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Summer start is goal for two major building projects in Victoria

Victoria’s Jawl Properties Ltd. could have two major projects under construction by this summer — one at the north and another at the south end of the city’s core — if development plans proceed smoothly.
Jawl projects in downtown Victoria
Jawl projects in downtown Victoria

Victoria’s Jawl Properties Ltd. could have two major projects under construction by this summer — one at the north and another at the south end of the city’s core — if development plans proceed smoothly.

The buildings will add to a growing number of projects in progress or coming up in the capital region. Add them up and construction values reach hundreds of millions of dollars, creating jobs for tradespeople and building professionals. There are added economic spinoffs as developers buy products and services from local suppliers and, once finished, the buildings bring new residents or workers to an area.

“Things seem to be getting busier,” Phil Venoit president of the Vancouver Island office for the B.C. Building Trades, said Thursday.

The Jawls are partnering with Vancouver’s Concert Properties on the 6.2-acre Capital Park site bordered by Superior, Menzies and Michigan streets to develop a mixed-use community. The plan still has to go through a public hearing.

It’s a major transformation as outdated office buildings will come down and above-ground parking lots will be removed for underground parking.

Capital Park includes two major office buildings, each four or five storeys tall totalling 235,000 square feet. Most of the office space will be leased on a long-term basis by the province.

About 17,500 square feet of commercial space is planned, mainly facing Menzies Street.

Rental housing and condominium units will be built in four buildings, three to five storeys, on the west and south part of the site. A total of 175 homes are planned.

The project features plans for a network of paths, plazas, a mini-park and courtyards as gathering places for those living and working on the site and for the neighbourhood.

If city hall gives its approval, the earliest construction could begin is July or August, said developer Robert Jawl. Total construction value is not being made public, but there’s no question the economic impact on the community will be large. Jawl Properties and Concert Properties paid $34 million for the site.

Concert also recently acquired the former Crystal Court Motel for $10 million on nearby Belleville Street. Plans haven’t been developed yet. The Royal B.C. Museum, a neighbour, is renovating its lobby and improving its grounds.

The Jawls won approval this month for redevelopment of a site at 1515 Douglas St., across from Victoria City Hall. Plans call for a six- and a 13-storey tower in a project that will total 287,000 square feet. The majority of the space will be office, with some retail and commercial.

The six-storey building of 110,473 square feet will go up first. Detailed working drawings are in progress and talks are being held with potential tenants, Jawl said.

If work starts in June, the building would be ready for late 2017 or early 2018, he said. That first office building would accommodate about 1,300 workers.

Jawl said he is confident in tenant demand for the building, which will be built to LEED platinum energy conservation standards, offer numerous amenities and be ranked in the top- quality category for office space. As the company did at its Atrium building on Blanshard and Yates streets, discussions are underway with local operators who would serve the general area, he said.

The total construction cost has not been determined, he said.

“It will be a very significant project and its construction value, as well as the associated employment, will be very notable. On our part, [it’s] a very significant vote of confidence in the health and the future of the downtown core.

“We are so thrilled to be part of the emergent vitality that is growing in the north end of downtown,” Jawl said.

Other projects on the north end of downtown include Townline’s upcoming 170-unit Hudson Walk rental apartment building. It joins the Hudson condominium project, with its ground-floor market, and the Hudson Mews.

To the northeast, the Rock Bay remediation project is winding up, although years of monitoring remain. A variety of uses have been floated for that waterfront property, but plans are still to be nailed down.

As well, finishing touches are going on 2950 Jutland Rd., called the Boardwalk building. It is the final building in the master plan for the Jawl’s Selkirk Waterfront Community.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com