Condo at Fort and Cook will feature 2nd-floor, 2-storey patio

Construction is expected to start in the new year on a six-storey, $30-million condominium and commercial project on Fort Street by Abstract Developments Inc.

“This is our flagship project,” Abstract founder Mike Miller said of the ambitious building dubbed Black and White on Upper Fort. “We’ve got a very traditional expression, but in a contemporary form.”

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Miller hired Cascadia Architects to design the building for the high-profile location at the corner of Fort and Cook streets, a property Abstract acquired in 2010.

Abstract started with custom homes 16 years ago and, in recent years, has been building multi-family projects as well.

“We found there was an opportunity in Victoria to create a little bit more of an architecturally inspiring building,” Miller said.

“It’s really speaking a lot to our brand — we are trying to be different and unique— so we are kind of saying things are not always black and white.”

The exterior is primarily dark charcoal brick with white brick, he said.

Its ground floor will cover 11,000 square feet of commercial space, topped by five floors of condominiums. Open space on the street level, underneath the first residential level, will have insets ranging from a metre to seven metres, Miller said.

A tenant has been lined up for that commercial space, but a confidentiality agreement has been signed so no information is being released at this time.

This is the latest condominium project to be built in or near Victoria’s downtown in recent years. The market for condos in the city centre has proved strong as buyers are attracted by the proximity to amenities and in-town living.

Black and White will go to the market this spring, Miller said. After construction starts later in 2016, it will take a little less than two years to complete.

Meanwhile, construction on another Abstract project called the Maddison, a 22-unit condo project at the corner of Richmond and Oak Bay avenues, is slated to begin next month.

Black and White will brand Upper Fort, Miller said. “We are huge Fort Street fans.”

Abstract earlier donated labour to build a parklet at Fort and Blanshard streets.

The company is relocating its offices to 4,800 square feet of space in the building kitty corner to the Black and White site at 1033 Cook St. It has also purchased the building at 1010 Fort St., which will become its presentation gallery for its new project.

Since winning City of Victoria approval in February 2014, the total number of units in the wood-frame building has been reduced to 81 from 88.

The Cook and Meares street corner will see significant changes. A ground-level cafe will likely go in at Cook and Meares Streets. Directly above that, there will be a 20-foot-tall patio that will serve as the common area for residents, Miller said. This two-storey area will feature a barbeque and a fire pit.

Instead of an open parking lot off Meares, Miller said he is adding a “ton more green space, which is like a little parklet.”

The developer is giving the city land for 10 new parking spots, intended to be similar to Broad Street parking.

“It’s going to create a bit of a community gathering area,” Miller said. “This will be a huge game changer for that corner.”

As well, three more parking spots along Cook Street and underground parking for about 73 vehicles will be constructed.

The project is aimed at the local market. Units will range in size from about 500 square feet for studios to 1,600 square feet for a penthouse. Prices have not been set.

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