Dockside Green construction resumes with its first major residential towers since 2008

A dozen years after Dockside Green’s former owner announced it was taking a “pause” in development, crews and heavy equipment are back on site to build three residential towers with a total of 365 units.

This is just the beginning of plans by current owner Bosa Development to complete the mixed-use development project in Vic West, which was started about 17 years ago but stalled in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008.

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“This is: ‘Hey, we are back to life,’ ” Dan Diebolt, company vice-president of development, said Thursday.

Bosa bought the 10 undeveloped acres on the 15-acre site from Vancity Credit Union, through Dockside Green Ltd., in December 2017.

Today it is setting in motion the first phase of its development plans at Dockside Green. The company also owns the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

The Bosa lands will hold about one million square feet of buildable area in a range of building types when it is complete in 10-plus years, Diebolt said.

Some buildings will be lower-heights while others will rise to 18 storeys.

Heavy equipment arrived on site in late 2020 to resume excavation to prepare for construction of three towers of 12, 13 and 15 storeys, south of the existing Balance tower on Tyee Road.

The first condominium building is expected to be completed in summer 2023. The other two buildings will follow shortly because all three are being built together.

The tallest tower with 144 units will be a long-term rental under an agreement with the City of Victoria.

Sales for condominiums open Saturday in the presentation centre, 391 Harbour Rd. next to an entrance to the Galloping Goose Trail.

Prices for the condos in the current phase will see one-bedroom units starting from the high $400,000s, with two-bedroom units beginning in the low $700,000 range, and units with premium views starting in the low $900,000s. All three buildings will have rooftop patios.

Typically, most Bosa Development buyers live in their units rather than renting them out. The company also tends to offer larger units with sizes ranging from 600 square feeet to more than 1,500 square feet, Diebolt said.

Construction of the project, lauded for its green and sustainable initiatives, will continue until finished in about 10 years, Diebolt said. “Bosa is a very capable builder. We are a well-financed group and so we have the capabilities to see this through.”

This next phase at Dockside Green is a “big investment in Victoria and we’re very confident and happy to be doing it.”

The company, founded by Nat Bosa, is a major developer with projects in the Lower Mainland, Calgary, Seattle and California.

During construction for the three towers, about 1,000 onsite jobs will be created, Diebolt said.

Dockside Green is a former industrial site covering 15 acres.

Vancity announced in 2009 that it was putting development on hold as the financial crisis drastically slowed housing construction.

By then, more than 300,000 square feet of buildings, including condominiums, commercial and office spaces, had been built.

Bosa’s Dockside Green lands will continue with the sustainability features, Diebolt said. These include a wastewater treatment plant, a biomass energy system, a stream through the site and a green walkway. Residential units will feature a fresh-air exchange system. Plans call for plazas, a playground and parks, underground parking, and outdoor space with trails.

Most of the future buildings will be apartment-style condominiums, with the possibility of a few townhouses and some townhouse-like condos, along with commercial space around a plaza, he said.

One residential project went up after construction at Dockside came to a standstill. In 2016, ground was broken for a two-building, 49-unit affordable rental project.

Bosa is a vertically integrated company, doing everything from design to construction, using its own crews and hiring subcontractors, and property management.

Since purchasing the land, the company has been carrying out work such as geotechnical reports and architecture, Diebolt said.

The Topsoil urban organic garden operation was already present at Dockside Green when Bosa bought the undeveloped lands. Because some of the land will not be developed for a number of years, this is a “great use to have and we’ve been happy to work with them,” Diebolt said.

Dockside Green history

2004 — Victoria council votes in favour of Windmill Development-Vancity Enterprises to develop Dockside Lands between Tyee and Harbour Roads.

2005 — Early plans imagine 1,000 housing units, with commercial and light industrial uses in 26 buildings covering 1.3 million square feet. It would be construction over a dozen years.

2005 — The first sales start for Dockside Green residential units.

2007 — Three Point Properties (owned by Jack Julseth and Ross Tennant) acquires a large interest in Dockside Green by buying most of Windmill Developments’ stake in the project. Company is renamed Windmill West with Joe Van Belleghem and Julseth as co-chairmen and Tennant as president.

2008 — Global financial crisis slams the housing market.

2009 — Joe Van Belleghem, the high-profile visionary behind Dockside Green, sells his shares in the project to Vancity.

2009 — Vancity announces Dockside will “take a pause” from development and rethink its plans.

2016 — Ground breaks for Madrona, a 49-unit affordable housing project.

2017 — Victoria council approves rezoning for Dockside.

Late 2017 — Vancouver-based Bosa Development buys the remaining 10 undeveloped acres at Dockside Green to take over the project, saying it shares the same values.

Late 2020 — Bosa Developments brings in crews to resume excavation work at Dockside Green to prepare for three residential towers along Tyee Road, marking the first significant construction in many years.

2021 — Bosa Developments announces it is opening its sales centre on Saturday, April 10. It expects its first tower will be completed in 2023.

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