Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gentrification

[note: I'm back from some travels, and blog postings will resume on a near daily basis]




The gods of planning wars have unleased their dogs in Little Italy, Chinatown, and West Wellington, key areas in the west side action beat. Lets examine several of the beasts in the pack:

Note how the "common, recognizable" names of the former neighborhoods (Dalhousie, Hintonburg, Mechanicsville) are being replaced by the marketing names of the Business Improvement Associations. These groups -- funded by city taxes levied on commercial properties on their behalf --  plaster their monikers on lampposts and decorative arches. They ensure the benches, lampposts, and even the very bricks paving the sidewalks contribute to their overall image, theme and identity. Even the municipal artwork that is installed is harnessed to reinforce the branding. Neighborhoods are subsumed into marketing campaigns, funded in part by property tax dollars.

Gentrification takes many forms in the residential streets too. Small corner stores, backyard tile cutters & contractors are replaced by expensive infills. The immigrants that lived in the area for decades move to the suburbs, young trendies move in. Houses that were once cheap in part because they had small properties or lacked parking are bought up by people who convert the lanes into patios and front yards into parking pads. City boulevards continue to be transformed into parking pads for homeowners. Too many infills have front facades that are just garage doors or are otherwise dominated by car storage. They very things that attract them to a neighborhood: front windows, living eyes on the street, people coming and going ... are replaced by rear-facing living spaces and garage streetscapes and residents who drive everywhere. To cycle up a street like Roosevelt is enough to make me cry: infill after infill works hard to destroy the fabric that made the street attractive in the first place. Barrhavenification.

Residential apartment towers ("condos") bring mixed blessings. Presumably they are better environmentally than suburban townhouses, at least that is what the smart growth folks insist. Domicile's mid rise condos and townhouses off Sherwood Drive will sort of blend into the neighborhood over time. The twelve storey condo on Hickory at Champagne ... not so much. The Starwood-Mastercraft 22 and 24 storey condos proposed for the other side of the the Hickory-Champagne intersection -- how well will they integrate into a neighborhood? Will many residents really stroll across the hopefully-someday-to-be-built Hickory pedestrian overpass over the Otrain cut so they can use rapid transit and wander the streets of Little Italy? Or will they use their central city location to make shorter drives to the Plant Pool or Elgin Street or longer commutes to Kanata? What is the impact of intensification by $450-700 per sq ft condos on residential neighborhoods that currently sell for $200 per sq ft?

Will the current inhabitants of the areas, especially those of moderate and lower income, be squeezed out? Will they be forced into "projects" like the Gladstone seniors complex or new ones to be built where the city already owns some land (eg Cambridge/Somerset). Neighborhood improvements, such as streetscaping and park reconstruction, bring with them the seeds of major neighborhood changes in who lives where, and what types of shops can be found.

None of these worries are new; they were as true in the past as they will be in the future. The city is a dynamic place, planting seeds of creative destruction. I don't want a city that is over-regulated or under-regulated, or too homogeneous. Variety works. The trick is how to do it.

Jane Jacobs is dead. She did not retain ownership of her Greenwich Village townhouse long enough to be rich: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/nyregion/21gentrify.html?pagewanted=1

Monday, February 22, 2010

A matter of Choice ...

Shown below is the Queensway, typical autumn mid-afternoon volume.




Shown below, the transitway. I gather that the transitway carries the same volume of passengers each year as does the Qway. Which one would you rather have cutting through your neighborhood?





Look again at the land take of the Qway, smell the fumes!


Yup, I think I prefer the transitway. And I will even more appreciate when it is converted to electric LRT service. The city is going to grow ... do we bitch forever about the cost of transit and continue to ignore the 10-20x larger expenditure on roads for commuters, or do we opt for transit?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hickory-Champagne Condo Site

Mastercraft-Starwood acquired the Aquerello site on Champagne Avenue at Hickory some months ago. This site is immediately north of the Arnon proposed office towers at 853 Carling, and immediately south of the current and soon to be redeveloped humane society site. The new condos will border the OTrain on the east side of their site.

