“15 highrise projects that could reshape Ottawa’s skyline”

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More than a dozen multi-tower skyscraper highrise projects are on the drawing board for Ottawa, and together they could change the city’s skyline from one end to the other.

The plans could bring towers of 30 and even 40 storeys to Kanata and Orléans, and line O-Train routes with dense neighbourhoods packed with thousands of housing units.

That’s if they go ahead in a tough financial environment. Just last year, Claridge cancelled a 30-storey tower project, citing higher interest rates. It had already scaled the project back from 39 storeys.

There’s still no sign of construction on Richcraft’s the Sky project on the edge of Little Italy. That was approved eight years ago, with skyscrapers expected to reach 55 and 45 storeys. Trinity Centre, a LeBreton Flats development approved in 2018 with a towering 65-storey building, still hasn’t gotten off the ground.

Neither developer responded to multiple requests for comment about whether those highrise projects are going ahead. But other companies are pitching new highrise projects now working their way through the city’s approvals process, and at least some proponents are confident that they’ll get built, sooner or later.

“The market’s there in Ottawa, and if anything it’s just simply going to grow,” said Tim Smith of Urban Strategies Inc., an urban design consulting firm that has worked with the City of Ottawa and local developers. “Whatever the lull there is now is going to be a bit of a blip.”

He said towers are at least part of the solution to affordability, as Canadian cities look to welcome record-high numbers of immigrants. As long as highrise projects make a real effort to enhance public space, the added density can energize communities.

“There’s sort of a bit of an aversion to highrise developments coming into areas that historically have been mostly low-rise, but it really is the way that Canadian cities generally, and Ottawa in particular, needs to evolve,” Smith said.

“You have to get beyond the height of buildings, and the towers, and recognize that the density that comes with those developments can have a real net benefit for an area. It supports the transit. It brings more life to local businesses.”

265 Centrum

Toronto-based Bayview Group is looking to bring another highrise project to Orléans, the second ever after Brigil’s Petrie Landing development. But Bayview’s towers would be taller, rising 40, 35 and 30 storeys.

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An architect’s drawing of the proposed 265 Centrum development. (Fotenn)

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The site just east of Place d’Orléans shopping centre is within walking distance of a planned O-Train station and right in the middle of a city-designated development hub.

Two of the towers would be purely residential, while the third also has office and ground-floor retail. Together they would contain more than 1,000 housing units, including some townhouse-like homes.

A design brief says the towers are inspired by “floating chunks of ice in the Ottawa River,” with “prismatic geometries” that evoke the winter landscape.

Sam Gulamani, managing director and general counsel for the Bayview Group, said the project still needs site plan approval from the city. After that, the group will determine whether the units will be condos or rentals.

He couldn’t give a specific timeline for when construction would begin after approval. He pointed to financial head winds that make such highrise projects difficult in the short run, from higher interest rates weighing on demand to inflationary pressures on building costs.

“In the long run, we’re very confident in Orléans and in this project,” he said. “We think that it adds something to the skyline in Orléans that hasn’t been there. We also think that there is a shortage of housing, so we’re building something that is going to be in demand.

“We don’t get the approval just to sit on it,” he added. “We get the approval with the intent to build it.”

Kanata North

Main and Main Developments is proposing a 5.5 hectare project at March Road and Terry Fox Drive that would transform an area of Kanata North now spotted with low-to-mid-rise tech complexes.

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An architect’s rendering of March and Main’s 2,100-unit Kanata North development. (SvN Architects)

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A design from SvN Architects foresees five towers reaching up to 30 storeys, plus several mid-rise buildings, with 2,100 housing units in total. It also includes a public park, plazas, bike paths, retail at ground level and two office buildings.

One of the few proposals located far from any planned O-Train station, the Kanata North project lies alongside a bus rapid transit corridor planned for March Road where the city is looking to direct mixed-use development to enliven the existing tech district.

Main and Main didn’t respond to a request for comment about its plans. But Smith said highrise developments can make sense when strategically located, even in the most suburban of suburbs.

“You have to pick your spots,” he said. “I’m not saying towers make sense everywhere in the suburbs. You don’t plop them into the middle of low-rise neighbourhoods that are healthy and sustainable and valued, but there are places on commercial corridors and commercial nodes where that kind of intensification generally is going to be appropriate.”

Lansdowne 2.0

Three highrise towers are an integral part of the plan to finance a $332-million rebuild of the north-side stadium stands at Lansdowne Park, along with a new arena for the Ottawa 67’s.

The city is looking to sell air rights over the stands that would permit towers of 40, 34 and 29 storeys. They’d sit above a podium loaded with commercial space.

