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Province buys Harriet Road property for Uptown-Douglas transit exchange

The purchase price was more than $4 million above the assessed value of the property, which was just under $3.3 million

The province has bought an almost half-acre lot on Harriet Road for $7.5 million for an eventual transit exchange in the Uptown-Douglas area.

The long pie-shaped 0.45-acre lot is currently being used by Budget Car Rental.

It was purchased Jan. 31 as part of a land assembly to support future transportation needs in the region, the Transportation Ministry said.

The purchase price was more than $4 million above the assessed value of the property at 3657 Harriet Rd., which was just under $3.3 million.

“As with any real estate transaction, the negotiated purchase price represented fair market value at the time of purchase,” a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure official said in a statement.

“The assessed value from the B.C. Assessment Authority reflected a snapshot in time and does not necessarily reflect current market conditions.”

The latest B.C. Assessment values reflect a 2023 valuation.

An independent appraisal was done to ensure the best value for taxpayers, as is standard practice when the province purchases land, said the spokesman, noting the province and B.C. Transit already own some of the adjacent land.

Plans for the area are in the early stages, he said. The Uptown exchange is one of nine local transit exchanges planned for B.C. Transit.

“As this land-assembly initiative is a work in progress, we are not able to provide further details until we are further along in the process,” the official said.

Uptown shopping centre is one of 130 sites in B.C. that were designated as transit-oriented development areas by the Ministry of Housing in December, as part of the province’s efforts to boost home construction to ease a shortage of affordable homes.

Transit-oriented development refers to complete communities built near transit hubs like bus exchanges to maximize the amount of residential, business and leisure space close to public transit, the ministry official said.

The goal is to encourage people to use transit rather than relying exclusively on private vehicles.

The Uptown-Douglas transit exchange is a key part of transit plans for the Victoria region, a B.C. Transit official said, leading to better regional connections for services such as the future McKenzie RapidBus Line connecting Uptown and the University of Victoria and the Peninsula RapidBus Line.

Ross Marshall, senior vice-president of the investment properties group at CBRE Ltd. in Victoria, who was not involved in the sale, said the amount properties sell for does not necessarily reflect the current use of a piece of land.

Marshall said a price can reflect zoning that allows for more density than is currently in use.

Properties do not have to be rezoned for their value to increase, Marshall said. If a potential use has been identified for the land, or area plans or official community plans are amended to allow more density, that can all have an impact.

“Then you are attracting a different kind of buyer. You are attracting a buyer that is going to potentially maximize the density that will be allowed based on the zoning or what the area plans point to. It’s simply a function of the total density that the developer anticipates being able to build.”

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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