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‘A long haul’

Three years of fighting, compromise are ending happily with launch of Hudson Park and 12 new condo plans

Doug Casey

Doug Casey has made a career at Charlesfort Development of slipping quality residential buildings into mature urban communities.

It seems you can’t take the city out of Doug Casey, even though the developer had to fight city hall and the Ontario Municipal Board to win approval for a pair of slim condo towers blocks from Parliament Hill.

The president of Charlesfort Development estimates it took a year too long to get the Kent Street towers past the approval stage and an additional $1 million in legal, architectural and administrative fees.

He bristles at past suggestions by the ward councillor, Diane Holmes, that the delays were the cost of building downtown. Yet this award-winning developer also cautions that the core has to be an even blend of market- value and non-profit housing.

Casey has done more than his part to revitalize the city centre and streets in Old Ottawa South, the Glebe and New Edinburgh by adding a residential flavour with communities of townhomes and condos.

Since starting Charlesfort in 1982, he has won awards for his designs and was among an elite trio in fall 2000 when Tarion, Ontario’s non-profit watchdog protecting the rights of new-home buyers, cited him for delivering excellent customer service.

Now Casey has heavy construction equipment digging up the dirt at Kent and Lisgar streets, changing the urban landscape once again.

By next spring, the first residents of the first tower at Hudson Park will be shopping for groceries at Hartman’s on Bank Street and, eventually, taking their steaks up to a roof-top garden to barbecue with friends and new neighbours.

Ninety-five of the 123 condos in the first tower have been sold, and 12 new floor plans for condos in a second tower, which will stretch up 17 floors, were released recently. “We have sold 19 condos in the second building and there are other deals in the works,” Casey says. The urban apartments will start at $172,000 for 500 square feet, topping out at $567,000 for a 1,316- square-foot unit with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a den.

The towers appeal equally to young professionals on budgets and “silver” boomers downsizing from a larger home who have more money to spend, says Casey.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the smallest condo in the second tower — a 500-square-foot Sophia with one bedroom and bathroom on the third floor — has sold and a spacious Park Avenue, the largest and highest condo, has also sold.

“We are covering the market,” says Casey. “Ottawa is not big enough to target one group of buyers.”

In fact, the 680-square-foot Lindbergh has been the most successful plan with second-tower buyers. Five sales have been posted for units from the second to the 14th floor. The Lindbergh, which faces southeast, is a simple design, with one bathroom and an efficient kitchen opening to a shared living/dining room. A Lindbergh model on the fourth floor is priced at $232,000, plus $27,000 for an indoor parking spot.

The Park Avenue offers the largest living space, including a gently curving wall and windows that look north and west for a view of St. Patrick’s Basilica and, depending on the floor, the Ottawa River and the Gatineau Hills. It is a gracious condo, with a recessed balcony on the north corner and a pair of bedrooms at opposite sides of the apartment with access to bathrooms. A U-shaped kitchen opens to living and dining rooms that feature high ceilings and big windows for views of the city. The Park Avenue starts at $440,000 for a unit on the third floor, rising to $567,000 for the condo under the penthouse.

Hudson Park, with its Art Deco edge and design ties to New York City, will be filled with details — from a party room with a mini-kitchen and flat-screen television, to a health room with machines, to roof-top gardens and barbecues, to a street-level garden with benches and iron sculptures. “You want to create a larger sense of community, a sense of community outside each apartment,” says Casey, who estimates the towers are worth $80 million.

The developer is also close to introducing another new pair of condo buildings, the Continental on Richmond Road a few blocks east of Woodroffe Avenue, likely in June. Once again, Casey has worked with neighbours and city hall to win approval for the buildings, which will have views of the Ottawa River from higher floors.

“I like building on sites with views of the water, says Casey, who has forged a successful career slipping buildings into mature communities.

Yet, he is the first to admit achieving his goal can be a tough, long haul.

Main entrance to the second Hudson Park

An artist’s rendition of the main entrance to the second Hudson Park condominium tower at Kent and Lisgar streets.

 

Roof-top terrace

The roof-top terrace will include barbecues and dining facilities.

 

He bought the site for Hudson Park, formerly the location of McEvoy and Shields Funeral Home, in August 2004 and signed an agreement to not make the deal public for one year. Then he brought on Ottawa architects Barry Hobin and Gord Lorimer to work with his Charlesfort team to design the towers. By the time digging for the first tower began, there had been three different designs for the Hudson and an OMB hearing. A solution, that broke through height regulations of 12 floors, yet incorporated open green space, earned the full support of neighbours, city planners and Holmes was worked out in December 2006.

“I am a downtown boy, but this has not been an easy exercise,” says Casey.

Visit www.charlesfort.ca or the Hudson sales centre at 787 Bank St. Call 613-233-0044, for information.

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