Gladstone CDP (part viii): the actual report

The City’s report on the three options for the Gladstone-Preston CDP is now available at

http://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/public-consultations/planning-and-infrastructure/vision-concept-options-report-january

It is a big PDF, I would not try to see it on your phone. It contains a number of tables (eg density, number of units) and illustrations I had not seen when I wrote the previous stories in this series. It also has a number of pictures of myself — jeez, am I really that bald?

Gladstone CDP (part vii) Overall impression

IMO, the Gladstone CDP plans hit a number of high notes:

  • public pathway along the west side of the OTrain cut
  •  ped-cycling link at Laurel-Oak Street
  • new park space on the PWGSC lands just southwest of Plouffe Park
  • a fine new plaza above the Gladstone OTrain Station, well framed with higher buildings that are not on the traditional Preston main street
  • protection for the low rise dead ends in the BLISS group, and less-likely-to-last protection for Louisa Street
  • the first creation/expansion of a high-density low-rise zone seriously put forward in a CDP (in Option 2, west of BLISS)
  • development, hopefully just six floors, on the neglected OCH property immediately north of Gladstone, currently used for car storage

 

The Gladstone CDP plans hit a number of low notes:

  • too many too-high buildings along too much of Preston, aiming to replicate the Ashcroft Canyon effect, when there is plenty of space for higher buildings off the main street
  • thwarting the new Official Plan by not reinforcing the maximum-six floors mixed use development along the traditional main street
  • potentially hazardous new road  and OTrain bridge, connecting Laurel-Oak
  • fuzzy thinking at the PWGSC office building site, particularly how it interacts with Somerset Street and City Centre Avenue (the latter is well done for vehicles but poorly done for others)
  • preserving Louisa Street for low rises, but completely “framing” it with higher rises. Looks like a lamb about to be slaughtered.
  • in a neighbourhood with so little parkland and greenspace, it is bizarre to see the city take the widest spot on the OTrain pathway (behind Louisa Street and St Anthony Soccer Club) and propose to build a high rise on it

 

In some cases, the planners did what they were told:

  • lots more housing units, plus office and commercial potential. We don’t know what quota they had to fufill.
  • fill up those industrial lands with lots of tall buildings
  • “repair” the grid, by making new connections
  • steer redevelopment to existing large parcels
  • sketch out a Adult High School redevelopment scheme, but they only did one version and it has obvious flaws
  • avoid things like affordability, variety of housing form, new public amenities, etc.
  • avoid calculating traffic flows or the impact of double tracking the OTrain corridor — the ostensible raison d’etre of the whole plan
  • ignore the city signals building on Loretta/Gladstone

 

Some new challenges show up:

  • how to prevent another Ashcroft Canyon effect on a traditional main street, whether by step-backs, alternating buildings, varying heights, restricting block-long slabs, or something …
  • growing conflicts between remaining industrial users — and long-term new investors in industrial uses — with adjacent residential uses
  • extending the Rochester bike tracks and enhanced sidewalk treatment from Gladstone to Carling
  • edge mismatches between this CDP and the Preston-Carling CDP and the Bayview CDP
  • the ill-defined status of the new pathways along the OTrain. They are not parks, and the city feels free to repurpose them for “staging zones” or other destructive uses. Nor are they service roads to high rises. Perhaps we need a new designation for linear parks.
  • Similarly, pedestrianized streets like Preston, with wide treed sidewalks, and soon parts of Rochester, need special care and attention, such as watering, tree replacement, etc but no one is responsible for that. Similar problem on Somerset Viaduct with the irrigated trees in planters – they are neither parks nor roads.

Gladstone CDP (part vi): roads, old and new

The City has developed three Option plans for the Gladstone CDP. Option 1 seems the preferred option, so let’s look at the roads:

option 1, roads

 

the new Oak Street extension is a big change. It crosses the OTrain cut via a new bridge, marked number 2 on the map. The other Options had this as a pedestrian-cyclist bridge, only option 1 showed a vehicle road.

A connection between the Hintonburg neighbourhood west of the study area through to Preston mainstreet and the Plant Pool complex is highly desirable. And Dalhousie residents would find it convenient to go to school (both Devonshire and St François are off to the left).

The fly in the ointment here is whether to have the link open to cars. Local traffic can be calmed by narrowings, raised intersections, etc, although those are measures usually employed to combat problems rather than being required before a road is built.

