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Fisgard Street's 112-year-old Abbey Apartments could make way for 12-storey, no-parking rental tower

A rendering of the lower levels of Aryze Developments' proposal for a highrise residential building at 1702 Quadra Street at Fisgard Street. The proponent plans to replace a 112-year-old, 15-unit rental building known as The Abbey with a 12-storey, 91-unit tower.  Aryze Developments

Fisgard Street's 112-year-old Abbey Apartments could make way for 12-storey, no-parking rental tower
Mike Kozakowski, Citified.ca
Aryze Developments has revealed a new design concept for its proposal to re-imagine a landmark property known for its eclectic heritage rentals on Quadra Street at Fisgard Street in Victoria’s North Park neighbourhood.
 

The Abbey Apartments at 1702 Quadra Street – dating to 1911 as a two-storey commercial-turned-rental residential building with 15 suites – will no longer feature as the ground floor component of a residential tower planned by Aryze, and will instead become part of the rezoning effort through a repurposing of its bricks for “short walls” and "planters" the proponent calls “material memory,” and via history-themed artwork.
 
Although not technically designated as a heritage structure by the City of Victoria, the 112-year-old Abbey was featured as a facade restoration effort in the initial design concept stemming from early 2022, which incorporated a 10-storey tower comprised of 91 units of rentals above The Abbey. The latest proposal, also from Winnipeg-based 5468796 Architecture, rises to 12 storeys with a density of 91 units, albeit with a smaller massing in exchange for height and balconies.
 
A full view of The Abbey's 2023 redesign.
A full view of Aryze Developments' latest design for 1702 Quadra Street.  Aryze Developments

An interim design revealed between the January 2022 and June 2023 designs, featuring The Abbey.
An interim architectural design revealed between the January 2022 and June 2023 iterations, featuring The Abbey as part of 1702 Quadra Street's lower levels.  Aryze Developments
 
In describing its design pivot, Aryze outlines an homage to the Abbey in lieu of facade retention like so:
 
“Currently, this looks like exploring potential creative measures which create a material memory of the existing building while adding dimension to the ground floor and exterior. One example of this is the proposed use of salvaged brick from the demolition of the existing building to demarcate its location through a series of short walls and planters along Fisgard Street—bringing historical awareness and textural references to the original building to the pedestrian scale. We are also interested in continued collaboration with local makers and creatives to explore design opportunities that weave the old with the new while remaining receptive to feedback from community members.”
 
Another aspect of the initial plan incorporated into the update is the lack of residential parking. In the 2022 design, parking was limited to three on-site stalls (one for a car-share vehicle, two for commercial and loading purposes) in order to accommodate a retention of The Abbey’s heritage elements, and due to difficult site conditions for the purposes of building underground parking. The 2023 update includes two on-site parking stalls.
 
To support car-free transportation, Aryze is including a state-of-the-art secure bicycle storage room for residents which features electric bicycle charging stations and parking specifically suitable for larger cargo bikes, which represent a growing segment of the Capital’s cycling activity. Additionally, an enhanced bicycle repair station will be included.
 
At ground level, live-work units will front Fisgard Street, with nearly 1,000 square feet of commercial space along Quadra Street. 85% of residences will be in studio and one-bedroom layouts (23 and 55, respectively), 10 homes will feature two bedrooms and three will serve as live-work units.
 
The new design will be presented to area residents as part of Aryze’s community engagement efforts, with potential approvals not anticipated until late 2023 or early 2024 pending stakeholder feedback and council review prior to send the proposal to a public hearing.
 
Existing residents within The Abbey’s 15 rental homes will receive relocation assistance during construction under a multi-phased approach that Aryze says goes beyond the City of Victoria’s regulations governing the redevelopment of rental housing and tenant displacement scenarios.
 

In an informational package delivered to the City of Victoria last year, Aryze states it will exceed the financial compensation required to be provided to tenants upon relocation to an alternative apartment, which will be aided through a relocation coordinator. The coordinator will work to find a comparable suite within the neighbourhood for residents who choose that option, or within new-build housing. Aryze confirmed to Citified in 2022, that the company will provide tenants with at least six months notice prior to the start of construction. Individuals with additional needs will be accommodated on a one-on-one basis.
 
Aryze Developments is one of the Capital’s most active real-estate development firms with multiple high density projects completed throughout the region, several underway, and numerous proposals in planning. C
 
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