Room for UVic students in Broad Street redevelopment

 

David Chard’s fondness for Victoria’s downtown has landed him with one of his biggest challenges yet — breathing new life into the 1300 block of Broad Street, while holding onto some of its historic charm.

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Chard has partnered with UVic Properties to redevelop three sites, including the historic Duck’s building at 1314 Broad St., in a project that will include downtown housing for University of Victoria graduate students.

“This is not a straightforward redevelopment at all,” said Chard, who has already built five residential buildings in or near the downtown core, with three others planned or under construction. “This is a challenging restoration project, but we think we have a methodology in mind here.”

The three sites — a parking lot at 1312 Broad St., the Duck’s building and a commercial annex at the corner of Broad and Johnson (1324 Broad St. and 615-625 Johnson St.) — are part of the late Michael Williams’s donation to the university and are managed by UVic Properties.

The partnership will see the university sell the Duck’s building and the commercial annex to Chard to be redeveloped. UVic will hold onto the parking lot, where Chard will build 52 market rental housing units that UVic will rent to graduate students.

“It was graduate housing that was under-supplied on campus,” said Peter Kuran, president of UVic Properties. “So this will be market rental, but with preferential access for students going through the UVic housing system.”

Kuran said UVic Properties, which manages UVic’s revenue properties, chose Chard after a public request for expressions of interest process in 2015.

“We identified those [Broad Street] buildings as having the potential for higher and better use, especially given one is a parking lot,” he said.

“We thought his presentation and how he thought it could work out was the most compelling proposal.”

Chard has plans for 53 condominium units in the commercial annex, and 51 in a completely renovated Duck’s building. Built in 1892, the Duck’s building is designated in the Community Heritage Register as one of Canada’s Historic Places and must retain its facade.

Neither UVic nor Chard would disclose the financial terms of the partnership.

Chard said he liked the idea of Broad Street realizing its potential.

“I do like the downtown of Victoria and I feel Broad Street has tremendous opportunity that has been under-utilized,” he said.

“I like the development opportunity along Broad that could make it much more retail and commercial-focused with a residential focus above.”

Chard’s plans would see him construct two buildings concurrently on either side of the Duck’s building. They would be at the same height along Broad Street, but have an additional two storeys set back from the street.

Those first two buildings would be used to “structurally assist in maintaining the Duck’s building” as it undergoes a complete gutting.

“It will be a major removal of everything inside there,” Chard said.

As for the two new buildings on either side, he said the style will be complementary, but not imitating the heritage look of the Duck’s.

“It will be in keeping with the heritage setting of Old Town,” Chard said.

There won’t be much happening along that street for a while. Chard said they will have their first meeting with the Downtown Residents Association next week, then they will apply for rezoning and development permits.

Kuran expects construction could start in spring 2019.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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