The real risk is that commuters to and from Hull or downtown Ottawa will find this a valuable shortcut to and from  Bayswater (which the city continues to try to upgrade to carry more traffic, despite temporary reprieves from connecting Bayswater to the Prince of Wales Hwy). Recall too that within two years Preston will be connected right out to the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway in front of the War Museum.

The City options also struggle to put a unnamed north-south road through the PWGSC site (shown in blue, designated for high rise offices). Sometimes they show this on the east side of the site, where is separates the office buildings from Ploufffe Park. Other times it, or a second road, runs north through the centre of the office site.

The biggest issue with the option putting Nameless Road along Plouffe Park is that it would be single-sided. In the Tunney’s CDP, the same planners butted offices right up to the edge of a new park, locating a cafeteria facing the park. It looked wonderful:tunneys nov 2013 010

Running Nameless Road through the centre of the site could service land on both sides. If it went through the centre of the office site, it would hit Somerset roughly were Somerset goes over City Centre Avenue. This does not mean it would connect with City Centre Avenue, which all options propose becomes a garage entrance under Somerset into the building complex parking. Instead, the new road would meet Somerset as an intersection or driveway, similar to the current entrance to 1010 Somerset. Throw in a few curves and speed humps, and the street would slow through traffic (particularly motorists trying to avoid the Preston-Somerset intersection by going around it).

Pedestrians and cyclists would, of course, like a connection through to City Centre Avenue. Domicile is bringing forth new plans for its site on the north side of Somerset — the earlier versions included a public pedestrian connection to City Centre Avenue. There is a north-south desire line here that the plan does not address in its preferred option.

The Other Nameless Street, let’s call it BLISS Avenue  also runs north-south, on the east side of the OTrain cut. It opens up the PWGSC lands currently used for the shortly-to-be-demolished warehouse. This road avoids putting traffic on the Believe in Liveable Side Streets dead-end streets. Or as the planners disparage them: mislocated suburban cul-de-sacs.

Existing adjacent streets will of course carry a lot more traffic as the area develops, particularly Breezehill. Its connection to Oak might be an attempt to filter some traffic away from the problematic intersection of Breezehill and Somerset.

The Adult High School is a large site. Arlington Avenue used to run along its south edge right to Preston (the stub end of Arlington was renamed St Anthony Street, west of Preston). If the AHS site is redeveloped into lots of buildings, as the St Anthony Soccer Club site will be, then it makes sense to reopen Arlington from Rochester to Preston to the OTrain MUP and Gladstone Station. This could be a street or a restricted lane. Arlington is a bike route through Dalhousie, crossing Bronson into Centretown.

Ottawa Community Housing — OCH — owns “the projects” east of Rochester. OCH may wish to redevelop the site, and diversify it into a more mixed use neighbourhood. This is easiest accomplished by building new OCH units on part of the AHS site, then selling parts of the former OCH sites to private developers. This requires coordination, however, and governments seem to excel at working in silos. Even though redevelopment is on the horizon, the OCH sites were not included in the study area.

The plans addresses some obvious cycling and pedestrian issues. It proposes a full multi-user path along the west side of the OTrain corridor, similar to the one just built on the east side. This is going to be popular, except maybe for the developers on the west side who have to figure out how to incorporate that into their developments.

WWCD? – what will Claridge do, given it already has approval for a 30 storey tower right at Somerset? It would be a real squeeze to plan for another pedestrian and cycling underpass under Somerset here.

The Gladstone Station, not currently in the ten year horizon, should be developed BEFORE the housing is built, so as to attract people who want transit access. The proposed plaza above the station, along Gladstone, looks to be a winner, framed by tall(est) buildings, open to the south sun. Effort will be required to keep car traffic slow in this open area.

Some options try to open up the Preston-Gladstone intersection, by converting the Cafe Italia site into a piazza (this won’t mean demolishing the restaurant tomorrow, only someday when the whole site is being redeveloped). Any new building will be further set back from the sidewalk anyway, so I don’t think this is a particularly useful idea at the large size proposed. And I remain suspicious the road department would seize some (all?) of it to “fix” the intersection.

The Gladstone CDP abuts the Preston-Carling CDP, which is working up for a off-road separated bike track along both sides of Rochester from the Queensway to Carling. Alas, this plan didn’t think of extending it north to the Rochester-Gladstone intersection, which would help provide access from the dense residential neighbourhoods directly to Commissioner’s Park at Dows Lake, and incidentally crossing the Arlington bike route. But it is an easy fix.

