Royal Beach Q&A with Georgia Desjardins of Seacliff Properties, developer of the 134-acre Colwood project
Ten on the 10th
Published August 10, 2020
Citified's Ten on the 10th is a monthly question-and-answer segment connecting our readers with the insight and knowledge of Victoria's top real-estate and business professionals.
August's Ten on the 10th features Georgia Desjardins, Senior Asset Manager for Seacliff Properties, a private real-estate investment and development company based in Vancouver, BC.
Asking the questions is Ross Marshall, Senior Vice President of the Victoria offices of commercial real-estate brokerage CBRE. As a leader in facilitating large-scale commercial real-estate transactions throughout the Capital Region – which include apartment complexes, industrial retail and office properties, and land/development opportunities – Ross and his team are at the forefront of market-leading real-estate transactions on Vancouver Island.
Would you like to be featured as part of a future Ten on the 10th Q&A? We'd love to hear from you.
Who is Seacliff Properties?
Seacliff is a private, family-owned real-estate company based in Vancouver with more than 30 years of experience in the successful development, acquisition and management of large-scale real-estate projects throughout Western Canada.
Seacliff seems to have a large presence on Vancouver Island – can you tell us a bit more about your portfolio of projects here on the Island?
Yes, we’re certainly big believers in the future of Vancouver Island. We currently have five major projects underway at various stages of development (totalling in excess of 1500 acres), including Fairwinds (just north of Nanaimo), Sandstone (south end of Nanaimo), two projects in Langford known as City Gate and Westview, and of course Royal Beach in Colwood which I’m excited to be chatting about today.
Can you tell me about the Royal Beach property itself, and why Seacliff decided to purchase the property?
At over 134 acres in area, and with 1.4 km of shoreline with unobstructed views across the strait, Royal Beach is truly a spectacular piece of property. The site has a unique history having been operated as a gravel pit – this history has obviously left a scar on the landscape but we see this expansive property as an amazing opportunity to create something special for the future. It’s that very opportunity which formed the basis for Seacliff’s acquisition of the land back in late 2017.
I understand the City of Colwood recently updated their Official Community Plan – how has that impacted your vision and plans for the development of the property?
Yes, Colwood updated their OCP in 2018 which really set out what the community’s vision and goals were for the property. The Royal Beach property is envisioned within the OCP to become one of two primary centres within the City of Colwood, offering a vibrant mixed-use community that is characterized by it’s spectacular seaside setting. The goals and objectives as provided in the City’s OCP for the Royal Beach lands really formed the basis for our vision and development proposal.
Are the development approvals for the property already in place, or are you going to be rezoning?
While we do have some existing zoning in place that permits 926 residential units and about 868,000 square feet of non-residential density, we submitted an application back in May, 2019 to do a concurrent OCP amendment and rezoning. The purpose of our application is to really update, align and modernize the OCP and zoning in order to create the framework upon which Royal Beach can be built out over the next 20-plus years.
What are you proposing for the Royal Beach development in your application that’s before the City?
Colwood and the public want, and the site warrants, a world-class development – and that is exactly what Seacliff intends to deliver. We are proposing a vibrant new seaside community, that will provide a diverse range of housing options and a variety of non-residential space, defined by its spectacular oceanfront and ocean view parkland and public realm. As far as development approvals are concerned, we are proposing to retain our existing non-residential density, while increasing the allowances for residential development, in accordance with the OCP’s vision.
You mention creating a ‘world-class’ development – can you elaborate on that?
Absolutely – there are tons of examples of world-class communities and they almost all have something in common – a spectacular public realm for all to enjoy. As part of our application, we are proposing over 50 acres of oceanfront and ocean view parkland for the property.
Supporting the community’s desire to enjoy nature, ocean views and the site’s spectacular oceanfront, the site's amenities have been crafted to focus on creating an expansive, interconnected parkland and open space network with numerous access points to the waterfront. This parks plan will ultimately define Royal Beach and be the major component in turning this into a world-class community.
50 acres! What types of amenities are you proposing to include within this parks and open space plan?
Yes – the parks and open space plan is certainly the key feature and centre-piece of the development. We’ve shaped the parks plan in order to celebrate and interconnect 10 special places that we’ve identified throughout the property, interconnected by an extensive trail network. We’re proposing a diverse range of amenities throughout these special places – some examples include: a village plaza, outdoor amphitheatre; picnic shelters and BBQ pit; viewpoints and lookouts; public gathering areas; playgrounds and kids splash pads; a dog wash station and off-leash dog area; outdoor fitness stations and a significant art and culture corridor which highlights the seaside beauty while reflecting on the mining and Songhees First Nations history of the site.
Ultimately, we want to provide something for everyone to enjoy at this remarkable property.
When do you expect to have the zoning completed, and construction underway?
We are working closely with the City of Colwood, with the aim of having zoning in place this fall, so we can get underway with the first phases of construction in early 2021.
Where can people learn more about Royal Beach, and stay up-to-date on the project as you work through the approvals process and move into construction?
We have some more information on the project available on our website – RoyalBeach.ca. People can also register there in order to receive updates and information on the project as they become available. C
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- Would you like to be featured as part of a future Ten on the 10th Q&A? We'd love to hear from you
- View CBRE Victoria's website here
- View Seacliff Properties' website here
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