Victoria's downtown boom: Population 7,170 and growing

Micro-loft condos sold like hotcakes in downtown Victoria Saturday, with more than 80 per cent of the revamped Janion building’s 113 units on Store Street being snapped up.

Up to 100 people were standing in line at any one time, despite the rainy weather, after the Johnson Street sales office opened at noon. “It was a busy day, fantastic busy,” said Janion spokeswoman Kristen Bull.

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The interest is another sign that downtown Victoria is changing since multiple condo towers have gone up, bringing new residents to the city centre.

“Historically, Victoria seemed to be a place that after 5 p.m., when the office workers left, it would really become a bit of a ghost town,” said Robert Jawl of Jawl Properties, developer of the Atrium office and commercial building at Yates, Blanshard and Johnson streets.

Downtown is “almost unrecognizable” compared with a decade ago, he said.

As more people move in, “that has not only brought people and activity to the downtown, but it has really supported an expansion of the retail amenities, the lively storefronts, that not only give the feeling of a safe downtown but also of a very vital, thriving downtown.”

Ken Kelly, general manger of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, said the core has altered “absolutely dramatically” from what it once was, becoming more of a 24-hour downtown.

In 2005, there were 1,100 residential units and now there are 2,641 units finished and anticipated, he said.

As in other places in North America, people had moved out of buildings downtown, leaving them to languish, Kelly said. That trend has reversed as developers such as Chris LeFevre converted historic buildings into residences, highlighting downtown’s charm.

> In today’s Monitor section, Carla Wilson explores the boom in downtown Victoria residential development. A full-page graphic provides a block-by-block look at the major projects in downtown Victoria.

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