New Westboro Condo, Mizrahi Developments’ Proposal is Getting Special Treatment

December 4, 2013 9:46 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

From the Ottawa Citizen:

A landmark 12-storey building newly proposed for the corner of Wellington Street and Island Park Drive can’t be built without changing the city’s master land-use plan, but it’s a special case that deserves that treatment, the area’s councillor says.

“I don’t want to see 12-storey buildings all the way down Wellington,” said Coun. Katherine Hobbs. “That’s not the goal.”

But the tower, officially a highrise by the city definition that begins at 10 storeys, is exceptionally beautiful and planned with sensitivity to the neighbours, she said. “I think design has to start ruling here.”

The plan for the 114-unit building includes stores on the ground floor and a multi-storey underground garage, plus a plaza with a little parkland and a playground on the west side.

Hobbs cited Mizrahi Developments’ talks with nearby landowners and investment in numerous versions of plans (before settling on one by Toronto architecture firm Page + Steele) as examples for developers who have big projects they want approved.

“(Company president Sam) Mizrahi came in and did not put in an application till he had extensively consulted with the community,” she said. “They have had all their concerns dealt with … I wish everyone did it like this.”

Mizrahi is best known for luxury condos in Toronto and Hobbs said the project at 1445 Wellington St. W. matches them, with services including a concierge and valet parking.

But it does mean changing a plan for the neighbourhood that city council only approved in 2011, the sort of plan that’s supposed to be the end-all for rezonings and unexpected changes in the district it covers. The Wellington West Community Design Plan says Wellington Street should have four- to six-storey buildings, typical for a historical main street. Nine storeys can be OK in exceptional circumstances, for special projects in unique locations. The Mizrahi plan puts a smaller, narrower six-storey building on top of a six-storey podium.

“It is against the plan, and I want to stick to the plan,” Hobbs said. But this project is special, Hobbs said, like the 11-storey condo building with the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s venue at its base several blocks east on Wellington at Holland Avenue. Furthermore, the point of the plan is to protect the very neighbours who are OK with this proposal, Hobbs said.

Mizrahi has a specific reason for asking for special treatment, according to its application documents: It needs the money to clean the land up. The property has an old car wash on it now but has had other light industrial uses in the past.

“The Subject Property is significantly contaminated resulting from past uses on the property,” the application says. “As a result, the existing building has been left vacant for many years, with several other proposals for the site never moving forward due to the very high costs to clean up the site. The proposed development balances the need for a certain density with a sensitively designed building that has support in the community, including the immediate neighbours.”

The application claims the local community association is so pleased with things it has promised not to oppose the plans. The Citizen couldn’t immediately reach anyone at the Wellington Village Community Association, but a bulletin to the association’s members sent in November suggests that’s taking it a little far. The association declined to sign a letter saying it’s OK with the plan, the bulletin said.

“Instead, a letter was prepared stating the WVCA maintains its expectation that development proposals respect the Community Design Plan (CDP) and expressing disappointment that the proposal exceeds the nine and six stories called for at that site by the CDP,” the bulletin said, but added that the association’s board appreciates how hard Mizrahi had worked to gather and respond to residents’ opinions.

dreevely@ottawacitizen.com

Original Source: Ottawa Citizen

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