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While there are concerns a highrise may dwarf a century-old cathedral, the designers are working hard to respect the heritage of the spectacular site, writes Maria Cook

By Maria Cook., Ottawa Citizen

Christ Church Cathedral occupies a spectacular and visible site on the escarpment west of Parliament Hill, overlooking the Ottawa River. The distinctive stone building, flanked by its soaring bell tower, is seen in dramatic silhouette above the Garden of the Provinces.

The Anglican cathedral plans to develop the land surrounding the 138-year-old building to generate income for its ministries.

A proposal for a 21-storey condominium tower, a row of townhouses and a 12-storey office building goes to the City of Ottawa planning committee May 9 and council on May 11 for approval. There are about 130 residential units.

The design aims to transform a patchwork of parking lots and historic structures into a coherent urban block that integrates contemporary buildings with the cathedral.

“We see the cathedral as being the really unique element,” says architect Gordon Stratford, of HOK Toronto. “We didn’t want anything that would fight with the building. We wanted to respect and work with the heritage on the site.”

Images of the project show muted colours, pedestrian spaces, and lots of trees and plants. The forms are simple and the contemporary materials are intended to be in harmony with the old brick and stone buildings.

The diocese and cathedral have a deal with Windmill Development Group of Ottawa for a 220,000-squarefoot development on 35,000 square feet of leased land.

The site is bounded by Bronson Street to the west, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church to the east, Sparks Street to the south and Queen Street to the north. The backdrop to the church is a wall of residential high-rises.

The developer is asking for a zoning amendment for a height increase. The current zoning is for seven to eight storeys. If approved, the condo tower would be the highest building on the block, but not in the area.

Cathedral Hill is a designated heritage district; new buildings are supposed to be sensitive and complementary.

An earlier design showed a boxier 15-storey residential building. Now it is 21 storeys plus a mechanical floor. The top two storeys are penthouse units set back from the rest of the tower to shape the top and respect protected sightlines related to Parliament Hill.

The designers suggest that a taller, more slender tower can better address urban design issues on the site, compared with a shorter building of the same interior size.

It means that the footprint of the tower at ground level is smaller, permitting courtyards and pedestrian passages. It also reduces the amount of view blocked for neighbours across the street.

Roper House, a former lumber baron’s mansion that serves as the bishop’s office, is preserved. So is Lauder Hall, built in 1902 and housing church offices and choir space. The plan includes partial retention of two semidetached houses on Queen Street built in the 1800s.

The key to unlocking the potential of the site while keeping the houses is removal of the 1950s Cathedral Hall facing Sparks Street, and construction of a new parish hall in the centre of the site.

This permits the designers to slip a narrow tower behind Roper House and put lowerscaled townhouses where the church hall used to be.

The townhouses are a key element in the urban design strategy. They provide a lower building along Sparks Street to make a more pedestrianfriendly streetscape and use stone to relate to the older buildings. The townhouses match Roper House in scale at its west end while deferring to the cathedral to the east.

The condo tower rises from behind the townhouses. Designed with a curve, it will feature opaque and transparent glass.

“This will be a very wellmannered building,” says Stratford. “We want to make sure it’s interesting but subtle enough to serve as a quiet backdrop to the cathedral.”

Stratford said the scheme will allow people to appreciate the site’s history. “You will all of a sudden take notice of the cathedral again,” he said.

“You will come into closer contact with the cathedral than you do now.”

The cathedral will be framed by new buildings and have a new plaza in front. There will be new pedestrian routes between Sparks and Queen. The townhouses are set back more than the present church hall so the cathedral is more visible.

The office building is pushed back further than in an earlier scheme to allow a clear view from St. Peter’s to the cathedral.

A new entrance designed as a glass pavilion “gives the cathedral some much-needed breathing space, and allows it to be more fully appreciated as a significant landmark,” says Stratford. “Glass has been purposely selected to provide an understated backdrop to the beautiful detailing and rusticated stone.”

The proponents worked closely with the city’s new urban design review panel, a volunteer advisory group of architects, urban designers and landscape architects.

Windmill’s chief executive Jonathan Westeinde praised them for “valuable insight” and said they helped make the case with city planners for a taller building.

The panel shifted the discussion from compliance with setbacks and height limits to design, pedestrian experience and continuity of streetscape.

