by Carolyn Mackenzie
Want to know what people think about the proposal for a mixed-use building on Bank Street at the current site of the Beer Store and Mr. Muffler?
“One of the great strengths of the Glebe is its village-like character… The proposal, therefore, destroys an entire block of that special character… An inadequate setback from the street combined with the mass of building above the street-level stores would significantly reduce any urban village atmosphere.”
“Any development of those lots should meet the current zoning rules, i.e. Traditional Mainstreet height limit of 15 m. The proposed building is nice looking but it is too big. It will cast big shadows and cause high winds and impact the residential nature of the street (Monk) behind it…It is simply too tall.”
“Part of what is special about the Glebe is its main street feel. That the urban space is pedestrian-scale… This is all lost when we build buildings of this size…Lansdowne is a success. It’s working… To build on this success, the answer is not to build taller buildings north of Lansdowne. It’s to keep building on what is working on Bank north of [Lansdowne] park.”
“Bank Street may be a commercial street, but right behind it is a relatively low-density residential neighbourhood, with a human scale. The proposed development would loom over this part of the Glebe to the detriment of its neighbours… The proposal would probably be fine if the height were reduced to five storeys and the density reduced somewhat.”
Those comments are typical of the 50+ emails we received in the last month. The strong consensus is that people are keen to see this lot developed and there are certainly some positives with the proposal. However, the scale takes away from the pedestrian-friendly main street and it does not transition properly to the low-rise residential neighbourhood. I should note that of the many emails received, one resident was fully in favour of the plan.
Residents who live on the east side of Monk Street and will be “wrapped” by the proposed L-shaped building are even more pointed in their objections to the scale of the building. They are looking at having six storeys going up within three metres of the back of their properties and eight storeys going up to the south. They have very strong objections about additional sun shading, privacy, general building loom, and potential wind impacts. They point to the zoning bylaw that limits height to 15 metres (four storeys) and normally requires that a building would have to be set back 7.5 m from their rear lot lines, although a zoning technicality reduces this to 3 m in this case. Nearby residents on side streets already under significant traffic and parking pressure are leery of the impacts of a residence entry on Monk Street.
After a vigorous discussion, the Board of the Glebe Community Association (GCA) recently wrote to the City to request that the proposal be modified such that:
the building height of the “Mr. Muffler” portion of the property backing onto Monk Street residences should be restricted to the current 15 m/four storey cap.
the portion of the building that shares side yards with residential properties on Monk Street should also remain at the 15 m height, although some consideration for additional height may be possible if it can be clearly demonstrated that this would not introduce negative impacts to the abutting properties nor the community generally.
eight storeys fronting Bank Street are incompatible with the low-rise character in the core of the Glebe’s Traditional Mainstreet and create unacceptable impacts and disruption of the continuity of low-rise building heights. While some consideration of increased height may be possible above the current 15 m cap, this should only occur if it can be clearly demonstrated that this would not introduce negative impacts and would respect both the community vision and Traditional Mainstreet guidelines.
the side yard setbacks should be a minimum of 3 m where they abut residential properties.
consideration of any additional height beyond the 15 m height exception should not set a general precedent for any future zoning amendment requests on Bank Street in the Glebe. Rather, it recognizes the special characteristics of this lot, in particular, the fact that it is a “through-lot” to Monk Street, which may allow for some additional massing while remaining compatible with the character of the neighbourhood.
Additional information and detailed comments to the City have been posted on the Glebe Community Association’s new website (www.glebeca.ca). Follow links to the Planning Committee page.
What do you think?
Share your views and help shape Bank Street by emailing the Glebe Community Association’s Planning Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org, the City at ann.o’email@example.com, and our Councillor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carolyn Mackenzie chairs the GCA’s Planning Committee.