Planning committee gives thumbs-up to revised Chateau Laurier design

Revised Chateau Laurier design

After years of heated debate and much back-and-forth between architects and the city, councillors on the planning committee have approved a controversial addition to the iconic Chateau Laurier hotel.

The committee voted 7-2 Friday to approve a design and issue a heritage permit allowing the hotel’s owner, Larco Investments, to go ahead with the addition. The plan – which calls for an 11-storey and a 10-storey tower clad in Indiana limestone – will now go to full council for consideration on Feb. 24.

Larco first publicly shared its controversial expansion plans – which include extended-stay suites – in 2016. Planners representing the real estate firm have said the extension is necessary for the hotel to stay competitive in Ottawa’s hospitality market.

But controversy has dogged the project almost from the start, forcing the company’s architects to go back to the drawing board to appease critics who said previous designs weren’t compatible with the historic hotel and would obstruct views of the main building from Major’s Hill Park. 

Larco’s previous plan for a seven-storey, 147-unit addition was approved by the city’s planning committee in 2019, only to have the city’s committee of adjustment deny it approval for a minor variance – one of the final steps needed before obtaining a building permit.

Earlier Friday, members of the city’s heritage subcommittee tied 3-3 in their vote on the design, with some still giving it lukewarm reviews.

Meanwhile, Mayor Jim Watson has said the updated concept meets “council’s key conditions for improvement,” while Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury, whose ward includes the hotel, says he remains opposed to the latest design.

The National Capital Commission also needs to approve the plan because it affects nearby federal property.