By Kristy Strauss –
The shovels are officially in the ground for a Westboro development that will bring people together to live, work and play. The development, Westboro Connection, officially broke ground at a ceremony that took place at its McRae Avenue location on May 5.
“This is a new beginning for the community,” said Hugh Gorman, principal at BridgePort Realty Capital Partners, which is one of the project’s developers. “It’s been a long time coming… and as a result, we think it will be just the ignition the neighbourhood needed.”
Set to be completed in early 2015, Westboro Connection is a mixed-use development that includes two towers that are connected by a street- front retail podium and two levels of underground parking. There will also be surface parking on the site, and a seven-story office building. The residential component includes 126 rental apartment units.
“People are going to live here, they’re going to work here, and they’re going to shop here,” Gorman said. “They’re going to make this a part of their daily lives, and it will really strengthen the overall community.”
The development is situated on McRae Avenue between Richmond Road and Scott Street, which Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said was an ideal location for future light rail transit.
The nearby Westboro transit station will be part of the light rail transit system once completed.
“What we have here today is an example of a win-win-win situation for proponents, the business community, neighbourhoods, business community, and for the neighbours and residents,” Watson said.
Kitchissippi Ward Coun. Katherine Hobbs added that the development will make the area more cyclist and pedestrian friendly.
“It’s a wonderful start to the transformation of McRae,” she says. “We imagine this street as a cycling and pedestrian mecca, and that’s what it will eventually be.”
Westboro resident Karlis Bouse says he is “bittersweet” about the development.
The Clifton Road resident lives in the neighbourhood with his family, and was part of a group of residents who made sure their community was heard when the development was proposed in 2009 – meeting with community groups, city councillors, planners, and federal and provincial government representatives.
Bouse says the neighbourhood’s main concerns have been increased vehicular traffic, children’s safety on the street, loss of privacy and sunlight, and possible impact on property values immediately beside the development. His construction-related concerns included bedrock blasting, large trucks accessing his street, and the resulting noise and dust.
He says, however, Bridgeport has been co-operative in setting up meetings and consultations with neighbours and impacted residents.
“I think that ongoing and open communications are incredibly important at this stage, and I feel that Bridgeport recognizes the need to regularly engage the impacted residents where possible through the process,” Bouse says.
He adds that the Clifton Road community is a very tight-knit neighbourhood, and it’s important for neighbours to maintain that sense of community.
“In the end, everyone recognizes the challenges and difficulties around a project of this scale. While most recognize the importance of urban densification, it’s often a different scenario when it’s directly in your backyard,” he says. “It won’t be easy, but we’ll work closely with the development team to ensure as painless a process as possible.”
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