Their proposal is for high condo buildings positioned to view Dow's Lake. Recall that Hickory Street is likely to be continued across the Otrain corridor cut as a pedestrian street, which will also improve access to the Otrain station there for all the new developments proposed for this area. Recall too that Domicile has acquired the small printing plant located on the west side of Champagne at Hickory for a proposed 12 storey condo tower with six townhouses facing Hickory.

To see the artists sketches of the proposed condo towers from various viewpoints, go to this link http://app01.ottawa.ca/postingplans/appDetails.jsf?lang=en&appId=__7UMT1F and click on the pdf's for the 3 elevation pictures and the site plan.

There is also a story on the proposal in Ottawa Business Journal, at this link:
http://www.obj.ca/Real-Estate/Residential/2010-02-19/article-795846/Developers-file-plans-for-Little-Italy-condo-towers/1

Making Infill Work - details

Recall the previous post showing the very trendy mod front and rear exterior shots of the new infill project proposed for Elm Street west.

What looks from the front and the rear like two houses on the double wide lot is very deceptive. There are actually four houses in total. There are two back to back units on each lot. Front garages are forbidden by the city in this area. The driveway comes down between the two front houses and there are four carports inbetween the front and rear houses. The houses cantelevor over the carports or have a carport roof deck, depending on which of the four 1900 sq ft units is selected.

There are more innovative pushes to the zoning bylaws here too. In addition to dividing the lot into two by a line from front to back, there is a horizontal division too, so there are four lots -- two at the front, two at the back. Each house is on its own lot. The two back lots have a long thin finger extending up the driveway to have street frontage. Ergo, these are a row of townhouses, on four streetfronting lots. The two centre lots happen to be 11 inches wide, although they extend out to become 28' wide at the back half.

I think in this case it is a very clever solution. The cars are hidden mid-lot, out of sight of the street and not ruining the back yards, and not requiring expensive underground garages.




There are a number of existing 3 storey houses or apts on this street already. Other units come as far forward or close to the rear lot lines as these do. The "apartment" building directly across the street (from this infill) is really six stacked back-to-back townhouses * which probably takes up as much of its double lot as these houses do.

The builder proposes to go for LEED certification, but I cannot figure out why. The houses are attractive and likely to sell well before construction starts.

*two units on ground floor, running front to back of the building; two two-storey units above facing the street, two two-storey units facing the rear, all accessed off stairways on either side of the building.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Making Infill Work

About two years ago a developer bought the lot directly behind my house. The lot faces Elm Street. It is a double lot, about 56' wide x 100'. The current tiny house on the lot is shown in the  photo, directly behind my 28' lot. I love the little house because it has no windows on the back. I have total backyard privacy.

I immediately contacted the developer and insisted that he hear me out when it came time for him to redevelop the lot with infills. So earlier last summer he sat in my backyard and I waved my hands about, saying what I did and did not want. No plastic siding. No wall of balconies overlooking my yard. No backyard parking. A flat roof, to reduce light blockage. I did not care if he built condos, apartments, or houses for sale, as long as they were good quality and met my few conditions. Avant garde style was fine with me.

I actually thought he would go for six units on the site, with underground parking deck. Instead he proposed the following infill, seen from the front and the rear.

view from the rear...
view from the front (streetside)

The glass railing on the rear deck will be frosted. Not shown is the landscaping. He will plant several trees along the back lot line for privacy. At my request, he agreed to plant a number of columnar trees that will provide visual privacy without a large canopy that would further shade my garden.

More details in next post !

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Care for birds


You'll have to double click to zoom in on this photo. Look at the ledge and arch near the top. It is so nice to see that the City cares for its pigeon population.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Images of Summerlude at Winterlude

Winterlude is on. But while walking through Commissioners' Park at Dow's Lake, I could only recall the glorious gardens there during the past summer. Here are some reminders of the riotous colours that are now gone.

