A Saanich property once labelled a neighbourhood embarrassment is being cleaned up for a new five-storey condominium building.
An excavator started work this week moving ground on the 42-unit wood-frame condo project with underground parking on a pie-shaped parcel at Cloverdale Avenue and Inverness Road.
The project is expected to transform the site, which has been an irritant to nearby residents for years. Neighbours had complained to Saanich city hall about boarded-up, derelict houses, which attracted squatters, on overgrown lots.
One house had been burned out in a fire. In 2005, a local resident told Saanich council that shortly after he moved to the area in 1981, one of the houses was emptied and boarded up. He likened the two-storey burned house to a "bombed-
out building from [the Second World War] .... an embarrassment to our neighbourhood."
Current owner Inverness Cloverdale Holdings Ltd., held by local residents Chris Souliotis and Gerry Koutougos, won approval after a 2010 public hearing for their project and consolidated the lots.
That was the second rezoning proposal for the site. Council had rejected an earlier bid, which did not include one of the lots, where a house owned by someone else was located. That lone property was subsequently purchased by the developer and incorporated into the new plan. All four of the old houses have been torn down. The final house came down last month, said Glen Wilson, of Searidge Properties (2007) Ltd. Wilson is the project manager and his company will be carrying out construction, estimated to take 11 months. Construction costs have been pegged at $7.2 million.
A price list for the condominiums is still being developed, but Wilson said units will start at $299,800. They will be one bedroom and a den, or two bedrooms. Each will have two bathrooms. Units will range from 700 to 950 square feet. Wilson said the units will appeal to families and are well-located near shopping in Saanich, and Rutledge Park is on the other side Inverness Road.
Green features include geothermal heating and hot water, and outdoor water storage for landscaping, he said. Commercial space is also planned on the ground floor for a coffee shop.
Pre-sales will start in about two months, Wilson said. A trailer will be on the site in May. Ron Neal of Re/Max Alliance will be marketing the units.
Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said the site was "notorious" in the community. "I'm pleased if they are breaking ground," the mayor said. "When the lot was finally cleared and consolidated it gained public support."
The average price of a condo sold through the Victoria Real Estate Board in September was $320,304, with the median price lower at $263,450. There were 127 condo sales last month, out of a total 400 sales of all types of housing.
Total housing starts in the capital region reached 202 in September, up from 188 in the same month a year ago. The increase was due to a higher number of condominium starts, said Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Last month saw 156 condo units get underway, with 136 of those in the city of Victoria.
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