An improved plan for Fifth + Bank

I know I tend to crap on proposed developments and building designs, so it’s only fair to acknowledge when a plan isn’t bad…and may actually be good.

I’ve written before about the proposal for Fifth Avenue Court (now rebranded as “Fifth + Bank”), and how it wasn’t particularly good, how it was too big for the city regulations, and how the design team was being pretty dishonest. Well, they’ve made some changes, and, you know, I think I can live with the new plan.

Here’s a rendering of the original proposal:

And here’s the new proposal. It’s a bit lower (though still has a recessed extra storey); it has a bit less of a monolithic front to it; and, supposedly, it’s improved the entrances and exits for the parking garage.

For comparison, here’s their rendering with the outline of the original design added in. (Yes, they’re having some fun with angles and perspectives, but their plans have a number of diagrams, and it certainly seems like a noticeable change.)

Now, it’s still too tall for the current zoning, and their justification for going higher is that they’re maintaining the front part of the building which has heritage significance. Generally, we’d let someone bust zoning regs if they’re offering something to the city/community (brownfield remediation, affordable housing, park space, etc.). You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t consider “not destroying a heritage building” as the platonic ideal of corporate benevolence.

And so their proposal [PDF] goes on and on about “as of right”. I mean, they write it so damned many times, and I get what they’re trying to say, but it’s really just the urban development equivalent of the bleatings of a petulant toddler who feels entitled to having ice cream for dinner any day.

Regardless, I, personally, don’t feel like fighting half an extra storey, and that height isn’t egregious, so, yeah, whatever, take your “as of right” stuff, Little Timmy, us grown-ups will deal.

Now, the plan isn’t perfect. They’re putting in 100 parking spots (holy shit!) which is more than the minimum requirement of 72 (holy shit, that’s the minimum!?), and since we’re still ass-backwards on parking in central areas (we should have maximums and outright bans, but never, ever minimums), there’s no zoning-based objection to this…just a sanity objection, a holy-shit-why-do-we-want-all-these-cars-in-an-already-congested-area-for-a-building-that’s-on-two-bus-routes-in-an-eminently-walkable-neighbourhood-with-a-high-bicycing-modal-share-? objection.

(Oh, geez, sorry, it kind of got out-of-hand with all those hyphens.)

Now, I may change my mind, or there may be something in the plans that I’m missing–or maybe I’m being snowed because it’s actually a bad plan that only looks good in comparison to the original plan–but for now, I’ll say that this is the sort of development we should have in the Glebe and in the city, in general.

Except for the fucking parking. Get your act together, Ottawa.

2 thoughts on “An improved plan for Fifth + Bank

  1. I agree with a lot of what you have written over the years. Yes, to more bike lanes. Yes to more pedestrian space. But I’m not against cars to the same degree. Quite frankly, I think we should be using parking garages like the one at Third Ave (or wherever it is) and the one proposed for Bank at Fifth. You can then actually make an argument for significantly reducing on-street parking on Bank and adding a true bike lane and more pedestrian space. Most drivers, I believe, perhaps naively, will be okay going to a parking garage and making a short walk versus just driving around the neighbourhood, not paying attention, while they keep peering over their steering wheel looking for an empty space. These drivers who just keep going around in a circle or pulling a u-turn when they spot a space on the other side of the street are also dangerous drivers. Parking garages don’t have to be ugly and one can sell the benefits by reminding people they are parked out of the hot sun in the summer and the snow in the winter. And if you find the sweet spot on fees, it can pay for itself. Or make people pay for parking at night so that they are encouraged to head to a parking garage. True, this doesn’t reduce congestion. And at closing time, you might have a situation similar to what it’s like when city hall or the NAC empties for the day. But I think this is where I differ from bloggers like yourself. I’m okay with accommodating cars as long as it’s not at the expense of walkers and bikers. Perhaps I’m idealistic that all three can get what they want. But I guess I start with a different premise; that is, a lot of people for a variety of reasons are going to want to drive. You can narrow the streets, reduce the speed limit, raise intersections, and that will encourage people to change their habits but there will still be a shit-load of cars every day. One should never underestimate a driver’s willingness to sit in traffic, sit through two lights, drive more slowly, because at the end of the day it’s so much fucking better than waiting for an over-crowded bus that might or might not show up on time. Okay, I’ll stop now. Thanks for reading.

    • More parking has been shown to encourage more driving. On weekends and some lunch hours, Bank Street is a mess with traffic, blocking buses and endangering pedestrians and bicyclists. I’m tired of more and more development that encourages more and more gridlock.

      And still the parking garage on Third isn’t full!

      Now, if you wanted to say that a parking garage can be a trade-off for a safe street…well, I’ve already said that! – however, no one on the pro-driving, pro-parking, pro-car side of the issue is offering such a trade-off.

      Also, if you’re saying we shouldn’t be anti-car, we should just balance the needs of different people…well, guess what, I’ve said that too!

      Again, though, when the city talks about balancing needs, it tends to end up with prioritizing driving (look at Elgin or, closer to home, Lansdowne).

      Also, I don’t know why you feel the need to dismiss me as a “blogger”. I’m a resident. I live on Bank Street. I live a block away from this development. I spend a ton of time on this section of the street. Now, other residents may have differing opinions–and that’s fine!–but just because I decide to express my thoughts on my neighbourhood, my community, my home on a website I’ve set up, that does not make me less of a resident.

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