Friday, February 12, 2010

BikeWest - Bayview Station

BikeWest at Bayview Station


The largest single impediment to a continuous cycling route from the downtown to Westboro (and eventually beyond) is the Bayview Station area.

The OTrain comes through the area from the south; expansion of OTrain or LRT service to Gatineau over the Prince of Wales Bridge must be allowed for. So the cycling route must get across the north-south rail axis.

There are currently two overpasses over the OTrain route. One is Albert Street itself, a four lane road facility with sidewalks on each side. For pedestrians the environment is pretty hostile. On-road cyclists must endure uphill grades and vehicles that speed up because of the “open” environment that encourages faster movement. For cyclists on the Scott Street multipurpose path, it just abandons riders at Bayview intersection. On the east side of Bayview Station, the path on the north side of Albert Street (that should link to the Scott path) just morphs into an asphalt sidewalk then a concrete sidewalk between the bridge and City Centre Avenue, abandoning those who have cycled there from Bronson, enjoying an off-road path.

The other overpass at Bayview is the two-lane transitway facility parallel to Albert Street overpass.

Approaching Bayview from the west while road construction was in process. The transitway is on the raised roadbed to the left. The existing Scott multipurpose path ends abruptly at Bayview Road. In the distance, both the transitway and Albert rise to cross over the Otrain track.

 For a cycling route to be attractive to riders and win modal share from the auto, it should be continuous, without major disruptions

Major construction works are envisioned in the Bayview area as part of the LRT construction. How can BikeWest get cyclists across this important transit junction?

In December 2009, Transit Committee instructed staff to “evaluate options for including a bike route overpass over the OTrain cut at Bayview as part of the Bayview Station planning...”

One possibility is to add a 16’-wide addition to the north side of the Albert Street overpass. This would connect the Scott Street portion of the path from the Bayview at-grade intersection over the OTrain corridor to a route continuing along the north side of Albert. Such an addition would also include improved pedestrian sidewalk facilities to handle the much larger walk-in traffic expected at the LRT Bayview Station.

However, there may be a cheaper option. The current transit planning concept for Bayview LRT Station envisions a totally new overpass for the LRT built a few meters north of the current transitway overpass. After the LRT service opens, the existing transitway overpass would be demolished. Rather than spend money destroying bridge infrastructure, it makes sense to carefully examine re-using the facility for BikeWest, as shown in the photoshopped picture below.



The heavy blue line shows the approx. new LRT alignment and bridge and station proposed by DOTT. The suggested BikeWest route uses the surplus transitway bridge, rather than having it demolished. The path rejoins the Scott right of way (to the far left) either by descending to cross Bayview at grade (route option A), or if the Bayview overpass will also be surplus, reusing it to cross over Bayview (route option B). Click photoshop picture to enlarge.

The Scott Street right of way and the Albert Street right of way are thus connected, in a direct line, by the adaptive reuse of an old bridge, continuing to reinforce the adage that cycling is the cheapest way to move people.

The exact location of the new LRT bridge is not yet known, nor is connection point with the existing transitway alignment on the west. Therefore the cycling route is shown in two conceptual variations, A and B, depending on whether the route can also hop over Bayview Road using the existing transitway overpass. Obviously it would make a better cycling route to avoid an intersection with Bayview Road.

Yet another option for crossing the OTrain corridor would involve relocating the existing transitway bridge. The LRT consultants indicated that the existing structure theoretically* could be moved a short distance onto new piers for about half the cost of building a totally new structure. While the cost of a widened Albert bridge or relocated transitway bridge would be significant, it is the single largest expenditure that would be required to make BikeWest a continuous route from the downtown to Westboro. This might take 1 to 6% of the cycling budget over ten years to fund. Of course, reusing the old transitway bridge would be cheaper, and with the saved cost of not demolishing the bridge, might constitute a transfer of value into the cycling budget.

