The City of Ottawa's planning committee has approved highrise buildings at the Blair and Westboro transit stations, as well as a separate development that will take up most of a downtown city block.
Developer Main and Main received zoning approval to build 900 rental units in three towers of 23, 29 and 35 storeys at 400 Albert St., currently parking lots. The prime downtown property has had several owners and seen several different tower plans dating back to the mid-1990s.
Councillors on the committee raved about the "undulating" and "curvilinear" design, and applauded a pathway through the middle of the block that can be used by pedestrians and cyclists.
"This is a rare occurrence when I get many more emails asking me to approve something than not to," agreed the ward councillor, Catherine McKenney.
Highrises near transit stations
"The architecture looks great, I'm quite jealous," said Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper. "As Scott Street evolves a bit more blandly, I'd love to see this sort of design not just in the downtown core."
One section of Scott Street near Westboro station has attracted one development application after another in recent years, and the planning committee approved yet another on Thursday for the parcel between Winona and Churchill avenues.
Leiper said he was glad to see the 25-storey building proposed for the site has been made less "wide and blunt" than originally planned, and welcomed the $900,000 the project will generate for affordable housing and parks in his ward.
Nevertheless, he was the only committee member to vote against the rezoning, urging the city to push for even better design.
In the city's east end, the owners of Gloucester Centre received zoning approval for a 30-storey tower to connect to Blair station as the city promotes development near its new LRT.
Kudos for Old Ottawa South development
Bank Street in Old Ottawa South is slated to get a new six-storey, 44-unit apartment building on the site that's currently home to the Barley Mow pub, Boomerang Kids consignment store and Siam Kitchen restaurant.
Coun. Shawn Menard had uncharacteristic praise for developer Domenic Santaguida, noting the changes that have been made to the building's design and the steps that have been taken toward making some units affordable.
"We need to see more of this more often," said Menard. "You bring people in early, talk to them, make amendments, and everyone takes a little water in their wine."
The city could soon see similar lowrise apartment buildings when a 99-page report to change what's known as R4 zoning is presented at the next planning committee meeting on Sept. 10.
The projects approved Thursday still need full council's sign-off in two weeks.