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The Globe and Mail

Surplus religious properties given new lives

Congregations are working with developers to create new legacies that respect their missions

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Hundreds of surplus religious properties are expected to hit the Canadian real estate market over the next decade. Here’s how two former religious properties in Ottawa’s Westboro neighbourhood are being repurposed. Ravenhill project: The Westboro United Church on Churchill Avenue was declared surplus and put up for sale after the congregation concluded it was in dramatic need of repair and would cost too much to rehabilitate.

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The congregation worked with the developer and the surrounding community to come up with a solution that everybody could be happy with, says Chris Henderson, a renewable energy developer and congregation member. “We said in our bid we wanted something unconventional, that respects our history and meets a community need.”

Springcress Properties

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Ottawa Bluesfest is renovating the original church building to an arts purpose, while Springcress Properties is building 19 townhomes on the rest of the property.

Springcress Properties

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After receiving community feedback, developer Springcress adjusted its original plan from a five-storey condo with office space, to 19 three-storey townhomes, says Springcress president David Spillenaar.

Springcress Properties

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Developer Springcress touts the Ravenhill project as “an example of urban intensification, collaboration and community involvement.”

Springcress Properties

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Q West: The former Soeurs de la Visitation convent, circa 1865, on Richmond Road in Ottawa. The large Gothic Revival house features a steeply pitched roof with narrow gable-roofed dormers. The 1913 addition to the rear features a metal-clad roof with gable and triangle dormers, veranda, galleries, chapel and a central courtyard enclosed on four sides.

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While the former convent will be surrounded on two sides by condo buildings, the maintenance of mature trees, gardens, pathways and flowerbeds on the property will reflect the gardening skills of the sisters.

Ashcroft Homes

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Prior to being rezoned for greater density and multiple uses, the entire five-acre property had been a single unit since 1860. In total, 60,000 square feet of retail space will be available on the site.

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Plans call for pedestrian access onto the site from Richmond Road through a large archway. From the street, the opening will offer a glimpse of the historic building in contrast to the contemporary buildings around it.

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When construction is complete, there will be nine buildings on the property: the original convent, seven condo buildings and one seniors’ residence. Read the full story about these two projects at the link below: New spirit for redundant religious properties

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