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Downtown Victoria site to begin approval process for arts and innovation district

The almost seven-acre Store Street site could see up to 600 residential units
A seven acre, two-block site on Store Street is slated to be redeveloped into an arts an innovation district by Vancouver-based developer Reliance Properties. (Bailey Seymour/The News)

A Vancouver developer is looking to revamp a nearly seven-acre plot of land off the water of downtown Victoria’s downtown by transforming it into a dense, waterfront neighbourhood.

In early May, Reliance Properties will go through a referral hearing with the City of Victoria to determine next steps for the planned arts and innovation district, which would stretch from the waterfront and the Capital Iron building on Store Street to Government Street.

Jon Stovell, president of Reliance, said it will be “mixed-use at a neighbourhood scale,” and it will include industrial, light-industrial, arts and culture, institutional, residential, commercial, and office spaces.

The two-block area will feature 400 feet of inner harbour waterfront, and about 14 to 16 buildings, including the Capital Iron building and two other heritage buildings on Store Street. There will also be a public plaza and a number of waterfront pathways.

“Our land economist is projecting it’ll be closer to 2,100 people working on the site,” said Stovell. “We’ve been through the community consultation process and had strong support, we’ve been through the city’s advisory design panel and heritage advisory panel and gotten total support as well and there’s been very little of any kind of push-back on the development.”

Although it’s still in early planning stages, he says they expect about 500 to 600 residential units, with about one-third of them being rentals.

Two Greater Victoria businesses, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and Finest at Sea, a seafood producer currently based in James Bay, have already signed agreement with Reliance to have their own spaces on the property.

“We’re obviously really excited,” said Nancy Noble, CEO of the gallery. “We’ve just come through the strategic planning exercise and we’re going to have a new strategic plan by the end of June and that’s kind of the blueprint for the future and a big part of that future is being able to build a purpose built art gallery in a central location in the city where we can really engage with more of the community.”

The arts and innovation district was part of the Victoria 3.0 plan under the previous council, and Stovell thinks the current council will be supportive of the plan considering their investments in local arts and culture.

It will be a multi-phase project, with the first phase, which will include the public plaza, two residential buildings, a light-industrial office building, and the art gallery at what is currently a Store Street parking lot, is expected to break ground in 2026.

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Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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