There was a buzz in the air at Esquimalt council chambers Monday night as mayor Barb Desjardins announced a deal has been made to proceed with the development of the Esquimalt Village Project (EVP) in the heart of the township.
“This is a very big deal to us. We view this project as the catalyst for development in Esquimalt for years to come,” said Desjardins, noting Esquimalt hasn’t seen a lot of newer developments, but rather infill and townhouses instead.
“We have been told many times that this is a unique piece of property in that how many communities do you know that have their local government, their rec centre, their centre of business, their library and their shopping centre all within a three-block radius?”
Formerly the site of the public works yard and original municipal hall, the property is 87,000 square feet in size and located adjacent to the municipal hall at 1229 Esquimalt Rd.
The development calls for a 17,000 square-foot town square that will be surrounded by a six-story building with 100 condos and 34 rental properties situated above commercial space on the ground level.
Another five-story building will provide just under 50,000 square feet of office space that will also include a new library on the ground floor. A public walkway is also planned complete with $300,000 worth of artwork paid for by the developer.
The township has signed a memorandum of understanding with Aragon Investments Ltd. to proceed with the acquisition and development of the EVP lands. During the next several months, preparations will be made to transfer the lands to Aragon. Construction is expected to commence in the spring of 2017 and completed within two years.
Aragon is also the owner of the English Inn in Esquimalt. Company spokesperson Michael Lowe said the EVP was a “no brainer” since the development is so close to downtown Victoria.
The EVP has a lengthy history, with the process beginning in 2005. Consultants were brought in with concept ideas, but council opted to focus on other properties instead. The focus shifted back to the EVP in 2008 when there was a change in the economic climate, so council started doing everything it could to get the property ready.
Requests for proposals were finally issued last fall, which made Desjardins tingle with excitement.
“We’ve done a lot of ground work in behind the scenes to make sure what came forward provided a developer with some certainty,” said Desjardins. “This will mark a major milestone for the township.”
The public will have opportunities to provide their input. For more information on the project visit esquimalt.ca.