City prepares for Mechanicsville condo boom

City councillors gave their OK to two high-rise tower projects located along Parkdale Avenue Tuesday, the latest sign that new developments are rapidly taking over the neighbourhood west of downtown Ottawa.

By Mark Brownlee.

Tega Homes is now a step closer to constructing a 32-storey building consisting primarily of apartments at the corner of Burnside and Parkdale avenues, just south of the Ottawa River, while Richcraft Homes received the nod for its 30-storey condominium one block south at the corner of Parkdale and Lyndale avenues.

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The city is expecting the neighbourhood will be a popular area for development in the future, particularly with a station planned for the soon-to-be-constructed east-west light rail line at nearby Tunney’s Pasture.

However area residents are starting to make some noise that they don’t want developers to have free rein  in the area.

Guy Lachapelle, the president of the recently-formed Mechanicsville Community Association, did not explicitly oppose the proposals. However, he said the city needs to start working on how it plans to handle similar construction plans in the area.

He said he’s worried that, with those developments now close to being approved, it will open the floodgates to more tall buildings on less busy streets in residential areas to the east.

He asked the city to hold off on approving more mid- and high-rise buildings until the city can finish a community design plan – basically a road map for which buildings can go where in a specific neighbourhood – for the area.

Coun. Peter Hume, the chair of the city’s planning committee, reserved judgment on Mr. Lachapelle’s proposal, but made clear it was a request councillors likely wouldn’t approve.

“That may prove to be a difficult, if not impossible, task.” he said.

Staff noted that most properties in the area are currently zoned for lower densities. That means developers that want to build high-rises would have to go through the city before constructing a new building on one of those properties.

Katherine Hobbs, the councillor for the area, noted that developers have bought up several other properties in the neighbourhood.

The federal government is also drafting plans to redevelop the Tunney’s Pasture office complex, which sits across the street from the proposed buildings, and will add more workers and residents, if condo towers are including in the final plan.

The proposals for the two Parkdale buildings will next go to full city council for final approval.

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