Hartman’s expansion finally set to begin

By Colleen Dane

With the final papers signed, a construction crew will begin work on the Hartman’s Your Independent Grocer expansion in the next few weeks.

Plans for the dramatic expansion, which calls for an underground parking lot, and six-floor apartment building, have been in development for three years.

“This is a very complicated project,” says Larry Hartman, owner of the Bank Street grocery store.

He says the store’s space will more than double from its current 19,000 sq. feet to over 40-thousand.

Hartman says he hopes the store’s increased services, including photo-finishing, a pharmacy, and a take-out counter, will help better serve the needs of local shoppers.

“There is a need to incorporate a large, modern supermarket which will provide for all the. . . daily needs of the community.”

Coun. Diane Holmes says the expanded store will fill a retail gap in Somerset ward.

“I am delighted. . . People have felt for a long time that there needs to be better services downtown, and grocery stores are very important.”

Holmes says she is especially pleased with the way the City of Ottawa worked with Hartman to incorporate affordable housing into the plans.

The extended floor plan will encompass the old McCord apartments and Somerset Cinema on Somerset Street. A new apartment building, to be built above the store by the Ottawa Community Housing Corporation, will provide 61 affordable housing units.

“It’s really a win-win project, we get a better grocery store, and some affordable housing units,” says Holmes.

James Munro, the development co-ordinator for the housing corporation, agrees that it is important to develop more low-cost housing in the downtown area.

“There’s a very high demand for living throughout the city. . . but especially in the core.”

He says there will be 12 bachelor, 34 one-bedroom, and 14 two-bedroom units.

They will be filled by applicants accepted through the city’s housing registry waiting list.

“We would expect them to be moving in. . . early summer 2005.”

Hartman says it was important to incorporate community-building into his expansion plans.

The new complex will include a separate community room to provide a meeting place for neighbourhood groups, free of charge.

It will be accessible from the street so it can be used after store hours.

“It’s definitely needed in Centretown,” says Hartman. “There are a lot of organizations, a lot of people, who don’t have a place to meet.”

Hartman says it was also important that the aesthetics of the building suit the area.

He says architect Barry Padolsky’s design is very appropriate.

“He’s very into preserving the needs and preserving the heritage, and it will blend in wonderfully,” says Hartman.

The new Somerset Street facade will include matching brick, and columns echoing those from the nearly 100-year-old Bank of Montreal building on the corner of Bank and Somerset Streets.

The $22-million project is expected to take 15 months, and is scheduled to wrap up in the summer of 2005.

Workers will begin by removing asbestos from the theatre and two-story apartment building. Then, they will start demolition.

The final three months will be spent gutting the interior of the existing store. However, Hartman says it will be done in sections, and the store will remain open throughout the construction period

He says he hopes all this work will make his store a sustainable part of the community.

“We’re looking forward to it. Hopefully the store will be here for a long time to serve the needs of Centretown.”