Thus far, no mention of cycling improvements along Gladstone either.

The plans engage in a fair bit of planner’s porn, too. All streets are lined with bright green dots representing continuous rows of trees. These tend not to appear in real life as property owners and the City prefer front yard parking. And there is nothing to stop the City from planting trees today, without development. Instead, the green tree-lined streets are the carrot for the rezoning plan. Property owners get rezoning now and forever; trees come someday, maybe, and in much fewer quantities. Bait and Switch.

Other porn bits are superficially titillating but elusive. The small edge of the Queensway slope perched on top of a 15′ retaining wall on St Anthony lane is called parkland. Really.

As is a portion (just a portion, mind) of the packed-dirt schoolyard at Devonshire. At least the portion that hasn’t yet been paved over for a Teacher Parking Lot.

Will the relocated soccer field at AHS really be a landmark when surrounded by high rises? It would be much better to rotate the field 90 degrees, and put buildings between it and the Queensway ( on the area now a parking lot).  At least the field would be visible. Beaver Barracks and SOBA prove that high rises can be attractive along the Queensway.

The Options all have delightful planning notions like Node, Landmark, Gateway. Some of them designate already-improved locations, such as the Vietnamese refugee monument, the Bambinos, etc. and do not seem integral to the building heights and roadworks planned. As the three city Options for the Gladstone CDP are reworked, cut-and-pasted, as people fully understand the implications of the changes proposed, then there will more interest in refining a final plan that delivers those nodes and gateways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gladstone CDP (part v) : Preston Traditional Mainstreet

The Gladstone CDP is so named to distinguish it from the Preston-Carling CDP and Bayview Station CDP, and Bayview Yards CDP, LeBreton Flats plan,  and Scott Street CDP, all of which are adjacent. But make no mistake, Preston Street is the commercial and visible heart of the Gladstone district CDP.

What did the planners do to the traditional main street heart of Little Italy? Consider the policies in the City’s new Official Plan:

Community Design Plans or Transit-Oriented Development Plans will be required to establish maximum building heights and locations for intensification within the boundaries of their study areas, based on proximity to the rapid transit network and compatibility with the surrounding neighbourhood. This is the most comprehensive approach to planning for height and density.

Where there is no Community Design Plan, the Official Plan will identify where specific building heights shall be located, with the tallest buildings located adjacent to the rapid transit network. These heights are described below:

  • Mixed-use centres and employment areas:
  •        10-19 storeys adjacent to rapid transit station
    • up to nine storeys elsewhere, transitioning to low-rise areas
    • Mainstreets – no change to current policies:
      • up to six storeys on traditional mainstreets in older neighbourhoods [emphasis added]
      • up to nine storeys on arterial mainstreets elsewhere
      • Major urban facilities such as shopping centres, hospitals and major sport facilities :
        • up to nine storeys
        • General urban area:
        • six storeys adjacent to the supplementary rapid transit network
          • four storeys elsewhere
          • _______________________________________________________________________________

The City does indeed propose to leave Preston between Somerset and Larch as traditional main street, ie up to six floors. This is shown on the map in the faintest of gray colours (squint hard)  and is noted on the map key as being simply “retail 1-6 stories” instead of TMS which is a mixed-use permission:

option 1, preston TMS

 

One of the things the city does in setting up a CDP is to determine who owns what parcels. Land assemblies are of particular interest. If a large parcel has been assembled, it is easier to develop for larger building (s). So one reason the blocks south of Larch on the west  (left) side are proposed for larger scale developments is because they are under one ownership. This is not to say the Hardware store will disappear tomorrow, but the owners will be constantly evaluating whether to redevelopment or keep the business open at this location. Once rezoned, the land will be worth $300-500 per sq foot, so there is lots of money at play here.

On the opposite side of the street, there is Preston Garage and the end of the Gladstone Terrace OCH housing project. This block frontage has long been an obvious candidate for intensification. Storefronts would repair the gap in the street which is now car storage. A six storey building(s), with storefronts along the street, and possibly connected to the Gladstone Terrace building so seniors could walk out to the street without a hill, would be welcome. Funds from selling the frontage would pay for underground parking to replace the lost parking lot and some much-needed building renovations. I think the proposed building along Preston should go further, wrapping around onto Balsam and Gladstone while it steps down in height. Maximize the revenue, please, while not constructing a block-long slab.

