GardenWorks nursery in Oak Bay is seeking a new home as the property owners have submitted a development proposal to build a four-storey, 35-unit mixed use commercial and residential building on the site. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

GardenWorks’ time on Oak Bay Avenue winding down

With development proposal before the city, store looks for new location for 2020

With a redevelopment proposal underway, the GardenWorks store at the corner of Redfern Street and Oak Bay Avenue is looking for a new home.

A four-storey mixed-use development of ground-floor commercial and 35 units of residential has been submitted to the City of Victoria for the lot at 1908, 1912 and 1920 Oak Bay Ave. Currently, the lot and buildings house two tenants, GardenWorks and Ballam Plumbing.

“People are concerned, some are upset. They get their fruit trees and plants here. It would be a real loss to the community if that happens,” said store manager Diana Meagher.

There is hope they can find another location but the threat of closing the store outright looms overhead.

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GardenWorks is a chain and has locations in Saanich and Colwood. The Oak Bay lease ends July 2020. The store, formerly known as Art Knapp, has been there since 1988.

Ironically, GardenWorks in Oak bay is actually expanding. They’re adding a lifestyle store in the space recently freed up by the departure of The Frame-Up.

“We’re full steam ahead, business as usual in an even bigger way, and it’s fun,” Meagher said.

Initially GardenWorks and the developer behind the proposal, Jawl Residential, tried to find a solution in the new building. It will feature a ground floor commercial space but it won’t suit the needs of GardenWorks.

The chances of finding an urban location with a quarter-acre of outdoor space are slim, Meagher noted.

“I can’t speak to the future except that we are actively looking for another location,” Meagher said. “We need outdoor space and it’s a big area. Every corner you look at is gobbled up.”

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In the meantime, GardenWorks is excited about their expansion into the former frame shop for a new lifestyle pop-up store. The lifestyle store will feature a planting bar and offer workshops such as Christmas wreath making ahead of the holiday season.

What makes the GardenWorks special, like any nursery, is that more than half of its 10,650 square-feet lot is uncovered. Part of the 6,667 sq. ft. lot abutting Redfern is also uncovered.

Many from the neighbourhood attended the South Jubilee Neighbourhood Association meetings regarding the new proposal but most remain unaware of GardenWorks’ future.

Shopper Claire Antifeau was in the store on Wednesday. She’s been buying gardening goods there for years as a South Jubilee resident and now visits Garden Works from her home in Cook Street Village.

“I think it’s too bad, there’s no garden places in town,” Antifeau said. “I will support them wherever they go.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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