Wesley United Church to be sold for Condos

Image, above: The front of Wesley United Church at the corner of Main St. and Graham Avenue. Photo by Ron Rose

It now seems as if the church at the corner of Main and Graham will disappear sometime over the next two years, probably to be replaced by a mixed-use residential-commercial building that would have commercial space on the ground floor and condominiums on the floors above.  

According to representatives of the Ottawa Presbytery of the United Church of Canada, the congregation of Wesley United Church has agreed to a conditional offer from Domicile, a condominium builder, for an amount in excess of two million dollars for the property, which includes a parking lot to the west of the church on Graham.

The developer has confirmed that, if their offer is accepted and necessary approvals are obtained, they plan to demolish the building and put up a new structure. The Ottawa Presbytery confirmed that there were no plans to save part of the building or incorporate it into the new condominium. Domicile is currently conducting tests at the site to check environmental conditions.

The news comes a little more than one year after the Mainstreeter first reported that the church was to close. This past winter, the Congregation decided to join with the congregation of Emmanuel United Church on Smyth Road, a proposal that was accepted by Emmanuel this past March. Rev. Neil Wallace, who was involved with the Ottawa Presbytery’s deliberations, confirmed that the net assets from the sale would flow to the new combined congregation of Emmanuel United Church.

Image, left: The cornerstone at of the Wesley United Church also showing the original cornerstone from the Wesley Methodist Church from 1908. Photo by Ron Rose.

Wesley United was originally built as Wesley Methodist Church in 1908. It originally faced north on the old routing of Hawthorn Avenue, which was then located a bit south of its current position. According to George Neville, a long-time member of the congregation, it became a United Church in 1925, when the Methodists joined with two other Protestant churches to form The United Church of Canada. The existing building, which faces east on Main St., was built in 1953.

Chris Osler, the Director of the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre office on Main St., regrets the loss of the building. He commented “there is a distinct lack of space for community activities in Old Ottawa East, and the Wesley United Church building would have made a wonderful community space.”

The community is now waiting to see what kind of building Domicile will propose for the site. Domicile has confirmed that, subject to City of Ottawa approvals, they plan to build a mixed-use commercial/residential condominium with an entrance off of Graham Street. David Chick, who spoke for Domicile, would not say how many stories they hoped to build.  

The land is currently zoned for institutional use, so it will have to be rezoned. According to Stephen Pope, Ottawa East Community Association’s Director responsible for planning, the property lies in a “traditional mainstreet” area and, according to the recently approved Community Design Plan, should be zoned TM7, which would allow approximately six stories. The community will not know how high Domicile plans to go until they make a formal application to the City for a zoning change.

However, Domicile does have a reputation for smaller, community sensitive, eco-friendly condominiums. Examples of their work include the “g” building at Bank St and Patterson Ave in the Glebe, and the “Second Avenue West” condominiums on the west side of Bronson Ave. at Second Ave.

Domicile’s web site also claims that they have mastered the art of forging strong relationships with the communities they build in. Residents of Old Ottawa East will no doubt be vigilant to ensure that claim is more than just rhetoric.  

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