Photographer Kelsey Goodwin leases space in the Duck’s Building at 1314 Broad St. She’s concerned she’ll lose her affordable rent if a redevelopment proposal by UVic Properties and Chard Development for the block is approved. Photo contributed

Downtown Victoria artists fear loss of affordable studio space with redevelopment

UVic proposal seeks redevelopment of a portion of Broad Street

When photographer Kelsey Goodwin struck out on her own, she couldn’t wait to start shooting couples on their special day.

Having graduated from the since-closed Western Academy of Photography in Victoria, she opened KGoodPhoto, specializing in wedding and commercial photography. But her photography dreams were quickly put on hold when Goodwin began searching for an affordable studio space where she could meet clients, shoot portraits and teach photography classes at a central location.

After a three-month search, she found a space in the historic Duck’s Building on Broad Street. But that space could now be in jeopardy with a development proposal in the works for that block.

“It worries me. It’s expensive to move and renovate a new space, and establish yourself at a new location,” Goodwin said, adding a number of her students and local photographers also use the 1,000-square-foot space.

“That’s the biggest worry, is finding (an equivalent) space for something that I can afford.”

UVic Properties, which manages the university’s real estate holdings, is partnering with Chard Development Ltd. to redevelop lots at 1312, 1314 and 1324 Broad St., as well as 615-625 Johnson Street.

The properties are part of the late Michael Williams’ donation to provide the university with long-term financial returns to support its academic mission.

The proposal calls for Chard to build a 52-unit market residential rental complex for student housing. In addition, Chard plans on renovating the Duck’s Building, built in 1892, to create 51 residential condos and commercial spaces. For artists renting space there such as Goodwin, it may mean a potential business move.

Other tenants in the building that the News contacted didn’t want to speak to the media, but said they’ll be following the development closely.

Peter Kuran, president of UVic Properties, said the project is still in its early stages. The proposal was scheduled to be presented at a community association land-use committee meeting this week and requires rezoning by the City of Victoria, a process that could take roughly a year to complete.

“We’ve got a lot of time to work with those tenants,” Kuran said, adding it could be roughly two years before construction begins. “(Chard Development) has been through these redevelopment opportunities many times before. We’re going to glean as much advice as we can from them and really work with tenants to find the best solution on either helping them find new space, or whatever that plan might be.”

As for Goodwin, she’s taking a wait-and-see approach before she makes the decision to move her business.

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