Ottawa developer aims to convert Cooper Street office building to apartments

Cooper Street office building
SerCo Realty Group wants to convert this seven-storey office building at 331 Cooper St. into an eight-storey apartment complex. Photo courtesy Avison Young

An Ottawa real estate firm wants to convert a seven-floor Centretown office building into rental housing in a bid to intensify a prime piece of land in the downtown core.

In a development application recently filed with the city, SerCo Realty Group says it plans to add an extra floor to the seven-storey building at 331 Cooper St., just east of O’Connor Street, as part of a proposal to turn the property into an apartment complex. The redesigned building would feature 45 units in a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as rooftop amenity space and a gym.

The 29,400-square-foot building was constructed in the mid-1960s and has been used as an office space ever since. SerCo says the site is well-suited for rental units since most of the surrounding neighbourhood is already zoned for residential use, adding the proposal fits with the city’s push to add more density in the core. 

“The proposed building conversion and modest expansion … will better align the building use with the existing character of the community and the planned function of the area,” the company says in planning documents.

The building’s facade would remain intact under the redevelopment, while the main entrance would be expanded and relocated closer to the front property line. The property is located in the Centretown Heritage Conservation District, meaning the developer will require a heritage permit to redevelop the site.

No residential parking

SerCo is proposing four parking spots for visitors, but none for residents. In its application, the builder says it’s planning to provide space for about two dozen bicycles, adding its plan will “encourage cycling and will integrate well with and promote the existing active transportation network in Centretown.”

Noting the property is 700 metres from the Parliament LRT Station and close to bus routes on Bank, Elgin and Somerset streets, SerCo says the site is also located near “key amenities, services and employment areas” in the downtown core, “allowing residents to walk and cycle to meet their day-to-day needs.”

The developer is requesting a slight change in the property’s residential zoning from a fourth-density to a fifth-density zone to permit a mid-rise apartment building on the site. It’s also asking for relief from several other zoning restrictions, including minimum lot-width and setback requirements.

SerCo is one of several developers floating new projects to add more rental housing in the core. For example, Claridge Homes has a number of proposals in the works in nearby neighbourhoods, and Taggart recently filed a plan to build two towers of 28 and 30 storeys at 267 O’Connor St., between Gilmour and MacLaren streets.