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Esquimalt rejects extra height ask for underway Pacific House condo tower

Pacific House, a nine-storey condominium tower underway on Esquimalt Road at Head Street in Esquimalt, will not be permitted to rise to 11 storeys with 16 additional units, following council's rejection of a two-storey height increase request by developer Lexi Group.  Citified.ca

Esquimalt rejects extra height ask for underway Pacific House condo tower
Mike Kozakowski, Citified.ca
Esquimalt council has rejected a design amendment to a nine-storey condominium project already rising on Esquimalt Road at Head Street, that would have pushed the tower’s final height to 11 storeys and grown its unit make-up by 16 suites.
 
 
Lexi Group has been building its Pacific House mid-rise at 899 Esquimalt Road since 2022. In late 2023, the company submitted a request to the Township seeking two additional floors above level seven (the present-day built height), thereby adding an eighth and ninth floor below the current design’s eighth level sub-penthouse and ninth level penthouse floor, lifting both the sub-penthouse and penthouse floors higher.
 
Metro Vancouver-based Lexi Group says the economic reality for developers has changed since COVID, and housing pressures continue to weigh on communities facing an under-supply of new-build inventory. Rising costs and rising interest rates, meanwhile, have made an impact on existing developments already in the process of being built. 
 
“The real estate industry is facing significant challenges in bringing new housing supply to market. With interest rates rising at their fastest pace in over forty-years and construction costs soaring 51% since the start of the pandemic,” Lexi Group stated as part of its height and density rationale prepared for council, adding, that “the viability of many projects has been severely limited. This has prompted many builders to reassess and modify their construction plans, often requiring increased density to offset rising costs.”
 
A new design for Pacific House.
Lexi Group's Pacific House condominium tower, depicted with two additional floors.  Lexi Group
 
Approved for nine-storeys as viewed from 899 Esquimalt Road at Head Street, and 12 storeys tall as viewed from Wollaston Street at Head Street, Lexi pursued approvals to complete the tower at 11 storeys along Esquimalt Road and 14 storeys above Wollaston Street.
 
The unit count would have increased from 66 to 82 homes.
  
In exchange for 16 new units, Lexi Group had planned to gift a suite of nearly 1,000 square feet on level two to the Township of Esquimalt as an amenity contribution.
 
“In keeping with the intent of providing a high-quality density bonusing [sic] package, in good faith and without prejudice, we will be voluntarily offering to provide a complimentary [sic] unit to the Township of Esquimalt with an interior living space of up to 999 square feet to the betterment of the community needs for the provision of any housing needs to be decided under Council’s discretion,” Lexi Group says.
 
 
 
Council voted 3-3, which resulted in a tie and automatic rejection. Mayor Barb Desjardins together with councillors Jacob Helliwell and Ken Armour voted in support. Councillor Boardman was absent. Rejecting the application were councillors Duncan Cavens, Tim Morrison and Darlene Rotchford.
 
Construction on Pacific House began in mid-2022, and was earmarked for completion this year. The tower's initial height was proposed in early 2018 at 12 storeys above Esquimalt Road with 70 units, prior to design revisions made and landing at approvals with nine storeys and 66 units.
 
 
While a mid-stream height adjustment as a building is under construction is virtually unheard of in the Capital Region, developer Salient Group recently secured approvals for an 11th floor at the company’s upcoming ten-storey rental tower undergoing site excavation along the 800-block of Fort Street in the City of Victoria. Council granted Salient approvals for its amended proposal, which will yield 14 additional rental units.
 
Another example of a post-approvals change, Aryze Developments' Wisteria Row project, also in the City of Victoria, recently secured council’s permission to walk back affordability measures at an approved development, instead offering $22,500 per unit as a fee to the municipality, and the dedication of parkland. C
 
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