The current (Feb 2010) updated version of the BikeWest project report can be downloaded from  http://www.ericdarwin.ca/BikeWestReport.doc but it is picture heavy so it may take several minutes to download it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

BikeWest - Tunney's Station

How BikeWest could By-Pass Tunney’s Transit Station


The current Scott Street multipurpose path travels along the north side of Scott. At Holland, it passes the Tunney’s Pasture transit station. This passing is awkward for cyclists, pedestrians, and bus users alike. The route of the path is not apparent.

As shown in the photo below, people exit the pedestrian overpass at its south end facing Scott. They step out directly onto a concrete walk, crossing the asphalt multipurpose path to get to the concrete sidewalk that forms the bus waiting area for local westbound buses on Scott.

current situation - spot the bike path ! -- click to enlarge

Cyclists or pedestrians using the east-west multipurpose path face an unclear path between the bus stop and the pedestrian bridge. Not surprisingly, transit users linger on both the asphalt and concrete areas.

When the transitway is converted to LRT service, it will terminate at Tunney’s Station for a number of years, maybe decades. A major transfer facility is proposed for the site. Most buses will arrive at the transfer station using the western portion of the bus transitway; passengers will transfer on the north side of the cut in the Tunney’s campus area. The south side bus stop shown in the picture will remain primarily for local westbound bus routes on Scott, eg the #16. The preliminary conceptual layout for the transfer facility is shown below. At the time of the drawing, there was no provision made for cyclists using the east-west multipurpose path or for a more modern BikeWest route.

Tunney's Transfer Station - DOTT proposal
click to enlarge


The City needs to ensure that the provision of a large transfer facility at Tunney’s does not permanently block the BikeWest opportunity. Whether BikeWest is built as a dedicated cycling facility with parallel walkways or initially as a multipurpose path, care needs to be taken now. Transit Committee has directed staff (Dec, 2009) to “explore options to ensure that there is room for the BikeWest project to safely pass the Tunney’s Station on the south side between the station and Scott Street”. What could such an arrangement look like?

In the modified photo below, the suggested changes are very simple. The south facing doors at the Scott Street end of the pedestrian bridge have been replaced by doors facing east and west. Instead of stepping out directly into the path of cross traffic, pedestrians would step out onto a sidewalk that leads them several meters away from the building, to a point with open view lines, where they could easily cross over the east-west path on a typical pedestrian crosswalk.



This may not be the only or even the best way to address the issue. Presumably city staff could come up with several alternative means of safely reducing the conflict between east-west users and the pedestrians accessing the local bus waiting platform. Whatever solution is chosen should be replicable in other locations and follow principles for safe cycling for cycling arterials and multipurpose paths.

Note: if the BikeWest route is constructed as a multipurpose path with pedestrians and cyclists sharing the same pavement then presumably only one route is needed through the station. If BikeWest is constructed with two separate paths (much preferable for both categories of users, and the Scott right of way is wide enough for this) then the cycling route could be located as shown in the modified photo and the parallel pedestrian walkway located probably on the south (right) side, sharing a widened bus waiting area.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

First expansion of Cycling Sundays in years ...

there is a fragmented path along the east side of the Otrain corridor in Little Italy

The Preston Street BIA (PBIA) is working on a marketing idea for closing Preston on cycling Sundays. The Preston street closure would connect the Ottawa River bikeways to the Rideau Canal paths. The PBIA is in logistics discussions with NCC and City. The idea is to make Preston street a useful link in the bike network, opening up new routing combinations, and making the street and its cafĂ©’s a destination for cyclists. They are trying for July 2010 only as a trial. The street should be attractive to cyclists and roller bladders as it will be freshly repaved and very smooth.