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An artist’s rendering of the proposed Landowne 2.0 redevelopment. (Fotenn)

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The proposal has already received a stamp of approval from the last council that allowed staff to launch public consultations and seek a developer interested in buying the air rights. It will have to come back to council for final approval.

2000 City Park

Ottawa-based Colonnade Bridgeport is applying for a zoning bylaw change that could allow it to build as many as eight towers with an estimated 2,250 housing units near the 417-174 split.

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A rendering of the 2000 City Park Dr. project by Neuf Architects. (Neuf Architects)

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Bonnie Martell, the company’s development manager, said the plan is to proceed gradually, with a first stage including five towers ranging from 20 to 30 storeys including about 1,200 units. A design was included in a press release Tuesday, though Martel said it remains “fairly conceptual.”

The site is a short walk from Blair O-Train station. Martel called it a “transit-oriented development.” She said the site is attractive because it’s already fairly well established, with amenities and pedestrian activity.

She said the hope is to address zoning issues by the end of this year, then move onto site plan approvals in 2024 with construction to start “shortly thereafter, depending on market conditions.”

“Our intent is very much to move this forward and we have investors that are aligned with moving this forward,” Martell said.

829 Carling Ave.

This is the only single-tower project on the list. Claridge is proposing to build another highrise across the street from its existing Icon tower at the corner of Preston and Carling.

The project was initially slated to reach 60 storeys, but the current concept before the city is for a 40-storey tower.

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A rendering of Claridge’s 40-storey design across the street from its existing Icon building. An outline of another tall building sits on the site of Richcraft’s the Sky project. (Fotenn)

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Neil Malhotra, chief financial officer of Claridge Homes, said he’s not sure that height is final. It could conceivably reach above 40 storeys as the proposal continues to navigate the city’s approval process.

Malhotra said it’s tough to predict how quickly the project will move if it gets approval. He cited the same interest rate and inflationary pressures as Gulamani, and also pointed to a “lack of regard for costs at the city.”

“It’s not an easy time to build right now,” he said.

400 Coventry

Montreal-based Groupe Oradev is seeking to build seven towers between 18 and 30 storeys near the baseball stadium in Overbrook, just north of the Queensway. 

An architect’s drawing of the 400 Coventry project. (Groupe Oradev/Fotenn/Neuf)

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Under the current plan, the development would accommodate 1,768 housing units, plus retail, a public park and a new road cutting through the site. Just west of St. Laurent Shopping Centre, the area is now mostly commercial and industrial, but the city has designated it a hub to promote dense development.

According to a design brief submitted with the city, the two most prominent towers will feature “unique dynamic steel elements” that run the full height of the buildings.

Former Greyhound station

Local developer Brigil is proposing to build a trio of highrise towers on the site of the now-demolished Greyhound terminal on Catherine Street.

An architect’s rendering of the project Brigil is looking to build over the now demolished Greyhound bus terminal. (Brigil)

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It is applying for a zoning change since height limits are currently set at 25 storeys in the area, which is currently surrounded by low-rise buildings.

The plan includes a 26-storey tower to the east and a 36-storey tower to the west, with a 40-storey one in the middle, all on six-storey podiums. The plan would provide about 1,000 housing units, as well as a public park and a pedestrian path cutting through the long block.

The local Centretown Community Association has said it wants more affordable housing from the project in exchange for accepting the shadows the towers would cast over the neighbourhood.

1047 Richmond Rd.

Fengate Development Holdings is proposing to build three towers of 36, 38 and 40 storeys overlooking the Ottawa River near Lincoln Heights.

An architect’s rendering of three towers proposed by Fengate Asset Management for 1047 Richmond Rd. (Fotenn)

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The plan foresees more than 1,300 housing units, mostly with one or two bedrooms, plus commercial space on the ground floor. It would be located right across the street from the planned New Orchard O-Train station, in an area already packed with apartment buildings.

Still, the proposed development would dwarf its neighbours and tower over a low-rise development to the south. 

665 Albert St.

Dream Asset Management, one of the companies behind the Zibi project along the Ottawa River, is looking to build a two-tower highrise complex on LeBreton Flats right beside Pimisi O-Train station.

An architect’s rendering of Dream’s LeBreton Flats development project. (Dream)

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As proposed, the 31- and 36-storey towers are among the more visually striking buildings currently pitched for Ottawa. They would include 607 rental units — with 41 per cent deemed affordable — as well as retail, a community hub and a park.

