The application to construct a new building on the site of 137 Beechwood and 143 Putman will play an important role in the future development of Beechwood Avenue. I have been monitoring this application closely; meeting with the City planner responsible for approving the site plan application and listening to the community feedback. I think it is important to clarify how the process will now move forward.
The application is not seeking a re-zoning of the site. The proposal’s size and height are within the building envelope outlined in the Traditional Mainstreet Zone (TMZ) for the site in question. The applicant is however seeking a minor variance from the zoning requirements via the Committee of Adjustment to reduce the number of parking spaces from 5 to 4, with the rationale that Beechwood is well-served by public transit and active transportation options.
The proposal is subject to a Site Plan Control approval. Site Plan Control is a tool for the City planning department (which has delegated authority to approved site plan control applications) to ensure development is well-planned and integrates into its surrounding environment. You can see the drawings and studies prepared for this application on the City of Ottawa website.
During the public comment period, many residents expressed a desire to explore the retention of the existing building at 137 Beechwood (current home of Jacobson’s). As a result of this feedback (many thanks to all who took the time to submit comments), I have ensured the City’s heritage planners are reviewing 137 Beechwood to see if it meets the criteria for formal designation under Part 4 of the Ontario Heritage Act. The property does not currently have heritage designation; it is only on the heritage reference list, a tool to identify properties with some cultural heritage value without conferring any protected status.
Once the heritage review is completed, I plan to organize a public meeting with the applicant and City planner. This meeting will provide an opportunity for residents to address questions and suggestions directly with the applicant. Separately, the applicant will present the proposal to the Urban Design Review Panel, an advisory panel of architectural experts who will provide further feedback on how the applicant could improve the design of the proposed building. At the end of this process, I fully expect there to be a revised design taking the feedback provided into account.
One final note is that in line with the Beechwood Transportation Study, this application will allow the City to “gain back” the road right-of-way, opening the way for a wider sidewalk, the possibility of a cycle track and an improved bus stop area on the block between Acacia and Putman. These options will be finalized as part of the site plan control process.
I hope this helps clarify next steps and will keep the public informed as this application proceeds.