A new “landmark building” is planned for Victoria in an aim to “advance the City’s key economic engines, such as technology and innovation.”
Telus Communications Inc. intends to make the Victoria-owned land at 749-767 Douglas Street into its regional headquarters and “innovation centre” dubbing it the Telus Ocean project.
The site, located on the southeast corner of Douglas and Humboldt streets, is a 27,790 square foot triangular vacant parcel that was created as part of the original infilling of James Bay in the early 1900s. At first, a furniture manufacturer was built on the site, then a large-scale laundry plant before the buildings were paved over. Currently, two car rental companies operate on the property.
Approximately 250 Telus employees are expected to work in the building and the innovation hub is to be used to showcase advanced communications and information technology.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said Tuesday’s announcement marks the “end of a long road” with three years of planning. In 2017, the City received six proposals for the land at the corner of Douglas and Humboldt streets, of which Telus Ocean scored the highest.
Helps said the project would help “anchor” the southern end of downtown, as well as creating “high-value jobs.”
“The fact that Telus, which is British Columbia’s largest private-sector employer, is making such a big investment in downtown Victoria is a strong sign of our economic recovery,” she said, adding that the project was in line with Victoria 3.0 — the City’s new economic action plan.
“Victoria 3.0 is … really thinking for the future, the next 20 to 50 years,” said Helps.
Telus purchased the land from the City for $8.1 million, plus up to an additional $1.1 million purchase price adjustment depending on the final proposal submitted and approved as part of the rezoning process.
The proceeds from the sale of the land will go into a reserve fund that can be used to advance some of the City’s other priorities including affordable housing. The “significant and ongoing” tax revenue that is generated from the site will be used to fund amenities in the downtown core.
Victoria and Telus will share the “environmental and geotechnical costs to remediate the site,” with City contributing $2.37 million. In exchange for the contribution, Telus will assume all liability and responsibility for environmental remediation of the site.
The community engagement process is set to begin in late June. Telus plans to submit a land use application within the next few months after conducting initial public engagement.