Ottawa's Jennings Real Estate proposes 139-unit apartment building near Little Italy

Louisa Street development

An up-and-coming Ottawa real estate firm that recently purchased a marquee downtown office tower has unveiled plans to build its first mixed-use development.

Jennings Real Estate – which made headlines last month when it bought the 12-storey Gillin Building at 141 Laurier Ave. W. – has filed an application with the city for a 10-storey building at 18 Louisa St., just south of Gladstone Avenue near the corner of Bell Street between Centretown and Little Italy.

The site is currently home to a three-storey, 30,000-square-foot building that includes the Gladstone Sports & Health Centre and a mix of other tenants. Jennings, which purchased the building in January 2020, also has its corporate headquarters there.

The developer plans to keep the existing structure intact and retain the commercial tenants but would demolish the attached gymnasium. Jennings wants to build a new mid-rise residential building with 139 rental apartments and connect it the current structure.

The plan also calls for 88 underground parking spaces as well as amenity space and an outdoor courtyard.

Ottawa-based Westview Projects is the lead contractor on the proposed development, which was designed by Hobin Architecture. 

Jenning co-owner Ken Jennings says the property is an ideal site for the firm’s first mixed-use project due to its proximity to the Queensway, major thoroughfares such as Gladstone Avenue and Preston Street and public transit.

“We really love the neighbourhood,” he said. “This is an area that is definitely developing. It kind of checked all the boxes for us.”

At 31 metres, the proposed building’s height exceeds current zoning limits of 15 metres. But Jennings said he’s spoken with city officials and ward councillor Catherine McKenney and is confident the plan will garner broad support at City Hall and in the local community.

“We think it would fit in well with the area,” he said.

Founded in 2018, Jennings Real Estate now has 11 buildings totalling more than 450,000 square feet in its management and ownership portfolio, including several industrial properties in Nepean and Kanata and office buildings on Hunt Club and Walkley roads.