Saanich's J.J. Morgan Restaurant to close after decades in business as University Heights redev nears
MIKE KOZAKOWSKI, CITIFIED.CA
Published February 10, 2020
One of Victoria’s longest-running restaurants will be closing this spring as the owners transition into retirement and the building site readies for a significant redevelopment effort.
J.J. Morgan Restaurant, a staple of Saanich’s Gordon Head neighbourhood, will close on April 30th after decades in business at the corner of McKenzie Avenue at Cedar Hill Road within the University Heights Shopping Centre plaza.
The announcement comes as several other leaseholders at the mall have transitioned to alternate spaces, are planning to relocate or have already closed in preparation for construction following owner Wesbild Holdings' unveiling of plans to redevelop the complex into a mixed-use residential and commercial node spanning McKenzie Avenue between Cedar Hill Road and Shelbourne Street.
"As we move through the process of the University Heights redevelopment, our existing commercial tenants remain a key priority," said Kevin Wong, Vice President, Leasing & Asset Management at Wesbild.
"Given the complexities of the site’s redevelopment, the majority of existing commercial tenants must relocate in order to facilitate the new development. Wesbild is working with each tenant on a one-on-one basis to understand their unique needs. The operator of J.J. Morgan Restaurant decided it was a good time for them to move forward and close the business. We wish them the best of luck with their next chapter."
Wesbild's vision for University Heights includes upwards of 600 rental residences across four buildings, with four structures rising to six-storeys along Cedar Hill Road and a duo of three or four-storey buildings fronting onto Shelbourne Street. In addition to the residences, approximately 165,000 square feet of modern retail space will be constructed.
While J.J. Morgan will be missed and its void felt among Gordon Head residents, Wong says the future of University Heights will bring more food retailers to the neighbourhood.
"The new retail offerings at University Heights are envisioned to include both fast and casual dining options intended to provide Saanich and the surrounding region with a unique destination shopping and dining experience."
In mid-2019 the developer put University Heights' initial redevelopment plans on hold
in order to conduct another round of market assessments. The outcome yielded a new plan for the shopping centre with nearly double the initially proposed residential density and a refined site plan.
University Heights was acquired in 2015 by Wesbild. Re-purposing of the shopping centre could begin by 2021 pending municipal approvals, with completion several years thereafter. C
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