Construction crews returning to LeBreton Flats in December

Courtney
Courtney Symons
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Ottawa homebuilder Claridge Homes is preparing to begin building the third phase of its residential community in LeBreton Flats.

A model of Claridge Home's third phase of development for LeBreton Flats, titled Fusion.

The third installment, titled Fusion, will include two condominium residences on Fleet Street and Lett Street respectively, with boutique-style stacked townhomes in between the six and eight-storey structures.

Ranging in price from $254,000 to $690,000, construction of the homes is set to begin this December and wrap up by 2014.

The development will include seven or eight phases depending on market demand, according to Claridge vice-president Neil Malhotra, and will include high-rise, low-rise and townhouse dwellings. In the end, 850 residences will make up Claridge’s Urban Village, which claims to be Ottawa’s first LEED-certified neighbourhood.

Since winning the contract from the National Capital Commission in 2004 to redevelop 4.4 hectares on the underdeveloped waterfront property, Claridge has built two 13-story towers, each containing 173 units.

The first tower was completed in 2008; the second last year. But despite construction plans moving ahead on schedule, the development has generated much controversy.

 

HISTORY

LeBreton Flats was one of Ottawa’s first residential and industrial settlements, but the land was expropriated by the federal government in 1962 with the intention of developing government buildings. The land sat unused for almost forty years before the NCC announced plans in 2000 to invest $99 million of federal funding into redeveloping LeBreton Flats with the goal of bringing 5,000 residents to the area. The initiative began with extensive soil remediation to clean up pollution left from former industrial and timber sites.

When the NCC issued a request for proposals in 2004, it received six expressions of interest. Three were shortlisted including Claridge, Ottawa-based Minto Group Inc. and Alliance Prevel of Montreal.

Federal documents cited by media reports stated that of the three, Claridge came in last place when ranked on design experience, statement of design intent and development experience.

But when the deadline arrived, only Claridge submitted a detailed development proposal. The other two contenders dropped out of the running, accusing the NCC of introducing new conditions that made the project uneconomical, according to media reports.

Claridge, the only remaining candidate, was awarded the contract.

 

DEVELOPMENT

The NCC was criticized for its selection process, but so too was Claridge when its design plans were released. They were accused of being too ordinary, and undeserving of such a unique site.

But the project is nowhere near complete, Mr. Malhotra says, and additional phases may change people’s minds.

“It’s quite striking when you come from downtown,” he says. “The part of the building you see from the west is not the part you will see in the future.”

The side facing Booth Street will eventually be blocked by office buildings from later NCC developments, and Claridge is holding off on further designs for the site’s west side until LRT decisions are finalized for the LeBreton Flats stop, currently slated for just south of the existing Transitway.

LRT construction won’t hinder the developer for long, Mr. Malhotra says, and will offer its residents a convenient way to commute upon completion.

Claridge’s Urban Village development will be completed by 2017 at the earliest. Although the conceptual ideas for the project have been determined, design work for future phases is incomplete in order make sure of new technologies and architectural ideas that may arise.

The developer has been working with Montreal architect Dan Hanganu on its designs.

The NCC plans for development of the area to be completed by 2020. About 40 per cent of the 65-hectare flats will remain green space, including parks, a festival site and recreational pathways, according to media reports.

Claridge is one of Ottawa’s largest homebuilders and one of the most active builders in the downtown core.

It’s continuing construction on the two 28-storey Tribeca condominium towers at the east side of Metcalfe Street, between Gloucester and Nepean Streets, and wants to build a 27-storey condo on Nepean Street, between Metcalfe and O’Connor streets.

The company has also released plans to build the city’s tallest tower with a 42-storey condo building.

Organizations: National Capital Commission, Minto Group, Alliance Prevel of Montreal

Geographic location: Ottawa, Urban Village, Fleet Street Lett Street Metcalfe Street Nepean Street Booth Street Montreal

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Recent comments

  • Chrissy
    September 17, 2012 - 14:17

    The development in the Flatts is definately not for everyone. I can see how some would consider it ugly, but it has a modern flare and I think it offers the best of both worlds for residents. Condos in the city center mainly have no view, and can actually be within 'spitting distance'. The Flatts condos offer a view of the river, the kayak river for some, and city parkland; minutes from downtown. Once the neighbourhood gets going it could very well be the next trendy hub.

  • Kevin Bourne
    August 30, 2012 - 14:30

    I completely disagree with the previous commenter. I prefer the current approach of blending high rise, low rise, and townhomes. Building all row homes in an area that will increasingly be considered a part of downtown over the coming years, and that is just north of a future LRT station and close to the Ottawa River, would be a complete waste of space. It would be a bad idea to build rowhomes at Lebreton Flats because that's what it looked like 60 years ago. You have to consider current demand and current trends.

  • Liz
    August 30, 2012 - 11:01

    The Claridge development at Lebreton is awful looking. I go by it every day. I wouldn't buy a place there. Even the artist's conception shown on the OBJ site doesn't do anything for me. Who wants to live in a highrise and stare at your neighbour in another tower within spitting distance? Somehow I imagined Lebreton Flats would somehow try to recreate the atmosphere of early 20th century - with stone rowhomes all lined up nicely on a grid, with trees and parks. Not tower after tower after tower of ugly high rises!