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Old Town proposal unveils 12-storey tower, restoration of Northern Junk buildings

Artist's rendering of the Northern Junk development at Wharf and Johnson streets.  Reliance Properties.

Old Town proposal unveils 12-storey tower, restoration of Northern Junk buildings

Vancouver-based Reliance Properties is back before the City of Victoria's planning department with a revised proposal for its Northern Junk development in downtown Victoria's Old Town district.

Originally proposed in 2010, the design concept called for a five storey brick-clad luxury condo with ground floor commercial spaces enveloping the two historic Northern Junk buildings. Reliance planned to restore the duo, built in 1884 on Wharf Street between Yates and Johnson streets, into high profile waterfront commercial spaces.

Come 2013, however, Reliance announced the proposal would be rescinded and re-envisioned while the company focused its efforts on the restoration of the historic Janion Hotel into microlofts at Store Street and Pandora Avenue.

Northern Junk aerial
Aerial and approximate massing of the Northern Junk development with the Janion development under construction to the left of the Johnson Street Bridge.

With the Janion project on the cusp of selling out and construction well underway, Reliance is providing Citified with an exclusive reveal of the much anticipated new concept for Northern Junk.

"The massing has been re-worked to pull the lowrise portion back from visually blocking the Northern Junk buildings as viewed from Wharf Street. The massing is now stepped with a five level southeast and northwest facing podium, and a taller mass towards the northwest," said developer Jon Stovell, President of Reliance Properties.

That taller mass will rise seven floors above the five floor base to a height of 12-storeys, and the new design together with the Janion, says Stovell, will create a "gateway effect to downtown Victoria" when crossing over from Vic West along a newly built Johnson Street Bridge.

Northern Junk rendering
Artist's rendering of the Northern Junk development, looking southeast towards Wharf Street. Depicted on the left is the Janion development at Store Street and Pandora Avenue.  Reliance Properties.

"The shaping of the building is [now] less complex and the massing forms a similar alignment to [the development's] sister project, The Janion. The massing is [also] designed to be in proportion to the large horizontal extent of the bridge approach roads," Stovell said.

Public amenities will include an extension of the harbour walkway between the Regent Hotel to the south and the new Johnson Street Bridge, and reclamation of excess City of Victoria lands freed up by reconfiguring approaches to the bridge will create new green spaces while giving the Northern Junk buildings more prominence in the overall design.

Northern Junk rendering.
Artist's rendering of the Northern Junk development, looking southwest from above Wharf Street, with the new Johnson Street Bridge, top-left, and new road alignments between the bridge and Wharf Street.  Reliance Properties.

Current plans call for 133 condo residences sized between 365 square foot studios and 1,200 square foot penthouses. Several live-work units will be sized slightly larger.

The ground floor commercial component, inclusive of the restored heritage buildings, will bring approximately 18,000 square feet of new retail space to Old Town that Reliance hopes to anchor with a 10,000 square foot "micro-grocer."

Pending approvals, construction could be underway as early as 2017. C

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