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Victoria staff not happy with design of 19-storey apartment building proposal

Plan would require height variances, staff recommend rejecting project

An applicant seeking to bring 266 rental units to downtown Victoria will attempt to move the 19-storey proposal forward despite design concerns flagged by the city.

Nelson Investments hopes to transform what’s currently a 45-car parking lot at 937 View St. into a residential tower. The building would include studio and one-bedroom units renting between $1,400 and $1,800 by the time it’s built.

Victoria councillors will get their first introduction to the proposal on Thursday, with Nelson Investments deciding to have its plans considered despite city staff recommending the project be rejected.

The building was initially pitched as a 14-storey structure and despite revisions in recent years, staff said there are still design features that don’t meet the city’s guidelines for the location.

The tower would be between View Towers and an approved six-storey building to the east that’s yet to be built. The site is currently zoned for up to 10 floors (with a ground-floor commercial space), so the proposal requires variances for its height.

That height would have detrimental impacts on shadowing, skyline view and sunlight access, and having 19 storeys right next to the View Towers building would exacerbate those negative impacts, staff said. The building’s shadow would also fall on a public plaza pitched as part of the Harris Green Village proposal, which would be located across the street to the north if approved.

READ: Victoria council to hear developer’s counter on Harris Green rental housing proposal

The proposal lacks high-quality architecture, as defined in the official community plan, staff also said. The current View Street facade and streetscape design not relating well to the public street and sidewalk was another issue for staff.

Nelson Investments said it wants to take advantage of the highly walkable and bikeable location and therefore isn’t proposing any vehicle parking spots. The building will have 317 secure bike parking spots.

The “functionally designed” studio and one-bedroom units will have compact and efficient layouts through the use of built-in cabinetry and in-board bedrooms, the developer said in a letter to council.

The proposal also includes several amenity and multi-purpose rooms, a ground-floor patio and a roof terrace with a barbeque space.

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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