Tega scales back controversial Hintonburg condo project

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The developer behind a proposed 36-storey condominium tower, which drew public condemnation from the head of the city’s planning committee and the surrounding community, is rethinking its plans, according to a consultant involved in the project.

Lloyd Phillips, a planning consultant to Tega Homes, told OBJ the homebuilder is looking at a "very substantial reduction" in the height and floor area of the Hintonburg project. He said the exact numbers are still being finalized.

Last year, Tega unveiled plans to construct the tallest residential tower in Ottawa on Parkdale Avenue, just north of Wellington Street West near Tunney's Pasture.

Dubbed "Attika," the two-building proposal consisted of a six-storey structure and a 36-storey tower on a property that is envisioned to eventually feature buildings of no more than eight storeys.

Speaking at a conference last fall, councillor Peter Hume - who also chairs the city's planning committee - called out Tega before a room full of hundreds of developers and real estate executives.

He said Tega's proposal was "totally out of keeping with the community" and told developers that "the answer is going to be no" if they ask the city for additional height allowances above and beyond community design plans, which are intended to guide development in specific neighbourhoods.

Mr. Hume's past comments suggest Tega may still face opposition to its revised proposal.

While Mr. Phillips said the final height of the project has yet to be determined, he said one of the buildings will still be more than eight storeys. However, he said Tega wants to "closely follow the Wellington West community design plan philosophy."

There are other substantial changes to the proposal beyond height.

Under the original plan, the 36-storey building was to face Parkdale Avenue. Under the new proposal, the shorter building will front the arterial road with the larger structure behind it, closer to Hamilton Avenue.

Both buildings will sit atop and be set back from a two-storey podium containing shops and offices, said Mr. Phillips, adding that the changes were prompted by the "negative reaction" to the initial proposal.

He said a meeting with the community is being organized ahead of revising a formal rezoning application.

Some say the property's proximity to the Tunney's Pasture Transitway station - which will be converted to a light-rail station in the coming years - and government office complex makes it a prime site for residential intensification.

Prior to Tega's plans, a would-be developer proposed a 10-storey condominium on the property that was called "highly speculative" by the head of Ottawa's home builders' association.

Markton Properties was criticized for collecting deposits from would-be customers before even applying for the most basic of city approvals.

That project was ultimately abandoned, although posters advertising the development - dubbed "The Artisan" - still adorn the self-storage building that currently sits on the property.

Even after Tega's plans became public last year, property records showed the land was still registered to Spencedale Properties, which is controlled by the same owners as Markton Properties.

Jeff Polowin, a senior vice-president at government affairs firm Hill + Knowlton Canada, said Markton Properties remains "a partner" in Tega's development.