City puts Trinity project in limbo

The City of Ottawa has denied Trinity Station, a major development site at 900 Albert St., the air rights to build over the LRT line at Bayview in the northwest corner of Centretown.

Apart from losing a significant amount of building space for future apartments, offices and commercial space, this will also likely mean that the property is not on the still-secret short list of potential sites for the new central library.

The three final properties that the Ottawa Public Library board is considering are set to be announced by the end of the year.

Coun. Catherine McKenney is pushing for it to be sooner: “I will be making a formal request at the October 11 library board meeting for the short list.”

Meanwhile, the developers behind Trinity Station will not be building their planned fourth tower over the future intersection of the light-rail Confederation Line and Trillium Line.

Without the air rights to the rail corridor, a planned 55-storey residential building, a 15-storey office building and a “community space element” have been scrapped.

The “community space element” had involved possible construction of the city’s new central library west of the rail line.

“They are expected to contain their development and construction activities on their property,” said Don Herweyer, a City of Ottawa planning official.

“The city wishes to maintain control over the rail corridor and the station integration as part of any future redevelopment.”

Trinity Development have been a large provider of infrastructure to Ottawa over the past ten years. They’ve been involved in the buildup of the shops at Lansdowne Park, Herongate square, the Meadowlands redevelopment, and are also building on the corner of Rideau and Chapel Street.

Although a large chunk of the original plan at Bayview has been tossed, what remains includes three residential towers (with 1,500 units), and 20,000 square feet of office and commercial space. The luxury rental spaces would include bachelor units all the way up to two-bedroom apartments.

The complex is designed to be a “vertical neighbourhood,” said Brad Caco, senior vice-president of development and design at Ontario-based Trinity Development Group. He says that the commercial area will incorporate a large grocery store, a pharmacy, liquor service, restaurants and boutiques.

Trinity said it has been working with the Centretown community to try to blend the parcel of land’s unique history with modern Canadian design.

The plans “are constantly being revised with the comments that we’re getting from the city and the public,” said Caco.

The land has an interesting history. The area was part of a railway yard as early as the 1880s, when it was the site of a Canadian Pacific Railway roundhouse.

This is where locomotives were spun on a kind of turntable to be sent back in the other direction. The first person to live there was Jean Lechance, a train hand who built a small home on a part of the property in 1888.

The roundhouse eventually burned down in the early 20th-century. With the exception of a few small buildings, the property near the corner of Albert Street and City Centre Avenue remained an empty green patch in Ottawa’s core.

Without the air rights, the Trinity development won’t be affecting any of the City’s above-ground infrastructure.

The existing infrastructure underground is, however, a different story. Before any building at the Trinity site starts, the developers will need to redirect two main trunk lines that run through the property. Moving the municipal storm-water and sewage lines is expected to take a year.

“Once the municipal infrastructure is out of the way, in 2018, we’ll start with the building itself,” said Ryan Moore, Trinity’s senior development manager.