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Towers planned for north end of Downtown Victoria headed to public hearing

The three residential tower blocks proposed by Chard Developments on the site of the White Spot restaurant and Capital City Centre Hotel would contain about 450 units of housing, plus retail and office space.

Plans for three residential tower blocks — two of which would be 21 storeys — at the north end of downtown Victoria will go to public hearing this spring, along with a proposal for a 90-unit supportive-housing building in the same area.

The site in the 1900 block of Douglas Street bordered by Caledonia Avenue and Discovery Street had been home to the White Spot restaurant and the Capital City Centre Hotel.

The three residential tower blocks proposed by Chard Developments would contain about 450 units of housing, plus retail and office space.

The 90-unit supportive-housing building, put forward by B.C. Housing, would be constructed at 722 and 726 Discovery St.

Council voted unanimously Thursday to move the two projects forward, saying they satisfied the requirements laid out last fall by the previous council.

Mayor Marianne Alto, who was part of that council, said all but one of the requests that were made of the Caledonia project have been met and she could live with the one that couldn’t be accommodated.

“It is a compromise in my view that is acceptable given all of the other benefits, so I’m quite prepared to move this forward,” she said.

The Chard project will ­feature a public plaza and two 21-storey residential towers. One is a market condominium building with retail and office space on its lower levels, while the other is a purpose-built market rental building on top of retail space, a restaurant, childcare facility, and full-service grocery store. A 16-storey tower of below-market rental housing to be ­operated by B.C. Housing is also planned.

The developer was asked by the previous council to, among other things, improve the the site plan and landscape plan, including adding a seating nook on the edge of the plaza area adjacent to the transit shelter on Douglas Street, and working with city staff to increase soil volumes for new municipal trees and trees in the plaza.

Chard Developments said it was unable to increase parkade setbacks and that trees bordering the project would remain within five metres of the underground parkade.

Chard is also no longer going to include burying power lines along Douglas Street, calling it cost-prohibitive

Coun. Jeremy Caradonna said he welcomes the mixture of affordable housing, purpose-built rental and strata units, as well as the prospect of a grocery store in that area of downtown. “I think will be a huge benefit to the community.”

As for the Discovery Street proposal for supportive housing, the developer is still working on its detailed design to address the previous council’s concerns, so council on Thursday voted only to advance its rezoning application rather than considering its development permit.

The supportive-housing project would be built first and is being designed to house residents of the former Capital City Centre Hotel to ensure no one is displaced by construction.

The hotel will be torn down to make way for Chard’s larger project.

The previous council directed Chard and B.C. Housing to rework the design of the Discovery project to make it appear less institutional and to protect Garry oak trees on ­Discovery Street.

The new design, which will be submitted in coming weeks, is expected to provide more of a setback to save two of the three Garry oaks.

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