Church and Developer partnerships are becoming the norm. Many religious congregations are facing dwindling memberships, high operating costs, and major deferred maintenance bills. Some congregations are questioning their short-term cash crunches and long-term viability. The silver lining for most congregations is their primary asset, their land. Built generations ago, some churches are to be located in mature neighbourhoods and congregations were able to purchase large parcels of land at a relatively low cost.
Developers, on the other hand, are primarily concerned with finding land. Without a significant supply of quality land, developers are unable to build. Typically, developers buy land for 5-10 years down the road to have inventory; commonly known as land banking. Seems simple enough; buy land and build for today and have additional land to build on after. Right? Wrong! As cities continue to grow, the urban land becomes more valuable and harder to find.
With separate yet interdependent problems, both parties have to become willing partners. Windmill Developments have successfully proven their ability to partner with the Anglican Church to develop its site in the downtown core, Cathedral Hill, located on the corner of Sparks St and Bronson Ave. They struck a land-lease with the Church and built a luxury 21 story condo building with unprecedented views of Parliament, The Ottawa River, and The Gatineau Hills.
Fast forward to today, Windmill Developments are working with Southminster United Church to develop another parcel of land. Ideally located, Southminster United sits in the historic neighbourhood of Old Ottawa South. Southminster Condos will be only the second condominium development in the neighbourhood. What makes Old Ottawa South such an interesting neighbourhood from a land perspective is that it’s partially landlocked. The Rideau Canal borders the northern part of the neighbourhood, while the Rideau River borders the southern part. Due to this, it’s land value is vastly increased.
Southminster Condos itself is quite small with only 4 town-homes and 14 residential condo units proposed. This would be a perfect fit for the streetscape of the neighbourhood and would keep the charm and feel of Old Ottawa South intact. However, the project faces a zoning change, heritage overlays, and potential community push back.
Overall, Southminster Condos has the potential to become a landmark site in Old Ottawa South as Cathedral Hill has in Centretown. With city and community approval, continued collaboration between Churches and Developers can continue and they can create a rich piece of history in the process. Finally, something the whole community can be proud of.