 If the whole street is closed, volunteers or paid staff would be needed for each cross street/intersection. For that reason, they are also examining a model whereby only one half of the street would be closed to cars, for example, the southbound land would become a bike zone and cars would use the street northbound to access restaurants and residential street.

 They are planning to use the Preston “extension” which leads out to a legal crosswalk over the transitway and then connects to the existing NCC cycling paths. This route is also of keen interest to Bluesfest for crowds to access the park in front of the War Museum.

Cycling Sundays on Preston is a welcome initiative on the part of the PBIA. It may lead to further development/completion of the cycle path fragments along the Otrain corridor. The city cycling plan identifies this corridor as a cycling arterial. Maybe the PBIA will promote the improved path and see it branded as the CycloPiste d'Preston.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chinatown arch

click to enlarge to see gold detailing

Construction of the Chinatown Royal Arch begins in April. The whole structure will be precast concrete. The precasting of features may be done in a tented workshop behind Yangtze Restaurant using handcarved wooden molds, then put on the concrete main frame. It will take two months to cast, then painting will take two months, altogether five to six months.


The lowest point of the arch will be 16’ above the street; the top point will be about 33’ above the street. The arch spanning the street will weigh 100 tons, when the decorative elements are added, 130 tons altogether. In preparation for the project, a gas main has to be moved; hydro lines on the south side must be relocated or buried. The photoshop arch picture is not totally correct, as the piers supporting the arch will be located on bulb outs that will replace 2 parking spaces.

The arch will be completed for unveiling on October 13, the 40th anniversary of the modern Canada-China relationship so it is a tight deadline.   The construction process should itself be a tourist attraction of considerable interest and well worth documenting.

The CBIA has hired a lighting consultant. Current plans are to add floodlights to the existing Chinatown light fixtures and two more light poles using the existing design. There is also a move to upgrade the block from Cambridge to Bronson (perhaps as part of the Bronson reconstruction process) to the new Chinatown streetscaping design being developed this spring as part of the Somerset reconstruction process underway from Preston up to Booth.

The CBIA is also heading up a search process for the teams of workers from China who will build the arch. They are looking for accommodation for 16 to 46 workers at a time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rapid Transit in the 1950's




This photo is taken on Somerset Street in front of the Plant Pool, looking east up the hill into the heart of the Little Italy district which is now Chinatown.

Preston runs left - right across the photo. The Rainbow grill on the corner of Preston and Somerset is now May's Chinese restaurant. The Atlas tire billboard is now Frisby tires. The buildings on the far left corner of the intersection houses Azar Signs amongst other businesses. The buildings burned down in the late 60's I think. At that time, my elderly Italian neighbor once told me, one of them housed a topless shoeshine parlour, which were popular venues back then. Further up the hill, beyond the Atlas sign, was the Vendome bar, which became a strip club and All Star Hotel before it burned down.

I note that the streets do not have a painted centre line, stop lines, crosswalks...
The lamppost in the right foreground is a streetcar rail on end. It was removed only about 10 or 12 years ago when the posts were moved back behind the sidewalk. All of the traffic control signals and signs are mounted on telephone poles, none had their own posts that so clutter or enivronment today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbqoBnhiak4 is a link to a short movie that shows the streetcars moving around this intersection at minute 7.35. There are shots at 4.20 and 6.10 showing the streetcars on Elm street leaving the Champagne Streetcar Barn.

Friday, February 5, 2010

1946 Scott Street condo and house prices



This boutique-scale condo is proposed for the corner of Scott and West Village Private.  Yesterday's post dealt with the conflicting planning documents, and how each party relies on the document (level) that best suits their arguments.

I was surprised at the hearing how often the proponent was asked extremely detailed questions about the building. Would the side bedroom windows of the condo have a view across park and then obliquely across the street into the second and third floor windows of the houses on WVP?

