Public to get a say on rental project proposed for James Bay

The public will get a chance to weigh in on a proposed 137-unit rental complex being considered for the heart of James Bay.

Victoria council’s committee of the whole is sending the Village Green project, at the northwest corner of Menzies and Niagara streets, to a public hearing.

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While the committee aired concerns Thursday about the project’s density and parking requirements, and the loss of 45 housing units to make way for the new development, it was ultimately moved forward for a rezoning hearing. No date has been set for the hearing.

The project, at 110 Menzies St., 111 Croft St. and 450-458 Niagara St., involves tearing down three older buildings with a combined total of 45 residential units and redeveloping the land with a six-storey complex.

In its report, City of Victoria staff noted the proposal is ­consistent with the heights and density of the area and would significantly increase rental units in James Bay and help diversify housing options.

The company behind the project is Primex Investments, which has more than 2,300 rental units around the province, including five properties with 300 units in Victoria.

According to Primex, the existing buildings are showing their age and despite ­renovations, it’s not economically feasible to properly address issues that include ­leaking roofs, structural problems and hazardous material.

The new complex would include 233 long-term bicycle stalls, a bicycle wash and repair room, car-share-program membership for each unit, the purchase of two car-share vehicles to be located on-site for residents and the broader community, 100 parking stalls and improved street furnishings.

The company is also proposing to contribute $75,000 to the city’s affordable housing reserve fund in support of affordable rental housing.

Community reaction to the proposal has been mixed, with some people living nearby welcoming the addition of a new building that will clean up the site and improve things like sidewalks, while others echoed concerns raised at Thursday’s committee meeting.

Some residents have noted parking is already at a premium in the area, and with only 100 parking spaces designated in the project — rather than the 162 needed to comply with bylaws — they fear James Bay’s streets will be further taxed with parked vehicles.

A resident of one of the existing buildings on that plot of land said the units may be replaced with many more housing options, but all will cost more to rent.

Rezoning the site will allow for increased density, a height increase to 20 metres from 18.5 metres, decreased yard setbacks to seven metres and increased site coverage to 56 per cent from 20 per cent.

Primex has started tenant relocation, including offering financial compensation, reimbursing moving expenses and providing relocation assistance to help the 38 tenants affected by the project. According to the company, 16 tenants had come to new agreements by June of this year.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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