Location: 273-279 Sussex Drive
Date of photo: March 14, 2014
Photographer: Kristen Gagnon
A strange sight can currently be found along Sussex Drive, just North of the National Gallery. A house has had the entire ground excavated out from under its foundation, leaving it hovering above a large icy patch, balancing on a few I-beams and blocks as if on stilts. In a 2012 report by ERA Architects on the heritage value of the site, it explains that the residence and its surrounding land, situated along a bend in Sussex Drive, has be slated for redevelopment to increase road safety, as well as plans to widen the sidewalks and add bike lanes along Sussex. The National Capital Commission, City of Ottawa, and Delcan Corporation are all involved in the project.
According to the report: “The proposed street modifications will encroach on NCC properties and would implicate the relocation or removal of the two building at 273 and 275-279 Sussex Drive. These properties form part of the Lowertown West HCD and are both designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act. The Lowertown West HCD identifies them as Category 3 buildings, defined as ‘heritage components of an area’; ‘outside heritage districts these buildings would have less importance and may not warrant individual designation.’ Under federal jurisdiction, these two properties have been assessed by the Federal Heritage Buildings Review (FHBRO) and neither were recognized nor classified based on federal criteria. The Lowertown Community Association has opposed the removal of these two properties, claiming they both form an integral part of the community and must be retained.”
ERA concludes that in order for the NCC to properly fulfill its plans to increase the quality of space and place along the Sussex corridor, these buildings should be allowed to be demolished, and that they are of not a high enough heritage value to need to be preserved.
UPDATE: Thank you to David B. Flemming, who has explained that, “This building (273 Sussex Drive) and the row next to it (275-279 Sussex Drive) are being moved a few metres back (east) to make way for the widening of Sussex Drive to permit the addition of a lane for bicycles. The original plan of both the City and the NCC was to demolish these building but the public outcry and a demonstration in front of the buildimngs, led by the Lowertown Community Association and Heritage Ottawa, resulted in a decision by the City and the NCC to preserve the buildings.” (See comments below)