19-storey condo proposed for Bronson Avenue

A new condo development is in the works for Bronson Avenue.

Toronto-based real estate mogul Brad Lamb is proposing a 19-storey tower in northwest Centretown, overlooking LeBreton Flats.

“The site was purchased one-and-a-half years ago and we commenced designing the project immediately,” says Lamb, president of Lamb Development Corp. “I chose this site because I felt it was a great place within the urban fabric of Ottawa to develop a stylish residential building.”

The proposed 209-unit building, planned to include condos, townhouses and retail space, will fill the lot at 196 Bronson Ave., backing onto Cambridge Street. The lot, located between Nepean and Gloucester streets, currently houses the Ottawa Construction Association’s headquarters. Lamb bought the property from the OCA for $4.6 million.

In a statement published by the Ottawa Construction News in December, OCA president John DeVries said the association will lease the current property from the developer for one to three years, but will be “aggressively looking at various property options.”

The site was originally zoned for a maximum height of six storeys and is currently in the process of being rezoned for the development. Plans for the development have yet to be finalized.

In addition to “spectacular modern architecture and fantastic interior design,” Lamb says he hopes the Bronson Avenue project will have a positive impact on the surrounding area, which is known for its lack of amenities. “For decades, the city forbade ground floor retail in new towers as it would provide competition for existing corner stores,” explains Eric Darwin, a Centretown resident and community activist. “The city long rescinded those laws, but the consequences of dead sidewalks remains forever.”

“That stretch is a little less than nice,” agrees Michael Powell, president of the Dalhousie Community Association. He says he’d like to see new buildings and storefronts, such as this proposed retail space, moving in along Bronson.

“There is very little in the way of food service to this area,” says Lamb. He aims to fill the ground floor retail space with a major food retailer that could also serve prepared foods.

In addition, Lamb plans to incorporate a “large linear park running east-west on the north edge of our property, which opens to a court yard in the middle of the development.” Lamb says he hopes the development becomes a “destination” for Centretown residents and pedestrians to meet.

According to Lamb, “developments such as Bronson always make the neighbourhood a stronger and better place, and typically influence others towards change.”

However, this vision of change might be making some Centretown residents wary.

Many Centretown residents are concerned that the proposed development could adversely affect the much quieter Cambridge Street. Initial plans have already acknowledged these potential concerns by shifting the tower portion of the building towards Bronson.

“Of more concern to me right now is the access to the project,” says Darwin. “The garage is facing Cambridge, but the city plans call for apartments on main streets with quieter streets behind. Is this really accomplished if you put the tower on the Bronson side but all the access from Cambridge side?”

“One of the things we’re working as a community to do is make sure that these quiet, residential streets remain primarily residential and don’t have a substantial amount of traffic deposited on them,” says Powell.

 He says he would like to see the Cambridge side of the development feature townhomes rather than retail storefronts.

Lamb has two other projects already on the go in Centretown: Gotham, located at Lyon Street N. and Gloucester Street, and SoBa, on Catherine Street. Completion of the 17-storey Gotham development is expected in August of this year, while SoBa’s 23-storey tower should be completed by fall 2015.

Lamb expects to begin marketing the Bronson project this fall, and to open a sales office in the spring 2015. He expects the development to be finished in 2018.