News Headline: Developer listens first …

On Tuesday evening a most strange and wonderful event occurred on the west side. A developer called a meeting of neighbours and area residents, and then listened. And listened hard. Mizrahi Developments builds luxury custom homes in Toronto. Some of these homes are in a mid-rise condo format. They have bought the Joe’s Audio and Bella Restaurant site on Richmond Road at Island Park Drive. The site is zoned for six stories, with planning direction to go up to 9 at the corner to make a gateway statement. The planning therefore envisions a nine storey building right at the corner, with a six storey … Continue reading News Headline: Developer listens first …

Heritage repair

Many west siders will be familiar with this, reputed to be  the oldest house in Ottawa: It is located a half block east of the Westboro Loblaws. Work has been going on for a while to stabilize and repair the structure. Like a lot of building restoration work, or art restoration, much effort goes into undoing the previous version of restoration. In this case, the previous work involved adding a smooth coat of mortar between the stones. Alas, that mortar dried hard and waterproof. This trapped moisture between the stone inside the wall, which then liquified/eroded the sand-lime mixture inside … Continue reading Heritage repair

Main street’s modal split

Annie Hillis of the West Wellington BIA (WWBIA) sent me the following data. They conducted a four-day survey in June, asking 830 people found along their typical older-city main street how they came to the street, their post code, and their shopping habits. The WWBIA main street runs roughly from Bayswater westwards along Somerset & West Wellington to Island Park. The modal split numbers surprised me.  Forty six percent of those found along the street got there by walking; 26% by car; 13% by bike; twelve percent by bus (numbers throughout this story are rounded off). Only 26% by car? That’s pretty low. And … Continue reading Main street’s modal split

Chinatown Art Installation

The City sets aside a certain small percentage of its major capital projects budget (such as road reconstruction) for art installations. West Siders know the ones: Preston Street granite postcards from the piazzas, West Wellie’s marble veggies, the red chairs in the Glebe. The just-getting-completed reconstruction of Somerset between the OTrain tracks and Booth had a very small art budget. One that had to cope with three distinct areas: Chinatown, the bit of Little Italy around Preston, and the OTrain viaduct-bridge. With public consultation, the decision was made to have two installations: one on the Chinatown hill, and one on the viaduct … Continue reading Chinatown Art Installation

Look up, way way up Jerome

I am always dating myself by referring to things by their old name, or to things that no longer exist and so no one (except other older people) knows what I am referring to. Are you old enough to remember the Friendly Giant on CBC TV? I could hear the phrase “Look up, look way way up” when I saw this condo building on West Wellington near Island Park. I do wonder just how well that concrete overhang will shelter the entrance a number of floor below. Or if it will simply feel like it is about to come crashing … Continue reading Look up, way way up Jerome

But is it better?

A strip of stores in Hintonburg was somewhat attractive before, with a row of bay windows on the second floor, a built-out cornice line, and green-painted brick storefronts below (the block is obviously the result of earlier renovations).  But with the explosive gentrification of the neighborhood, a property owner decided the place needed a re-do, one that “modernized” the look. (I do wonder what it might have been like if he had gone for a faux-heritage look…does anyone have a heritage photo of the previous storefronts pre 1960’s??) The first phase to be redone was the west side, facing St Francois Church … Continue reading But is it better?