Perched on the craggy outcropping at Possession Point is a small cottage, the show home for Sooke Point at Silver Spray.
The cottage is not large by resort standards (800 sq. ft.), but it is big enough to buffet the wind and waves while providing a front row seat to the drama on the sea.
Developer Michael Thornton’s catch phrase for Sooke Point is, “Where Victoria Meets the Wild West Coast.”
Thornton has been working at developing the seven-hectare property since 1996. Thornton has seen success and opposition to his visions for the property. He sold $15-million worth of lots in the initial stages of developing the East Sooke site. He has seen some opposition to his dream over the years with court cases and environmental concerns but he has persevered and now his latest plan is getting off the ground. Right now there are workers all over the site, working on cottage sites, a rock wall for privacy screening, trails, all kinds of pick-and-shovel work as well as the trades working on the show cottage.
“I’m more passionate about this concept than any other on the site,” said Thornton. “There is something resonating with this site, it’s the right time, the right people, the right place.”
He envisions 95 vacation cottages, two restaurants, fitness facilities and 100 people employed at the Point. Other options are for investors to build a boutique hotel to add to the strata amenities.
“I’ve been talking to a lot of hoteliers,” said Thornton. This would mean a $3-5 million investment for a hotel which could draw on $36-million worth of properties and the accompanying owners and guests.
He wants this development to be world-class, based on resorts he has seen around the world.
“This could be the gem in Sooke,” he said.
The property is taking shape and the vision is easier to see with the walking paths being put in and the trees shaped for viewscapes. Thornton is excited at the possibilities and the work done so far. He sees this place as his mark in life, a legacy.
“Where possible, I kept the really neat old trees, the idea is to keep what’s here,” he said.
And viewscapes there are. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is literally at the doorstep. Secretary Island is part of the view as are the fishing boat out for salmon and halibut. Sealife and the sea are the entertainment.
He has a lot of ideas and one that he is floating about is giving money to charity for any referrals made by Sooke residents. He said he wants to give Sooke people the first chance because, “we’ve been through battles.”
In May District of Sooke council granted a variance to allow Thornton to build to within five metres of the ocean.
He has most of the cottage sites planned out. Many will appear to be hanging off the cliffs, but in essence they are firmly anchored in rock.
He is looking for significant sales over the summer and would like to be open for business next spring or summer. The cottages will range in price from $299,000 up. All of the cottages will be fully furnished down to the cutlery and bed linens.
It is expected that most owners will be occupying their units only part of the year and they will place their cottages in a rental pool. Thornton is also thinking of another idea where the cottage owners could opt for a 10-year buy back option with a $40,000 incentive on a $400,000 cottage and if they exercise the option another $40,000 would be essentially be taken off the original price. Thornton said this could result in a 22 per cent profit in the investment.
“The land and the ocean is the compelling thing, the drama of it all, that is the value and charm of the cottages, and throw in the economic thing and you could make 22 per cent,” stated Thornton.
“I have to do this,” said Thornton. “This has got to be something. I want my tombstone to say, ‘at least he tried,’ I won’t stop pursuing this vision.”