Community divided on Centrepointe development
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Jan 15, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

Community divided on Centrepointe development

Ottawa East News

Centrepointe is set to get three new 15-storey residential tower.

The proposed height is far from the original plan submitted by Richcraft

At first, Richcraft told College Coun. Rick Chiarelli it wanted to build a pair of 26-storey towers, but the new building heights approved by the planning committee on Jan. 14 represent a 70 per cent reduction from the original requested height.

The current zoning for the property would allow for a 10-storey development.

Chiarelli said the final proposal was the third rendition of the project presented to the community.

“It’s very rare that a developer will reduce the height by 40 per cent,” Chiarelli said at a Jan. 10 meeting held at the Chambers at Ben Franklin Place. “It’s likely the best we are going to get.”

Chiarelli credited the work of the community association for the compromise.

“The whole thing is probably the most amicable process I have ever seen,” Chiarelli said.

But the nearly 60 people who attended the public meeting weren’t all pleased with the plans at an 11th-hour public consultation.

One resident suggested that the concentration of residential units – expected to be 364 condo apartments – isn’t a fit with the plan for Centrepointe.

Chiarelli agreed, but called the development a tradeoff, saying the city’s intensification plan and the recommendations from city staff would pretty much ensure Richcraft would win if they took their case to the Ontario Municipal Board.

“When they were turned down for 22 storeys they filed an appeal to the OMB and it took weeks to get them to withdraw the appeal and start a dialogue again,” Chiarelli said.

Ron Benn, president of the Centrepointe Community Association, said he would be happier with 12 or 13 storeys, but thinks with the city’s intensification objectives; it’s likely they will have to settle for 15.

“I don’t have to like that it’s raining for it to be raining outside,” he said, adding he would be presenting the community’s objections to the city’s planning committee.

“I don’t think we have to support or not support the development,” he said. “My job is to present the concerns of the community.”

The property is south of Baseline Road and north of Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School and has been vacant for years. It would be the tallest building on Centrepointe Drive, including the commercial buildings on Constellation Crescent.

As with any tall development, residents at the public meeting had some concerns about sight lines, property values, traffic and parking.

Richcraft is proposing 1.2 parking spaces per unit – well over the city’s required half a space per unit for a development near the Transitway – but Benn said it isn’t enough.

“I think it would be fair to say we haven’t come to an agreement with Richcraft over the parking,” Benn said.

Movement on that issue was gained during the planning committee meeting. Chiarelli was successful in asking his colleagues to support an amendment that will require city staff to look at adding more parking and a pathway to the transit station when the development is in the site plan approval stage.

The report prepared by the community association includes a section describing existing challenges with on-street parking.

It said that restrictions for city staff parking for the offices on Constellation has created on-street parking problems on adjacent residential streets, including Meridian Place, Chrysalis Way, Westpointe Crescent, Garden Gate Way, Thornbury Crescent and Redding Way.

“The installation of a limited range of no parking signs on the eastern leg of Westpointe in the autumn of 2011 only served to shift some 15 to 20 parked cars to Garden Gate and the southern leg of Westpointe,” the report reads.

Some of the concessions during nearly a year of negotiations have seen the inclusion of three-storey townhomes to serve as podiums for the high-rises and a closer fit with the character of the neighbourhood, 300 square metres of commercial space that could be used as a coffee shop and some walkways and greenery to improve the look of the site.

- With files from Laura Mueller.

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