Island paradise?

Island Park Drive provides high-class bargains

Do you have upwards of half a million dollars to spend on a grand old home? Are you looking for a bargain? Then you may need to look no further than Island Park Drive.

Homes on this stately, tree-lined street are selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars less than houses of comparable size and age just a block or two away.

Why? Because the street, with just one traffic lane in each direction, is jammed with cars in rush hour heading to and from the nearby Champlain Bridge across the Ottawa River.

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The problem is particularly bad north of the Queensway. This main highway through Ottawa crosses a bridge over Island Park Drive, and much of the traffic coming from downtown uses the narrow residential street to get to Quebec.

Residents of the street have little or no hope of relief for years, if ever. That’s because a proposed new bridge over the Ottawa River – if and when it is built – is likely to be in the east end of the city. Such a bridge would make no difference to traffic volume between downtown and the Champlain Bridge, which serves the western part of West Quebec.

Houses on Island Park Drive typically sell for between $200,000 and $300,000 less than similar homes just a block away, according to Brent McElheran, a real estate agent with Royal LePage Team Realty. He should know, since his office is just a few steps from Island Park Drive.

“In rush hour, Island Park Drive is absolutely jammed,” says Mr. McElheran. “The closer you get to the Champlain Bridge, the worse it gets.

“This rules out the street for most families with young children, due to the difficulty of getting into and out of their driveways. Some people, myself included, would never buy a home on Island Park Drive.”

Homes that sell for $600,000 on Island Park Drive go for $800,000 or $900,000 on Piccadilly or Mayfair avenues, a few steps away, says Mr. McElheran. Ottawa Senators star Jason Spezza lives on one of those streets just off Island Park Drive. But his modern stone mansion, for which he paid $3.75 million, is one of a kind.

While Island Park Drive is a residential street, its upkeep is the responsibility of the National Capital Commission. No commercial traffic is permitted, which is something for which homeowners can be thankful. There are wide grass verges on either side of the street, another attractive feature.

“The homes are very grand,” says Mr. McElheran. “They have that classic look, and have great appeal. They are on good-sized lots, and some even have rear lanes, which are a nice feature.”

The turnover of homes on Island Park Drive may be no greater than on many residential streets. But, at least one home on the street always seems to be for sale, real estate agents say.

Six houses were sold on Island Park Drive in the past few months, and none fetched more than $700,000. That’s low compared with prices in several urban and suburban neighbourhoods of the city. It’s peanuts compared with Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa’s most expensive neighbourhood. There, buyers may pay several times that price for a home of similar size and age on a similar sized lot. Then they may pull down the home to build a much larger one.

The house at 512 Island Park Dr. that recently sold for $700,000 had been listed for $725,000. The real estate blurb by Coldwell Banker Sarazen Realty made the four-bedroom house, built in about 1945, sound like a millionaire’s dream.

It said: “Handsome Tudor style home on double lot (103 feet by 124 feet) beside NCC parkland. Bright, spacious, superb location. Heated greenhouse, 17 feet by 15 feet … Large backyard. Den would make an excellent granny suite. Wood-burning fireplaces in both living room and recreation room. Large dining and living rooms for entertaining. Sun room has a great view of NCC parkland. Hardwood floors throughout. Large two-car garage with ample parking.”


One house sold recently for more than $800,000 a few blocks from Island Park Drive – a new home, at 205 Keyworth Ave., that sold for $851,000.

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