The developer of a 10-storey residential building planned for downtown Victoria will pay the city $10,000 in exchange for more height.
Under the city’s land lift analysis program, developers can build above zoned height restrictions by paying into the city’s public realm and heritage seismic upgrading funds.
Escher, an 84-unit Chard Development Ltd. building slated for a parking lot at 838 Broughton St., is the first test of the new program, and president David Chard said he’s relieved with the result.
“We were a little bit worried, because there’s really been no examples yet where this economic analysis has gone through the city. It’s been an interesting process for us and for the city,” he said.
The land lift analysis program was created in 2011 to help fund the city’s public realm improvements and seismic upgrading of heritage buildings, a model adopted by many North American cities.
Chard spoke about his upcoming projects from the rooftop of Duet, a 90-unit residential project on Michigan Street in James Bay, on schedule for completion by November. The units are currently about 50 per cent sold, he said.
The project is the fifth Chard building built in or around the downtown core since 2006, providing Chard a perspective of both the highs and lows of the Victoria real estate market.
“Victoria has been very good to us. Most of our purchases are Victorians. But what we are seeing is a little bit of a shift in our buyers, where residents of other provinces are moving west,” he said.
The boom in residential builds in the downtown core will meet upcoming demand spurred by the newly inked federal shipbuilding contract at Victoria Shipyards, a burgeoning tech sector and continued hiring from government and advertising firms, he said.
“In construction, we’ve got 130 people working on (Duet) alone. And that 130 goes up and down, but it’s over a two-year period. So we create a lot of jobs just with our projects which has a ripple down effect. But we’re optimistic on Victoria as far as the economy goes.”
Chard also owns an office building at 818 Broughton St., where the News rents office space.
He said the building, which “looks a little ugly right now,” will receive an exterior revitalization and energy efficiency upgrades in the next three to four months.
Escher will head to public hearing May 22 after council approved the rezoning application Thursday.
Chard Development properties in downtown Victoria:
1. Corazon, 12-storey residential tower, 732 Cormorant St. Completed 2006.
2. Juliet, 96-suite mixed-use building, 760 Johnson St. Completed 2011.
3. The 834, 36-suite boutique mixed-use building, 834 Johnson St. Completed 2013.
4. The Sovereign, 36-suite mixed-use building, 608 Broughton St. Completed 2013.
5. Duet, 90 units in two residential buildings, 640 Michigan St. in James Bay. Scheduled for completion fall 2014.
6. Escher, 11-storey, 84-unit residential mixed-use building, 838 Broughton St. Likely to move forward to public hearing May 22.
7. 819 Yates St. Zoned for approximately 160,000 square feet of residential and commercial use. Development planning still underway.