But what would the street look like if there were new buildings on both sides? Recall the Preston Hardware zoning might be up to 20 stories under Option 2, facing six or more floors on the OCH Gladstone Terrace side. Even if mid rise on both sides of the street, will it be better than the Ashcroft Canyon looked at in Part i of this series? Go back and look at those pictures, or walk that block. Now imagine it on Preston, which would have the advantage of being open on the south to the mid day sun.

Now picture Ashcroft Canyon extending all the way east to Island Park Drive  (don’t believe that hooey about the corner of Island Park being a four storey office building, it simply isn’t credible). The Preston (potential) Canyon would be similar, extending from Larch to the Queensway. Recall that under all three city options, the Adult High School playing fields are relocated to mid-block and the Gladstone and Preston street frontages become nine storey buildings (not six, it seems our planners can’t recall the OP). Someday maybe.

The City already restricts the proximity of high rise apartment buildings to each other, allowing them room to “breathe”.  Maybe the City should be considering spaces between buildings and varied height controls on traditional main streets, limiting the formation of canyons. All this proposed intensification and high density won’t be worth it if no one wants to live there. This isn’t Manhattan Island.

Restricting ‘canyons’ doesn’t mean prohibiting six storey buildings. The “westboro station” complex (3 towers) at Roosevelt has lots of development but a totally different (better) look and feel than Ashcroft Canyon.

And let’s not forget the OP policy, referred to several paragraphs above, that building heights be limited to up to six storeys on traditional mainstreets in older neighbourhoods.

 So just why do all the City Options 1, 2, and 3 include higher buildings (9 floors, or 20 floors) on Preston? There is plenty of room for them on the former industrial lands along the OTrain transit corridor. Indeed, Option 1 includes a fine cluster of them right at Gladstone Station, surrounding a nice transit plaza.

If the City permits more than six floors along Preston, the floodgates will open. Every developer will want at least nine. And a steady diet of six storey slab buildings on both sides of the street isn’t very appealing either.

The Gladstone CDP plan offers the city a good opportunity to address the Canyon effect on traditional main streets, and develop measures now before we lose what makes neighbourhoods attractive. Is the city up to it?

 

 

Gladstone CDP (part iv): Mixed Use

The Gladstone CDP covers an area that was once an industrial heart of the City. There are many “brownfield” areas (former industrial sites, possibly contaminated) and a number of ongoing industrial uses:

aerial of gladstone cdp

 

In the Google Earth view shown above, the big reddish building is the PWGSC warehouse at 1010 Somerset, also known as the “Oak Street complex”, and most recognizable to passersby for the outdoor stoneyard along the OTrain bike path. On the west side of the tracks, the Canada Bank Note building and its huge parking lot take up an entire block. The triangles of land between it and the OTrain cut is home to a variety of small industrial users (Beacon Light, glass factory, former bread factory, storage yards, garages, etc. The triangle formed by Gladstone/ Loretta/OTrain is owned by Regional Realty. Down at the bottom of the aerial photo is a large building holding the City’s signals branch and a former factory.

The block south of Gladstone the City concept plan proposes in all three Options to preserve the City signals building and (someday) replace the factory along Gladstone with two mid rise buildings on a shared podium:

south of gladstone

 

Number 9 is the proposed OTrain piazza above the tracks. Loretta is the unnamed street running north south, between Breezehill and the OTrain. The white building is the City’s signals yard surrounded by a gray zone. While the facility won’t be relocating in the next decade, it is somewhat an oversight to see that planners ignore its future development potential. All along the Gladstone block the options propose mid rise mixed use development (residential above retail, commercial, or office uses). If the City included their own parcel in the plan, they could propose higher development along the OTrain cut stepping down to four stories along the Loretta side, which faces an existing low-rise neighbourhood.

There is a tendency in Ottawa to view non-residential non-retail uses as necessarily being office uses. That is because Ottawa has a very high white collar office sector and minimal industrial sector. So in the City planners’ minds, mixed use means offices. Office uses are relatively compatible with residential uses, being fairly quiet and generating lots of car traffic during the day and modest truck traffic in the evenings and nights. Now consider the north side of Gladstone, along the OTrain corridor:

option 1 bank note site

The development sites on the west side of the tracks (left of Numbers 3 and 6 in the drawing) are proposed for primarily residential or residential-office. The big gray blob with the white building is pure industrial — manufacturing. Canada Bank Note is spending big dollars to renovate the plant. It has tractor trailer loading docks on the east side, facing the new apartments.

