Colwood Corners project rolls in fall

The long-delayed Colwood Corners development is nearly good to go, with 10 buildings in the offing.

Onni Group of Vancouver, the developer, will build the core of a new downtown Colwood that combines commercial space with hundreds of apartment units.

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Colwood planning director Iain Bourhill told the Times Colonist Wednesday that “Onni has indicated that they expect to start major construction in the fall of this year.”

The 10 buildings will range from one storey to five at a lot bordered by Sooke, Jerome and Belmont roads.

At more than half a million square feet, it is huge by Colwood standards and doesn’t really resemble other developments in the capital region, with a design that’s pedestrian friendly, not just car friendly, Bourhill said.

It’s been 10 years since League Assets Corp., a Canadian investment syndicate, sent out a news release saying it had acquired the Colwood site. League ran out of cash in 2013; it had touted a $1.2-billion project for the site, with at least 16 buildings to be built over 20 years.

Onni eventually took over, with its executive Bob Bremner noting the development is “already in the ground”— referring to the underground concrete parking garage partially built by League.

Phase 1 has eight buildings with 276 rental units and about 153,000 square feet of commercial space.

Two of the buildings will be one storey and are expected to house restaurants.

Phase 2 has two residential rental buildings totalling 201 units over about 150,000 square feet.

Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton said she is “pleased to see that it’s moving along,” and expects the rest of the community and anyone who drives past the intersection is on the same page. There’s a “fairly significant” excavation on the site not visible from the road, she said, that one nearby business manager likened to a large swimming hole.

Several additional approvals are needed by Colwood staff to get things underway, Bourhill said. But he expects to issue development permits for all 10 buildings after completing legal matters. “Certainly, there’s been a lot of interest. I get inquiries on a pretty regular basis,” he said.

“The city’s design review of the development permit submission is complete. Next we expect Onni to submit a building permit application for Phase 1. Once a building permit is issued construction can get underway. That being said, Onni has also stated that they are actively working on pre-construction steps, such as getting the site ready for reactivation.”

Colwood council approved substantial parking variances this week to allow 429 spaces fewer than required by parking regulations that Bourhill noted are out of date. A total of 1,330 parking spot will be provided, all but 314 of them underground. Minimum size for about a third of outdoor stalls was reduced to allow for small car parking and minimize the amount of pavement at Colwood’s main intersection.

The London Drugs building will remain an anchor tenant, with renovations, and will be joined by a grocery store in another building. A hair salon, barber shop and bar are also planned. Pedestrian areas will be enhanced with benches, landscaping, lighting and an open space including a children’s play area connected to the Galloping Goose trail.

Onni took control of the League Assets subsidiary behind the development, then called Capital City Centre, in the fall of 2014 in an agreement approved by the B.C. Supreme Court. As part of the agreement that gave Onni control of the development, Onni loaned League $17.5 million meant to pay property taxes and secured creditors who hold mortgages to the land parcels that make up the Colwood site.

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