Towers proposed for Gladstone Avenue arts mecca
3 buildings would go on Enriched Bread Artists site, near future O-Train station
A developer is proposing to build three towers at the future Gladstone light rail station in Hintonburg, on a site that currently houses the largest concentration of artist studios in the city.
Those artists and Kitchissippi ward's councillor are pushing Trinity Development Group Inc. to incorporate affordable studio space as the site overlooking the O-Train tracks — which also includes a brewery and a music venue — is redeveloped.
Trinity is also behind what will be the city's tallest building: a 65-storey tower to be built one station down the line at Bayview.
Mathew Laing, Trinity's senior vice-president of development and planning, spoke about the two projects at a recent economic development luncheon in Ottawa.
The goal, Laing said, is to create dense communities where people can live and work while having quick access across the city by transit, said Laing.
"Obviously the idea of these developments, in particular, is [to build on] that LRT connection," Laing said.
"There's definitely a focus by the development community on these locations. Absolutely."
Hopes to preserve bread factory
On the other side of the tracks from Trinity's land, Ottawa Community Housing is already planning Gladstone Village, a community made up of subsidized housing and market-value housing.
That means the area around the future Gladstone station could soon be transformed, with hundreds more residents, businesses and a French public school.
Trinity, which has only just filed its application with the City of Ottawa, is proposing three buildings with floor space totalling one million square feet.
Right now the idea is to keep as much of that building as possible, but to bring it back to life.- Mathew Laing, Trinity Group
The lower floors of the towers would be linked and would hold offices and retail.
As for the former Standard Bread Company factory, Laing said Trinity first thought it might only be able to keep the façade but now hopes to restore the painted white brick and uncover its boarded-up windows.
"Right now the idea is to keep as much of that building as possible, but to bring it back to life," said Laing.
'Less interesting' without artists
Most people don't realize how significant the space is for the city's artists, said Daniel Sharp, a painter and president of the Enriched Bread Artists collective.
The former bread factory has housed 22 of the collective's studios for the past 26 years, with another 18 artists working in the Loft Art Studios on the top floor.
Gladstone Clayworks Co-op is housed on the bottom floor. Artists also have studios inside other buildings on the property, with the strip mall next door housing the Gigspace concert venue and a glassblower's shop.
Sharp said the future light rail station made the property's development inevitable. But he hopes artists might be provided affordable studio space in a gleaming new building, and not have to disperse and seek more affordable digs in Gatineau or the surrounding countryside.
He'd also like it if Trinity sees the potential in having on-site artists hosting pottery, painting and glassblowing classes.
"It's a great neighbourhood," said Sharp. "If you lose those artists, the place becomes a little less interesting."
Affordable housing a priority
Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said Trinity has been open-minded about keeping artists on the site.
The city can also negotiate the inclusion of affordable studio space, Leiper said, in exchange for additional storeys and density.
"We want the arts in the downtown area," said Leiper.
Leiper and Coun. Catherine McKenney, whose ward is on the other side of the tracks, will also push for the Trinity development to include more affordable housing.
"We really do want both. We want to have a lot of affordable housing in this development, using every power the city has to leverage that," Leiper said.
"At the same time we don't want to have arts groups pushed out by the neighbourhood gentrification."