Ottawa

Preston condo tower plan irks community group

A community group has given the thumbs down to a proposed 35-storey condomium tower in the heart of Ottawa's Little Italy.
An artist's concept of the Soho Italia, a 35-storey condominium tower. ((Roderick Lahey Architect Inc.))
Members of a community group has given the thumbs down to a proposed 35-storey condomium tower in the heart of Ottawa's Little Italy.

Dalhousie Community Association president Eric Darwin said his group thinks the Soho Italia building is too large for the lot and would overwhelm the neighbourhood.

"We think that building highrises of 35 storeys is just a lazy way around building three or more 10-storey buildings for which there's lots of adequate zoned areas around the nieghbourhood where we would welcome them," said Darwin at a meeting of about 10 members of the group on Wednesday night.

Mastercraft Starwood Group had pitched the idea last month to mayor Jim Watson and the ward's city councillor, Diane Holmes, as well as Peter Hume, the chair of the Planning and Environment Committee.

The building, which if constructed would be one of the tallest buildings in the city, would sit just behind the archway of Little Italy on the site of an old parking lot on Preston Street.

An artist's conception for the project from architect Roderick Lahey shows a slim glass and concrete tower that resembles a stack of plates. The design also includes a ground floor dedicated to a museum of Italian culture.

The spot is currently zoned for 19-storeys for a commercial building and 22-storeys for a residential building, according to Mastercraft Starwood, so the developer would have to apply to have it rezoned.

Dalhousie Community Association president Eric Darwin said his group plans to write the mayor and city councillors about their objections to a proposed condo tower on Preston Street. ((CBC))
Darwin said his members had a number of complaints with the project.

"The lot size is way too small, the view from the sidewalk is awful, particularly since it is basically a seven-storey blank black cube — it's very hostile to the street — [and] the proposed community benefit of a museum is laughable and its not something we've heard any demand for or anybody actually willing to run," he said.

Darwin said his group expects to send letters to Watson, Hume and Holmes expressing their opinion of the plan, and said he anticipates the Preston Street Business Improvement Association to issue a statement on the project as well.

"We won't be alone in our opinion," he said.