Rental apartments on Cook Street to be named after war pilot

A young Victoria pilot killed in action during the First World War will be honoured as the namesake of a new rental apartment building planned for Cook Street.

GMC Projects has the green light from Victoria city council to build a five-storey commercial and rental apartment block in Fairfield and will name it after Alick Thomas Bentall Charlesworth, who died May 30, 1917, while flying a DH4 bomber over the battlefields of France.

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The Charlesworth building will feature a large mural on an exterior wall of the young corporal, the bomber he flew and the 88th Battalion in which he served. It is being built adjacent to another GMC project, the refurbished Bell Apartments, where Charlesworth and his new bride lived before he left for war.

Charlesworth was 23 when he was killed. He had been married just a year and a half earlier to Elizabeth Rosina May Price on Salt Spring Island.

“It became apparent to us that it would be fitting to acknowledge someone’s sacrifice,” said GMC chief executive Jordan Milne. “It’s a great opportunity to tell his story through mural art.”

An older 21Ú2-storey home at 1015 Cook Street will be dismantled and many of the materials such as doors and stained-glass windows will be salvaged and used in the Charlesworth, a 7,200-square-foot building which will have 28 market rental units and three live/work spaces at the ground level.

The Charlesworth will be set back from the Bell Apartments so a mural on that building of Lady Bell — which pays homage to the suffragette movement — can be seen by people walking or driving along Cook Street between Meares Street and Rockland Avenue. Plaques on the histories of both buildings will be installed for passersby, said Milne.

Lydia Beauregard, who painted the Lady Bell mural, has also been commissioned to do the mural on the Charlesworth.

Construction is expected to start in January and take about 18 months, said Milne.

Milne said initial concept plans from Beauregard won’t only incorporate images of Charlesworth, his bomber and battalion, but also some “whimsical elements” of the period around the turn of the last century.

The 106-year-old Bell Apartments building was damaged by a fire in February 2017. GMC bought the building in 2018 and completed most of the renovations in 2019. Some finishing touches still remain, said Milne. Building permits have been submitted to the city by GMC to convert an old warehouse in the back of the Bell into two townhouse units.

The Charlesworth will also feature a rooftop space with an outdoor kitchen with two gas barbecues, an eat-in bar, formal dining space, artificial turf games space, a chaise lounge and sectional seating areas.

Milne said the space is designed to increase social interaction and will be shared with residents of the Bell Apartments.

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