Building in Vic West to complement new Johnson Street bridge

A six-storey office building with an eye-catching design will be one of three landmark developments near each end of the new Johnson Street bridge.

“We tried to match the building with the bridge — very modern,” said developer Dan Fisher, owner of Victoria-based Mountain West Properties. “It will frame the bridge.”

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The $23-million Harbour Landing project, at 202 Harbour Rd., west of the new bridge, will see the upper floors extend past those underneath on part of the building. Design inspiration came from a building Fisher spotted in Toronto.

A “scissors staircase” with a design reminiscent of a pair of scissors is to face Harbour Road. At night, soft LED lights will move in a wave from the top and bottom of the staircase, Fisher said.

The aim is for construction to start this fall and finish in one year. Final approval for a development permit is required from Victoria council.

On the northeast side of the bridge, Reliance Properties is redeveloping the historic Janion Hotel on Store Street. A new addition will be built and the hotel will be converted to 100-plus micro residential suites and ground-floor commercial space.

Applications for required variances for the Janion project were given the green light at a Victoria committee meeting Thursday. Final approval now rests with council.

Reliance also owns the Northern Junk property on the southeast side of the bridge and is proposing a mixed-use development.

At Harbour Landing, the upper five floors will be offices and 5,400 square feet of commercial space is planned on the ground floor. The goal is for an upscale coffee shop and bakery, with possible services such as insurance or a pharmacy.

One office floor has an unnamed tenant and talks are underway with others, Fisher said. Available space per floor runs from 6,000 to 8,000 square feet.

Spaces starting at 1,200 square feet are available in what will be a Class A building designed to LEEDS platinum standards. Rent is $27 per square foot, plus common area costs. One level of underground parking, plus 28 surface parking spots, will be built, Fisher said.

A Colliers International office market overview released this week said the downtown vacancy rate was unchanged from last year at 8.1 per cent. Class A downtown space had the lowest rate at 2.8 per cent.

Fisher figures it will not be difficult to attract tenants given the quality of the building and its proximity to downtown, saying “there will be some dynamite views.”

The developer bought the land from the federal government in October 2012.

Although it is not part of Dockside Green, the site falls within the area’s master plan. “We are going to try and utilize the bio-energy waste management facilities of Dockside Green if possible,” he said.

Beyond Harbour Landing, Mountain West is in a building boom.

Work has started on the 1011 in Fairfield, where a heritage house has been relocated to make way for a $17-million four-storey residential development with a brick exterior at Burdett Avenue and McClure Street. It will have 32 condominiums above four townhouses, plus the old house and underground parking. The first 12 units will be available in August.

A smaller project is planned downtown in Waddington Alley, where Mountain West is building an office space and six condominium units. Construction is to start next month.

Work is also starting soon at 333 Wale Rd. in Colwood on a building with eight two-bedroom suites and 13,000 square feet of commercial office space.

Mountain West recently completed the Harbour Centre in Comox, a mixed use residential, commercial and office development.

In Courtenay, Mountain West is developing Morrison Creek Commons, a four-phase, 69-lot residential project. Three quarters of the first 41 lots are sold.

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