Lowertown Baptist church looks to sell property for redevelopment

Ottawa Baptist church
Ottawa Baptist church

A francophone Baptist church in Lowertown wants the city to rezone its property for mixed-use development as it looks to sell the building and construct a larger facility in another neighbourhood.

Ottawa Baptist Evangelical Church says its current house of worship on the southwest corner of King Edward Avenue and Clarence Street is too small for its growing congregation. The church, which is more than a century old, takes up almost all of the 5,000-square-foot lot.

“The size of the church no longer serves the needs of its congregation and to provide the most flexibility to sell the site a commercial zone is sought,” reads a rezoning application recently filed with the city.

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“The rezoning will provide an opportunity for a wider range of permitted uses on the site … that would attract a wider spectrum of potential buyers and the possibility of consolidation with adjacent sites.”

The property on the eastern edge of the ByWard Market is currently zoned for minor institutional uses that allow for only a limited range of residential development. The church is seeking a traditional mainstreet designation in a bid to “expand the range of uses for the site” to include commercial space.

Local real estate developer GBA Group, which filed the application on behalf of the church, said the “ultimate proposed redevelopment” of the property would be a “mixed-use project with residential the predominant use,” adding it would likely be a midrise development of at least five storeys.

According to the application, a review has also been launched to determine if the church merits a heritage designation. 

The results of the study “possibly will affect the proposed zoning of the site,” the report said, noting the “cultural heritage element of the church will be determined through work now under way with the City of Ottawa.”

If the plan goes ahead, it would be the latest in a string of local projects that have seen churches converted into mixed-use developments. Others include the former St. Brigid’s church on nearby St. Patrick Street, which is now an arts centre, and Little Italy co-working space Collabüro, which opened last fall in the former home of the German Evangelical Martin Luther Church of Ottawa on Preston Street.

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