Victoria council has given a green light to a massive mixed-use project that includes 481 rental housing units in the Harris Green neighbourhood.
Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve a development permit application for the Chard Development project, which will be bordered by Cook Street to the east, Johnson Street to the north and Yates Street to the south.
The project runs up against the city’s new main fire hall at 1025 Johnson St.
“This is quite spectacular,” said Mayor Marianne Alto, the only member of council who was in office when the city rezoned the entire fire-hall precinct in 2019 in hopes of increased residential density and more amenities.
“The applicant has managed to make something that works, but it’s also something really unique and frankly quite beautiful in a very futuristic sort of way.”
Alto said the site had enormous potential, and she believes Chard’s plans will help transform the area.
The L-shaped project will include two rental buildings of 15 and 25 storeys connected by commercial space on the ground floor.
The 15-storey building will face Cook Street, while the 25-storey tower will front Yates Street. There will also be five two-level townhouses facing Johnson Street.
The project required variances for height and parking – there are only 206 parking spots, while zoning calls for 379.
To offset the lack of parking, the project will include car-share memberships, secure bike parking and a bike repair centre. The building is also on a major transit route and bike route.
Coun. Dave Thompson said the city is getting a lot in exchange for the variances provided.
“When I think about the future of the city and land use, I think it’s really important to have development in the right places, and this is a great example of it,” he said.
Thompson said the city needs density near transit and bike routes to tackle the shortage of affordable housing as well as climate change.
He also noted the 481 rental units will have an impact on the city’s low vacancy rate, which sits at about 1.5 per cent.
“This is a key need in our housing spectrum,” he said.