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Colwood Corners developer unveils new concept for site

A scaled-down vision for Colwood Corners was presented Monday to Colwood council by Onni Corp., the Vancouver firm now in charge of developing the crossroads of the community.
Artist's rendering of part of Onni Corp.'s vision for Colwood Corners, at Goldstream Avenue and Island Highway.

A scaled-down vision for Colwood Corners was presented Monday to Colwood council by Onni Corp., the Vancouver firm now in charge of developing the crossroads of the community.

Onni unveiled its conceptual plans Monday for a residential and commercial-retail complex that would add six buildings to the site at Goldstream Avenue and Island Highway, three of them for commercial only.

The site, a longtime home to London Drugs and RBC among others, is now dominated by a huge hole containing a two-storey underground parking garage once slated to become part of Capital City Centre.

Onni took over control of the League Assets subsidiary behind the Capital City Centre development, where construction was halted in the spring of 2013 due to insufficient funds. At one point, Capital City project had a $1.2-billion budget that forecasted 12 residential highrise towers and four office towers as well as several other buildings.

Under a deal approved by the B. C. Supreme Court last October, ownership of the property transferred to Onni for $17.5 million.

The site takes in about 35,000 metres or roughly 380,000 square feet.

None of the Onni drawings appear to show buildings higher than six storeys.

Drawings indicate residential development would cover about 251,000 square feet in three buildings all-told, with the largest building boasting 131,520 square feet dedicated to homes.

Retail would add 91,350 square feet below residential buildings. The three commercial-only buildings would add another 20,500 square feet.

Onni’s drawings show 980 parking stalls, more than 700 of them underground. There would be 589 stalls for retail and commercial clients and close to 400 for residences.

Buildings would cover 39.5 per cent of the site.

Deputy planning director Ivo Van der Kamp made it clear there has been no development proposal made to council. Onni is giving council a view of what it has in mind for the enormous site, but it would still require staff review and council approval, he said.

No directive from council was expected on Monday night, he added.

Onni vice-president Chris Evans said he preferred not to answer questions about the complex until council had seen the drawings.

In the past 10 years, Onni has built 6,000 homes. It owns and manages about five million square feet of commercial space and 4,600 apartments.

The $17.5 million provided by Onni was to be used to pay off secured creditors and property taxes to Colwood. It was among several transactions designed to liquidate all League Assets properties under court-approved restructuring that would put the limited partnership created to develop Capital City Centre into bankruptcy.

The Onni money will pay off about $700,000 in property taxes and secured lenders owed about $14 million. Unsecured creditors who were owed $122 million — $100 million of which is a loan to another League entity — and equity investors were not expected to get anything.

About 4,200 investors pumped $369 million into investments offered by League companies and have been told they will get back no more than 10 per cent of their money.

— with Times Colonist files

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