By Craig Lord –
Construction started over a year and a half ago on the Westboro Connection on McRae Avenue. Though it’s not quite finished, tenants already have begun moving in.
Pythian, a technology-enabled services company, formally landed in Westboro in a grand opening in December. Alterna Bank, another early lessee, moved in just a few days after Pythian. The international tech firm, formerly housed in the St. Laurent Mall, started searching years ago for a new place to call home. Westboro just made sense, and the Westboro Connection development is an ideal location for a company with an international flavour. Many of Pythian’s employees are global, as are most of its customers; so being central or downtown wasn’t necessarily a factor. For those working in Ottawa, a location right along the transitway and near the future LRT were necessities. Working close to Westboro’s boutique shops and restaurants was a bonus.
After weighing all of those factors, it made sense to sign on as an anchor tenant of the development. “It won fair and square,” says Pythian CEO Paul Vallée.
Mary Thorne, executive director of the Westboro BIA says that the reasons Paul touched upon are the main draws of the neighbourhood to the young workforce of tech companies.
“Westboro is the most sought after neighbourhood to shop, live, work, and play in the city of Ottawa right now,” she says. Pythian got accustomed early, catering its grand opening with Beyond the Pale beer and Suzy Q donuts.
Paul Vallée and Mayor Jim Watson cut the ribbon on Pythian’s new digs at the official opening in December.
The development consists of two connected seven-storey buildings complete with office, retail, and condominium space. Watson remarked how quickly the development took shape.
The rapid progress hasn’t come without a cost, however. Karlis Brouse, a nearby resident, says the noise, lights, and impediments of construction have been taking a toll on him and fellow neighbours.
“People are tired, and people are frustrated, and people are angry,” he says.
Karlis spoke with Kitchissippi Times when construction first began. He says that he had a “guarded optimism” about a collaborative process then, and that the project began smoothly. Since last summer, though, the communication lines have broken down between residents and the developers. A community blog run by BridgePort Realty, one of the developers of the Westboro Connection, was updated biweekly until posts stopped altogether in April without explanation.
“It’s hard to find someone accountable,” Karlis says, noting that his calls have been returned less and less frequently.
Construction continues on the Westboro Connection, though the project was originally slated to finish in early 2015. Building management is securing additional partners to lease the commercial spaces and rental apartments will be ready for occupancy by the end of May 2016.