Colwood hopeful city centre will start rising

Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton is hoping the new owners of the high-profile Capital City Centre site start some sort of construction this year.

The mixed-use project has been dormant nearly two years after the financial collapse of its original developer, League Assets.

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“It is always more of a concern when [the development is] sitting right on your main street,” Hamilton said Wednesday. “That’s a lot of visibility right there.”

Now held by the Onni Group of Vancouver, the 14-acre property is at the corner of Island Highway and Goldstream Avenue, a main corridor for the West Shore.

The court-approved restructuring process is complete and Colwood has received $713,183 owed in back taxes, Hamilton said.

Under the court arrangement, Onni will pay $26.4 million, plus a share of development profits from this and next year, in return for project ownership. The deal includes $17.5 million for property tax and to pay secured creditors.

Onni officials could not be reached Wednesday.

The original vision was for a development built out over two decades that would include a dozen residential towers, four office towers, plus four-storey buildings housing residential and commercial, multi-storey office buildings, and a public plaza. A parking garage has been built.

It had been billed as Vancouver Island’s largest development.

Hamilton contacted Onni principals last year via telephone to welcome them to Colwood and wish them well. In mid-December, Onni executives visited Colwood to meet with staff. The meeting did not include any proposals for project changes. It was more of an introduction of the development team, Hamilton said.

There has been no further contact, she said.

Although Hamilton anticipates that Onni will want to bring its own touches to the project, changes would not necessarily have to come before council for approval. The site is covered by a comprehensive development zone. “They don’t have to come to us for a height variance for instance, because all of those things are already in place.”

The site is considered Colwood’s downtown. Once construction resumes, it will be a “kick to the economy,” Hamilton said.

Onni, a privately-held firm, is stepping up its presence on Vancouver Island. It has won approval from a majority of creditors for a plan to take over the 370-acre Wyndansea mixed-use development in Ucluelet that includes a partly finished Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. The District of Ucluelet claims it is owed $2.4 million and voted against accepting the plan.

The original developer had estimated the project’s value at $650 million. It was to include luxury homes and two hotels.

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