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Art gallery and cultural space grand opening to celebrate Esquimalt Town Square's completion

Esquimalt Town Square, as seen from its Park Place frontage between Esquimalt Road and Carlisle Avenue. The Spruce, a 36-suite rental building, is situated at-left. The Mill, seen as its final touches are added ahead of its completion, is at-centre. The Douglas, a 36-residence condominium, now move-in ready, is at-right with its near-twin The Arbutus situated east along Carlisle Avenue. Esquimalt Town Square will be celebrating its completion this month after over four years of construction adjacent to Esquimalt's town hall.  Citified.ca

Art gallery and cultural space grand opening to celebrate Esquimalt Town Square's completion
MIKE KOZAKOWSKI, CITIFIED.CA
A culmination of over four years of construction at Esquimalt’s landmark Esquimalt Town Square community will coincide with the grand opening of Gallery Splash, a new arts initiative from Esquimalt’s Township Community Arts Council.
 
The four-building mixed-use condominium, rental suite, retail and office project from developer Aragon Properties has completed in phases adjacent to Esquimalt’s town hall along the 1200-block of Esquimalt Road, and its emerging role as a cultural hub will be on full display this fall as the final piece of Esquimalt Town Square (ETS) is unveiled as The Mill.
 
“We have developed a wonderful, symbiotic relationship with Aragon Properties and Esquimalt Town Square,” said Morlene Tomlinson, founder and president of the Township Community Arts Council (TCAC). “The grand opening of Gallery Splash within The Mill office building will kickstart what we hope to be a long-term arts and culture venue at the core of Esquimalt Town Square’s vibrant arts and culture feel.”
 
As part of a planned September 25th ceremony, TCAC and Aragon will celebrate the opening of Gallery Splash in a community flex space adjacent to Greater Victoria Public Library’s (GVPL) new Esquimalt branch slated for opening later this fall. Featuring artist works from around the community, Gallery Splash will hold hours in tandem with the library, and enable creators from all walks of life and a wide spectrum of genres to display their art for public viewing and sale.
 
Gallery Splash will launch as a four month pilot initiative, with the potential for an extension into 2022 and beyond. Support for the space has also come from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) which is helping guide the TCAC with setting up their operation.
 
“The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria through the generous help of Karen Cooper is providing assistance to the TCAC, for free, and we hope to host the AGGV within our Gallery Splash space,” Tomlinson said, adding that the AGGV has assisted TCAC with selecting the appropriate hanging system for its art displays.
 
Building on ETS’s role as a community gathering place, the Esquimalt Farmer’s Market (ranked as the province’s ‘best’ farmer’s market) has made the project site its secondary home after outgrowing its capacity at Memorial Park across from the development site. Organizers can accommodate numerous booths, food trucks and market vendors throughout ETS’s central plaza, which becomes a hive of activity on market days drawing visitors from across the Capital.
 
On the retail front, Esquimalt Roasting Company just opened their new café location at ETS. It came with great success and lineups out the door, according to operators. The company’s roasting facility will remain at its current space across the street along Esquimalt Road. Future tenant announcements at ETS’s ground floor and office units are anticipated closer to their respective occupancies.
 
An aerial rendering of Esquimalt Town Square.
An aerial rendering of Esquimalt Town Square.  Aragon Properties
 
Mayor Barb Desjardins says Aragon’s development has not only delivered much needed condominium and rental housing to Esquimalt’s town centre, it has played a key role in reinvigorating the township’s civic area through its high quality mixed-use spaces and its many partnerships with arts and cultural organizations.
 
“Esquimalt Town Square has single-handedly done so much for Esquimalt’s vibrancy and resident gathering opportunities, and with its partnership with the arts council and cultural groups, it has showcased Esquimalt as a wonderful place to live, visit and do business in.”
 
Desjardins says a vision for what was once a sizeable vacant parcel along Esquimalt’s main thoroughfare stems to the 2000s when elected officials began confronting a series of challenges – economic and otherwise – that precluded the township from reaching its full potential as a thriving coastal community close to downtown Victoria and home to CFB Esquimalt. Planning for what would eventually become ETS began nearly 15-years-ago.
 
“We recognized as a council as far back as 2007 that our municipally-owned properties needed to play a catalyst role in the future development of Esquimalt. We were stagnant in every way, we faced a declining population, and something had to be done,” Desjardins said. “When we envisioned the lands adjacent to our town hall as a development opportunity, we could not have asked for anything more than what Aragon delivered to our town, and they did it with our community needs and aspirations at the core of every aspect of the project.”
 
