"The developers who purchased the former Saint-Charles Church from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa late last month are promising “something special,” according to the Instagram account of one of the partners in the venture.
ModBox, a firm that has been together for about two and a half years, bought the building for $4 million, backed by a group of investors that include Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke and CPO Harley Finkelstein.
ModBox is a partnership between architecture firm LineBox Studio and construction company The Lake Partnership. The two companies have a history of working together, with their most high-profile work being Shopify’s new headquarters in Performance Court at 150 Elgin St.
That wasn’t a ModBox project, however.
ModBox’s director of marketing and communications, Melissa Reeves, said when the project is client-based – such as Shopify, for example – it is never a Modbox project.
“It becomes a ModBox project when the two of them, out of their own volition, go ahead and put together a project,” she said.
That is what happened in this case, when LineBox senior architect Andrew Reeves, who lives in the area, saw the property, did some research and proposed it to the team.
That was in September. By November, Ms. Reeves said everything was essentially finished.
In addition to Mr. Lütke and Mr. Finkelstein, ModBox got other significant investors in its first round of financing for the project, including an electrical company it has worked with in the past, said Ms. Reeves.
She said the partners have had early consultations with city officials, but an extensive review and approval process is still ahead.
“The big idea is really to honour the church’s past and see what we can do to make it go forward,” Ms. Reeves said.
That includes plans for a year-round market, including some boutique vendors, some mixed-use space, condos and townhomes, a high-end restaurant and possibly some offices. There will also be a public square and outside space to recognize the church’s past as an important part of the Vanier community.
Ms. Reeves said Mr. Reeves, Mr. Lütke and Mr. Finkelstein, all live in the area and “want to see something really amazing going into the space.”
Ms. Reeves said Mr. Finkelstein is working to make sure many different players in the community are engaged in the project.
“Harley has been heading up the farmers’ market just across the street from the church for several years, so a lot of those players will be able to help out with what’s going on inside the church as well,” said Ms. Reeves.
In addition to the church project, ModBox has recently finished the Springfield Towns on Springfield Road and will have some lofts coming soon to Stonehurst Avenue in Mechanicsville.
While ModBox, LineBox and the Lake Partnership are three independent companies, they have recently moved to shared office space at 126 York St.
Ms. Reeves says ModBox will be hiring two or three staff who will be dedicated solely to the Saint-Charles project, which the company says should be entirely complete by 2018."
Source: Tom Pechloff, Ottawa Business Journal. January 5, 2015.