“It was a real factor in getting the same amount of density in a more esthetically pleasing form,” says Westeinde. “The planning department had always stipulated not going higher than 15 storeys. The design review panel was able to provide the influence to get past the height barriers.”

Otherwise, he says, they would have had no choice but to build a rectangular box. The pair of semidetached houses are being preserved in exchange.

“Because the site is so significant we felt there really needed to be some serious critiquing of any proposal,” said panel chair David Leinster, a Toronto landscape architect.

“The new architecture should recede,” he said. “We wanted to keep the footprint as small as we could. We wanted to make sure the spire was maintained as a dominant vertical element. We wanted the places where the public can wander to be very special.”

The panel supports the cathedral’s efforts to keep going. “In Toronto, we’ve seen magnificent churches and cathedrals being turned into condos,” he said. “We didn’t want to see something like that happen.”

Still, community associations express concern about size.

“While I appreciate that the condo building has got thinner it has also got taller, and it now dwarfs the cathedral spire,” says Eric Darwin, president of the Dalhousie Community Association. “The new condo, taller than the rest of the block, will set a new precedent for the next condo.”

Adds Charles Akben-Marchand, president of the Centretown Citizens Community Association: “The office building is still very close to the spire of the church. One of our concerns was the addition of office development west of Lyon, which was supposed to remain residential.”

Both towers are to be built to stateof-the art environmental standards, at least LEED platinum. The original idea for the office building was to be a hub for environmental organizations.

“We’re not giving up on that concept, but most of the organizations we started with are in deep financial trouble,” says Westeinde.

Meanwhile, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church is in talks with the developer.

“Our issues include building setback from the east side adjacent to our church to protect our views as much as possible, and the potential loss of our parking spaces adjacent to the west side of our church,” said spokesman Bruce Wolfgram. “We are hopeful that we will all come to an agreeable solution.”

Windmill expects to start marketing the condos in June and start construction next winter to open in spring 2013.

Units are expected to start at about $270,000 with no prices yet on the penthouses.


Posted in News, Press and News Archives | Comments Off on Preserving the past amid urban renewal

By Laura Ryckewaert

Cathedral HillThe latest version of the condominium tower to be built as part of the Christ Church Anglican Cathedral’s development plan is reaching new heights – 24 floors to be exact.

The tower, part of the Cathedral Hill development project, was slated to be 17 storeys tall but has since grown seven floors in a new effort to make the building taller and skinnier, something which project manager Scott Demark says neighbours are asking for.

“It doesn’t affect (the neighbor’s) view as it goes up in the sky, its footprint affects their view,” says Demark. “Generally, the push has been to go for a smaller footprint and taller (structure).”

Stacking the development instead of spreading it out, Demark says, will allow for the heritage aspects on the church’s property to breathe.

The church’s land – bounded by Bronson Avenue to the west, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church to the east, Sparks Street to the south and Queen Street to the north – is part of a designated heritage block that includes a number of historical buildings. In addition to the nearly 180-year-old cathedral, there are Roper House, three smaller heritage houses and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church on Sparks Street.

Eric Darwin, president of the Dalhousie Community Association, supports the development but says he’s worried about the effect it will have on the heritage character of the neighbourhood.

“None of these buildings are going to be modest or unobtrusive,” says Darwin, who is concerned the proposed buildings will be so high they’ll “dwarf the Cathedral and the remaining bits of heritage.”

At 24 storeys, the condo tower would become the tallest in the neighbourhood. Darwin says he’s also worried about the kind of precedent these new heights will set for the area.

“The city always says in its planning process that granting one building an extra floor doesn’t establish a precedent. Legally it may not be…but morally it’s a precedent,” says Darwin. “We know that the next building that comes along is going to start at 24.”

As a heritage area, height zoning for the church’s land is around five to seven storeys tall, significantly lower than the new heights being proposed for the Cathedral Hill condo tower.

Windmill Development Group is currently working out a zoning application to allow for the 24-storey condo tower as well as a smaller office tower (currently 12 storeys tall) also planned for the Cathedral Hill project.

Despite community concerns, Shane Parker, dean of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, says he thinks the proposed office and residential towers will actually enhance the cathedral by framing it. Parker says the development plan was a bit of a no-brainer solution to funding problems the church faces.