Conflict, or at least interesting sights to see from your apartment window …

This indicates some of the difficulty in transitioning a neighbourhood from industrial to residential. Not everyone has enough money to buy up all the land and clear it first (see Lebreton, still-Flat, NCC). Remaining factories can be noisy, particularly if they operate 24/7.

I have lots of sympathy for the industrial land users *. They were here first. On the other hand, the City is spending billions on transit, and plans to recoup the cost through development charges from high density intensification around each and every station. In the City’s OP, there is no room for industrial users or low density storage yards on mainstreets or transit corridors.

______________________________________________________________________

option 1, pwgsc site

North of the site above, along Breezehill (on the left in the illustration above) running up to Somerset, the City proposes some version of intensification in medium rise (5 – 9 storey) or high rise (10-20 stories). This is the block most of us will picture  as being across the street from Devonshire School. The corner site (marked number 1 on the drawing)  is already owned by Claridge and zoned for about 30 floors.  Regardless of the zoning suggested for the area, individual developers are entitled to ask for more. If the City doesn’t grant it …. the OMB might.

The big blue area on the map above is the PWGSC site, presently occupied by storage and temporary office space. All city plan options show this as four office towers on top of two connected podiums. The drawing above has a (yellow tinted) piazza between the office uses and the new Oak Street connector across the OTrain (Number 2, on the map). I suspect this won’t stay there long, but will be rolled into the office site.

The new north-south street running on the east side of the PWGSC site (it does not interfere with the businesses along Somerset, the map colouring is imprecise here) provides access to the office site. Another access point is where City Centre Avenue sorta-dead-ends at Somerset and then extends as a semi-private lane under Somerset onto the PWGSC site. This is likely to become a key parking garage entrance to the office site.

Note that while the plan shows the land use as offices, making for a complete live-work-play neighbourhood, the land owner could eventually decide to construct condos instead. Office uses are notorious amongst adjacent residential neighbourhoods for their spill over parking contagion. The areas around Booth Street NRC offices are stuffed with parked cars, and many residential landowners yield to temptation, paving front yards and back yards to park cars at $100-200/ month each. These proposed offices will flood the adjacent areas with daytime parkers (the proximity to transit at Tunney’s hasn’t stopped it there, so proximity to the OTrain won’t prevent it here either).

Here’s how the City imagines the area from Devonshire School to the Plant Pool to look like (but recall, their drawings usually choose the lowest height elevation from each range. If it’s zoned 10-20, they show 10 to 15. We know it will be 20. Or more):

option 1, elevation, pwgsc

Another post will deal directly with the road network options, but the proposed road between the offices and the park seems odd. The same planners abut offices directly onto a park in the Tunney’s Pasture CDP.

Indeed, one of the strange aspects of dealing with City planning studies, even when conducted by the same people and consultants, is how disconnected each one is from the adjacent one. It’s as if silos of separation MUST exist !

 

_____________________________

*disclosure: prior to retirement I was an industrialist in this neighbourhood (City Centre)

 

 

option 2, bliss

Gladstone CDP (part iii) : dealing with BLISS

The new Gladstone CDP planners had a new community group to deal with this time around. Distressed at the treatment of the low rise neighbourhoods south of the Queensway in last year’s Preston-Carling CDP, and seeing the same fate coming their way, residents of the dead-end streets organized themselves. The idea was to influence the study to preserve their family-friendly low rise streets:  BLISS – believe in livable sidestreets.  Did George and his neighbours succeed?

There are several  issues in preserving a low rise area. One is strict zoning (but the city can change that anytime a property owner asks). Another is traffic: the dead end streets are attractive to families because of the slow traffic and low flow volumes. Another complication is that the city plan is subject to change if it doesn’t meet the requirements of provinicial legislation that require intensification near transit station, so the OMB can over ride city rules.

In Option 2, the plan actually expands the low-rise area westwards into the property now held by the Feds. The dead end streets would be extended west another block, all the way to the OTrain corridor:

option 2, bliss

 

In the plan above, the OTrain corridor is marked Number 5, where a pedestrian bridge has long been identified as desirable. The blue zone is four office towers on connected podiums at 1010 Somerset Street, the federal property. The back half of the Federal lands have been used to make a parkland corridor between Plouffe Park and the Plant Rec Cenre over to the OTrain and for low rise development.