Did the proponent have a detailed traffic plan from a consultant showing the impact of his 26 parking spaces on the traffic flow of Scott Street and turn volumes onto Lanark?

Was the west wall of the building concrete or steel stud, given its proximity to the Hydro station next door (which was a whole 'nother story of last minute objections made by Hydro, some of which struck me as ludicrous).

Was the exterior brick colour of the building really as bright orange as shown on the magic-marker coloured drawings? Where was the landscape consultant's report on how to construct foundations to avoid root damage to an on-site oak tree that was to be saved?

The proponent, I discovered, had been to the CofA once before. His architect had drawn detailed constructable floor plans for the building. The plans were then redone, with new suite layouts, new structural calculations, new drawings, more negotiations with the City, and brought back to CofA. The new plans made the building thinner, filled it out closer to the lot lines at the request of the City, etc.

I couldn't help but think how much all these steps cost. And opponents of this project or other projects make the most of picking flaws, requiring more expensive studies when common sense indicates some of the objections are on pretty thin ground. Who pays for all this? The developer of course, but these costs get passed on to the home buyers. You know, the young couple looking for their first step onto the housing escalator by buying a small condo right on the transitway that pops them into work. Or the elderly widow selling her bigger hard-to-maintain older home to get a no-maintenance apartment.

I have no idea what the amount is, but it has to be significant wastage of money to constantly redo detailed plans to meet various objections, to hire endless consultants, to hire a planning presenter at the CofA, the city staff time ... all for issues such as height and setbacks that in my view should have been settled well before the proponent starts to plan his project. Of course, the putative builder cannot meet all the rules because there are so many of them, and they conflict with each other!

This isn't the first case I have seen at CofA. Last year I saw a developer who proposed a low rise apartment-style building infill in New Edinburgh. The local community association prevailed that the developer go away and bring back a townhouse development instead. Which was then turned down by neighbours because it was too close to the side lot line. Redrawn, then presented again to fresh objections from a new party who now complained it was too close to the rear lot line. The proponent faced endless objections caused by satisifying the first objectors, when they met the zoning rules with their first proposal. Oh vey! Eventually, a harder-nosed developer will simply cease consulting neighbors and build what can be mostly accomodated within the existing rules, whether the neighbors like it or not. So sad.

And house or condo buyers pay the price for this system. And taxpayers for the City planners and detailed planning studies like a CDP that the same community associations that help draft them ... then go on to object to their implementation.  And taxpayers again, who then get to subsidize the construction and repair of social housing units because the badly-regulated market doesn't deliver them cheap enough housing that the same planning process (like "smart growth") worked hard to squeeze out of the market. It's enough to make one cry.

It seems to me there should be a two-step process: the proponent works out with the city the size and shape of the proposed building on the lot and the conflicts between the zoning, infill guidelines, CDP and Official Plan. Once it is agreed what can be built, then the battle moves on to the specifics of the design.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

1946 Scott Street condo


For edutainment, I went to the Committee of Adjustment hearing on this condo a few weeks back. The six storey condo is proposed for the corner of Scott at West Village Private (WVP). Also at the intersection is Lanark Avenue. Directly across the street is the Metropole condo, the tallest in the city.

The proponent wanted several variances. For example, reduced side yards and building the structure closer to the street. It turns out that the builder was being forced to ask for these by the City, because the zoning requires certain setbacks but the Community Design Plan (CDP) for the area calls for buildings along Scott from this site west to Churchill to be built close to the street, with a wide streetscaped sidewalk in front, the buildings are to abut each other tightly with no side yards, etc. to look like a traditional main street (eg West Wellington, Richmond Road in Westboro).

Opponents of the plan, who had a professional planner as one of their presenters, objected to various issues. Parking was a sore spot. Residents of the WVP didn't like that the builder was having less than one parking space per unit and felt there would be spill over parking into their street. Perfectly reasonable ... except the City forbids the proponent to provide the normal 100% parking because his condo is within x metres of a transitway station.

