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New Art Gallery home part of Victoria’s first arts and innovation district proposal

Reliance Properties’ plan includes multitude of arts-oriented, industry spaces among other amenities
A rendering shows how Reliance Properties’ proposed developments for the Capital Iron lands would fit in the city’s new arts and innovation district. (Courtesy Reliance Properties)

A comprehensive development proposal for 6.7 acres of downtown property known collectively as the Capital Iron lands could include a new home for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

The rezoning pre-application by Reliance Properties, which bought the properties last year from the Greene family for more than $46 million, is said to be the first response to the city’s Victoria 3.0 Recovery, Reinvention and Resilience plan. The city initiative, among other elements, calls for an arts and innovation district to be located in north downtown bounded by Herald, Bay and Douglas streets.

Reliance Properties’ proposed urban redesign of this Lower Rock Bay neighbourhood property calls for expanded commercial and office space including an applied industrial arts building, new marine commercial space, live and workspace for artists in a fine arts rental building, a residential rental tower on Government Street and a Discovery Square public space behind the existing Capital Iron store.

A lot for a new five-storey art gallery building is proposed for the southeast corner of Store and Discovery streets. The gallery currently exists on Moss Street in the Rockland neighbourhood.

Section in red shows the Reliance Properties lands for which the company has applied for rezoning. (Google Maps)

“The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is an anchor cultural institution in the region,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps in a release. “There have long been calls for it to move downtown. I can’t think of a better place than in the newly created arts and innovation district. I look forward to seeing this exciting rezoning opportunity come before council.”

Reliance president/CEO Jon Stovell said his company looks forward to collaborating with the city and locals to make the new district “a diverse hub of arts, culture, and technology.”

READ ALSO: Waterfront heritage buildings, apartments to become centrepiece of Victoria greenspaces

The lands contained in the proposal include the upper harbour waterfront between 1820 and 1910 Store St., and the block currently home to Capital Iron’s parking lot and commercial buildings between Chatham and Discovery streets from Store Street to Government Street.

Approximately 93,000 square feet of the total property is currently developed. The development plan calls for retaining the two Store Street heritage buildings currently housing retailers Capital Iron and Valhalla Pure Outfitters, as well as a small commercial heritage structure at 1910 Store St.

An arts and innovation district was part of the Victoria 3.0 plan released in May 2020. The goals for the area, as stated by the city, include being “global facing and export-oriented and attract companies that anticipate and solve the problems of the 22nd century with a focus on low-carbon prosperity.”

READ ALSO: Developer brings eighth proposal for Northern Junk buildings to Victoria council

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Diagram shows the uses of properties contained in the Capital Iron lands under a proposal by Reliance Properties. Features range from residential/commercial use buildings, pathways to the wharf and upper harbour and a site earmarked for a new home for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. (Courtesy of Reliance Properties)

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