Supplied image)

Richmond Hill, Ont.-based Fortress Real Capital has its eye on at least two more properties in the area of Bank and Catherine streets, in addition to its newly unveiled SoBa development, which will go up just south of the intersection. The 19-storey, nearly 250-unit tower scheduled for completion in 2014.

"The city has indicated they want to intensify that area," says Jawad Rathore, chief strategic officer at Fortress.

"They want to increase height in that area. We think it's going to be really revitalized, that part of Centretown."

Fortress and Lamb Development Corp. are working together on the SoBa project, with each chipping in capital costs. This is their second such agreement since starting work on the Gotham, a 17-storey, 240-unit building at the intersection of Lyon and Gloucester streets that will be finished in 2012.

The companies are part of an influx of Toronto developers eyeing Ottawa's condo market. Commonly cited factors for building in the national capital include the stabilizing presence of government, the number of young professionals looking to buy urban real estate, and older people seeking to downsize.

But the Bank and Catherine streets area in particular will be where Fortress expects to see the most growth, Mr. Rathore says.

"It's close to dining and restaurants, bars and shopping, close to where you want to be - and it has the added advantage of being a hip, cool address in a hot area."

The Greyhound station at Kent Street, just west of SoBa, is another site that could eventually sport residential condominium towers.

Last week, the city's planning committee endorsed a rezoning request by the property's owner - Crerar Silverside Corp. - that would allow for four buildings on the site, including two 25-storey towers containing retail, apartment and office space.

Vancouver-based Crerar wanted the property rezoned in case the operators of the intercity bus service opt to relocate the Ottawa facility. However, in an interview last year, the controlling shareholder of Crerar told OBJ he'd like it to continue to be a bus station as an income-generating property in the company's portfolio.

According to Mr. Rathore, discussions with the city during the summer indicated staff are looking at increasing the density allowances on Catherine Street, with towers ranging between 20 and 30 storeys. Past zoning restrictions for height made it too difficult to pursue for developers, he says.

"The city has mapped out that area for intensification, we're the first down there, and we're excited about that," he says. "The plan is for more."

FORTRESS AND LAMB'S DEVELOPMENTS IN OTTAWA

Gotham

Location: Lyon and Gloucester streets

Height: 17 storeys

No. of units: 240

Expected completion date: 2012

 

SoBa

Location: Bank and Catherine streets

Height: 19 storeys

No. of units: Up to 250

Expected completion date: 2014

 

Organizations: Fortress Real Capital, Crerar Silverside, Lamb Development

Geographic location: Ottawa, Richmond Hill, Lyon Toronto Kent Street Vancouver Catherine Street

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