By Sue Stefko
There is more change afoot in the Glebe Annex, with yet another proposed development.
While most of the development has been occurring at the south end of the neighbourhood, this one is planned for the north, close to the Queensway. It is situated at the north end of Bell Street South, where Orangeville turns into Bell. Four homes, 273 to 281 Bell, which date back to the 1890s, will be demolished to make way for two new (but connected) apartment buildings, one on Bell and the other backing onto the laneway at Arthur Lane South. Two existing homes, 269 and 271 Bell, which abut the highway, will be left in place. However, they are owned by the same developer and are described in the proposal as future development prospects.
On the Bell Street side, the developer plans to build a six-storey building containing 12 studio and 29 one-bedroom units. Ground floor units will have private patios. On Arthur Lane South, the building is to be four storeys – one storey of above-ground parking below three storeys of living space. For that portion, four one-bedroom units and four two-storey, two-bedroom units are proposed. That makes a total of 49 units in the two buildings, which will have a landscaped courtyard with bike storage between them. They will be connected by a covered walkway at the second storey.
The developer is proposing several environmental features. These include enhanced insulation, radiant heating and cooling powered via a heat pump (there will be no natural gas on site), high-thermal-performance windows, low-flow water fixtures and high efficiency appliances. The developer also commits to exploring the use of greywater recycling and semi-permeable paving.
When it comes to height, the proposed complex complies with zoning requirements on the Arthur Lane side, but it’s two storeys too tall on the Bell side. It also diverges from current zoning by providing only seven parking spaces, far fewer than the 19 residential spaces and four visitor spaces required. It does, however, provide 56 bicycle parking spaces when only 25 are required. Although more bike spaces are appreciated, the Glebe Annex isn’t served particularly well by transit, especially in the winter when most people do not bike, and it’s a fairly long walk to buy basic goods like groceries. Another divergence from zoning is the shortage of multi-bedroom units – a building this size is supposed to have 12 units with two or more bedrooms; this one has only four.
All in all, there is much to like about the proposal. Some of the homes to be torn down have been vacant for some time; using this land more productively to bring life back to the area is a welcome change. More rental units are needed during a housing crisis, and the proposed environmental features are laudable.
At the same time, it is difficult to lose four more single-family homes to mostly studio and one-bedroom units, especially in a neighbourhood with fewer families moving in. The price of land has rendered single-family homes and larger, family-oriented units unaffordable for most. This particular parcel of land, measuring 145 by 117 feet, was put on the market for $5.8 million in the spring of 2021. With prices like that, it’s increasingly challenging for a developer to stay within zoning and provide family-oriented dwellings. And so it is becoming more common in this neighbourhood and many others to see single-family homes give way to multi-storey, multi-unit developments. At least it can be said that the Glebe Annex is contributing to Ottawa’s “missing middle” and much-needed housing development.
Please note that comments on the proposal are open until June 17 – please see the devapps site at: https://devapps.ottawa.ca/en/applications/D02-02-22-0033/details
Sue Stefko is president of the Glebe Annex Community Association.
Rendering of the proposed development of two apartment buildings on Bell Street South
Source: Fotenn Planning and Design