With rising maintenance and heating costs, “we found that our programs of ministry were being affected because we had to channel money into buildings instead,” says Parker.

By leasing their land to Windmill Development Group instead of selling it, Christ Church Cathedral is able to retain their ownership while receiving a continuous revenue stream.

Selling land for development is a common practice for churches in need of more revenue both in Centretown and across Canada, says Demark.

“We have a heritage building that has to be maintained forever,” says Parker. “Our land is the best asset we have to generate revenue.”

Darwin is currently drafting a letter to the city along with other members of the Dalhousie Community Association to suggest changes to the Cathedral Hill development plan. In addition to asking for a lower, 15-storey height on the condo tower the letter will also make suggestions regarding the need for affordable housing and infrastructure in the area.

Demark expects the city will have decided on the development’s zoning around late March at which point the project will begin to look at the architectural design and feel of the buildings.

Posted in News, Press, Press and News Archives | Comments Off on Church Condo-versy Escalates

Almost 180 years after the hilltop parcel was granted to them, the Anglican church is set to build a green-themed project, writes Maria Cook. Cathedral gets its promised land. Read the full story.

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Project touted as an ‘earth embassy’

Jennifer Green, Ottawa Citizen

Christ Church Anglican CathedralOTTAWA – Christ Church Anglican Cathedral is on the brink of a green-themed development deal on its prized site between Queen and Sparks streets.
If approved, the project will be an earth embassy,says Jonathan Westeinde of Ottawa’s Windmill Development Group.

Stores that exemplify green living would open onto the street level. Key facts, like global warming rates, could flash from large electronic displays, like an earth-friendly take on New York’s Times Square. Inside, offices would accommodate environmental agencies such as the Sierra Club in a working hub so they’ll be co-operating together with less division,says Westeinde. The development will likely include other offices, conference areas and some living space.

Windmill would build the structures with state-of-the-art environmental methods, as it has in other projects, such as The Currents on Wellington Street, where condos share space with the first-floor Great Canadian Theatre Company.

Both Westeinde and Shane Parker, the dean of the cathedral, caution that the deal is far from final, meaning the cost, square footage, start date, layout and number of units are all still fuzzy.

Both sides hope further meetings this month will result in a final deal by June.

It’s been a long process and we’re not there yet, says Westeinde. But we’re at the handshake point, so the prospect is good.

City planners will still have to approve the complex project. The site is lovely but tricky with several heritage buildings, an overall heritage designation, and, of course, the gracious stone cathedral built in 1896.

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Larry and Mary Anne Field wanted a cottage, but not the cost or maintenance head-aches that go along with ownership.

By The Ottawa Citizen

Larry and Mary Anne Field wanted a cottage, but not the cost or maintenance head-aches that go along with ownership.

So, last year they bought part of one: a three-bedroom log beauty at the Frontenac Shores development on Mississagagon Lake, north of Kingston.

The Markham, Ont. couple is among a growing number of Canadians who have discovered the benefits of fractional ownership.

The scheme is a half-century old in Europe, but fractional ownership is a relatively recent import to Canada, allowing the high cost of a recreational property — cottage prices have soared in the recent past — to be shared among multiple buyers.

Buyers typically purchase one share entitling them to five weeks per year in the cottage: one week each season and a floating week. Fractional ownership differs from timeshares, where people purchase blocks of time in a resort. Instead, fractional owners purchase their property with a fee-simple title. This means they can mortgage, buy, sell or pass deeded property to others.

Prices vary, but a per-share price of $59,900 to $89,900 for 1,800 to 2,000 square feet of living space, much like the Fields’ purchase is common.

Fractional ownership in ski resorts is also popular, although share prices tend to be higher.

Owners also pay an annual fee, usually around $2,500, to cover maintenance costs, including provision of fresh linen and even dishes.

Shared: Flexible, affordable ownership

Fractional ownership “just seemed to provide a whole bunch of flexibility,” says Larry Field, who remembers fondly summers at the family cottage on Lake Erie when he was a youngster. “In times of financial turmoil, the risk is less than owning a complete cottage. The only drawback is that you can’t spend three weeks in a row in the summer.”

His wife adds that a sense of community is already starting to develop among those who have bought shares in the first six of the planned 34 cottages at Frontenac Shores.

“This is ultra-convenient,” she says. “We didn’t want all the packing up every time you leave for the cottage. This way we just bring food.”

