Residents Optimistic About Oblate Lands

Area residents are generally optimistic the redevelopment of the Oblate lands north and east of Saint Paul University will reflect their desires.

In the coming years the lands are expected to  undergo a dramatic transformation.

 The site’s principal developer, the Regional Group, offered a first glimpse of its vision for the 10.5 hectares of largely vacant land to a packed house at Saint Paul University Sept. 16. Company representatives explained their plan includes construction of more than 900 housing units as well as commercial and public spaces.

They also reminded their audience the plan reflects input from the Ottawa East Community Association received during extensive consultations. They said it deviates little from the Community Design Plan approved by city council in 2011.

“I am very pleased that the Community Association has been consulted and overall the Regional Group’s plan looks very promising,” said Springhurst Avenue resident Joseph Zebrowski. “A lot of volunteer effort went into the Community Design Plan and I think it would have been a huge blow to people if that had somehow been tossed aside in the interest of expediency. I’m confident the project will evolve to meet the community’s needs.”

Area resident Judy Battista was also impressed with the Regional Group’s presentation.

“It looks very positive and seems to be a very good use for that size of acreage in the city,” she said. “It’s a well thought out idea and they’ve worked well with the community and have done their due diligence in coming up with an interesting and viable plan.”

Some people however questioned the wisdom of increasing population density through redevelopment at the same time the city intends to reduce the number of lanes of traffic on Main Street.

In 2013, city council approved a ‘complete street’ design for Old Ottawa East’s prime thoroughfare.

As part of the design, Main Street will be reduced from four lanes to two in some sections to provide wider sidewalks and dedicated lanes for cyclists. The makeover is scheduled to begin next spring.

“I realize we have to move forward but the reality is people drive cars and I’m just not sure about the timing of going from four lanes to two,” said Shelley McQuillen. “The traffic will be dense and thick and I wonder who will want to visit Main Street for commercial opportunities when traffic is congested all the time.”

It is not yet clear when the redevelopment, which will include a mix of town houses, single-family homes and apartments, as well as retail and office space, will begin.

The Regional Group suggested housing construction could start in late-2015. The iconic Deschatelets Building and the road connecting it to Main Street – what developers are calling the Grande Allee – will be preserved. They said it will figure prominently in the redevelopment as will the pedestrian pathways along the Rideau River.

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