Roundhouse project clears rezoning

One of the largest, most complex developments in recent Victoria history won the city's blessing last week after three years of planning.

Last Thursday, the project won rezoning approval and an amendment to the Official Community Plan to build four towers of 12, 16, 18 and 23 storeys.

The complex project will also see the dilapidated 1913 roundhouse building in Vic West converted into a retail and restaurant complex. A six-storey "live-work" building with artisan studios and apartments is also planned.

Project architect Norm Hotson explained that preserving the roundhouse left about half the property to build on.

"It's meant that we've had to go vertical, to some extent," he said.

Developer Ken Moriash pegged the cost of refurbishing the roundhouse building and remediating soil between $20 million to $40 million.

After a short public hearing, where only one of five speakers opposed the project, councillors' comments largely praised the project. Most commended the developer for extensive public consultations. A letter from the Victoria West Community Association reported a series of meetings had resulted in "a high level of support."

Coun. Dean Fortin praised the project for meeting social, environmental and economic sustainability goals.

Only Coun. Pamela Madoff voted against the proposal. She expressed doubt the project would be as vibrant in reality as the developers' glossy brochures suggested.

Placing tall buildings south of the roundhouse retail will shade it out and make it an unattractive destination, she argued.

"I hope the impressions I have about this project are going to be proven wrong," she said.

The project is not expected to get underway for some time. The developer and city continue to negotiate details of a master development agreement.

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