Bayview project resurrected

Developer targets 2016
to complete 8.5-hectare
Vic West development

Colin Bosa

Colin Bosa

After a multi-year hiatus, the billion-dollar Bayview residential towers and Roundhouse mixed-use development are forging ahead, backed by a new partner.

On Tuesday, developer Ken and Patricia Mariash of Bayview Properties, along with Colin Bosa, CEO of Bosa Properties, invited local media, one by one, to discuss the relaunch as a joint venture.

“What we’re seeing is that the economy is turning around,” said Bosa, in the sales centre located on the sprawling property inland from the Songhees coastline. 

The Mariashes own a penthouse in the first Bayview tower.

Complete in 2007, the 13-storey condo building suffered lagging sales, stalling a second and third tower on the property.

In 2008, Victoria city council approved new plans for much taller, slimmer towers, at 21 and 17 storeys. The concession, however, wasn’t enough to stimulate the project as the recession took hold. In 2010, the Mariashes listed the property, including the adjoining four-hectare Roundhouse property, inviting proposals for purchase or partnership. 

Bosa Properties stepped forward.

“A project of this scale is a real opportunity,” said Bosa. “To have 20 acres (eight hectares), master planned community – these kind of properties don’t come around very often.”

Bosa will take the lead on Bayview’s second tower. The company aims to begin marketing in the summer, and construction in the fall. The slimmer towers will offer smaller, more affordable units, starting below $300,000, Bosa said.

Meanwhile, Bayview Properties will concentrate on the master plan spanning the 8.5-hectare property.

It includes redeveloping the Roundhouse property, already rezoned by city council, to include four mixed-use towers, and a 40,000 square-foot marketplace inside the 98-year-old brick buildings on site. Built to service and store the E&N rail cars, the buildings are designated a National Heritage Site and will cost roughly $6 million to $12 million to restore. 

The market place could include cultural components if grants can be secured, said Ken. 

“We are discussing some relationships with the federal government to participate in some degree in the restoration of the project, so that we can have more craft, more artisan, and more on-premises galleries,” said Ken. 

A new element to the project is a seniors complex. 

The 120-unit proposal, awaiting a development permit from the city, is slated to run along Kimta Road.

It’s about helping an older demographic transition from Bayview Towers, said Ken. “After people are ready to move, they’d like to have the same location because they get used to dealing with the same stores, the same doctors.”

The Mariashes estimate the entire project, including Bayview and Roundhouse, will be largely built out by 2016 – the same year the new Johnson Street Bridge will link Vic West to the downtown. 

“We certainly are appreciative of the new structure and all of the convenience it brings.” said Ken, explaining the bridge closures associated with the bridge refurbishment option would have impacted the project. 

The time is right to begin construction, said Ken. 

“Bosa is being very astute starting before anybody else and being able to deliver product when nobody else is delivering.”

Not everyone agrees with this reading of market, however.

Vic West’s other high-profile development, Dockside Green, will not be resuming construction any time soon. 

“We’re still watching the marketplace,” said James Miller, director of Strategic Business Investments for VanCity, the project’s developer. 

 “It looks pretty healthy but there’s still a lot of inventory in Victoria. We’re still committed to the master development agreement … but we don’t think the timing is right.” 

rholmen@vicnews.com