Construction starts for Ottawa’s municipal arts hub

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arts court rendering

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson joined the Madeleine Meilleur, MPP for Ottawa-Vanier and Rideau-Vanier Ward Coun. Mathieu Fleury on Oct. 2 for a first look at construction of the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment project Project partners also attended, including representatives from the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG), the University of Ottawa, EBC Inc., DevMcGill and Group Germain Hotels.

This event was an opportunity to view the progress first-hand and receive an update on this city-building project, the City of Ottawa said in a news release

“This project marks the beginning of a new chapter in Ottawa’s cultural history,” said Mayor Watson. “The progress we’ve seen today is preparing the foundation of a long-standing vision for a municipal arts centre for the visual, performing, literary and media arts and for the revitalization of Ottawa’s downtown that will be celebrated for years to come.”

Owned and operated by the City of Ottawa, Arts Court is a multi-disciplinary arts facility that currently houses 25 arts organizations, including the OAG. This project will expand the OAG and Arts Court onto vacant, City-owned land at the corner of Daly Avenue and Waller Street, integrating it with complementary private-sector investment and development. This initiative represents a public-private investment of over $100 million to rejuvenate the downtown core.

“This is a great investment for our community. The government of Ontario recognizes the role of a strong cultural sector in building strong, vibrant and liveable communities. That is why we are developing the province’s first-ever culture strategy,” said Meilleur. “The construction of the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment project will offer new and exciting ways for residents and visitors to experience Ottawa like never before.”

Construction is in full swing and is in the excavation phase. The contractor is using controlled blasting to remove rock to deepen the excavation to allow for a parking structure. This phase of work will continue until early November and the first pour of concrete will begin in December.

“Located in the heart of Ottawa, this ambitious Arts Court project is the ideal introduction of DevMcGill’s condominiums outside of Montréal,” said DevMcGill president Stéphane Côté. “The private residences start on the 15th floor to the 23rd floor – a boutique building with less than 100 units. The residences will offer ultra-modern architecture, clean, minimalist lines and incomparable views of the city. It is a privilege to be part of the consortium chosen by the City of Ottawa for this iconic project.”

The expansion will result in a new and larger Ottawa Art Gallery. Space in Arts Court will be redeveloped and the old and new buildings will be connected on four floors to establish an integrated and accessible facility.

“Ottawa may be the capital of Canada but it is also a city with its own regional history, arts and cultural vibe,” said Alexandra Badzak, director and chief executive officer of the Ottawa Art Gallery. “We have an incredible wealth of local artistic talent and it is the job of the Ottawa Art Gallery as well as our other local arts colleagues to foster and promote this cultural output – artwork that is becoming increasingly diverse as Canada’s demographics change and we embrace a global consciousness. The Ottawa Art Gallery will become a central landmark that will afford the gallery the opportunity to truly take up the mantle as a leader in the arts community.”

The redeveloped space will include a 250-seat multi-purpose and film screening room, along with a new 120-seat theatre and four classrooms for the University of Ottawa.

“This ambitious redevelopment by the city and its partners is an exciting community project which the University of Ottawa is proud to be a part of,’’ said Allan Rock, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Ottawa. “Just minutes from our campus and located in the heart of downtown, the new Arts Court will provide our students and faculty with access to state-of-the-art theatre facilities integral to cultivating an innovative and creative educational experience.”

The private-sector development of a 21-storey mixed-use tower at 60-70 Waller St. is also part of this project. The tower will include Le Germain Hotel on the first 14 floors and residential condominium units on the upper floors. The hotel will be Group Germain Hotels’ second establishment in Ottawa, following the opening of the Alt Hotel on Slater Street in 2016.

“We are thrilled to pursue our national expansion here in Ottawa, a dynamic city that welcomes visitors from around the globe thanks to the wealth of activities it has to offer,” said Jean-Yves Germain, co-president of Group Germain Hotels. “To be attached to an arts and culture complex will truly complement the Le Germain experience and we cannot wait to offer the nation’s capital the comfort, aesthetics and personalized service that have become a trademark of our hotels across the country.”

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