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Esquimalt council gets first look at $41m twin-tower project

If Sherri Robinson’s great-great-grandfather could see the $41-million development of two 12-storey condominiums proposed for the site of their former inn, she said he would be pleased.

“He was pretty progressive,” the Esquimalt archivist said of James Bland and his wife Elizabeth, who built the Halfway House in 1860 where the Esquimalt Inn now sits in the 800-block of Esquimalt Rd.

Esquimalt council laid its eyes for the first time on a mixed-use development proposal at a recent committee-of-the-whole meeting.

It includes an 88-unit residential tower with 1,000 square metres of ground-floor commercial space, three underground parking levels, four townhouses and separate live-work units connected to the tower by two overhead walkways. The live-work units include ground-floor business spaces linked by stairs to living areas above.

Plans for a second complex include an 80-unit residential tower with 11 attached townhouses and two underground parking levels.

The development would replace a pub, liquor store and bottle depot currently in operation.

The site’s historically rich past is not lost on Vancouver-based property owners, the Cambie Malone’s Corp., which is spearheading the initiative.

“That’s something that needs to be told in some way on that site,” said project consultant Brandon Smith, adding that a memorial could be installed on the property

Calling the development “precedent setting,” Smith told council it would be a “signature piece” for the township.

“It’s not quite the gateway to Esquimalt, but this is close,” he said.

At two public consultations in May, some residents preferred the project be downsized from 12 to eight storeys.

In that case a third eight-storey tower would be needed to make up for the reduced height and lost revenue, said Smith.

“The reality is these buildings simply don’t exist,” he said. “The cost is recouped, but it’s much better when you build a taller building.”

Construction dates have not been fixed, said Smith, adding that whether the project would be phased in would depend on market conditions and the builder, who has not been selected.

Council will consider rezoning the two lots in mid-August. A public hearing will be held in September, before the project is considered for approval.

 

Proposal details

Unique features: mini cherry orchard, courtyard, outlets for electric vehicles, pedestrian breezeway and skywalks, water features, children’s natural playscape.

Accessibility: universally accessible.

Traffic projection: equivalent to current traffic flow.

Parking: two and three levels of underground parking

Entranceway: One entrance for vehicles shared with A&W.

 

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