City committees to weigh Arts Court redevelopment proposal

An overdue proposal to redevelop the Arts Court complex just east of the Rideau Centre will arrive before two city committees in the coming weeks.

The proposal calls for a 23-storey private-sector tower on the site at 60-70 Waller St. that could include space for residences, hotel or offices.

The application also includes enhanced space for the Ottawa Art Gallery, including a 250-seat screening room and space for the University of Ottawa Theatre Department.

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“It respects the cultural heritage value of the former Carleton County Court House, and the former Carleton Registry Office by locating the new construction on the lot away from the heritage buildings, and separated from them by a glass link,” says a city press release published Thursday.

The staff report will be considered by the built heritage subcommittee on July 11, while a rezoning application will go before the planning committee July 16.

The Arts Court is a city-owned facility operated in collaboration with the Ottawa Arts Court Foundation. It currently houses 23 arts organizations, two public art galleries (the Ottawa Art Gallery and the SAW Gallery) and a 130-seat theatre, according to a planning rationale by FoTenn Consultants Inc. published in April.

The city plans to issue a request for proposals to seek a private company to design, build and develop the new building in addition to purchasing the air rights. Once completed, the city would remain owner of the “existing and new arts components of the development,” the rationale added, as well as financing, operating and maintaining these areas.

Councillors initially approved a redevelopment of the site in July 2011, but the project experienced several delays. In November, staff told councillors that the project is already a year behind schedule.

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