Proposed 10-storey Quadra Street rental tower will incorporate 111-year-old North Park heritage asset
MIKE KOZAKOWSKI, CITIFIED.CA
Published January 18, 2022
The developer of a newly approved landmark downtown office building has submitted a rezoning application to the City of Victoria that incorporates a non-registered heritage building into a mixed-use rental project.
The Abbey apartments at 1702 Quadra Street and 862 Fisgard Street – a two-storey commercial-turned-residential block dating back to 1911 – is the foundation of a new proposal from Aryze Developments which has designed a vision that would see the building assume the lower levels of a 10-storey, 91-unit rental mid-rise
with ground floor commercial and residential spaces.
Aryze’s concept, drafted in collaboration with 5468796 Architecture (a multiple Governor General Award recipient based out of Winnipeg), calls for a concrete tower rising eight levels above The Abbey with exposed concrete columns, overhangs and terraces. The building’s expansive windows, reaching near floor-to-ceiling heights and encased in decorative square-shaped concrete frames, present a unique design element to Victoria’s built form while complementing the immediate area’s post-modern residential towers.
“Although this proposal is at its early stage of consultation, community feedback has been positive with regards to the architectural design of the building, the heritage preservation aspect related to The Abbey, and the project’s mix of unit types that reflect the housing needs of the North Park and downtown Victoria neighbourhoods,” said Vinit Jain, Aryze Developments’ development manager overseeing the application.
Jain says a key element of the application is preserving significant portions of the existing building. In order to retain the heritage element, a conscious decision was made to pursue a limited number of on-site parking stalls. The parking layout totals three spaces, one for use by a car-share, and two for commercial and loading purposes. The lack of on-site parking, according to the developer, has the benefit of promoting alternative transportation choices among residents in order to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, Jain said the layout and soil conditions of the property, which sits on a sloped grade, would lead to challenges for the provision of underground parking and limit the ability to pursue income-connected rental housing in partnership with BC Housing’s Housing Hub.
“Based on our neighbourhood engagements, the North Park community is receptive to the idea of limited parking in the building when looking at the city’s broader environmental goals and emissions targets, and when taking into consideration the significant costs of delivering parking on a challenging a site like this,” Jain said, adding that “Victoria is a leading environmentally-friendly city, and this proposal is situated within a walkable, bikeable and transit connected area. Although there is bound to be curiosity around no-parking residential density, it is the direction many cities are moving toward.”
To accommodate alternative 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. An enhanced bicycle repair station will also be included.
The unit make-up will consist of 14 studio and bachelor suites (including three fronting onto Fisgard Street on the ground floor in a live-work configuration), 56 one-bedroom floorplans, 19 two-bedroom layouts, and two three-bedroom residences. The ratio was developed in collaboration with the North Park Neighbourhood Association's Land Use Committee who Jain referred to as "an excellent resource for helping refine the project."
Commercial units will encompass 1,015 square feet with exposure onto Quadra Street and overlooking the Quadra and Fisgard streets intersection.
Amenities will include a landscaped rooftop patio and dog run on what would technically be the 11th floor, offering residents 360-degree views across the city. A roughly 1,000 square foot interior amenity room at ground level will provide a flex space, and a guest suite is being designed for resident use.
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, 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 liaising with each tenant. The coordinator will work to find a comparable suite within the neighbourhood for residents who choose that option, or in alternative locations within new-build housing. Aryze confirms it will provide tenants with at least six months’ notice prior to the start of The Abbey’s restoration and new construction of the tower above. Individuals with additional needs will be accommodated on a one-on-one basis.
“We are in a unique position in that we have developed and are developing a significant amount of market and below-market rental housing all across Victoria in which tenants being relocated will be given first rights to lease,” said Jan.
The developer confirms the municipal planning and permitting process is expected to push into spring of 2023 with construction spanning approximately 24 months thereafter, leading to a mid-2025 occupancy target.
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. In partnership with TELUS, Aryze expects to begin construction this winter on its first office building, known as TELUS Ocean
, coming to Douglas Street at Humboldt Street on a former City-owned lot known as the Apex Site.
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