Jawl family to acquire downtown Capitol 6 theatre site

The Jawl family is adding to its stable of downtown properties by purchasing the former Capitol 6 multiplex theatre building.

Robert Jawl of Jawl Properties said Tuesday there are no immediate plans for the site bordered by Yates, View and Blanshard streets.

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Empire Theatre Co. announced last month that it was taking bids for the two-storey, 48,087-square-foot building, which was closed in 2013, leaving only the nearby Odeon to offer movies in the downtown core. Built in 1981, the Capitol 6 building includes three retail units.

“We are under [an] unconditional contract to purchase and will be closing in about a month’s time,” Jawl said.

Ty Whittaker of Colliers International said the sale is expected to close Nov. 19. He said there were multiple offers.

The Victoria-based Jawls are prominent developers in the capital region with significant projects in the city’s core. Jawl Properties built the Atrium office and retail building at 800 Yates St. It has started construction on 1515 Douglas St. and 750 Pandora, which will have a mix of office and retail in two towers. The company is also partners with Vancouver-based Concert Properties on the mixed-use, 6.2-acre Capital Park site in James Bay where office, residential and commercial uses will be going up behind the B.C. legislature.

Current zoning for the Capitol 6 property allows commercial and residential use. “We view the site as being in a very high-quality downtown location. It’s very well-suited to a variety of potential uses,” Jawl said. “And more broadly speaking, the opportunities to acquire high-profile, larger-scale sites in the downtown core are becoming fewer and farther between.” During coming months, a range of options will be considered for possible re-use of the existing building, as well as longer-term redevelopment opportunities, he said. Office, retail and residential are among potential uses.

“At this stage, all options are on the table,” Jawl said. “We don’t want to pre-suppose an answer until we’ve had a chance to really thoroughly understand the attributes of the building as it currently exists and also engage in dialogue with a design team to start early considerations of what a longer-term redevelopment scenario might potentially look like.”

The purchase price is confidential, Jawl said, adding “it certainly represents another large vote of confidence in the long-term health and continued evolution of the downtown core for us.”

Development in downtown has been active. Along with the Atrium, other new projects include condominiums that are increasing the downtown population, including the 16-storey Era in the 700 block of Yates Street by Concert Properties and the 18-storey Legato at 960 Yates St. by Alpha Project Developments.

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