A massive three-building condo development on Carling Avenue near Dow's Lake, which will include the city's tallest building yet, has been approved by Ottawa's planning committee.

The Richcraft project at 845 Carling Ave. will be called the Sky, featuring a 55-storey tower, along with a 45-storey and 18-storey tower.

Richcraft sky condo carling avenue

Ottawa's planning committee has approved a three-building development on Carling Avenue near Dow's Lake, which includes what will be the tallest building in the city once complete. (provided)

Richcraft said it could be five years before construction begins, citing a weak condo market.

The complex is to be built on the west side of Preston Avenue, opposite a previously approved but not yet complete 45-storey Claridge tower on Carling Avenue, which up until now was the tallest building approved in Ottawa.

"Well it's definitely cutting edge, it's a change in direction, it's the highest and second highest buildings in our city. It's almost like a growing up phase," said planning committee chair Jan Harder. "It really raises the bar on where Ottawa is going."

Recent changes to the Carling-Preston community design plan paved the way for the supersized structures, which will be built on a major arterial road and next to light rail.

No road through Queen Juliana Park

Richcraft has promised $3.4 million in "community benefits" as part of the development, including building a connection to the Carling O-Train station, a contribution toward the Hickory Street pedestrian bridge, and burying hydro wires along surrounding streets.

A plan to ease traffic by linking Sherwood Drive to Prince of Wales Drive, which required cutting through Queen Juliana Park, was struck from Richcraft's application after protests from the community and their city councillor, Jeff Leiper.

City planner John Smit agreed the road link was "not necessary for this project to move forward."

Concerns about traffic and parking remain. The proposal calls for 728 parking spots, even though it's anticipated that 60 per cent of trips to and from the development will be by foot, bicycle or public transit.

"Less parking should be a principle underlying all the development in this area, and it would be a win win for the city. Fewer cars, less traffic to manage," said Kathy Kennedy of the Civic Hospital Community Association.

Kennedy also urged for access in and out of the complex to be restricted to Carling Avenue, to keep traffic away from quiet side streets.

"Our residents have been reporting traffic problems and traffic speeds that are well beyond what their small local streets are designed to accommodate," she said.

Richcraft's chief operating officer, Steve Grandmont, told the committee there were only about 500 condo sales in Ottawa last year. He said depending on market conditions, the development could include fewer condo units and more hotel rooms or office space.

Ottawa city council will vote on the proposal Feb. 25.