The curtain is being peeled back on a former west Ottawa convent as part of its transformation into a condominium development.

Aside from Sunday Mass, the public was never allowed inside the former Sisters of the Visitation Convent on Richmond Road, a 135-year-old abbey in Ottawa's Westboro neighbourhood.

That is, until Saturday.

"I've never really seen that many convents, so it's interesting looking," said Joyce Giles, a future condo owner. "People are saying it smells like a church in there; it does have that kind of feel to it."

"I've walked past it for years but I've never thought much about what went on behind those walls," said Aidan McGoldrick

That building will soon see condo towers built to the north and south as part of the Q West development.

"We are going to repurpose the abbey to make (it) the centrepiece of Q West, which will be the retail hub for everything Q West and Richmond Road," said David Choo with Ashcroft Homes. "For example, we have two restaurants coming and a spa."

The 15-foot fence that surrounds the property will soon be coming down, leaving some residents unhappy at the number of condos that are appearing in their neighbourhood.

"It's not just on the main streets in the neighbourhood," said Gary Ludington of the Westboro Community Association. "A small house comes down, a couple of big houses go up. I don't think the neighbourhood's designed for it."

Choo said condos are a part of urban development and they're just filling demand – half the units have been sold around two years before the development's scheduled to be finished.

Construction is scheduled to start in about three weeks.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Vanessa Lee