Applause broke out Wednesday after city council approved the $100-million plan to expand the Ottawa Art Gallery and redevelop the Arts Court.
The city has also given the art gallery permission to sell naming rights for its new building to help raise $2.5 million — the gallery’s share of the $3.2 million that community partners have committed to raise for the project.
Mayor Jim Watson said the long-awaited redevelopment will cap off the broader revitalization of that part of downtown, which has seen in recent years the reconstruction of Rideau Street and the opening of the new Ottawa Convention Centre.
There’s also the Rideau Centre expansion and the future opening of the Rideau light-rail stop.
“It’s going to take that corner and change it completely for the better,” Watson said.
A consortium of three Quebec firms — EBC Inc., DevMcGill and Groupe Germain — will complete the project, which includes a 21-storey mixed-use tower at 60-70 Waller St., a 250-seat multi-purpose and film-screening room, and a 120-seat theatre and four classrooms for the University of Ottawa. Régis Côté et Associés is the architecture firm that has been selected for the project.
The first 12 storeys of the tower will be operated as a boutique hotel; the upper eight storeys will be condominiums. There will also be two storeys of underground parking.
Construction is slated to begin in late December, with completion of the Ottawa Art Gallery and University of Ottawa spaces anticipated for February 2017. The remaining pieces are expected to be completed later that year.
Space in the Arts Court vacated by the gallery will also be repurposed and the old and new buildings will be connected on four floors.
“We’re moving the arts agenda forward,” said Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, one of several councillors who spoke in glowing terms about the project before it was approved unanimously.