Construction could start next year to convert the historic Roundhouse in Vic West into a shopping destination anchored by a grocery store.
Applications to permit the development of the 1913 Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway Roundhouse — a national historic site — will likely go to the City of Victoria this spring, Bayview developer Ken Mariash said Monday. Focus Equities, a Mariash company, is the holding company for the 20-acre, mixed-use Bayview Place development at Songhees, which includes the Roundhouse.
A meeting with the local community will also take place, Mariash said.
The Bayview One condominium project has been finished and construction is continuing on the second tower. The 21-storey, 177-unit Promontory condo project is being built in partnership with Bosa Properties. That building should be topped off this fall, Mariash said.
Pre-development work for a third tower will likely have to begin this year if construction is to start in 2014, Mariash said.
And if Roundhouse construction starts in 2014, it would be finished the following year, Mariash said. Victoria’s Knappett Projects is the construction manager.
Plans for the Roundhouse include seismic upgrades and new features in the 40,000-square-foot brick building. Mariash anticipates it will cost between $500 and $600 per square foot, which means the total price tag could reach $24 million.
He did not want to discuss potential tax relief for heritage improvements, but said talks had taken place earlier with the city.
“Obviously we are going to jump in and subsidize ourselves as much as we can through the fact that we are going to be building some bigger buildings,” Mariash said. “There’s only so much you can do of that. When it comes to so many millions of dollars, it is not so easy.”
He does not know yet how much subsidy will be needed. Discussions are underway with potential tenants about what they can afford.
No tenants have been signed yet. A grocery store would be the main tenant; the minimum size for that kind of business is 15,000 to 20,000 square feet. Interest has been strong from grocery stores, Mariash said.
The latest designs for the Roundhouse are “edgy and exciting,” with plans refined during the past year, Mariash said. “There has been quite a bit of advancement in the aesthetic.”
Developing the Roundhouse into a neighbourhood shopping destination with a brewery, arts and crafts, restaurant, and Vancouver Island products, has been part of the overall vision. A market manager would run the site under a lease, he said.
The aim is to do a top-notch job, Mariash said. “So many of these roundhouse projects across North America, unfortunately, haven’t turned out very well. That was because they did museums and things like that, that are not sustainable.”
The Roundhouse project will reflect consistency and value at Bayview Place, he said. “We want to make sure that this ends up being the best possible community.”
This building “survives virtually untouched,” a Parks Canada report said. The Roundhouse is on the site of the original 1886 railway terminus for Victoria. Canadian Pacific Railway built it as a servicing facility for the steam locomotives and other rolling stock of the E&N Railway.
The Roundhouse curves around an 85-foot-diameter turntable and has 10 stalls, or work bays, for locomotive servicing, the federal report said.
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