Flanked by Blanshard Street, Burdett Avenue and Fairfield Road in downtown Victoria, a proposal envisions a 22-storey hotel and residential redevelopment for the triangular lot housing the former B.C. Power Commission building.
OMB Architects + Designers, on behalf of Reliance Properties, has submitted a concept to the city that would see 77 hotel rooms within the 780 Blanshard St. heritage building and a new 102-unit residential tower on top of it.
In a Feb. 24 letter to Victoria council, the developer said the proposal would rehabilitate the B.C. Power Commission building, add housing in the downtown core and create a vibrant area around the heritage building.
The rehabilitation of the building’s facade would include removing an unoriginal eastern stairway that was added in the 1990s, restoring heritage paint colours and retaining character-defining elements, like metal window screens and corrugated glass.
“The team has envisioned a new development that restores an important heritage building, strengthens the urban network, improves the surrounding public realm, renews the adjacent municipal park, provides significantly expanded public transit infrastructure and ultimately helps create a more vibrant, resilient and diverse community,” the letter to council said.
The L-shaped, 18-storey tower’s facade would match the width of the Blanshard Street main entrance and align with, or be stepped back from, the existing building’s facade. However, the first floor of the tower (fifth floor overall) would be further stepped back to “preserve the visual integrity of the heritage structure and to transition more gracefully between the old and the new.”
The tower addition’s 102 units would include 17 studios, 17 small one-bedrooms, 34 one-bedrooms and 34 two-bed units.
Public realm improvements to the site would include a small park, a plaza on Blanshard Street, an “urban mobility hub,” a cafe and food service spot, and gardens on the property and rooftops.
The proposal hasn’t made it to the council table yet, but would require rezoning. OMB said the project would intend to align with the Official Community Plan, Downtown Core Area Plan and other applicable guidelines.
The proposal recognizes there would be constraints like the property’s shape and slope, creating a sensible and compelling addition on the heritage building and on-site parking – with 27 mostly off-site vehicle spaces and 148 bike stalls proposed.
Sun shadow studies found the building would have a modest impact overall due to the tower’s slender design, the proposal states.
It also boasts about the potential for added jobs and tourism from the hotel, improving public access to a historical building, contributing to a lively and walkable community, opportunities for public art and possibly a new transit hub.
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