A proposed strata project on the Island Highway for light industrial and other businesses signals that the Colwood strip is heading for change, as the municipality encourages job-generating projects.
PC Urban Properties of Vancouver is aiming to build a trio of light-industrial/commercial buildings with office space. Totalling 135,000 square feet, the buildings would be constructed on a five-acre lot previously used by Galaxy Motors across the road from the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre, at 1764 Island Highway.
If the proposal is approved, the company plans to start construction this summer, finishing in late 2022, it said in a submission to the city.
Colwood Coun. Gordie Logan said Wednesday the proposal would bring a “ton” more jobs to the Colwood Corners area, supporting new businesses that are moving in. “In terms of location for light-industrial, it is absolutely ideal,” he said of the property, which is in a transition zone between View Royal and Colwood.
At a city hall meeting, Coun. Dean Jantzen called the project a step forward, saying: “I’m all in favour of some kind of alternative use for this property.”
Jantzen said he would also like to see live-work units to help tradespeople and small businesses in the community.
The company has applied to rezone the property to permit a mixed-use employment centre, which would allow a number of light-industrial and commercial uses. An employment-centre zoning in that area is envisioned in Colwood’s official community plan and is a key part of its goal to diversify its economy and move away from being a bedroom community.
A public hearing on the project is set for Jan. 25 at 5 p.m. Colwood staff is reviewing a traffic impact assessment and recommendations are expected to go to councillors before the public hearing.
The lot runs from the Island Highway frontage down a steep slope at the rear to Millstream Creek and is bisected by Wilfert Road. A Colwood staffer said as part of the rezoning, the riparian area along the creek would be dedicated as protected.
The project’s 183 proposed parking stalls are expected to fulfill the site’s needs, staff said.
Councillors also discussed the best place to locate a mid-block walkway, with some consideration given to looking at another location given the steepness of the PC Urban site.
The developer would be responsible for improvements to Wilfert Road on the portion bordering the lot, staff said. The long-term plan is for Wilfert to end in a cul-de-sac at a nearby lot.
PC Urban has developed several similar properties under its IntraUrban brand in Metro Vancouver and Kelowna. In the capital region, the company is partners in an independent living project called PARC on Fort, at Fort and Quadra streets. It has also received rezoning for a 153 market-rental-unit project at Gorge Road and Irma Street.
PC Urban chief executive Brent Sawchyn said in a statement that a strata is proposed because record-low mortgage rates and rising industrial lease rates are an incentive for businesses to buy rather than lease space.
The project will focus on allowing small and medium-sized businesses to own their own spaces so they can “control their destiny,” Chris Karu, PC Urban’s development manager, told council members. He said the company’s construction standards are oriented to long-term ownership, which means using high-quality finishes and including features such as mezzanines.
There is a tremendous amount of potential in that part of Colwood, he said.
For the storefront commercial-industrial building closest to the highway, plans call for a 25-foot setback from the highway. Mayor Rob Martin said he would prefer the first building to be closer to the highway. But PC Urban development associate Brian Koziak said the first building was designed to have parking and vehicle access in front.