Volvo's planned downtown departure could end Harris Green's era of car dealership dominance
Mike Kozakowski, Citified.ca
Published February 8, 2023
Downtown Victoria’s Volvo automotive dealership on Cook Street at Yates Street is poised for a return to Burnside Gorge if plans to build a custom showroom and service centre on Government Street materialize.
Although technically within Victoria’s Fernwood neighbourhood at the Harris Green border, Volvo Cars Victoria currently occupies the former Audi lot at 1101 Yates Street that several years-ago relocated to a Douglas Street facility between Summit and Topaz avenues in Burnside Gorge.
Envisioned as Volvo's new home base is a two-storey, nearly 52,000 square foot building by developer and car dealership chain GAIN Group for a trio of lots at 2512-2526 Government Street immediately south of Three Point Motors’ Mercedes-Benz dealership. The proposed project features a ground level showroom and service centre, an underground parking area, a second floor for offices, and rooftop parking.
The properties are presently cleared for development. Formerly, two commercial buildings – one a single-storey complex and the other a converted early 20th century home used as office space – occupied the land.
Volvo’s relocation would place it close to where the brand had formerly held its south Island operations within a custom-built dealership on Douglas Street at Hillside Avenue. Constructed in 2006, the structure is currently vacant and available for lease.
The 1101 Yates Street holding, meanwhile, was acquired in 2022 by Jawl Properties for $16.3 million. The one-acre parcel is eyed by Jawl as a “long-term” redevelopment play, with Volvo having “a reasonable amount of lease term remaining,” according to a statement made at the time of the purchase to Citified by Jawl Properties’ Managing Director, Robert Jawl.
|A rendering of Government Street's proposed Volvo dealership, planned for 2512-2526 Government Street. GAIN Group|
The shift away from auto dealerships in downtown Victoria has been steadfast in recent years, with Harris relocating its Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Chrysler vehicles from Yates Street at Cook Street west of Volvo to the West Shore in 2022, as Pacific Mazda cleared out from its long-time base on Cook Street between Yates and Johnson streets (kitty-corner from Volvo) to the former Glenoak Ford property on Douglas Street at Market Street.
The former Harris and Mazda locations, in fact, are already slated for redevelopment into mixed-use residential towers.
Chard Development recently acquired the Mazda property for $45 million where two residential highrises (comprised of approximately 450-units of rental suites) will be constructed starting as early as 2024, where they will join an almost completed first phase of residences that kick-started the multi-phased play.
At the Harris site, Starlight Developments is awaiting a decision (due at a public hearing scheduled for February 9th) on whether the City will approve its vision for approximately 500-units of rental housing in two towers of 20 and 21-storeys forming phase one of its multi-phased, two-block Harris Green Village plans that would deliver over 1,500 rental apartments along with 100,000 square feet of retail space.
Based on this nearby development activity, it is anticipated that Jawl Properties' eventual pitch for 1101 Yates Street will focus on mixed-use residential and commercial units. C
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