Iconic 45-storey Ottawa condo project a 'vertical subdivision'

Ottawa's skyline will soon reach new heights with the approval of the largest building in the city's history, an iconic 45-storey highrise condominium in the Little Italy district.
The project was given the green light on Tuesday by a committee of city council, which felt the building would be a good fit and help promote growth around Dow's Lake.
Despite the height of the building, the project received little opposition from the community as it went through the hurdles of the approval process with council.
“If I had known it was easier to deal with 45-storey buildings rather than a 20-storey buildings, we would have started building them a long time ago,” joked Neil Malhotra, vice president of Claridge Homes.
“The community has been fairly receptive to the location for that kind of density. There will always be a some opposition, but people generally see Carling Street as one that is a good place for intensification,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
“The community is fairly supportive of larger structures and of preserving some of the neighbourhoods and some of the low-rise housing in the neighbourhoods.”
Attention paid to detail
Malhotra said Claridge Homes paid close attention to detail and made sure they had excellent architects for the building, which will have 255 units and a component for retail and offices.
“We were not just focusing on our building, but focusing on the whole neighbourhood, which is how the city wants to approach it,” he said. “It's not just what your project is going to do, but where the whole neighbourhood is going to grow and how the parks are going to come in.”
“You have to start contemplating downtown neighbourhoods in the way that they are vertical subdivisions to a certain degree.”
The city council committee that approved the zoning change to accommodate the highrise, praised developer Claridge Homes for its quality design.
“The bar we’ve set is a high bar and I think that we owe a little bit of gratitude to the proponent for helping us set that bar,” Committee Chair Peter Hume said, according to Ottawa Business Journal.
The design was done by Toronto architect David Pontarini, who faced the obstacle of preserve space to allow for wider sidewalks and green elements.
The building has curved balconies and a narrow base as part of its attractive design, which may still undergo some changes at the top and bottom.
Area poised for growth
Malhotra said consideration was given to the location of schools, parks and transit. He said the area is seen by many as a possible are for future transit improvements, such as light rail along Carling.
“You start to focus on community building, not just a standalone building in isolation,” Malhotra said.
The committee decision means Claridge will soon begin pre-sales, said Malhotra, adding demand is expected to remain strong in the Ottawa market in coming years.
“The traditional downtown occupancy rate is less than one per cent,” he said. “The housing market in Ottawa is very tight still, so even with all the condos and houses that have been constructed are generally full – even the ones that have been purchased by investors are rented. There is capacity.”
Malhotra said Ottawa doesn't have the same concerns with new projects that markets like Toronto face.
“We're not doing anything crazy, producing 1,800 units a year as a total in the highrise sector. We're not Toronto, we're not building 25,000 units a year.”
Claridge hopes to break ground next spring if the market holds up, meaning the building could be open in late 2016 or early 2017.
For Malhotra, some of the hardest work is ahead in the sales and construction of the facility.
“There will be some tweaks as we go along to ensure the building is truly iconic. I'll be happiest when it's built.”

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