Hintonburg hopes to bring local shop vibe to Armstrong Street

Local leaders are hoping Armstrong Street in the city's Hintonburg neighbourhood can become home to a thriving mix of local stores and restaurants.

'Hybrid' of Toronto's Kensington Market, Vancouver's Granville Island envisioned

A view of Wellington Street West at Merton Street. Community leaders hope opening up Armstrong Street to light commercial zoning will give a boost to Wellington Street West as well. (Google)

Local leaders are hoping Armstrong Street in the city's Hintonburg neighbourhood can become home to a thriving mix of local stores and restaurants.

"Take Kensington Market in Toronto and Granville Island in Vancouver and mix them up and create a hybrid," said Wellington West BIA board member Randy Kemp during last week's planning committee meeting. 

"There are a lot of vacant lots on Armstrong, so there's an opportunity for new ideas and new development."

On Wednesday, city council approved a plan accepted a week earlier at planning committee to lift a hold on commercial zoning for the south side of Armstrong Street from Merton Street to Carruthers Avenue.

A look at the locations where small-scale mixed-use zoning will be allowed on Armstrong Street. (City of Ottawa)

In 2015 the city had made changes to zoning to allow light commercial uses on a number of streets downtown, but community leaders in Hintonburg wanted to hold off on that change until they could figure how best to integrate the new commercial zone with the existing neighbourhood.

The change comes after a year of consultation by the Wellington West Business Improvement Area, the Hintonburg Community Association and Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper.

The vision is for Armstrong Street, which runs parallel to Wellington West, to permit building heights on the south side of up to six storeys if there are commercial businesses on the ground floor, with step-backs for buildings higher than three storeys.

Cycling and pedestrian traffic would also be encouraged, with bike lanes and bike parking installed on Carruthers and Merton.

While Armstrong Street has added residential buildings on its north side, its south side has remained a patchwork of parking lots and underutilized space. (Google)

Kemp said that as the neighbourhood has grown in popularity, rental prices on Wellington West have become less affordable for new businesses.

Having a parallel street with lower rents would encourage smaller, newer businesses to move in and add to the neighbourhood, while at the same time bringing more potential customers to Wellington West.

"We think it's very important for not only for Hintonburg, but also the whole Wellington West area, as a stimulator and incubator of new businesses," Kemp said last week.