Alterations to ByWard Market buildings ravaged by fire OK’d by heritage subcommittee

Rendering of proposed four-storey addition to 35-37 William St. in the ByWard Market. The third and fourth floors would be set back from the buildings’ facades. Image via City of Ottawa.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

GLOBAL NEWS, By Beatrice Britneff

Ottawa's built heritage subcommittee has approved proposed alterations to two ByWard Market buildings ravaged by a major fire last spring, which include increasing one property’s height to four storeys and introducing more housing in the busy commercial district.

As part of their rebuild plans, the property owners of 35-37 William St. — home to the currently closed Vittoria Trattoria restaurant — want to repair the buildings’ front stone façades and also build a four-storey addition with rental units behind the Italian eatery in the unused rear yard of 62 York St.

The third and fourth floors of the addition would be set back several metres from the William Street façade, according to a report on the proposed alterations, recommended by City of Ottawa heritage staff.

Meanwhile, staff support plans to reconstruct and restore the brick façades of the “severely” damaged adjacent buildings at 41-41 ½ William St. and adding a set-back mezzanine on top of that roof.

The William Street properties have heritage designation under the Ontario Heritage Act, so the owners have to get permission from the city council to make substantial changes to the buildings.

The proposed height of the addition behind Vittoria Trattoria — which sits among two-storey, flat-roofed buildings — generated some concerns during the heritage subcommittee’s meeting on Tuesday.

Public subcommittee member Jennifer Halsall moved a motion asking to limit the addition to three storeys total, arguing that four is “visually incompatible with the historic integrity of William Street.

Sally Coutts of the city’s heritage department said staff conducted studies of how the addition would look from different views and determined that four storeys doesn’t have an “adverse impact” on the “heritage character” of the ByWard Market.

The property owners originally asked for six storeys and heritage staff refused, Coutts noted.

Asked whether the alterations for his properties approved Tuesday are what he wanted, [the building owner] said he would’ve preferred a taller addition but agrees that four storeys is “a reasonable height” after talking to his consultants and heritage staff.

“More density means more units, more money. But we’re also sympathetic to the needs and climate and the character of the ByWard Market and we don’t want to ruin that,” he said.

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