Affordable homeownership at forefront of 242-unit Doral Forest Park condo dev along Elk Lake Dr.
Published May 28, 2020
Seven years into a rezoning pursuit near Saanich’s Beaver and Elk lakes, developer Mike Geric Construction has fine-tuned a condominium proposal slated to add nearly 250 residences to Elk Lake Drive.
Known as Doral Forest Park, the project was originally conceived in 2013 as a cluster of lowrise buildings with a density similar to the present-day concept.
The 2020 vision, however, represents an entirely new concept for the site under the direction of Victoria-based Franc D’Ambrosio Architecture + Urbanism. The firm’s architectural statement was revealed in February and is now comprised of two buildings – an 11-storey mid-rise and a five-storey lowrise – with the latter positioned as a key element of Saanich’s emerging housing affordability strategy.
“We decided to hit reset with our latest design in order to present a fresh look for what is ultimately a landmark site, and to align our proposal with the mandate that the new Saanich council was elected on with regards to housing,” said Greg Gillespie, development manager at Mike Geric Construction (MGC).
|An aerial depiction for Doral Forest Park, looking east. Mike Geric Construction Ltd. / D'Ambrosio Architecture + Urbanism|
Under a potential partnership with the Capital Regional District (CRD), 43 of Doral Forest Park’s 242 homes will be affordable ownership opportunities priced 15% below market rates. Such an initiative is considered by local and provincial housing advocates as a critical component of the Capital’s future housing stock as the region grapples with what some local politicians have labelled a housing crisis.
“When we think of housing affordability and supply, we often focus on the rental side of the equation,” Gillespie says. “While that’s an incredibly important part of the overall housing strategy, we also need to find ways to help people achieve homeownership in a housing market faced with high land valuations, limited land availability and rising construction costs. As such, we are currently working with the CRD towards a final agreement.”
MGC’s below-market rental program at Travino Royal Oak, a multi-phased, mixed-use condominium, rental and commercial project nearing completion near West Saanich Road at Wilkinson Road, is a much lauded example of the company’s commitment to affordable housing. Travino’s first phase introduced a collection of below-market homes as an early adopter of Saanich’s affordable housing goals, and it will form the foundation for an affordable housing component for another mixed-use community MGC has proposed on Glanford Avenue at Enterprise Crescent.
|Doral Forest Park as viewed from Elk Lake Drive. Mike Geric Construction Ltd. / D'Ambrosio Architecture + Urbanism|
“Our experience with below-market rentals at Travino has helped us formalize additional ways to deliver homes at attainable rates through government partnerships, and with the experiences we're able to draw from, we’re committed to expanding on those efforts at our Enterprise Crescent and Doral Forest Park proposals,” Gillespie says.
The Elk Lake Drive project’s overall unit make-up will range from studio apartments to three-bedroom suites, with 199 homes situated in a terraced 11-storey building (with an A-shaped footprint starting at four-storeys) nestled adjacent to Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park’s forested entrance along the road's 4700-block.
A five-storey building, with 43 below-market residences, will front onto Elk Lake Drive in an east-west orientation just south of its taller counterpart.
The design of both buildings is complementary, with D’Ambrosio’s use of angled frontages yielding a unique and stately appearance to each façade that is particularly striking when viewed from the thoroughfare, according to architectural renderings.
The primary exterior material is light coloured brick, while expansive windows with dark frames evoke architectural expression common to the 1980s for an all around clean, up-market appearance.
Rooftops will include landscaped amenity spaces for residents offering sweeping views of parkland, the surrounding city, and the Olympic Mountain range beyond.
“This project represents an integration of sustainable design adjacent to a cherished regional park, and our goal is to not only to deliver much needed affordable and market housing to this neighbourhood, but to do so in an a way that will culminate as an attractive addition to arguably one of the most high profile sites in Saanich,” Gillespie says.
With the new proposal now before Saanich municipal planners, Gillespie estimates approvals to push into late 2021, with pre-construction design work extending into 2022. Pending a successful municipal planning process, construction at Doral Forest Park could get underway in 2022 or 2023. C
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