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Mixed-use rental project proposed for former Island Outfitters site

Aryze Developments this week intends to submit to Saanich plans for a new mixed-use project on the former site of Island Outfitters near the Saanich-Victoria border, the first residential project in the area.
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(courtesy Aryze Developments) Renderings of a proposed mixed-use project at 3319 Douglas St

Aryze Developments this week intends to submit to Saanich plans for a new mixed-use project on the former site of Island Outfitters near the Saanich-Victoria border, the first residential project in the area.

The proposed six-storey building at 3319 Douglas St. would feature 169 rental units and just over 8,000 square feet of commercial space at grade.

To make up for a lack of nearby parks and outdoor space, the developer proposes to include a 9,000-square-foot rooftop space that will accommodate a dog run, barbecue pits, fire pits, seating, gardening beds and a greenhouse.

“We designed this project to be a micro neighbourhood,” said Aryze principal Luke Mari, adding he hopes it spurs on other residential projects in the area.

Mari said the design of the building is deliberately striking — as the first residential development on a block of commercial space and car lots, it’s not constrained by existing norms. “As the first through the door, we have the benefit of no neighbour­hood context.”

The project is being proposed as two buildings, separated by a breezeway and courtyard and connected by stairs and paths at each level, while the buildings offer exteriors with an angled checkerboard design.

The former Island Outfitters building was torched in an arson attack in January of last year. Island Outfitters has since reopened in Colwood.

Mari said while he is hopeful the project will be approved, he does expect some pushback from the municipality over the amount of commercial space included in the mix, as Saanich has deemed that area important for future office development.

Mari said the goal is to provide a variety of housing types, including affordable options, that both enhance the existing area and establish a live-work centre.

Because the project is unlikely to get a smooth ride through the approval process, Mari estimates it may not be until next fall at the earliest before construction could start.

The project requires variances from Saanich for height and setbacks.

aduffy@timescolonist.com