The mayor notes that Aragon’s successful transformation of an empty municipal site into a landmark so many want to call home, work from and experience stems from the company’s embrace of and dedication to Esquimalt’s strong support for inclusivity, the township’s deep sense of belonging, and its rich history.
 
“The key to everything in Esquimalt is our community,” Desjardins says. “Every development brought forth before council is looked at through that lense. We look to support development in a very thoughtful, balanced way, and everything is driven by our commitment to who we are as a community. That is something Aragon took to heart, and delivered on in a way that all anyone could say about their proposal was positive.”
 
Through a relocation of the GVPL branch from within the town hall complex into a purpose-built space at The Mill, Esquimalt’s archives will have the opportunity to transition into the former library space, providing residents with access to the town hall, the archives, the township’s historic museum and its library all in one small area. Desjardins says the proximity of such services will help make the municipality even more accessible for its residents, and emphasize Esquimalt as a livable, walkable place to call home.
 
With construction starting in 2017, phased completion of ETS began in 2020 with its two six-storey condominiums (The Douglas with 36-homes and The Arbutus with 32-homes) on Carlisle Avenue at Park Place, followed by The Spruce in early 2021, a 36-suite, six-storey (fully leased) apartment fronting Esquimalt Road and Park Place. The Mill, a five-storey cross-laminated timber building with 50,000 square feet office and commercial space on Park Place is undergoing its final touches ahead of Gallery Splash’s and Greater Victoria Public Library’s openings.
 
Home sales at The Douglas and The Arbutus, meanwhile, have been brisk with nearly 80% of their 68 move-in ready one, two and three-bedroom residences now sold, according to Luke Ramsay, Aragon Properties’ Development Manager.
 
“We have had some great feedback from homeowners who have moved into The Douglas and The Arbutus. This is always great to hear as we know how much work went into making it a special project. We are getting close to being sold-out which is a nice way to wrap up the project.” Ramsay said. “I think ETS has been part of a positive transformation for Esquimalt, being part of a welcoming community and capitalizing on its central location close to so many shopping amenities, transit services and employment opportunities.”
 
Sized from 915 to 1,449 square feet, residences at The Douglas and The Arbutus feature urban finishings synonymous with Aragon’s reputation for functional high-quality homes and market-leading attention to detail.
 
In-suite amenities such as linear electric fireplaces set into reclaimed brick accent walls add industrial flair to modern layouts, while 9’6” ceilings give each home a sense of spaciousness typically reserved for penthouse lofts. Expansive windows allow ample natural light to fill living spaces, as ultra-efficient panes and patio doors keep interiors comfortable year-round.
 
There are two colour schemes to choose from: ’Saxe’ (light) and ‘Carlisle’ (dark). Kitchens present gourmet Bosch and Fisher & Paykel appliances throughout, and luxurious bathrooms are spa-inspired with design details that include premium Kohler fixtures, large format tiles and custom vanities.
 
 A rendering of a penthouse suite terrace at Esquimalt Town Square's condominiums.
A rendering of a penthouse terrace at Esquimalt Town Square's condominium offerings.  Aragon Properties
 
All homes are apportioned with an outdoor area, be it a spacious balcony with views over the Salish Sea or Esquimalt’s lush urban canopy, or private rooftop spaces on top-floor penthouses with unparalleled vistas towards ocean and forest.
 
And in-keeping with transportation trends, every suite is accompanied by an electric vehicle parking stall in an underground parkade.  Frequent bus routes on Esquimalt Road at Park Place offer all-day frequency to UVic, CFB Esquimalt, the downtown core and Saanich.
 
Speaking to future value, demand for Esquimalt real-estate has surged in recent years as Victoria’s coastal lands in the Vic West neighbourhood – sharing a border with Esquimalt – continue their build-out. The progression of urban infill and densification efforts in Victoria have trended west where they've met a more than willing neighbour already poised for growth.
 
“Esquimalt has one of the best pedestrian and alternative transportation networks on the south Island, and being a walkable municipality full of amenities, it is favourably positioned to absorb growth in a smart and sustainable way,” Ramsay said. “When buyers look to new real-estate opportunities stemming from COVID-19's impacts, Esquimalt presents itself as a friendly, caring and forward-thinking place to call home.”
 
To learn more about Esquimalt Town Square and its move-in ready condominiums, view the project website here or call 250-385-6665. For enquiries related to commercial leasing, connect with Aragon Properties by calling Mike Lowe at 604-732-6170.
 
Details on TCAC’s upcoming Gallery Splash can be found here. C
 
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