Condo developer seeks space in Victoria’s hotel district

In an area dedicated to tourists, a proposal to build a residential tower has split Victoria city council.

“This is a great residential proposal, but it’s in the wrong place,” said Coun. Philippe Lucas.

The application considered is an eight-storey, terraced building on a narrow lot near the Inner Harbour, fronting Pendray and Cross streets. It would replace the three-storey Admirals Inn.

“I don’t see the long-term benefits of rezoning one of the few sites we have to have a development that will perhaps give our visitors a reason to be here,” said Coun. Pam Madoff.

The zoning in this area of James Bay ensures all land uses are geared to lodging tourists or other commercial uses appealing to tourists.

It’s a strategy, outlined in the James Bay Community Plan, that might be in need of an update, said Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe.

“What tourists are looking for has changed,” said Thornton-Joe.

Tourists want a local experience, she explained, adding that instead of being segregated in a sterile tourist zone, they want to be in mixed areas with tourists and locals.

If approved, the applicant promises a $507,000 amenity package to the city – a figure derived from a third-party economic consultant. The money would be allocated to improve the Belleville Street walkway, construct a plaza directing people to a the Harbour pathway, and other priorities of council’s choice.

Council voted 5-2 in favour of sending the proposal to a public hearing (Mayor Dean Fortin and Coun. Lynn Hunter were absent).

The decision runs contrary to the city planning department’s recommendation to reject the application, because it falls in an area not to be considered for rezoning.

rholmen@vicnews.com