Songhees First Nation eyes redevelopment of Esquimalt site

The Songhees First Nation is considering the redevelopment of the site of the former B.C. government liquor store the corner of Esquimalt and Admirals roads.

The province will soon transfer ownership of the parcel to the Songhees, which is looking for parties interested in either operating a commercial business on a lease arrangement with the First Nation or redeveloping it, says a request for proposals.

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The RFP notes that the “high-profile” site sees large volumes of traffic flow by every day.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins called it “exciting” that something could be happening on the site at 1310 Esquimalt Rd.

“This is an opportunity. Our staff have received this information from the Songhees and are going to work with them in any way, shape or form to help them in terms of what are the opportunities,” she said.

“They will have to fit within our zoning. That being said, it’s [zoned] commercial/multi-residential, so they have the opportunity to go big.

“It is zoned to go up to 12 storeys already, so they wouldn’t need to do anything to do something with height, with commercial and with residential,” Desjardins said.

The Songhees RFP notes that the former liquor store site is adjacent to the property being rezoned for a planned 12-storey independent-living facility for veterans and other seniors on Admirals Road.

The Legion Seniors Independent Living project will be built on the corner of Admirals and Esquimalt roads, at the site of the existing legion building.

The project, a joint venture between Monimos Equities and Developments and the Esquimalt Legion, will consist of 12 senior housing units for veterans managed by the legion, 140 independent-living apartments for seniors, a new legion facility and 1,200 square feet of commercial space.

Desjardins said final approval of the legion project is expected within weeks.

The former liquor store site is also near the site of the former Tudor House Pub, which burned to the ground in July.

Desjardins said there is no telling what might come forward.

“I think what this RFP is saying is, given the prominence of this corner and how much traffic does go by it, what could be attractive?

“As much as we may not think that there may be significant office or commercial or office opportunity there, the fact is that you are just uphill from the base and the dockyard area.”

Ken Cossey, Songhees director of lands and real estate, did not respond to a request for comment.

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