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(Posted 7:30 a.m., Jan. 25)
Minto unveils plans to develop Champlain Street land in Orleans Wood

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

After floating a number of proposals to develop 17 acres of land on the western side of Champlain Street just north of the Place d'Orléans park and ride lot, Minto has finally put forward a mixed use sub-division plan that includes 472 apartment units, five one and two-storey retail buildings and three office buildings ranging from two to eight floors.

Going back 20 years, Minto had originally wanted to use the land for a commercial centre, but a lack of demand for commercial office space in Orléans kept their plans from becoming a reality. At one point they were in the sweepstakes for the Orleans Family Health Hub before the province decided to build the centre on Mer Bleue Road.

After they lost the bid for the health hub, Minto made an about face and submitted a subdivision plan in Febuary 2011 that was exclusively residential. That plan ran into opposition from both local residents and the city, forcing Minto to go back to the drawing board.

Following a series of meetings with the city and the public. Minto resubmitted a site plan that conforms with the mixed use designation of the property.

That new proposal would see the land developed in several phases requiring city approval for each phase. The first phase, to be built over the next five years, will include eight apartment buildings ranging in height from four to six storeys with a total of 273 units.

The five year plan also includes 40,000 sq. ft. of retail space contained in five buildings ranging in height from one to two storeys, and 139,000 sq. ft. of leasable office space in two buildings ranging in height from two to eight storeys.

A linear park is also contained in the plan with a variety of amenities, including playgrounds, benches and seating areas, as well as open greenspace.

There is also a proposal to build eight additional office towers over the next 20 years ranging in height from two to 12 stories on city land adjacent to the park and ride lot. That proposal would require a separate approval process, however.

Concerns over the potential impact on local traffic have been addressed by removing plans for an access road off Champlain Street near the south end of the development. The plan still contains a road running north-south through the middle of the development from Jeanne d'Arc Blvd. to the road servicing the park and ride.

Traffic concerns will also be addressed by means of a graduated site plan approval process which will require a separate traffic impact study for each block of buildings, and a separate vote of both the planning committee and city council. There is also an expectation that a large number of the new residents will use public transit and potentially light rail.

The traffic flow will also be mitigated by a central road running north-south through the centre of the development.

Orléans Ward Coun. Bob Monette supports the modified proposal as a streetscape, however, he's reserving his future support as each block of buildings comes up for site plan approval.

"There's been a lot of meetings and a lot of proposals put forward. Is this the best proposal? No, I think ideally I would have liked to have seen all the land as employment, but I also believe that there is a factor that we have to move forward and we have to maximize the land we have," says Monette.

To view the sub-division proposal and related site plan drawings visit www,ottawa.ca.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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