The three dead end streets (Oak, Laurel, Larch) have been extended west one block, but still remain dead ends. A laneway / mews / narrow street (number 6 on the plan) has been introduced. Squint hard at the plan and you’ll notice the original housing area shows regular deep lots backing onto a partially-open laneway. The new yellow housing area is subdivided so that there is a 4 storey building facing Larch. It is back-to-back housing or apartments, with the back units facing the laneway, then there is another back-to-back building along Laurel. This would achieve a quite high density, while in a low rise (stacked townhouse or low rise apartment) format, but would in no way look or feel like the 1902 housing on the older streets (times have changed !).

The “back” units of the new housing would use the new laneways for access, probably pedestrian only. Most likely, the City would insist on reopening the lanes, if only for pedestrians, right out to Preston.

This is the first time the City has responded to community demands for high density low-rise housing instead of all-concrete mid and high rises. Unfortunately, it is not their preferred option for the CDP plan. And the Feds may not like the price that zoning would attract since they are selling off the land.

In Option 3, the City preserves the low rise streets but intensifies the Federal lands with mid rises of 5 – 9 stories. They aligned the new and old street patterns, but left the grid disconnected for cars:

(Somerset runs across the top of this drawing, Preston is No.5)

option 3 BLISS

 

There is still a pedestrian-cyclist overpass over the OTrain cut. One or possibly two new streets have been driven northward to connect to Somerset, both of these streets are on the Federal land (dark blue, for office towers), which makes that land owner unhappy (too many roads). The dogleg section of road running downwards from Number 4 is also redundant since the mid rise properties already have two or three road frontages.  Plouffe Park has been connected to the OTrain corridor.

Option 1 also preserves the BLISS area as low rise. It puts a large park on the Federal lands, as per city planning habit. It makes up for the lost development opportunity by then permitting higher buildings along the rail corridor (10 – 20 stories):

option 1 BLISS

 

In the City’s planning Option 1 the bridge over the OTrain (shown as number 2 on the drawing) is now a full motorist bridge. The City claims this will be for local traffic only, but it will make a new connection for rush hour commuters to get from Bayswater to Preston to Gatineau. As a pedestrian and cyclist link it is a much-desired element, connecting the Hintonburg neighbourhood with a regional recreational facility and Preston mainstreet.

The triangular park is welcome. It would not be large enough for playing fields. It is a drawback that Oak separates the two parks. Some severe street narrowing and calming might rectify this somewhat.

The connection of Oak north to Somerset looks redundant to me. It would be better to have some sort of link — possibly not continuous for through motor traffic — extending the new road north along the new park to connect to Somerset Street at City Centre Avenue, as this is a desire line.

The City has delivered some nice options for the BLISS residents, which shows the value of organization and proactive involvement with the CDP process. Get your options in early.

 

Gladstone CDP (part ii): City Proposes Second High Rise Cluster on Preston

We already know the Preston-Carling CDP favours a lot of very high high-rises, maybe 40 floors high, with heights tapering down as one goes northward from the Carling edge into Little Italy. This tapering is quick, but each increment is big: it goes from 40 to 18 floors in half a block, 9 to 4 in the space of a back yard lot line. Claridge, Richcraft, Starwood, and Domicile were quick out of the gate with high rise proposals; Tamarack with a mid rise (albeit in the low rise zone).

In contrast, the City’s new Gladstone CDP is proposing less height in its intensification in the Gladstone/Preston intersection and around the adjacent proposed Gladstone OTrain Station. But high rises are in the plan, including a cluster where Preston Hardware is now, which would be “10+ stories” high (recall, the City’s high rise guidelines have a category for 10+ which means 10- 20 floors; they are not yet proposing a maximum height limit on Preston, but the six floor traditional mainstreet height limit is vigorously violated). That’s why part i of this series looked at Ashcroft Canyon as a prototype …

The City will shortly be unveiling to the public 3 options generated by its planning staff and consultants, HOK, for the Little Italy area north of Queensway to Somerset Street, with Rochester Street as its east boundary and Breezehill on the west. Running right through the district are the Preston traditional mainstreet and OTrain corridors. aerial of gladstone cdp

The Google earth snip above shows the Queensway running east-west across the bottom of the picture; just north of it is Gladstone Avenue. Preston has the orange pin on it, right beside the Adult High School playing fields. The big reddish building is 1010 Somerset Street, a government warehouse slated for demolition — in all or part — later this year. On the west side of the OTrain corridor running from bottom centre to upper left; to the left of it the white rectangular building  is the Canada Bank Note building. The little bean-shaped  artist’s palette symbol shows the Enriched Bread artists colony; it and most of the triangle of land above it are owned by Regional. The Google aerial view roughly aligns with the City drawings for the site.

