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Richmond Road's Turner Building, former home of Ian's Coffee Shop, part of new redevelopment play

2002-2010 Richmond Road, as of November, 2022. The two-storey commercial landmark known as the Turner Building and a duo of adjacent parcels are now part of a fresh redevelopment plan from Empresa Properties. Empresa's concept follows the cancellation of a 2016 pitch that envisioned a five-storey office complex and a four-storey residential building on the lands.  Google

Richmond Road's Turner Building, former home of Ian's Coffee Shop, part of new redevelopment play
Mike Kozakowski, Citified.ca
Exclusive: An iconic commercial building at the centre of a much-publicized but ultimately sidelined 2016 redevelopment pitch is part of a new concept under the guidance of Victoria-based Empresa Properties and Cascadia Architects, Citified has learned.
 

Known as the Turner Building and formerly home to a local haunt called Ian’s Coffee Shop, the two-storey vacant commercial block at 2002-2010 Richmond Road together with adjacent parcels at 1909 Birch Street and 1769 Pembroke Street will be acquired by Empresa from a group of local businesspeople, pending a successful rezoning and development permit approval for what is expected to be a mixed-use residential and retail project.
 
Constructed in the 1940's, the Turner has for generations stood as Victoria’s version of the "flatiron" form, albeit mostly the product of an optical illusion thanks to a curved frontage, on a triangle-shaped lot north of Fort Street at Richmond Road. It was vacated two decades-ago.
 
“After a year and a half of discussions with the current ownership group we are pleased that we have reached an agreement to purchase the Turner Site and adjacent lands,” says Karl Robertson, founder of Empresa Properties.
 
“While the unique site presents a number of challenges from a design and construction standpoint, we’re looking forward to be spearheading what will be an iconic landmark for the North Jubilee neighbourhood,” Robertson continued.
 
Empresa’s concept is expected to be a departure from the 2016 application that featured a five-storey retail and office complex at the site of the Turner Building, and an adjacent four-storey residential block on Pembroke Street at Birch Street.
 
Developers under the banner of Island Cardiology Holdings purchased the lands in 2013 with plans to build on the Turner’s facade and add several floors of medical offices above. The vision had culminated in a design proposed for rezoning under the guidance of architect and former City of Victoria mayor Alan Lowe.
 
In Spring of last year, the assembly was offered for sale at an asking price of just under $4.4 million, comprising of three parcels totalling some 17,000 square feet. The listing was taken down shortly thereafter.
 

To Empresa’s plans, the company has retained Greg Damant and Peter Johannknecht of Cascadia Architects to “reimagine the site,” Robertson says, “while paying homage to the existing space,” suggesting Empresa will retain aspects of the Turner Building.
 
“The site has been lifeless and left to decay for well over a decade after what was such a special meeting place in the community,” Robertson adds. “Additionally, we are working closely with the City on activating Birch street to create a dynamic pedestrian experience which we hope to share more with community soon.”
 
Robertson confirms an early massing approach for the land includes a six-storey form, with “very special” ground floor retail units.
 
Empresa, meanwhile, completed a four-storey rental complex last year in downtown Sidney, known as Cortile Verde. The company is currently building a five-storey apartment in Victoria’s Fairfield neighbourhood at 1120 Burdett Avenue, which secured approvals in the fall of 2021 and got underway last year. C
 
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