When people think about residential development in downtown Victoria, high-end luxury isn’t necessarily the first thing that springs to mind.
Stan Sipos and his Cielo Properties aim to change that with the Customs House project, which is part heritage revitalization and part new construction and begins development next month. The 57 residential suites will be comfortably sized between 1,450 and 4,400 square feet, with 10- to 13-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows in some cases and of course, the unparalleled view of Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
“Our objective was to design a building that is not only modern, but is respectful to the old,” he said. He envisions something akin to the luxury apartments lining Central Park in New York, or in old London. “Something that [doesn’t] discredit or reduce the fabric of the neighbourhood,” he said.
Sipos isn’t shy about the target market for these high-end homes, 40 per cent of which have already sold. Some suites have fetched more than $2,000 per square foot, said to be a record for Victoria.
Cielo Properties – cielo is the Spanish word for heaven – has a wealth of experience building transformative projects around Victoria. The Vogue on Government Street between Johnson Street and Pandora Avenue was a non-descript former government office building that became a sought-after residence with a solid anchor tenant in Mountain Equipment Co-Op at street level.
“When we converted that into residences and MEC became the main tenant there, it transformed the whole core,” he said, adding that it generated huge traffic to an area that had previously been avoided.
While the Customs House site is one of the gateways to the city’s downtown, it has long been lacking vibrancy and engagement at the street level, Sipos said.
The City of Victoria’s plans to revitalize Ship Point across Wharf Street from the Courtenay Street side of this block will dovetail nicely into plans for the site, he said. The Customs House project will seek out very exclusive, unique street-level retailers – Sipos said he’d love to get an Apple store as a tenant.
“This has tremendous potential to create a new sense of quality and vitality. With the new parkette at Ship Point and other changes to the area, the fabric of the neighbourhood will change.”
So far, sales inquiries have come in from virtually around the world: New York, Singapore, Europe, even Dubai, as well as from locals and elsewhere in Canada.
With a unique location in the heart of the Inner Harbour, Sipos feels a strong responsibility and a passion to make the most of the opportunity to develop here.
“We’ve worked harder on this than any project I’ve ever worked on to make sure we have everything right, from the storefronts to the look of the buildings. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity really. We have a project that is front and centre for our city.”
For more details, visit customshouse.ca.