City committee approves RioCan’s six-tower Carling Avenue project

RioCan Carling Avenue plan
An architectural sketch shows two of the six highrises RioCan plans to build at 1640 and 1660 Carling Ave.

A major real estate firm’s plan to build six highrises on Carling Avenue that would contain more than 1,700 residential units is one step closer to reality after getting the green light from the city’s planning and housing committee.

The committee approved a zoning bylaw amendment Wednesday that raises height limits on the property at 1640 and 1660 Carling Ave. from nine storeys to 40. 

RioCan REIT has filed an application for a project that would see six mixed-use towers ranging from 18 to 40 storeys constructed on the five-and-a-half-acre site at the southeast corner of Carling Avenue and Clyde Avenue North. 

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The site is currently occupied by a former Canadian Tire store and a Boston Pizza restaurant. The vacant Canadian Tire building is being converted into a fitness centre that is slated to open later this year.

RioCan’s proposal calls for a total of 1,715 residential units ranging from studios to three-bedroom suites. In a summary of the application filed this spring, the developer says “some of the buildings” could include ground-floor retail space while others would be “solely residential.”  

According to a draft site plan, the four buildings at the north end of the property – listed at 40, 37, 28 and 24 storeys – will be rental complexes, containing a total of about 1,335 apartments.

In addition, RioCan is proposing to build two condo towers of 18 and 20 storeys at the south end of the property that would include about 380 units. That’s a change from an earlier version of the proposal that featured a 20-storey condo and a nine-storey seniors’ residence on the southern edge of the site.

RioCan also plans to create a small public plaza at the northeast corner of the site that will lead to a privately owned public space in the middle of the cluster of highrises. A half-acre public park is expected to be built on the southwest corner of the property next to the condo towers.

According to a city staff report, current zoning rules require a minimum of 1,156 parking spaces for a project of this size. In its most recent application summary, RioCan said it plans to build an underground parking garage with spaces for 896 vehicles.

River Coun. Riley Brockington, whose ward contains the proposed development, said he supports the project.

In comments attached to the staff report, Brockington called it an “ambitious” undertaking, saying its total capacity of 3,000 residents would boost his ward’s current population of about 50,000 by six per cent once the development is completed.

The proposal, which goes to full council next week, comes amid a wave of residential development in the surrounding area.

Claridge Homes, for example, plans to build six highrises containing up to 2,000 housing units just south of RioCan’s property at 891 Clyde Ave. between Carling Avenue and the Queensway. Meanwhile, several other developers have also launched multi-tower projects along Carling Avenue near the former Canadian Tire site.

Lorne Scott, a realtor with Royal LePage Team Realty whose office is just down the street, told OBJ last year he thinks the Carling Avenue corridor is ripe for redevelopment due to its proximity to the Queensway and trendy neighbourhoods such as Westboro and Hintonburg.

“More and more companies and builders are going west of the core in Ottawa, at a much quicker rate than east of the core, despite real estate being more expensive in the west. Just look at Kanata, or Stittsville, or even Carleton Place. Those places are booming big time,” Scott said.

“I think Carling Avenue, while still rundown or tired in some stretches, will be a hot spot for the next 20 years. Any business, regardless of the service or product they offer, should – and many will – consider Carling.”

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