Latest Château Laurier design meets council's requirements for compatibility, city staff say

Rendering via City of Ottawa

Friday, May 24, 2019

OTTAWA CITIZEN, By Jon Willing

City planners back the latest design of an addition to the Château Laurier, despite criticism that the expansion would sully the image of the heritage hotel and the grand vista to the historic realm of Canada’s capital city.

Larco Investments, the hotel owner, wants to build a seven-storey addition with 147 guest rooms and additional meeting rooms. The company would build the addition on the back of the hotel, facing Major’s Hill Park.

It’s probably the most controversial planning file at city hall, mostly because of the proposed design of the addition.

City staff have been working with Larco’s project team since the development application arrived at city hall in 2016, but it wasn’t until last June that the pressure was really on bureaucrats, since council, months before the October municipal election, left it to [staff] to make sure the next design iteration is compatible with the existing 426-room hotel.

Nearly a year later, staff recommend councillors accept the tweaked design, siding with Larco’s heritage consultant that council’s design requirements have been met.

Staff praise Larco’s concept plan for the addition, acknowledging the high-quality materials in construction, the arrangement of pedestrian areas and the landscaping. Replacing the old parking garage with the addition will be a better experience for people in Major’s Hill Park and along the Rideau Canal terraces, staff say.

“The development will create new opportunities for views to and from the hotel and new spaces for gathering and enjoying the surroundings,” staff say in the report.

Staff note in the report that there have been voices of opposition to the design. More than 2,400 people signed up to a notification list for updates on the Château Laurier file, according to the city.

“Chiefly, there was concern that this addition is incompatible with the historic Château Laurier hotel and unsuited to its setting within the capital,” staff say. “Additionally, there have been concerns about impacts to Major’s Hill Park and Mackenzie Avenue, bird safety, nighttime impacts of large windows, construction disturbances, and rooftop systems.”

The Lowertown Community Association, Heritage Ottawa and the condo corporation of the nearby 700 Sussex Dr. building are all against the design proposal.

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury, who represents the area, wants councillors to vote against the site plan.

The built-heritage subcommittee will meet to discuss the design on June 3. Planning committee will vote on the site plan on June 13.

 

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