As in most fractional ownership deals, the Fields can rent out unused time, trade weeks with other owners on the site or even swap time with other owners around the world through an international exchange organization.

They have the option of upgrading to a larger cottage with a loft: with three children and one grandchild, that’s an attractive possibility.

Fractional ownership usually means luxury: the cottages by Confederation Log Homes at Frontenac Shores include vaulted ceilings, hardwood and ceramic floors, screened porches with private saunas, gas fireplaces, and other goodies.

The Fields are not alone in snapping up a share in a second home. According to Ragatz Associates, a U.S.-based international consulting and marketing research firm to the resort industry, the total sales volume of the fractional property industry in North America was $571 million in 2007.

With a basic cottage within reasonable driving distance of Ottawa commanding at least $200,000, fractional ownership makes sense. That’s especially true considering that most families reportedly use a cottage an average of four to six weeks per year.

There are variations on the cottage theme. Clermont Venture Corporation Ltd. has already sold 60 per cent in the first phase of its villa-style Wolfe Springs Golf & Waterfront Resort at Wolfe Lake, 15 minutes outside of Perth ( Hickory floors, soaker tubs, Wi-Fi Internet services, waterfront access and close proximity to a nine-hole golf course are among the amenities.

Phase two will bring the total number of units to 15. That phase will feature one-storey units ideal for older buyers, says Clermont president Matthew Derbyshire.

Priced from $69,900 to $104,900, the villas, he says, are attracting a wide demographic, from “active 55-plusers” to young families who want a cottage experience, but can’t justify forking over hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Other Ottawa-area fractional ownership projects include Whitewater Village on Lac Rocher-Fendu west of Ottawa ( A joint project between Windmill Development Group and Wilderness Tours, the cottages are being built to exacting green standards, including the use of geo-thermal heating, Energy Star appliances, and low-VOC paints and stains.

Owners also have preferred access to Wilderness Tours’ adjacent white-water rafting and kayaking operations.

For developers, fractional ownership can be the difference between building on a piece of property and seeing it sit vacant.

“As a developer, it’s too hard to carry the capital,” says Frontenac Shores co-owner Patricia Storms. “This way, you have a clientele before you build. The key is to build it as you sell it.”

For buyers, securing a mortgage on a fractional ownership is likely a no-go. After all, how could the lender repossess the property if the borrower defaulted?

Says Storms, “Often people just use a line of credit or borrow against another asset.”

© CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.

Posted in News, Press, Press and News Archives | Comments Off on Splitting the Costs

By: Canadian Urban Institute (CUI)

Awards in nine categories were presented this past Thursday evening at the 8th annual CUI Brownie Awards Ceremony & Dinner. Winners were announced from six provinces across Canada, representing the broadening national scope of the redevelopment and remediation of Canadian communities.

For the first time ever, a Special Recognition CUI Brownie was awarded to an international recipient: Hammarby Sjöstad, a mixed-use project in Stockholm, Sweden which demonstrates a comprehensive approach to sustainable city-building, The Hammarby project features district energy powered by waste-heat from sewage, a vacuum waste system, and a deep commitment to transit and pedestrian-oriented design.

The CUI Brownie Awards are sponsored by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), and are awarded annually to projects and programs that reflect leadership and innovation in brownfield redevelopment. The Brownie Awards selection committee was impressed with the commitment to sustainable design, overall community revitalization and renewal of the public realm.

“You have all demonstrated extraordinary acts of citizenship in your tireless commitment to your communities” said Glen Murray, President and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute in his final words of congratulations to all winners and finalists.

The CUI Brownie Award for best overall project went to Quartier international de Montréal, the district which has revitalized and connected Old Montreal to the downtown, creating a new vibrant destination in the heart of City.

Awards were also presented to the Nose Creek Landfill Remediation project in Calgary, AB for Best Large Scale Project; CenterBeam Place in Saint John, NB for Best Medium Scale Project; and the Jean Canfield Government of Canada Building in Charlottetown, PEI for Best Small Scale Project. The award for Brownfielder of the Year went to the Westeinde brothers, Jeff and Jonathon Westeinde, partners in Quantum Environmental and Windmill Development Group, for their contribution to sustainable development on brownfield sites across Canada.

