Claridge Homes exec has high hopes for Ottawa's housing market

Claridge Icon
A rendering of the Claridge Icon condo tower, which is currently under construction at Preston Street and Carling Avenue. The project is nearing completion. (Image via Claridge Homes)

As it continues to add to a string of planned new multi-unit developments near transit and retail hubs, a leading Ottawa builder says it remains confident that the capital’s housing market will hit the ground running once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Claridge Homes recently unveiled plans for a two-building project on the site of the former Webb’s Motel at 1705 Carling Ave., east of the Carlingwood Shopping Centre. Claridge wants to build a nine-storey retirement residence and a 21-storey rental apartment highrise on the property, which it purchased from another retirement home developer last fall.

“We see the west end continuing to grow,” said Claridge vice-president Neil Malhotra, citing the area’s proximity to the Queensway, its location on a major bus transit corridor and the presence of nearby amenities such as the mall. 

The proposal calls for more than 200 housing units and a mix of ground-level and underground parking. It will require council approval because the building heights exceed current zoning limits. 

The project is just one of several residential development proposals Claridge has on the go on the busy east-west artery. 

The developer has also proposed a 27-storey apartment tower with about 210 units a couple of hundred metres to the west at 1995 Carling Ave. Farther east, it’s inching closer to completing its marquee condo project ​– the 45-storey Icon tower that’s now Ottawa’s tallest structure ​– at the corner of Carling and Preston Street.

Malhotra says the Icon should be completely finished next spring after construction was forced to slow during the pandemic. He says units in the 250-suite highrise are selling “quite well” despite the downturn in the housing market since the COVID-19 outbreak began.

The developer has plenty of other projects in its development pipeline, Malhotra added, suggesting Ottawa’s housing market is poised to bounce back quickly once the lockdown ends. Among them is East Flats, a proposal calling for up to five highrises ranging from 25 to 45 storeys that will include more than 1.5 million square feet of residential space and hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial space northeast of the Pimisi LRT station at LeBreton Flats.

Malhotra said the capital’s solid employment base of civil servants and tech workers will help cushion the economic blow of measures designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“I think we’re reasonably insulated here,” he said. “It’s important to remember that prior to this our housing market was a little overwhelmed with demand. There’s no reason to suspect that won’t be the case as we come back to normal.”