1,500-unit Harris Green Village development in jeopardy following last-minute amendment by council
Mike Kozakowski, Citified.ca
Published February 16, 2023
Victoria council has given the technical green light to Harris Green Village, a residential development proposed with five rental towers featuring modern retail spaces between the 900 and 1045-blocks of Yates Street.
However, a last minute amendment introduced by councillor Jeremy Caradonna may have inadvertently stalled the proposal.
Councillors voiced their opinions regarding the mega-project on the third night of a public hearing and deliberation process that began on February 9th, reconvened on February 13th, and wrapped up on the evening of February 16th. The sole dissenting sentiment was via councillor Hammond.
Praise for the project followed an amendment supported by the majority of council that requires the applicant to significantly reduce the parking ratio. Councillor Caradonna's motion (opposed by councillors Coleman, Dell, Gardiner and Hammond) requires developer Starlight to reduce the parking supply to roughly one stall per eight residences for phases two and three, from as high as the proposed 0.52 stalls per unit (although the final ratio is undetermined pending subsequent development permits).
"The worst case is this jeopardizes the project," said Councillor Matt Dell, speaking to his reasons for opposing the amendment. "I don't know what this does to the project in terms of the risk to the project."
Councillor Chris Coleman followed up on Councillor Dell's comments.
"If we want to scare the development community away from us, let's try to add in motions negotiated at the last second, because that will send a chill to others," Coleman said.
Such a significant drop in on-site parking is considered by the rental industry as a challenge for tenant attraction and retention, and will reduce revenues generated through parking fees. This change, therefore, may create a scenario where Harris Green Village is not financially viable, according to industry observers.
It is not immediately clear whether Starlight will pull the proposal as conceived, or work with the City of Victoria to adjust the parking ratio higher.
The developer's plan prior to the public hearing was to launch construction later this year on phase one, situated on Yates Street at Cook Street, comprised of over 500-units of rental apartments in towers of 20 and 21-storeys, plus a future ground floor space for a modern Market on Yates. 80 homes in the first phase were envisioned as affordable suites.
Subsequent phases in the 900-block of Yates Street between Vancouver and Quadra streets were planned to yield towers of up to 32-storeys in height, delivering an additional 1,000 residences, plus a public plaza and a community space for the City of Victoria.
Starlight's Harris Green Village plans began with the company's acquisition of a retail complex anchored by London Drugs in 2016, followed by additional land purchases on the block and the former Harris automotive dealership at 1045 Yates Street. The company submitted an official application to the City of Victoria in 2019. C
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