Esquimalt's Carlton Club slated for redev into 26-storey condo tower, 8-storey rental block
Mike Kozakowski, Citified.ca
Published May 15, 2023
A new landmark has been envisioned for Esquimalt along the township’s main thoroughfare of Esquimalt Road.
Victoria-based GMC Projects has unveiled plans for a two-building proposal featuring 176 condominiums in a 26-storey tower, and 96 rental suites in an eight-storey counterpart. The buildings are slated for 900 Esquimalt Road at Head Street (currently a three-storey mixed-use complex), and 900 Carlton Terrace, the former home of the Carlton Club nightclub, and its Esquimalt Road frontage.
Developer Jordan Milne says the municipality’s desire to promote itself as a destination for new-build housing and as a progressive locale to do business in has helped Esquimalt ascend to a high point in recent years – due largely to the efforts of its elected officials and progressive community planning – and this has lead to significant interest in the area among developers.
“We are excited to have an opportunity to take part in Esquimalt’s evolution and the forward-looking momentum fostered by Mayor Desjardins and elected officials,” Milne said. “We believe Esquimalt has been overlooked by many for too long, and that these properties alongside the vision we have developed on the backside of the Official Community Plan, create the opportunity to deliver an unparalleled amenity-rich and view-oriented community that will attract a variety of households that may have not otherwise considered this form of housing, or this community.”
Although 26-storeys is a sizeable massing for the municipality, Esquimalt has seen its building heights rise over the last several years, with a 12-storey condominium (as viewed from Wollaston Street) now under construction kitty-corner from GMC’s site, an 11-storey tower on the western side of the township nearing occupancy along Admirals Road, and a 10-storey apartment recently progressing to construction on Constance Avenue near Esquimalt Road. Down the road in neighbouring Vic West, towers of nearly 30-storeys are proposed on Esquimalt Road between Tyee Road and Catherine Street.
|An artist's sketch of 900 Esquimalt Road, an eight-storey rental block on Esquimalt Road at Head Street. Beyond are the lower floors of a 26-storey condominium towers. GMC Projects|
Speaking to the height, Milne says the massing of the project was derived over a two year span of consultation, shadow studies, and liaising with adjacent property owners and residents in order to propose a design that would have the least amount of impact on adjacent parcels and residential blocks, while delivering enough homes and commercial space to make the proposal viable.
“There is a certain level of density required in order to facilitate various public amenities, and in order to create community assets like a public dog park, two plaza spaces, a significant setback from the sidewalk, and a contribution towards housing affordability, we need to secure a set target of units. We can either build a large, lengthy block with an imposing street wall, or we can break up the massing, and focus the majority of density into a highrise tower preserving views and lessening shadowing impacts,” Milne said.
As proposed, the condominium tower’s unit make-up includes 22 junior one-bedroom suites of 445 square feet, 58 one-bedroom suites in 585 to 633 square foot layouts, 86 two-bedroom homes of 727 to 912 square feet, and 10 three-bedroom residences ranging in size from 990 to 1,290 square feet. The rental block will include 36 junior one-bedroom units also at 445 square feet, 30 one-bedroom units of 455 to 565 square feet, and 30 two-bedroom homes of 609 to 936 square feet.
The orientation of the condominium tower, Milne says, will provide ocean views for six of eight units on every floor, with sweeping vistas towards the Inner Harbour, the Olympic Mountain Range, the Sooke Hills and Thetis Cove.
Parking will be in the form of an underground parkade and one level of above grade parking atop commercial spaces to enable future adaptability as transportation habits change to permit additional residential and, or, commercial uses. The proposal is currently allocating 245 stalls for residential use and a further 22 for commercial purposes.
On the amenity front for residents, the buildings will include, among other perks, a fitness gym and yoga studio, provisions for pets like a dog wash station and dog lounge, meeting or co-working space, a sound-proof music room, a craft or media room, an indoor entertaining space with a kitchen, a games area and restrooms adjacent to an expansive outdoor area that includes an outdoor kitchen and barbecue space. A mini ‘parklet’ along with a games pitch, gardening plots and a variety of socialization spaces will also be built, with an eye to various group sizes.
An approximately 8,000 square foot retail component will provide opportunities for a wide range of commercial operators, including restaurants and cafes, personal services, and the possibility for banking. Existing tenants at 900 Esquimalt Road will be assisted with their relocation plans to make way for construction, and will be granted the first right-of-offer to return to the site post-completion.
“We know how important the existing tenants are to the community because we are part of the community, and before ever purchasing either of these properties, we met with each of the commercial tenants and expressed our desire to work with them through this process, to engage an agent to help find a suitable location to move to during construction, and the right of first offer for them to lease or buy commercial space in the new project,” Milne said, adding that “a success for us would be at least one or more of them to return, and this is an ongoing dialogue with them.”
As for the old night club, Milne confirms its days are over as a social hub in the community, and no similar uses are being considered.
With the 900 Esquimalt Road proposal being GMC’s first formal foray into the condominium realm, the company says its outlook now focuses on comprehensive residential options yielding a mix of ownership and rental housing, or single uses depending on each development’s unique factors.
“Historically, GMC has been exclusive in our creation of income producing assets and provision of mixed-use rental housing, but our focus has shifted to creating complete communities and that does mean that with certain projects we will be pursuing both for-sale and rental housing, or entirely one or the other. It will depend on the site, typology, scale, and the project economics.”
GMC’s pipeline includes a proposal at 515 Foul Bay Road in Victoria for a mix of rental and ownership suites, ownership units at the Cedarwood Motel redevelopment in Sidney, a purpose-built rental in Vancouver along East 40th Street, and a purpose-built rental in Seattle's SEATAC community. In 2022, GMC completed a rental development along Cook Street in Victoria known as the Charlesworth, and in 2018 the company opened Portage West, a conversion of Esquimalt’s Econo-Lodge motel property on Admirals Road at Craigflower Road into 96 waterfront apartments. C
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