Hotel, rental tower planned for former Alterna Savings site in west Centretown

400 Albert
Editor's Note

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Broccolini Construction had purchased the Albert Street property from Alterna. It also stated that Manor Park Management was based in Vanier. This is a corrected version of the article. 

An Ottawa builder’s revamped plan to build three mixed-use towers at a coveted downtown development site could include a supermarket, a consultant who worked on the proposal says.

Manor Park Management wants to construct three highrises – two 27-storey towers and one 10-storey building – at 400 Albert St. on the former site of Alterna Savings and Credit Union. The Alterna building was recently demolished, and the T-shaped plot of land between Bay and Lyon streets near the new Lyon Street LRT station is now serving as a temporary parking lot.

The proposed development would include 368 rental apartments and 136 extended-stay hotel suites with underground parking for 365 vehicles. It would also feature nearly 30,000 square feet of retail and commercial space “to allow flexibility to attract an urban format grocery store,” according to a consultant’s report recently filed with the city.

Dennis Jacobs, a consultant with Momentum Planning and Communications who wrote the application, said the developer is in talks with “a couple of grocery chains” about securing a 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot supermarket for the 27-storey tower on the corner of Lyon and Slater streets. However, he added no deal has been struck yet.

"We’ve got a good project and an exciting one for the downtown (core)."

“I think we’re very confident that we’ve got a good project and an exciting one for the downtown (core),” he said.

The Albert Street property has been slated for redevelopment for several years. Broccolini Construction initially expressed interest in rebuilding the site in 2015, proposing a single 27-storey tower to replace the two-storey credit union building.

Council approved that plan, which called for 300 rental apartments and street-level commercial space, in late 2015, but the proposal ultimately fell through. Manor Park came up with the revised and expanded redevelopment plan after acquiring the 1.2-acre site from Alterna early last year.

The new plan will require the property to be rezoned for a hotel as well as additional height. Mr. Jacobs said if the proposal is approved, the developer hopes to begin construction next year.

The project will likely proceed in two phases, he said, with the first 27-storey tower and the 10-storey building being targeted for completion in 2020. The total cost of the proposal has yet to be determined, Mr. Jacobs said.

Local firm Woodman Architect & Associates is designing the buildings.

The smaller tower, which fronts on Albert Street, will house the 77,000-square-foot extended-stay hotel. Mr. Jacobs said no agreement on branding for the hotel has been reached.

Rental housing needed, councillor says

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney, who represents the ward, said she has spoken to the developer about the potential of making a supermarket a cornerstone of the retail component, adding she’s “cautiously optimistic” a new food store will be part of the plan.

Right now, the closest supermarket is at the corner of Bank and Somerset streets, about a kilometre away.

"As we get more people living here, more families living downtown, it just makes perfect sense."

“People want it, I want to see it, it’s an amenity that we need in this part of downtown,” said Ms. McKenney, who pushed for a supermarket to be included in Broccolini's original plan. “It is a food desert. Also, from a business point of view, as we get more people living here, more families living downtown, it just makes perfect sense.”

She said the development would also help address the chronic shortage of rental apartment units in Centretown.

“We need more purpose-built rentals, a gap that this is meant to fill,” she said. “We need housing that suits everyone’s needs in the downtown (core) – all the way from single-family homes to condos to rentals to more affordable housing and obviously some social housing as well. I am encouraged by that.”

If the development gets the go-ahead, it would be Manor Park’s second major project downtown. The Ottawa-based property management firm recently broke ground on a 182-unit Holiday Inn at the corner of King Edward Avenue and St. Patrick Street that will likely open in about 18 months.

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