Four-storey residential project near Marina to open in fall of 2022
With the purpose of densifying Old Aylmer’s business sector and adding life to the area, a four-storey residential project with commercial spaces at 18-22 rue Principale should be open by September of 2022. Named L’Ambiance, the $7 million project plans to boast 20 units with commercial spaces on the main floor, a 27-spot underground parking lot, and a rustic-slash-modern architectural design.
Located a metaphorical stone’s throw away from the Marina and within walking distance of the British Hotel, the project’s developer and owner of DMA Construction, Denis Cléroux believes the location is perfect for those seeking a peaceful environment with all the services and amenities one would like. “It’s peaceful,” Cléroux said. “People like to take walks on rue Principale. It’s more for mellow semi-retired people.”
Approved by the city in 2018, despite a conflict with the Aylmer Heritage Association, Cléroux said the luxury apartment complex has been in the works for around three years, and feels excited to see it come closer to completion. “I think the project will speak for itself,” Cléroux said.
He added that he’s received a lot of positive comments from people who are equally thrilled about eventually getting to see L’Ambiance come to life and calling it their home. “A lot of people are anxiously waiting for the project to be finished,” Cléroux said, stating that he hasn’t received any negative feedback whatsoever from residents. “I’ve received a lot of enquiries so far from people in Aylmer who want to stay there.”
Confident that the building’s look will integrate seamlessly with the surrounding area – all while providing much needed housing and commercial real estate on rue Principale – he said the project will be very beneficial for nearby businesses. “I think it will add tremendous value,” Cléroux said, noting that he played an important role in getting the 5e Baron off the ground. “Businesses in the area, they want to have people, they want volume. They want people circulating in the streets so that they can thrive as well. These new residences add around 40 more people who are going to circulate on rue Principale”
Noting that the project is located in a heritage protection zone, Cléroux said the project’s architects Lapalme Rhéault did everything they could to ensure the building’s design appropriately reflects the values of Old Aylmer’s heritage. Unable to determine what kind of businesses will occupy the commercial spaces, Cléroux said they’ve already been leased.
Not planning to include any above ground parking spots, Cléroux said the project won’t take up too much space while maximizing the use of the property. Having started construction in January, Cléroux said the roof should be getting installed in the next couple of weeks. The project was initially planned be five storeys high. But recent modifications to the city’s zoning regulations reduced that number to four. Despite that, Cléroux said the city was very cooperative and supportive in getting the project approved.
A supporter of the project, Deschênes district councillor Mike Duggan expects it to add more of what Aylmer’s economic arteries need – people. “I like that we’re bringing humans to rue Principale,” Duggan said. “Our downtown core is underpopulated … we’ve got businesses down there. We’ve invested a lot on the street. It needs people. We don’t have enough people walking around and going to the cafés and stuff. So, we want to use this space for human beings to live.”
Initially prepared to vote against it at council, Duggan praised the developer for being cooperative in adjusting the plans to meet the city’s strict development standards. That includes modifying the shape of the building to make it less voluminous, and changing its windows to make it more aesthetically pleasing and less dominant on rue Principale. “They presented these changes,” Duggan said, adding that the project needed to be reviewed by the city several times before being approved. “They were not ideal. But they were a good compromise … we’ve got to move forward sometimes, even in Aylmer.”
“Changes were applied so that it wouldn’t be as aggressive in that neighbourhood,” he added. “Mr Cléroux made a lot of effort and worked with his architect to make a lot of changes and they really tried to accompany the process so that we would have an acceptable project.” Explaining that the project is located about 150 metres from the Symmes Inn Museum, Duggan emphasized the importance of ensuring the building’s design aligned with local heritage infrastructure. “We want to make this beautiful and properly marry heritage and modernity, which I feel this project does,” Duggan said. “This is a good project in my thinking.”
Dubbing the design as ultra-modern that won’t align with the surrouding area’s architectural standards, Vice-president of the Aylmer Heritage Association (APA) Rejeanne Gagnon said the association will continue fighting against the project despite its construction already being well underway. According to Gagnon, the APA’s major concerns about the project are its imposing volume compared to nearby heritage buildings, its blocky design, and its colour. “We’re seeing it coming up, and it confirms exactly what we were saying,” Gagnon said. “It doesn’t conform at all to the area. It’s way too big and the style does not correspond to the neighbourhood.”