A new condo project on Broughton Street is expected to be a catalyst for the revitalization of downtown Victoria.
On Wednesday, Chard Development broke ground on an 84-suite condo project at 838 Broughton St., which was formerly a parking lot. The 10-storey Escher project is expected to bring roughly 125 residents to the block by the time of its completion, which is expected by early 2017.
David Chard, president of Chard Development, said Broughton Street was an ideal location for the residential development because it gives owners a sense of what it’s like to live downtown but in a low-key area.
“We liked it because of the [YMCA] being right across the street,” he said. “You’re still in easy walking distance to all the amenities, restaurants, shops. It’s just on the edge, but you’re still in the downtown core.”
The revitalization of Broughton Street in particular began with the recent renovation of the Chard-owned commercial building next to the Escher development.
“The second step for us is to build this and have 84 suites which really will bring 125 people to this block,” he said. “We still see it as a low-key area, but it’s going to get rejuvenated.”
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps praised the company for making use of an old surface parking lot and turning it into residential housing.
“There’s a stereotype that there’s not much developable land in Victoria, but there are lots of surface parking lots. Surface parking lots are a hangover from the 1950s when car was king,” she said. “I’m curious when this building is built out to see how many people will have cars … we’re building for the future.”
She noted that constructing developments around neighbourhood anchors such as the YMCA and the Royal Theatre will add to the revitalization of the area.
“This is a catalyst for the redevelopment of Broughton,” she added.
It is expected the development will also bring a boost to local businesses.
Suzanne Bradbury, co-owner of Fort Properties, a company that owns commercial space along Blanchard Street and up Fort Street, spoke in favour of the development during rezoning consultations.
She believes the development will help draw residents to shops and restaurants in the area.
“For our business tenants, a lot of whom are restaurant or retail tenants, having people live on this block in their neighbourhood is critical to the survival of their business,” she said. “There’s eyes on the street, people to use the businesses, I think it will make a big difference in their neighbourhood in terms of solidifying its character.”
The building will also include bike storage, a pet washing area, a rooftop terrace and barbecues.
With past developments, Chard has allowed owners to choose basic paint colours. But with this development, customization options include selecting the finishes of cabinets, paint colour and design of some of the cabinetry.
Sale for Escher began in September and the building is now 25 per cent sold.