Thursday, August 13, 2009

855 Carling, part ii

The Ottawa Civic Hospital Community Assoc. held a meeting on Tuesday evening. On the agenda was the 855 Carling Ave project proposed by Arnon Developments. They already own the two red brick office towers on Carling between Preston and Rochester (a site I vaguely recall might already have planning approval for a third tower?)
From their planning documents I had concluded in my post a few days ago that this was a rezoning well in advance of any project, but at the meeting it became clear that this project might proceed in the near future, and my interpretation was wrong. The new building will be close to the lot line on the Carling side, but the lot line is set considerably back from the existing sidewalk, so the new building will be set back about the same distance as the existing CMPA towers to the west. If Carling is widened, perhaps in conjunction with a median LRT transit line, the hardscaping might get closer to the building, but until then it will be as suburban looking as the CMPA towers, which is a shame.
The proponent noted that the 800 car parking garage would operate for one office shift a day, whereas the existing 300 car lot on the site today operates for 3 civic hospital shifts (there is a shuttle bus and waiting shelters) so the traffic impact of the new building will be similar to what is there now. The new garage would be four floors deep, which is considerably deeper than the adjacent OTrain cut. Apparently there are talks with the City about extending the building excavation right out to the OTrain cut.
The rezoning and increased FSI for this site should not be considered in isolation. There is a Community Development Plan (CDP) neighborhood planning study for the redevelopment of the Carling to Bayview corridor (remaining old stuff from the railway era needs to be replaced with developments meeting current needs and the transit corridor opportunity) but the CDP was stalled when the north south LRT project was cancelled about 2 years ago. It is apparently getting going again (3 cheers ! something right from City hall !) and is the proper place to consider the height and FSI for this site, in conjunction with the other sites along the LRT
I am very concerned with the possibilities for squandering the transit oriented development opportunities presented at this site. The developer has a main entrance on the east side, adjacent the station, and he indicated he was amenable to connecting it directly to the station. Such a connection needs to be all season, weatherproof, and perhaps climate controlled to compete with the 800 car parking garage in this building alone.
But further planning is needed to access the CMPA buildings and Merion Square condos and the residential neighborhood to the OTrain/LRT to make it as convenient as possible. This might mean through-building access, or a link to Hickory Street pedestrian overpass over the cut. It is rare enough to find a lot of vacant land, ready for development in the next decade, right on top of a major transit station, and possibly the junction of two transit lines (the north-south and Carling LRT).
Keep in mind also the land south of Carling, currently a grass field, is NOT NCC parkland nor part of the experimental farm, but is zoned for high-density mixed-use development. The OTrain and LRT station needs to be connected to this site too, and that does not mean a crosswalk with push-button placebo, it means a proper underpass from the station to the south side, also accomodating the bike path.
The southmost anchor for development of that site is already there, but under threat, as the Feds are proposing to demolish the Sir John Carling building whereas it should be repurposed, perhaps as a condo.
The 855 Carling developer is asking for increased FSI. The City should not grant it without some price. In the earlier CDP process, I advocated for covering part of the OTrain cut near Beech Street to expand Larouche Park. This neighborhood is a park desert. This is a marvelous opportunity to double-deck the narrow OTrain corridor so we get both transit-oriented development and neighborhood improvement.


  1. does not mean a crosswalk with push-button placebo

    Seriously. Do those buttons do ANYTHING? And are they consistent with the official plan walking-cycling-transit-driving hierarchy?

  2. Great information. I left some feedback for the city on their planning website as I am a local resident (new to the area) directly affected by this plan.

    Who owns the land south of Carling that currently functions as a park ?

  3. the ncc / fed govt owns the land. The ex farm land stops just a few feet north of the Carling Bldg, at the foot of the slope. All the flat part is the area zoned hi intensity multi use centre. The Feds are not interested in developing it at this time as it would compete with the LeBreton Flats development. You should search my blog site for more on the Carling Bldg.

    Keep in mind that the OTrain and its eventual replacement with LRT goes n/s only, but if the Scott St transitway is rerouted to the Carling median option, then LRT traffic would come south on the cut and then as it goes under carling avenue start to swing to the west in a big gentle arc that would pass under the eastbound lanes of carling again to come up in the median. In this way, only one station is required, which is cheaper, and facilitates transfers, at the current otrain station site and extending further north a few hundred feet, to where Hickory comes out, which is why Hickory should cross the cut as a ped bridge and access point.

    Presumably you are aware of the acquerello bldg, now on hold, at Hickory, the developer didnt make it go, so gave up the land ownership to the architect in payment of the plans and fees, robert warren or some such name. The acquerello was a nice layout bldg and will no doubt come to life again. Almost all the pictures/illustrations of the bldg have it rotated 90 degrees to what it was actually going to be built.

    thanks for commenting. I think you live in an area with lots of potential. mind you, ive said that for the 30 years I have lived on Primrose, and most of that redevelopment has yet to occur. I was on the Preston streetscapng project for 16 years, 4 mayors, 3 aldermen, etc. Dont get too anxious.

  4. QPR you should contact your aldermans office and ask to be put on the CDP contact list. Lotsa planning fun to be had ...

  5. Hello. This isn't exactly a comment on this story, so much as it is a comment on a pet peeve of mine.

    Quite a bit lately I see people writing "for e.g.". This is redundant. And now I see it cropping up on my favourite blog! Gadzooks!

    The MSN dictionary (for one), has the following definition, along with a good discussion of when to use it. There is also a good explanation of when to use “e.g.” and when to use “i.e.”.

    Here it is:
    e.g. abbr

    Definition: for example: for or as an example

    e.g. or i.e.?
    Do not confuse these two abbreviations, which mean different things and have different origins. The abbreviation e.g., meaning "for or as an example," comes from the Latin expression exempli gratia ("for example"). Use it when you want to list a few typical examples of the thing mentioned: I have the laboratory equipment, e.g., [not i.e.] beakers, thermometers, and test tubes, that we need. Do not end a list that starts with e.g. with etc. The abbreviation i.e., meaning "that is, that is to say," comes from the Latin expression id est ("that is"). Use it when you want to give a more precise description of the thing mentioned: The hearing, i.e., [not e.g.] the preliminary hearing, is set for noon Friday. Two periods punctuate e.g. and i.e. in U.S. English, whereas they may be unpunctuated in British English. Surround these abbreviations with commas.

    Hope this helps. :)

  6. After thinking about it more, I realized the proponent's claim that 300 cars x 3 shifts is worse than 800 cars is nonsense.

    For one thing, at least one of those shifts is likely to be much smaller, since there's less overnight activity at the hospital.

    And, more importantly, according to basic traffic engineering methodology, it's the peak loads that most stress a road system. If you have 800 office workers all leaving a site within an hour or so, that's going to block up Carling or Sherwood whereas one-third of that load probably would have less effect.