WATCH: Victoria’s Fort Street has long been known as the place to buy antiques but the neighbourhood is changing, thanks to the restaurants, coffee shops and retail stores opening up in the area. Monica Martinez reports.
In Tudor style buildings and colourful storefronts, an eclectic mix of locally owned businesses are brewing on Fort Street.
Fort Street has long been branded as Victoria’s “Antique Row,” but now it’s becoming known as a hub for startups, retail therapy and tasty eats.
Picnic Coffee co-owner Jon Perkins said he really likes the “neighbourhoody” feel of the area.
“I think there is a vibrancy with a lot of the smaller businesses that thrive in the neighbourhood and everybody seems to know everybody which is really nice,” said Perkins.
Now local builder Mike Miller, of Abstract Developments, is planning to add to that vibrancy, taking a corner of Fort and Cook Street and turning it into a condo building.
“There is so much opportunity for growth here, for vibrancy. This will really help anchor that and bring some body heat to the neighbourhood,” Miller said.
The Black and White building will be a 75-unit condo development with 9,000 square feet of commercial space.
Architect Greg Damant, of Cascadia Architects, said many locals don’t think to venture into Upper Fort Street, but he hopes this project will give the area more buzz.
“It doesn’t have that iconic landmark that gives people a geographical orientation so we wanted to create that, something that would be recognizably the heart of Upper Fort,” said Damant.
Mayor Lisa Helps said the project is a testament to the vibrancy in the downtown core.
“Fort Street is on fire right now,” she said.
“We are seeing new businesses spring up all the time, we are seeing new tech companies renovating buildings on the street which feeds the new businesses. So Fort Street is a microcosm of the kind of economic ecosystem that we are trying to build in Victoria.”
Construction is set to begin this fall and when complete will give Upper Fort Street what it needs most – residents who live, work and play in their backyard.