Developer Chard eyes Black Press building in Victoria

David Chard appears unwilling to take a breather, and even less inclined to pass on opportunities in the Victoria real estate market, as the developer is on the cusp of closing a deal to buy 818, 836 and 838 Broughton St. and an adjacent empty lot.

The 30,000-plus square foot, three-storey building, which currently houses Black Press, and the parking lot had been listed at one point for $7.65 million.

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The building was assessed at $5.178 million in 2012.

Chard would not divulge what he has agreed to pay Black Press for the land package.

“We have not actually bought it yet but we will be closing on it at the end of November,” Chard said Friday.

According to the developer, the plan is to keep the existing building as a functioning office for now, with Black Press as a tenant willing to sign a short-term lease agreement, and to forge ahead with a rezoning process for the adjoining parking lot.

That lot, assessed in 2012 for $1.588 million, is 14,400 square feet and has parking for 60 vehicles.

“It’s the parking lot to the east that we are interested in getting a rezoning done and develop a condo project on that site,” he said, noting it’s too early to say how large the building would be and how many units it will have.

Chard said like his other Victoria projects, this one will take a measured approach.

“We have been pretty fortunate. We have been careful and we try to target our market. Our market is Victorians,” he said. “We look at different price points and try to cater to the different needs of Victorians.”

Chard has had success with that game plan since his first project, the Corazon, and since then with the Juliet and 834 Johnson St.

He most recently completed the high-end Sovereign project in the heart of downtown.

“We have moved in six families and we are just starting our marketing program for the remaining 12 units,” he said. “I’m really pleased with how the whole project has come off, and the car elevator seems to be a big hit with the new residents.”

Chard also has the Duet project coming out of the ground in James Bay.

The 90-unit development is about 50 per cent sold and crews are pouring cement for the parking levels.

“We hope to be out of the ground in another month. You will see the structure up by Christmas,” he said.

Chard also holds the property at 819 Yates St. behind the Capital Six theatre.

The project, which already has zoning, is taking time to come to the market as Chard is mulling his options.

“We are trying to get the right project to fit in there. It’s a project: There are two buildings there,” he said. “That one means we have to study the market. To bring that project on, we would like to see more vibrancy in the market, to be honest.”

The Victoria market, which Chard said suits him because it avoids the highs and lows of markets like Vancouver, remains stable if not strong.

“It is a government town and a university town, it has a solid economy here within the city. It doesn’t have the big peaks and it doesn’t have the big drops — it’s steady as she goes, which is one of the reasons we really like it,” he said.

“You don’t sell out a building here in a week. It takes time, but at least you don’t see big swings, and I think that bodes well for real estate here,” he said.

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