Friday, September 06, 2013

Burnside and Harriet, a good location for a new urban centre

Uptown is a region developing not only with retail space but also residential and office space.   I think that a natural location to allow for a higher density that would fit well with this emergence at Uptown would be at the corner of Harriet and Burnside.

As a location it is well served by transit with the #21, #22 and #26 buses running through the intersection.   Road access makes it easy to get to this location quickly from most parts of greater Victoria.

This location would work well for mid scale buildings of six to eight stories tall that had a mix of office and residential space in it.   The southwest and northeast corners are both very much underused spaces that could well be redeveloped into something much more significant if several lots were consolidated.

Further west along Burnside there are buildings and houses on both sides of the street that are not in the best of condition and should be redeveloped into more commercial and higher density residential.   When you look at the various possible redevelopment sites and assume an average six story building with four floors of residential, the total increase in population in the immediate area would be about 750 to  2000 people.

This is large enough increase to make  locally focused retail that much more viable.   The additional people should also add to the transit demand in the area.    Something on the order of an extra 300 to 400 trips per day.   The redevelopment should also increase foot traffic and make the Tillicum Mall seem area more connected to this corner.  It also creates a way point between Tillicum Mall and Uptown which should all improve walk-ability.

Some of the apartment buildings constructed in the past clearly had to work within floor to space ratios and setbacks that did not allow for an effective use of the space.   The zoning bylaws that created these buildings mean it will likely take much longer before this corner develops as it should.

At the corner of Tillicum and Burnside you can see with the two buildings, the Ardrea and Heron's Landing, what can be done on a relatively small property.   The net increase in population because of these two new buildings alone is in the range of 200 people.

My fear is that because this corner is in two municipalities there will not be a clear vision to increase the density and the region will miss this opportunity.
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