Morguard proposes new hotel, apartment at 361 Queen St.

After 18 months of speculation about what will happen to one of Ottawa’s prime downtown real estate properties, developer Morguard says it is proposing to build a new 27-storey hotel and 23-storey apartment on the site of the former National Hotel & Suites.

In a proposal recently filed with the city, Morguard said it plans to demolish the two conjoined hotel towers that now sit empty on the west side of the 1.85-acre site as well as an existing three-storey apartment building and replace them with two new buildings.

The existing 12-storey office tower on the east side of the site will remain but will be upgraded.

The proposed new towers at 361 Queen St., which are being designed by WZMH Architects, would share a common podium, entry plaza and access to 348 underground parking spaces. The podium would also include a retail component.

The proposed hotel, which would be located on the southwest corner of the site at Queen and Bay streets, would include 303 units. The apartment tower, which is planned for the northwest portion of the site, would have 250 units.

Morguard said the proposal, which must be approved by city council, has been designed to fit the overall tone of the neighbourhood.

“Views from the Museum of Civilization, Portage Bridge and Confederation Boulevard have not been compromised,” the report, prepared by FOTENN Consultants, said.

“The solid architectural language with the elegantly proportioned window openings of the West Memorial Building and Library Archives Canada inspired the exterior façade articulation of the proposed towers. The towers include a solid lattice layer which wraps the exterior glass skin to create a visual continuity in a contemporary fashion.”

The proposal also includes an open public space on the northwest corner of Sparks and Bay streets. The existing parking garage entry on Queen Street would be demolished and replaced with a pedestrian entry to the existing office tower lobby.

The developer said the project would add “a subtle playfulness to Ottawa’s skyline” while injecting new life into the surrounding area.

“Overall, the proposed development will extend qualities of the Sparks Street liveliness and will promote an enhanced mixed-use environment that is appropriate to the location and its established community,” the report said.

Buildings are currently limited to a height of 64 metres on the western portion of the site. Morguard is seeking a zoning amendment to permit a maximum height of 85 metres for the hotel and 78 metres for the apartment tower.

Morguard shut down the National Hotel & Suites in December 2013, saying it wanted to redevelop the property. At the time, Morguard vice-president Bernie Myers said he didn’t know if the site would remain a hotel or be rebuilt for another purpose.

“We’re looking at all options, all scenarios at this stage,” he told OBJ. “Clearly the building certainly was built and has served well as a hotel.”

The 328-room National had been a Delta before being rebranded as an independent hotel in 2012. Morguard’s recent filing with the city does not indicate any affiliation for the proposed new hotel.

Morguard officials were not available for comment on Tuesday morning.