The next few posts here at WestSideAction will look at each of the major blocks in the neighbourhood, covering all three options.

First up, Gladstone-Preston node. This is a major intersection and natural desire line for pedestrians and motorists entering the area. The BIA has put its Bambinos landscaping feature here. The intersection is close and tight on the west: Green Papaya and Cafe Italia are popular restuarants on the corner. On the other side, the Ottawa Community Housing’s Gladstone Terrace reflects its 60′s design by being set back in the centre of the lot, surrounded by parking lots and lawns, somewhat divorced from the street. On the other corner is the former High School of Commerce, now the Adult High School, with its soccer field, enormous parking lots, and threatre  (more on this in a bit).

option 1, gladstone intersection focus

 

In the snip above, the new Gladstone OTrain Station is shown at number 6. The City is now leaning to have the Station platform run north from Gladstone (prior plans had it further south). Number 7 shows Gladstone itself running east-west; the yellow triangle represents a public piazza space down from which would be the escalators to the OTrain platform. That piazza is on the south end of what is now the Public Works parking lot. On either side of the  Number 6 are 10+ storey buildings (ie, 10-20 floors). The orangey-coloured lots on both sides of Gladstone going towards Preston are 5 – 9 storey buildings. These nine storey buildings are on all four sides of the intersection, which is why the previous post in this series looked at Ashcroft Canyon, where Richmond Road runs through the Our Lady of the Condos intensification site.

Here’s what an aerial view (imagined from a point a bit further west) shows:

option 1, elevations, focus on the south

 

The Gladstone plaza entrance to the OTrain would be nicely framed, by buildings, but a lot of care would be needed to ensure Gladstone isn’t a raceway (motorists speed up as the space opens up).From Balsam Street to the Queensway, Preston could be built up with a four block long row of 5-9 storey buildings. (remember too, that the plan is just a plan; it will take decades to see the new buildings, but it is certain that each and every developer will be asking for more height, more lot coverage, etc. The Preston-Carling plan is barely a year old and the developers are asking for more height and look like getting it). While the sketch above shows the buildings along Preston as being mid-rise towers above shorter podiums, there are not yet any rules to ask developers for that.

The brown buildings to the left of the tall towers at Gladstone Piazza, are on both sides of the OTrain corridor, and could be office or residential towers. Regional Realty wants 20 storey towers on top of eight storey podiums; Public Works on the other side of the tracks wants to maximize the sale value of their land.

Visible in the plan as a white rectangle, but not visible in the sketch, the Enriched Bread building on Gladstone, right by the OTrain, would remain, renovated.

Shown as No 8 on the plan is Louisa Street, a short street of small houses. It is marked as remaining low rise, subject to gradual intensification (this hasn’t exactly worked out well for Norman Street immediately south, where the first development going to Planning Committee later this month asks to break the low rise zoning).

On the east side of Preston, the Adult High School is nearing the end of its functional life. The theatre in particular is underpowered and obsolete. The school does not presently serve a local purpose, being a region-wide draw. It is undetermined if the OCDSB will demolish the school and sell it for redevelopment (which is what all three plan options show), or they might reduce its size and sell off underused portions of the block. Each city option includes the soccer field in the centre of the lot. Whether or not the OCDSB moves soon or not, a better site layout could be found once the board’s needs are determined. It is valuable and right to plan now for the site, rather than leave it out of the intensification plan.

The City has three options for the area. Option 2 puts a cluster of much higher buildings at the corner of Preston and Gladstone:

option 2 intersection close up

 

Keep in mind when viewing the plans that they do not show actual buildings, they are conceptual land use regulations only. They are subject to change over time. Property owners can always ask for more. Redevelopment will occur when property owners and developers deem the market right. It is not as if all the existing uses will be wiped away and all new stuff built over the next decade. The shelf life of a plan like this is only about a decade or two, then it might be redone to suit the needs of the 2030′s. The Province and City are committed to Smart Growth (intensification) and its the development fees from all these new buildings that will pay for the new LRT and OTrain lines.

The City hopes to have originals, much more clearer than my scans, up on its website Tuesday (the Friday posting didn’t happen).