Art Deco-styled Victoria office complex sold to Vancouver developer; eyed for restoration, more floors
MIKE KOZAKOWSKI, CITIFIED.CA
Published August 19, 2019
One of Vancouver’s most established real-estate development firms and a key player in the Capital’s heritage building restoration industry has acquired a landmark office complex in downtown Victoria.
780 Blanshard Street, also known as the B.C. Power Commission Building, is one of only a handful of Art Deco-styled properties in Victoria and has been added to Reliance Properties’ growing roster of historic landmarks.
The four-storey low-rise (appearing between two and four-storeys across its various frontages overlooking the slopes of the Humboldt Valley) features ornate exterior art work and stylized building elements common to the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.
Completed in 1940 with the intended use as a hospital, 780 Blanshard Street became the headquarters for the province’s electrification efforts in the mid-century and has remained an integral part of provincial business since.
Government tenants plan to vacate the building by mid-2020 and relocate staff to newly-built spaces in James Bay, while Reliance Properties hopes to pursue a significant redevelopment effort that would see the building restored and additional floors added on.
Jon Stovell, President of Reliance Properties, says his company’s vision for the building could see any one of a mix of uses accommodate, and more height.
“Residential, office or hotel are all options,” Stovell says, adding that “a multi-storey addition” is planned which could push the height to 120 feet (the permitted vertical reach for the property).
Stovell is no stranger to heritage property restoration efforts.
The developer has overseen the restoration of some two dozen buildings throughout Vancouver and Victoria, including Victoria’s Janion Hotel which became the 122-unit The Janion project on Store Street at Pandora Avenue and the soon-to-be-restored Northern Junk buildings on Wharf Street at Johnson Street as part of the 47-unit 1314-1324 Wharf Street proposal.
The company also owns the historic Fairfield Block property on Douglas Street at Cormorant Street, 1244 Wharf Street at the foot of Yates Street, and 31 Bastion Square, the key landmark overlooking the popular public plaza.
A formal municipal application process will begin soon. C
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