Victoria’s landmark 1940s-era Turner building with its distinctive rounded frontage is on the market for $4.375 million after sitting vacant for more than two decades.
The 1946 building at Richmond Road and Birch Street, across from Royal Jubilee Hospital, is beloved by those who used to frequent Ian’s Jubilee Coffee Shop and by others who admired its architecture.
But in 2013, the structure was threatened with demolition, after a section of wall fell off and crashed to the sidewalk. Barriers were put up to keep pedestrians safe.
The city ordered the Turner family, then its owners, to repair or dismantle the building to protect the public. A safety report found mould and water damage, along with structural problems.
A public campaign was launched to save the building. Many hoped to see a replacement restaurant.
In the end, Island Cardiology Holdings Inc. bought the building and its two lots.
Former Victoria mayor Alan Lowe, an architect, unveiled a plan for the site in 2016 showing a 29,000-square-foot building with ground-floor commercial and offices above. A separate rental building was also proposed.
But that project did not proceed. Since then, the building has been boarded up.
A new sign advertising it for sale was recently installed.
Ross Marshall, senior vice-president at commercial real estate firm CBRE in Victoria, said Friday that the 2013 purchasers had originally intended to be owner-occupiers of a new building. But they decided not to go that route, and because they are not developers, the property went on the market.
The property is zoned for both commercial and residential uses. There were four apartments above the ground-floor restaurant in the Turner building. The two lots facing Birch Street are empty.
Together, the three sites total 17,079 square feet. The size of a potential redevelopment is not yet known and would have to go through rezoning if a mixed-use project is envisioned.
The property is being marketed as a development opportunity and has received a lot of interest, Marshall said, since it’s close to downtown Victoria and Oak Bay, and across the street from the Amica seniors development project now under construction.
The Turner building has no heritage designation.
Marshall anticipates that interested developers will be speaking to city hall about what might be feasible on the property.
With the new seniors facility going up, he said, “It is really going to transform that corner into something a lot more prominent and it’s going to breathe some life into the neighbourhood.”