Work begins on commercial hub at Royal Bay, where thousands of homes are to be built

Shovels hit the dirt at ­Tuesday’s ground-breaking for The ­Commons, the commercial ­centre of a planned community at Royal Bay in Colwood.

The Commons is to be anchored by Quality Foods and Cascadia Liquor, with retail and offices space. It’s being developed by PCRE Group, which is partnering with GableCraft, the developer of the larger Royal Bay site.

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Bounded by Metchosin and Latoria roads, it’s on the site of a former gravel pit across marine waters from Victoria.

Along with The Commons, this portion of Royal Bay, called Latoria South, will feature a mix of housing types, a new Royal B.C. Museum collections and research building, a 500-student elementary school, a 300-bed-plus assisted living facility for seniors, and land for a daycare.

The idea is to create a ­community linked by networks for walking, cycling and ­public transit for easy access to ­services, stores and parks, said Ben Mycroft, director of ­development for GableCraft.

“The Commons will be a vibrant mixed-use urban village with services that will support workers and the surrounding community,” Mycroft said.

GableCraft, which is already developing homes on adjacent land, known as Latoria North, will construct about 1,100 single-family houses and townhouses, while PCRE Group will build condominium and rental apartments.

About 3,000 homes will be constructed “for all ages and stages of life” at Latoria South, and the project will deliver employment for local residents, Mycroft said. About 5,000 homes are being built on its north and south developments at Royal Bay.

The first residents on this portion of Royal Bay lands will likely move in about 18 months from now, he said. Other newcomers have been moving in every six months on other Royal Bay lands.

The school, museum and ­seniors facility will result in more than 500 new jobs, he said. “Colwood is really ­shaping up to be a real employment ­powerhouse.”

He said the total development cost would be more than $1 billion and closer to $2 billion. Build-out is anticipated to take 10 years or more.

The province has set aside $224 million to build the 166,840-square-foot museum, scheduled to open in 2025.

GableCraft’s Royal Bay development and redevelopment of Colwood Corners by the Onni Group are bringing construction money into Colwood as it grows and moves beyond serving as a bedroom community for Victoria.

“The amount of things that are happening here are really building towards a success for tomorrow,” said Colwood Mayor Rob Martin.

The municipality predicts its population will grow by 35 per cent to 22,742 by 2028.

As The Commons is ­developed, people will be able to live and work in their ­community, PCRE said.

Matt Davis, PCRE’s vice-president of development, said the aim is to have construction on the commercial buildings finished for tenants by the end of 2022.

The Commons will be about 75,000 square feet. Of that, Quality Foods will lease 37,000 square feet and Cascadia Liquor will occupy about 6,000 square feet.

Davis said he hopes to announce a pharmacy within the next couple of weeks.

Medical offices, dentists, a restaurant or pub, a daycare and other services are all in the plans. PCRE is working with Colliers commercial real estate to line up tenants, Davis said. Buildings in The Commons will have outdoor seating and be pedestrian-friendly.

Plans call to start installing servicing on the site in August, Davis said.

Royal Bay and the nearby Royal Beach development site between the water and ­Metchosin Road are being built on a total of 500 acres.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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