It was a full house at a community meeting centered around a proposed redevelopment of properties along the 700-block of Fort Street and the 1100-block of Blanshard Street on Wednesday evening.
The project, brought forward by Merchant House Capital and dubbed the ‘Blanshard Block,’ would see a triangular-shaped tower that would house a number of residential suites, a winter garden, a hotel and a restaurant or bar.
David Fullbrook, CEO of Merchant House Capital, told the room of more than two dozen community members about the inspiration behind the project and his love of the Montrose apartment building — “the jewel of the project.”
The site was acquired by Merchant House Capital about a year ago, and in that time a number of smaller-scale renovations have taken place to upgrade several of the residential suites in an aim to preserve and protect the original building, which Fullbrook wants to have designated as a heritage building.
One of the main draws of the project, that received a number of compliments from those in the audience, is the fact that the developers will undertake the whole project while keeping all the commercial and residential tenants. Currently, the site is occupied by a Monk Office, the Self-Heal Herbal Center, Elder Chiropractic, Chimoto, Italian Food Imports, Guitar Plus, Better Choice Staffing and residential units in the top two floors of the heritage-registered Montrose apartment building.
When pressed further on how exactly this would happen, Fullbrook stated that the aim was to renovate a block of space, have tenants move into those suites and then renovate the newly-empty suites.
Another big attraction of the project is a winter garden that would be shared between hotel guests, residential tenants and the public. The winter garden would sit inside the south-facing corner of Blanshard Street and Fort Street, which Fullbrook said was inspired by the need for something “grand” in that space.
The high-rise triangular tower won’t have balconies so as not to get in the way of the view of the St. Andrew’s Cathedral spire. The project got some pushback on the addition of two floors, making it 18 to 20 storeys high. Residents cited concerns of economic viability.
The Blanshard Block would see three levels of parking underground, with room on the second and third floor for smaller specialty office spaces. The fourth floor would house a restaurant or bar and the hotel – in the triangular-shaped tower – is meant to have an “AirBnB” feel, allowing those who travel to the city on business to be where the locals are.
The timeline of the project remains unclear, but Fullbrook estimates it will be about two years before scaffolding would go up.