An initial redevelopment proposal for University Heights has been submitted to Saanich by Wesbild Developments with 350 rental units above a modernized commercial space. Wesbild Developments rendering

An initial redevelopment proposal for University Heights has been submitted to Saanich by Wesbild Developments with 350 rental units above a modernized commercial space. Wesbild Developments rendering

University Heights owner submits initial redesign to Saanich

Proposed redesign would add 350 rental units over commercial space

A first proposal for the much anticipated University Heights redevelopment has been submitted to Saanich by owners Wesbild Developments.

The proposal includes 350 rental units that would sit above about 185,000 square-feet of retail space. The new building would sit between McKenzie Avenue and Home Depot, as the latter would remain at its present location.

While there are many details in the bid, Wesbild spokesperson Jennifer Derbyshire says it’s far too early to say anything is certain.

“We don’t have a first round of feedback from Saanich [planning] yet, and we haven’t gone through the feedback from the Gordon Head Residents’ Association, we only met with them on Friday,” Derbyshire said.

The mixed use rental building is in response to what they’ve heard from stakeholders and residents in the area.

At this stage, the developer’s No. 1 goal is to be in line with the Shelbourne Valley Action Plan, based on the amount of community work that went into that, Derbyshire added.

Built in 1988, University Heights is comprised of 205,500 square-feet of leasable space, with RBC, CIBC, Thrifty Foods Liquor, Save-On-Foods, Landmark Cinemas, V.I. Fitness, restaurants and independent shops. Wesbild bought it for a reported $52 million in 2015 and the 500,000 square-feet of land and buildings are currently valued at $53 million by B.C. Assessment.

The new layout would redesign the use of space at University Heights, adding an additional pair of buildings to the lot. Low-rise residential would sit above the main commercial building at tiered levels of six and eight storeys.

For now, the consultation process will continue. What will happen with the existing tenants is unknown, as a leasing manager will work with each tenant on a case-by-case basis as Wesbild nears the redevelopment, Derbyshire said.

“We’re still years away from anything but we’re excited that the community is ready for [University Heights] to be replaced.”

reporter@saanichnews.com