Monday, August 24, 2009

This is from the Journal of Commerce website. I am happy to see that this project is still moving forward, the addition of residential to the Tillicum mall site is an important move towards making this a more important hub of density in the region.

The addition of 30 000 sq feet of retail and 280 000 sq feet of residential will mean the Rio Can owned space on the site will total about 780 000 sq feet. The area also has SilverCity and The Pearkes rec centre which add about another 200 000 sq feet to the site bringing the total site development to close to 1 000 000 sq feet, about 150 000 more sq feet than the new Uptown Centre.

This will make the Tillicum mall complex the largest retail, residential, and recreational development on Vancouver Island. Though I assume this will be passed when the Uptown Centre builds some residential on site.


July 15, 2009

Rendering of lower-end condo development in British Columbia.

MUSSON CATTELL MACKEY PARTNERSHIP.

A lower end condo development in Saanich is expected to move ahead, while higher profile projects on Vancouver Island have stalled.

Vancouver Island developer strives to fill lower-end condo niche

Before ground can be broken for a $150-million condo/retail project in Saanich, a new home must be found for two popular restaurants situated at the building site.

Until a new location for the Kelsey’s and Montana’s eateries is finalized, marketing plans and project details have stalled for a project featuring a single podium anchored by one 13-storey and one nine-storey tower.

“Currently there’s buildings where we plan to put the towers,” said Stuart Craig, the assistant vice-president of planning for the RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust.

In May, RioKim Holdings (Tillicum Centre) Inc. (a division of RioCan) got its development permit from Saanich council to build about 300 condo units totalling 280,000 square-feet and another roughly 30,000-square feet of retail space on the ground floor.

The live and shop project is separated by a parking lot from the approximately 50-tenant Tillicum Centre.

RioCan, which owns 300 shopping centres across Canada including the Tillicum Centre, has been negotiating with another conglomerate, Cara Operations, owner of the restaurants slated for demolition and resurrection.

While the two themed restaurants have many years left in their leases, settling the matter shouldn’t be an obstacle to the project, Craig said from his Toronto office.

Yet, ground won’t be broken for the project until summer 2010 at the earliest.

Build-out time is expected to be from 1.5 to two years.

But the still-slumbering economy won’t put the brakes on the project.

That’s unlike other Victoria-area projects, which have bit the dust.

On Langford’s Bear Mountain, what was to host Vancouver Island’s tallest building, a 44-storey condo (part of a luxury, four-tower development which included a spa, restaurant and vineyard) stopped work in October 2008.

The project’s West Vancouver developer, Robert Quigg, cited the anemic world financial markets as the reason for the halt.

Another high-end undertaking, Silkwind, a 23-storey condo to be built in the Victoria suburb of Colwood, has been nothing but a massive hole in the ground since construction ceased in September 2007.

At least two contractors have filed liens against the property.

One reason Craig is so confident that the Tillicum condos will run to completion is because the target market isn’t the upscale client. The bull’s eye is the mid to lower-level customer.

Acknowledging the sizeable military community at CFB Esquimalt and the many people associated with the area’s post-secondary educational institutions, Craig said there’s pent-up demand for condo housing in the $300,000 and less range from new families and singles.

But at Tillicum, one concession has been made to luxury living.

Because the two towers overlook a scenic park, there are plans to include some luxury condos on the top floors, Craig said.

“It will be a pretty attractive building,” he said.

Project architects are Vancouver’s Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership.

Lead architect Mark Thompson said green initiatives will be used both in the building and surroundings.

The building will be set back from the public park’s riparian area and a commitment exists to improve the park along the edge of Colquitz Creek.

The non-native, invasive plants taking over the park will be replaced with native vegetation.

“We’ll take it back to it’s natural habitat,” said Thompson who joined MCM in 1991.

For the building itself, sustainable materials will be used.

Plumbing and electrical fixtures, which reduce consumption, will be installed.

Green roofs will be planted on parts of the buildings.

In what’s called “rain gardens,” rainwater will be collected to irrigate on-site vegetation.

“We try as architects to make these choices as a matter of course,” said Thompson, who has worked on four continents. “It’s more and more becoming the standard.”

The reworked parking lot will feature many trees and instead of blacktop, a permeable surface will be laid out.

“Blacktop absorbs a lot of heat and increases the surrounding temperature,” Thompson explained.

Surfacing that looks like cobblestones may be used. It allows water to percolate through the gaps, reducing runoff and eliminating “heat islands.” The new project will also ensure that the current tenants, including the standalone SilverCity cinema, don’t have sight lines disturbed or see parking spaces reduced.

Three levels of underground parking are planned.

“We’re working with existing tenants,” Craig stressed.

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