A Reboot for 7 Maclean

The apartment building at 385 Bell Street South, built by Canci Realty

By Sue Stefko

Many Glebe Annex residents suspected something was not going according to plan at 7 Maclean Street. The site plan for a three-storey, seven-unit apartment building was approved in January 2020. However, there was no activity on the site until the demolition of the original home in April 2021 and then nothing since. It was recently confirmed that the property had gone back up for sale and that Canci Realty is the new owner.

Nick Canci, the founder of Canci Realty, is no stranger to the Glebe Annex. His first foray into the neighbourhood was the construction of a triplex at 340-342 Bell Street South in 1997. His second occurred after one of his visits to that original property. He decided to swing by 385 Bell Street South to visit colleagues at Scaffold-Fast with whom he’d done business in the past, only to find that the location had been shuttered and the company had moved. Canci wasted no time in seeing if the owners were interested in selling the property. As it turns out, they were.

Within less than two years, Canci Realty added to its rental portfolio by building a four-storey, 15-unit building on the site. Although it was just built in 2004, the handsome red-brick building has a historical feel that makes it fit seamlessly into the neighbourhood. This is also true of Canci’s 29-unit apartment at 307 Lebreton Street South that was built in 2012. Canci designs his buildings to incorporate elements of the neighbourhood into them – they are meant to look as if they have always been there. His goal is to improve on the neighbourhood but not change it drastically. He also feels that if renters take pride in the building they live in, they are more likely to take care of their units. Unlike many developers, the family-run company manages the rentals itself. These days, Canci is more engaged with design and construction, leaving the day-to-day property management to his daughter Ciana.

Given that the official transfer has recently happened, plans for the lot at 7 Maclean are still taking shape.  Construction is not expected to start until about 2025. However, the lot will not be left in its current gated and overgrown state. Canci intends to provide some parking on the lot for company vehicles and establish a grassy space for the use of tenants at 385 Bell Street South.

Longer-term plans include the addition of 26 rental units to the current 385 Bell Street South building. Parking will be on the ground floor, but it will be largely closed in and include windows, to make it appear to be part of the building rather than a parking lot when viewed from Maclean Street. It will be designed to look like a series of townhouses, like those on the south side of the street. The four-storey building will step back on the top floor and will include a rooftop terrace that houses a “bark park” – a fenced-in area with artificial turf to allow pet owners to let their dogs out for a quick leg stretch or to “do their business.” The easterly 7 metres of the property is expected to be green space, with the inclusion of trees and shrubs as the space allows.

The addition will contain more density than was initially planned for 7 Maclean, which will have a corresponding impact on some neighbouring properties. However, the proposal is designed to abide by the maximum heights permitted by zoning regulations. It also fits with the city’s priority to increase the affordable housing supply by encouraging new low-rise apartment buildings in what has been described as the “missing middle,” particularly in the urban core.

Sue Stefko is president of the Glebe Annex Community Association and a regular contributor to the Glebe Report.

Yuri Locmelis (left) and Nick Canci
Photos: Gabrielle Dallaporta

Nick Canci is the founder of Canci Realty, with his son Yuri Locmelis, who is one of his partners. Canci has been in the construction business for more than 35 years. His interest in the industry was sparked when he started helping his father Giovanni paint houses, often for developers, at the tender age of 13. He built his first custom home at the age of 22 and hasn’t looked back. The original custom-home construction business, Canci Homes, largely transitioned into building and maintaining apartment buildings in the late 1990s. The Canci Realty portfolio now encompasses eight rental buildings and more than 110 units. Three of those buildings are in the Glebe Annex, with another in Chinatown at Cambridge Street North.

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