How Ottawa's new LRT will affect neighbourhoods

Ottawa residents can see that construction of the $2.1-billion Confederation Line Light Rail Transit (LRT) system is well underway. Now they’re beginning to wonder if the new line will deliver rising property values, in addition to improved commuting times.The 12.5-km electric rail line, travelling from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Road, is due for completion by 2018, and will replace many of the environmentally unfriendly OC Transpo diesel buses. The line will increase accessibility to the downtown core.Ottawa LRT lineIt’s also getting international attention. After recently being presented with the Silver Award for Best Rail/Transit Project in the Americas, Mayor Jim Watson commented:“It is another in a string of international awards that are a testament to the City’s partnership with the Rideau Transit Group and help to reinforce this innovative project as one that will transform the way we live, move and grow the economy in Ottawa.”With all the talk of new and improved transit, residents are asking: how will this affect me?Ottawa LRT constructionThe LRT will benefit thousands of commuters travelling to and from downtown for work every day, and will alleviate congestion on Hwy. 417 as well as the downtown core.The question on everyone’s mind, though: will the LRT increase property values? Real estate experts agree that properties within a few blocks (400 to 800 meters) of any of the 13 stations will increase in value by 10 to 30 per cent.Frannie Heeney, market intelligence co-ordinator with Colliers in Ottawa, says demand for residential and office space in the core should grow with the LRT, boosting property values and rental rates. For people who want to live or work downtown, the LRT will make either option easier.This is great news for those who already own properties already around the LRT. Prospective buyers should buy now, sources say, before property values begin to rise.Ottawa LRT construction2According to Don R. Campbell, founding partner at the Real Estate Investment Network, the neighbourhoods that will see the greatest return on investment are: New Edinburgh, Wellington West, Hintonburg (Westboro), Centretown, Downtown, Little Italy, the Golden Triangle, and Sandy Hill. Many of these neighbourhoods already boast above average prices, leading some to question how they can afford to live downtown.The good news is many neighbourhoods on the outskirts of downtown will also see an increase in property values. According to Campbell, home prices in Island Park, Mechanicsville, LeBreton, Lowertown, The Byward Market, Glabar Park, McKellar Heights, Carlington and The Glebe will continue to rise.Ottawa LRT construction3The gem of the project, according to Campbell, is Tunney’s Pasture: “Located mere minutes away from 49 hectares of federal government buildings at Tunney’s Pasture, the station is destined to see heavy use right from the get-go. The station will include a large pedestrian plaza with retail, as well as an extensive cycling storage facility to integrate with current cycling and pedestrian networks.”Properties in this area are already on the rise, and they aren’t expected to stop: “Homes located in the areas of Champlain Park, Island Park, Hampton Park, Wellington West, Hintonburg and Mechanicsville will all enjoy not only quick access to the station, but also premiums above average home price increases thanks to this new transit access.”Related reading:Proximity to infrastructure more important than ever

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