Other objections focussed on the ground floor commercial space, possibly a convenience store. Once again, the proponent was happy to make the building 100% residential but the City demanded commercial space on the ground floor to animate the street and sidewalks per their traditional mainstreet designation.

There were detailed objections to the condo based on close readings of the zoning bylaw and the city's infill guidelines. The condo proponent based their request for adjustments on the City's official plan that demands more intense infill and the CDP which specifies the lots along Scott are to be developed with a continuous row of six storey buildings with commercial at the sidewalk level.

I sympathized with the neighbours who might not want a six storey building overlooking their back yard, and saw traffic issues. Some of their other complaints struck me as trivial. They used the zoning laws as their tool of choice.

I sympathized with the condo proponent who is being told by the City that if he wants to build he has to violate those same zoning bylaws in favour of the CDP requirements for a traditional main street. I subsequently learned that the hierarchy of rules is
  •  Provincial planning directives,
  •  under that is the City Official Plan,
  • under that is the CDP,
  •  under that is the individual lot zoning.
  • The infill guidelines sort of float inbetween the zoning and CDP levels.

These various levels of plan frequently lead to contradictions when it comes to developing an individual site, eg the CDP demand for a continuous line of building frontages vs the zoning requirement for generous side yard setbacks. These contradictions seem to get resolved by the advice of the planning dept. as ratified by the Committee of Adjustment.

In this case the CofA heard all sides, and decided the contradictions between the zoning bylaw and CDP were so great that the zoning needs to be clarified/changed. The proponent can wait for that to happen (a process that will be subject to much lobbying...), or the proponent can appeal the decision to the OMB which often rules based on the higher level of planning document, eg the CDP.

to be continued in next post

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Infill on Willow






This picture was posted earlier in fall 2009 of a house demolition on Willow, opposite St Anthony school. The lot is phonominally deep, but narrow.


New house under construction. I was really surprised at how far set back on the lot it was. As shown, it is set well behind the line of the existing houses on the street, violating one of the key design characteristics in the city's infill housing guidelines. I was also surprised to see a garage at the front, since other projects in the Preston area have been turned down if they have front garages.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Courtyard in Condo

This photo looking towards the downtown from the courtyard at 200 Lett Street, the first condo on the Flats. Place de Ville is the blocky building in the background. Phase two of the condo is under construction to the right. At the very back, it is still one floor short of its full podium height. Due to the angle the building sits on the site, the second phase podium has more units than the first, and it turns to partially enclose the back of the courtyard. The second tower, to be clad in yellow brick and some of the same glass as the first, goes above the turn in the building at centre right in the picture.

I had been concerned that the new podium structure would block too much of the view and result in a claustrophobic courtyard. However, even at this early stage, the courtyard still feels generous and urbane.



The view from the same courtyard in late summer. It is an amazing vista of foreground green roof landscaping and beyond the kayak tailrace lies the Garden of the Provinces and the downtown highrises.


The exterior walls being enclosed. The podium will be the same style as the first phase podium -- yellow brick, some variation in the window pattern from floor to floor, although not as much as on the first phase.

Since these buildings started, a number of other condos in the city are proposed that also have the variable window pattern from floor to floor, eg the two condos on West Wellington at Island Park.

Monday, February 1, 2010

LeBreton Flats Condo grows

The first phase of the first building on LeBreton Flats is towards the left. It includes a six storey podium building of yellow brick with a seven storey glass tower above. The right most wall of the podium was partially unfinished, in order to attach the second phase.

The podium portion of the second phase has been poured. Six storeys high, it will be clad in yellow brick like phase one. Windows and exterior walls are being put in place. Plumbing drains have been installed on the first two floors. There will be a seven floor tower on top of this podium, to be located at the end of the building just past the crane.






Closer up, showing the new wing attached to the existing building at the small triangular ledges that were put in place for phase one.