Three towers to change Victoria skyline in big way

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Written by Bill Cleverley

Victoria’s skyline is about to be altered in a big way with two major developments getting the green light from Victoria councillors.

After public hearings Thursday night, council approved two 21-storey condominium towers on Yates Street to be built by Chard Development and a 15-storey seniors complex to be built on Belleville Street by Concert Properties. Mayor Lisa Helps said the buildings will be great additions, providing much needed housing. “I think they’re both really exciting developments in their own right.”

Coun. Ben Isitt voted against both proposals, saying neither adequately addressed the issue of affordability. “My general approach to development in the city is that if projects don’t propose to contribute to the housing affordability crisis in a meaningful way, I don’t have a lot of interest in considering rezonings or the development applications.”

Both developments were approved by a 6-to-3 vote.

Councillors Jeremy Loveday and Pam Madoff also voted against Chard’s development. Isitt, Madoff and Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe voted against Concert’s project.

For Chard’s development, at 848 Yates, the zoning allows for 10 storeys and councillors granted a request for an additional 11 storeys.

In discussions leading up to the approval, the developer agreed to a variety of amenities, including a mid-block walkway and a children’s play area. It also agreed to not restrict the age of residents or to prevent rentals.

One of the towers, fronting on Yates, will have market pricing, while the other, fronting on Johnson Street, will have “affordable” units, geared to residents with annual incomes of between $69,000 and $99,000. Chard is negotiating with B.C. Housing to help finance the affordable units.

Isitt said the talks between Chard and B.C. Housing are promising, but he said “without having agreement concluded to enshrine affordability into the project, I couldn’t support the height variance that was requested.”

The overall development, on what is now a parking lot mid-block between Blanshard and Quadra streets, is to have 224 residential suites.

Coun. Chris Coleman said the question was whether two 21-storey towers are appropriate for the Yates Street site. “It was under the density entitlement. So you could have got the same density in a 10-storey building with no setbacks. I think this is a more graceful response and I think it does work well in that area,” Coleman said, adding that 21 storeys is probably “the upper end” of maximum height allowance for the area.

The two towers are to be built in phases and connected by a three-storey podium over three levels of underground parking.

Of the 227 parking stalls, 81 are to be available to business owners, downtown workers and patrons during business hours.

Concert’s plan is for a seniors building on the site of the former Crystal Court Motel at 701 Belleville. The 15-storey tower will be on the east side of the property, with a podium running toward Douglas. The top two storeys of the tower will be stepped back from Blanshard.

The seniors complex is to be called the Tapestry and follow the same business model as Concert’s Tapestry buildings in Toronto and Vancouver. The concrete building will include 131 rental units, to be priced at market rates, and another 42 condominiums. It will include a commercial kitchen with restaurant, fitness centre, bistro-pub and other services to allow people to age in place.

Concert agreed to make a voluntary additional contribution to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund of $118,642 on top of a previously agreed to $237,285 contribution for amenities. [Read More at Times Colonist…]

Last modified: May 23, 2017

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