The longtime home of the Fairfield United Church will soon take on an entirely new look.
The property at 1303 Fairfield Rd. got the final green light from the City of Victoria last Thursday night to make way for a multi-purpose development known as the Unity Commons.
The four-storey building will host 15 new rental units, including one three-bedroom affordable housing unit.
The property will also have space for a cafe on the first floor, as well as a large space for the use of the Fairfield United Church, offered at 20 per cent below market value.
Sixteen parking spaces, as well as indoor bike storage will also be made available. Negotiations are also underway with The Greater Victoria School District to rent out parking space at the Sir James Douglas Elementary School on Sunday mornings, while the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association also holds a parking agreement with the Church.
The current 93-year old brick building was a subject of contention, causing community members to rally to save it, but after a lengthy assessment it was determined the building could not be saved. Minimum seismic and safety upgrades alone would cost over $2.5 million. The aged building is not listed as a heritage building.
“We had a tough choice to make: to either save the building or save the church and its congregation,” said developer Nicole Roberts, with Unity Urban properties. “This project has chosen the church and its people. Its chosen to be a place maker to create rental housing supply and to ensure that the Fairfield United Church would continue to worship and work in this neighbourhood as it has for over 90 years. “
Roberts and Rev. Beth Walker have worked together on the plan.
Since last year, the congregation of the Fairfield United Church has been taking place across the street from the original building in the Garry Oak room at the Fairfield Gonzales Community Centre.
“The church hall has been utilized in the past by local groups. The deterioration of the building however meant that our congregation and these groups have had to relocate. Public safety is of paramount importance for us,” said Walker in an online statement.
“The sanctuary space will function once again as a community space once the redevelopment has been approved and construction is nearing completion.”
Once shovels hit the ground, the development is estimated to take about a year to complete.