Fifteen years after the Esquimalt Legion first pushed for a highrise development to incorporate its headquarters at 622 Admirals Road, construction on a $32-million seniors-oriented building is expected to start this fall.
The project has gone through major changes over the years, the biggest being the switch to rental housing from condominium ownership and the drop from 22 storeys the Legion once suggested to 12.
The 152-unit project, as yet unnamed, got a favourable hearing at Esquimalt’s Design Review Committee, said planning director Bill Brown.
Doug Grant, secretary of the Esquimalt-Dockyard Legion Branch 172, puts it even more positively: “They unanimously decided that this is an absolutely fantastic building.”
The development permit approval process is expected to take three to four months, said Chris FitzPatrick, president of developer Monimos. He said he is proud to be part of a joint venture with the Legion. Construction is expected to take 18 months following approvals. “It’s a high end product for a medium price,” he said.
The project will incorporate a 5,000-square-foot Legion facility on its main floor, half the size of current quarters which can accommodate 1,000 people.
Only a few suggestions are left to incorporate before the developers apply to consolidate their lots and subdivide the bus lane in front of the building. They gave the township the property for the lane and will build a covered bus stop there along with new street landscaping, sidewalks and lighting as part of the amenities package, FitzPatrick said.
Grant hopes the project will draw people to Esquimalt, saying there are more seniors who need rental housing geared to their needs than there are condo buyers.
There will be 116 one-bedroom units of 585 square feet and 24 two-bedroom units of more than 700 square feet in the top few floors. All units will have balconies, views and in-suite laundry facilities. A further 12 bachelor units are earmarked in perpetuity for Legion ownership. All hallways and bathrooms will be wheelchair accessible.
Units will have small kitchens, but meals will be served in a large dining room that opens to a covered patio area. Common areas will include a high-tech auditorium and multi-purpose room, fireside lounge, library, computer and games room and rooftop gardens.
The ground floor has plans for 1,200 square feet of retail space, which could include a pharmacy or medical office.
In 2010, Grant said the Legion might have to close down when its 17-storey condo project was rejected for being far too high.
As a result, a height and density study was commissioned. “The results of this study were used as the basis of the current 12-storey limit in the Official Community Plan,” Brown said.