City’s tallest building planned for Little Italy

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/news/ottawa/2011/01/18/16939726.html#/news/ottawa/2011/01/18/pf-16939726.html

The idea of a 35-storey condo tower in Little Italy is getting mixed reviews from residents and retailers.

“It depends, I mean if it’s a nice looking building I’m sure it won’t be an eyesore but it is going to be tall,” said Jeff Jacques from Slan Printing.

“You certainly won’t be able to miss it. And it could bring some business to the local businesses around here.”

Toronto-based Mastercraft Starwood Group wants to build a condo dubbed SOHO Italia on the site of an old parking lot.

With about 230 units, it would sit at the corner of Preston and Sidney streets, just north of Carling Ave.

If they pull it off, it’ll be the tallest building in Ottawa.

The president of the Dalhousie Community Association said he has no issue with the height of the building.

“What I do mind is that they’re putting it on a very tiny lot, so the building takes up 100% of the site. So there isn’t even room for a tree around the building,” said Eric Darwin. “Will it make for a better, more lively main street, or is it going to make for a windswept, ugh, avoid-that-corner type space?”

The spot is currently zoned for 22 floors.

A zoning application hasn’t been filed with the city yet, though the developer has met with a handful of council members about the project, including Mayor Jim Watson.

“Obviously I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of the project, but I didn’t make any commitment one way or the other,” Watson said Tuesday. “Clearly it would be a landmark on that site and we’re going to have to wait for them to present their particular plan and let the public have their say.”

Darwin said the tower would set a precedent for neighbouring empty space.

“Each of the developers on that vacant lot, the gas station lot over there, or the car dealership over here, is going to be looking at it and saying, ‘oh I can put in two or three 35-storey buildings,’” he said.

That’s a welcome change to some.

“We need more high-rise buildings and I think it would be a nice attraction to the street and to the city,” said Frankie Papalia, from La Roma Restaurant.

“A lot has been said about the size of the building sort of standing out. But otherwise I don’t really see any major issues,” said Jacques.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

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