Council approved the necessary rezoning last year, and the company is now working to finalize approvals. Dream’s VP of development, Justin Robitaille, did not have an exact timeline for construction, but said the company is working to bring it “to fruition in the near future.”

2026 Scott

Hoppner Holdings is applying to build two 40 storey towers right across from the proposed Westboro LRT station. Colonnade Bridgeport said it’s also involved in the project.

Ken Hoppner, a partner in Hoppner Holdings, said the aim is to start work in the third quarter of next year. The plan has changed twice before, from a three tower project pitched in 2022 to a two tower design with a link connecting two skyscrapers.

A closeup of the facades of the towers proposed for 2026 Scott St. (Hobin Architecture)

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The current design dispenses with the link, but retains a podium design that steps down toward a low-rise neighbourhood to the south, revealing terraces open to the sky.

According to the design brief for the second plan, the project aims to transform the site into a “bustling urban hub” with a landscaped pedestrian plaza.

2 Robinson

This four-tower development in the southernmost corner of Sandy Hill, near Lees, is interesting in part for the history of the site.

It formerly hosted an Iranian Cultural Centre that was forfeited as part of a lawsuit seizing Iranian property to compensate victims of militant groups its government bankrolled. At the time, the site was worth an estimated $3.9 million.

A rendering of the proposed four-tower development at 2 Robinson. (2 Robinson Property Limited Partnership)

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Based on submissions and a land title search, the developer appears to be Montreal-based Place Dorée Real Estate Holdings Inc. Its original five-tower design has now been revised to two 32-storey and two 28-storey towers. The project would provide 1,440 housing units, some retail space and a public park with an amphitheatre seating area.

A short walk to Lees O-Train station, the site is again in a hub area where the city is looking to concentrate development.

Standard Bread Building

CLV Group Developments is looking to preserve Hintonburg’s Standard Bread Building, recently declared a heritage property, while adding three towers of 35, 33 and 30 storeys. 

The former bread factory, which the city considers “a rare example of an early 20th century industrial building,” is now home to the Enriched Bread Artists collective. 

An architect’s design of the proposed development at the current Standard Bread Building in Hintonburg. (CLV Group)

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It would take up an entire block right next to the future Corso Italia station. The proposal dates back to 2021, though an even larger plan for the site from a different developer goes back to 2018.

The current plan involves 846 residential units, office space and two small public green spaces. Retail would face Gladstone Avenue and a new pedestrian street parallel to the rail line.

Each of the towers would sit on four- or five-storey red brick and concrete podiums. Black metal panels are intended to “reflect the industrial character of the surrounding area.” The towers themselves would be mostly grey and white, though the tallest one would have hints of red.

CLV did not respond to requests about its plans or timeline.

2946 Baseline Rd.

Baseline is set to become a magnet for development under a slew of highrise projects now up for approval, with many centred near Merivale Road.

But one of the most ambitious highrise projects is further west, with towers of 32 and 28 storeys proposed near the Queensway-Carleton hospital, along with a squatter nine-storey building. The height requires a zoning change, which is expected to come before the city’s planning and housing committee in September.

Brigil’s project at 2946 Baseline Road. (Neuf)

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The developer is Ottawa-Gatineau-based Brigil, which brought on architect Neuf for a design it calls “playful” and “dynamic.” The project would provide 700 dwelling units. It includes a public park, a small number of townhouses and retail.

Though Baseline itself doesn’t lie on an O-Train lie, the entire corridor has been designated a bus rapid transit route in the city’s transit plan, which significantly relaxes zoning restrictions in a bid to welcome more density.

70-80 Woodridge

Ferguslea Properties is looking to add towers of 40 and 37 storeys near the site of its existing Accora Village development, right next to Bayshore Shopping Centre.

A rendering of Ferguslea Properties proposed towers near Bayshore. (Fotenn)

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It would create up to 584 residential units, along with retail at ground level and an open space with a splash pad and public art. It abuts a site where a project to construct two slightly shorter towers is also under consideration.

1640-1660 Carling Ave.

RioCan Holdings is pitching six buildings up to 40 storeys on the site of the Canadian Tire building on Carling Avenue.

It’s expected to hold 1,715 dwelling units, and would include a new public park and ground floor retail. The tallest towers, at 40, 37, 30 and 22 storeys, are proposed as rental buildings. There’s also a 20 storey tower anticipated to hold condos, and a nine-storey retirement home. 

A rendering of RioCan’s six-building development proposed for Carling Avenue. (Hobin Architecture)

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But it’s unclear exactly what the buildings will look like, with the current design little more than a featureless shell of six towers. The developer is seeking a zoning bylaw change to increase the maximum height for the site.

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