Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Shoppers react to news residential development could be coming to Carlingwood mall

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Ron Arsenault often takes his 98-year-old mother to Carlingwood Shopping Centre to run errands. “I take my mother shopping here at least once a week. So it’s important for me to bring her here,” he says.

But he is concerned about potential plans to put residential development on mall property.

“I don’t know if they’re going to change the inside, because it’s probably the most comfortable shopping mall in the city with all the seating that they have.”

A pair of development firms have purchased Ottawa’s Carlingwood Shopping Centre, announcing a plan for future residential development, while continuing to operate the mall.

Toronto-based Streamliner Properties and Vancouver-based Anthem Properties Group closed the acquisition of Carlingwood last week. Details of the deal were not disclosed.

While no timeline for any development was mentioned in a news release, a spokesperson for Streamliner Properties said this is a long-term project, with many steps ahead to be taken.

Shoppers like Arsenault worry about increased traffic in the area and lack of parking. Residents says the mall is more than a place for shopping but a valuable community hub.

“I don’t think we have a surplus of parking in currently. It seems like it’s always a bit of a challenge,” said Ann Jaques.

“Three mornings a week — Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings — I meet my friends here to drink coffee, talk about advertising, politics, anything,” said Machteld Peters.

“While we see long term potential to density under-utilized land along portions of the property, we are just as excited by the tremendous history and value the existing shopping centre holds and brings to the community,” said Sayla Nordin with Stremliner Properties in an email to CTV News Ottawa. “All existing lease agreements remain in place as part of the transfer of ownership. We look forward to working with the tenants and to continue operating and leasing the centre under Anthem Properties.”

Some shoppers support residential development. One shopper saying “We need more affordable housing. And by affordable I mean for those on very low incomes or pensions.”

The developers cite the mall’s prime location as reasons for potential development. The mall is located at the corner of two major roads, Carling Avenue and Woodroffe Avenue, and is on major bus routes. It is also between two future LRT stations.

“I think I’m kind of hoping that if they do go ahead with that, that they at least integrate the mall,” said Brian Papineau, who finds the mall a very convenient place to shop. “One bus ride, 10 minutes to get here, basically. That’s the main reason I come here. I’ve been coming here for about 20 years, living in the area.”

Theresa Kavanagh is the councillor for the area and says she is not surprised to see the developers’ interest in residential potential. “Our official plan stated that they’re looking at intensification, looking at 60 per cent of our growth being in urban areas. So this would be exhibit A, something that is an opportunity to put more housing in.”

Kavanagh says she wants to meet with the developers for more information but says it is unlikely the mall would be torn down, and plans could be similar to what is being done at Westgate Shopping Centre, with a residential tower built right beside the mall.

Kavanagh says part of the mall property is already zoned as residential, but she does recognize residents’ concerns over parking and traffic. “Obviously that will have to be worked out, but it makes sense,” she said. “The other thing about Carlingwood is it will have rapid bus transit along there, and it’s close to two stations in walking distance of the Sherbourne and New Orchard (LRT) stations.”

A representative with Anthem Properties says the company recognizes the mall has important value to the community.

“We plan to keep the lease agreements in place and look forward to working with existing tenants. Longer term, we will ensure we balance neighbourhood need and commercial use,” Anthem says. 

–With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Ted Raymond

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