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Rockland townhome proposal marks rare opportunity in historic neighbourhood

Artist's rendering of 750 Pemberton Road, a proposal for five townhomes and a renovated 117-year-old manor with its accessory building (at-left).  Melanie Smith Developments.

Rockland townhome proposal marks rare opportunity in historic neighbourhood

A townhome development has been proposed for 750 Pemberton Road in Victoria’s historic Rockland neighbourhood, marking a rare opportunity to acquire a new-build residence in the up-market area.

Victoria-based Melanie Smith Developments has applied for permits to build a collection of five boutique townhomes, sized between 2,050 and 2,234 square feet over 2.5 levels, adjacent to a 117-year-old manor (currently divided into eight rental apartments) and its accessory building (containing a single rental unit). The manor, according to the latest plans, will be converted into a single-family-dwelling as per the City of Victoria’s zoning requirements.

However, developer Melanie Smith says an earlier, smaller concept for the site, which was rejected by the neighbourhood association and subsequently made unfeasible following a sudden zoning change by the City of Victoria, was in-keeping with the City’s desire to protect the rental housing stock and minimize the footprint of new buildings in Rockland.

"Our original concept was to build three townhomes and retain all nine rental apartments in the manor and the accessory building. In fact we planned to enter into a housing agreement with the City of Victoria to protect the apartments. Unfortunately the City decided to pass a zoning change without any community consultation and that affected our ability to follow through with our initial plan," Smith said.

Several months ago the City of Victoria passed what it referred to as a minor housekeeping item that required each individual housing unit in Rockland to include 835 square meters of land. This meant that a 500 square foot rental apartment would now require 9,000 square feet of property, 18 times the living space. That sudden change, Smith says, forced the latest changes.

"We suddenly found ourselves in a situation where we could no longer propose three townhomes on a property that already had nine rental apartments on less land than the required 835 square meters per unit. In order to meet the new zoning we would have had to reduce the density in the manor, let alone build three additional homes."

The manor will now be renovated and transformed into a single-family residence, while the accessory building will be retained as storage.

In total 12 parking stalls will be provided on-site; one at each townhome and seven elsewhere on the property.

Provided the approval process proceeds without delays, the anticipated construction start would be in the late fall of this year with completion approximately one year later. C


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