Category-specific awards were awarded to the following projects:

  • Category 1 – Legislation, Policy and Program Development

    Station Pointe, Edmonton, Alberta

  • Category 2 – Sustainable Remediation Technologies and Technological Innovation

    Vancouver Island Conference Centre Deep Soil Mixing – Ground Stabilization Nanaimo, British Columbia

  • Category 3 – Financing, Risk Management and Partnerships

    The Rivers District Community Revitalization Levy Regulation Calgary, Alberta

  • Category 4 – Excellence in Project Development: Building Scale

    CenterBeam Place, Saint John, New Brunswick

  • Category 5 – Excellence in Project Development: Neighbourhood Scale

    Artscape Wychwood Barns, Toronto, Ontario

  • Category 6 – Communications, Marketing and Public Engagement

    IADI 2 50th St. East Urban Centre, Calgary, Alberta

  • Category 7 – Individual Achievement

    Jeff & Jonathan Westeinde

For more details on these projects and the other finalists, visit or contact all Glenn Miller, Director of Education and Research with the Canadian Urban Institute at 416 365 0816 ext 284. To view the PDF Media Release go to

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Whitewater Eco-Village Launch a Success! 20% sold in first two weekends.


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Globe and Mail highlights Dockside Green as “Greenprint for Homes of the Future”

View full story.

Posted in News, Press, Press and News Archives | Comments Off on Earth Day 2008

Contact: Loredana Chiodi (800) 597-1186 PTG Studios

“Great Taste” cable network program to feature Windmill Development Group in segment dealing with… Sustaining ecosystems, building “green” housing.

March 12, 2007, Deerfield Beach, FL – PTG Studios is pleased to announce the selection of Windmill Development Group for its innovative, educational television series, Great Taste. The company will be featured in a segment on Sustainable Development as part of the “Greening America Series.” The show will air on cable networks in both the U.S. and Canada.

Improvements in land use, water, air, energy, design, waste management, and smart building technologies have changed methods of development and building design. Based on the notion that developers have the responsibility to be positive engineers of change, Windmill Development Group, based in Ontario, Canada, is seeking to revolutionize the current development paradigm. Their method is based on a triple bottom line approach: They pay attention to ecological, social, and financial goals.

Windmill is currently working in partnership with VanCity to develop Dockside Green, located in the heart of the city of Victoria, between the Johnson and Bay Street Bridges. Planned to be a total of 1.3 million square feet comprised of residential, office, retail and industrial space, Dockside Green is the biggest development of city land in Victoria’s history. It is also targeted to be North America’s first LEED Platinum community and is designed to be GHG neutral with the potential of being GHG negative, while treating all its sewage on site and using treated water to flush toilets and for irrigation needs. The first phase of the new development has received strong market support, selling out 85% of the units on the first official day of sales.

Green building increases the efficiency with which buildings use energy, water, and materials. These are the premises upon which the Windmill Development Group is based. All their developments are designed to protect and enhance the local community and its ecosystems. Windmill has LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited professionals on their team to help realize LEED certification goals. Windmill’s founding partners are the Westeinde Group, Quantum Environmental Group and Buildgreen Developments.

Another of Windmill Developments latest projects is The Acqua & Vento, a target LEED Gold green building that offers 22 luxury spaces ranging from one-bedroom suites to two-bedroom townhomes. Located in the Bridges section of Calgary, this space is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the nearby picnic areas and walkways. Units range from the mid-$200,000s to $330,000, and it is completely sold out.

The new home of the Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) in downtown Ottawa will also be the ground floor to The Currents, an environmentally friendly building targeting LEED Gold featuring 43 luxury condominiums. The Ottawa skyline, Ottawa River, and Gatineau Hills are all visible from homes at The Currents.

“(What we do) provides people with positive and achievable examples of how development can, and should, be happening,” said Jonathan Westeinde, Managing Partner of Windmill Developments. “We also are deeply committed to building the green development movement. Windmill team members spend a great deal of time hosting training seminars and workshops, being active on various boards and committees, and actively contributing to their local communities. Windmill aims to have all of our projects be positive reflections of the needs, ethic, and nature of the communities in which they are located. We are leaving a green legacy for future generations.”Great Taste

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Joe VanBellegem describes Windmill’s development philosophy and outlines our Dockside project in Victoria B.C.

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