Proposed Oak Bay Avenue development would occupy site where garden store is located

Proposed Oak Bay Avenue development would occupy site where garden store is located
Cascadia Architects/City of Victoria
An artist rendering of a proposed mixed-use development at 1908-1920 Oak Bay Ave. in Victoria.

A garden store along Oak Bay Avenue could make way for a new development.

Jawl Residential has submitted rezoning and development applications to the City of Victoria for a proposed four-storey mixed-use building at 1908-1920 Oak Bay Ave., where GardenWorks and The Frame Up are located.

The company’s applications will be discussed by councillors at an upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting on July 23. Councillors will vote on whether to allow the development to head to a public hearing.

The planned development is located on the corner of Redfern Street and Oak Bay Avenue, across from Red Barn Market and Home Hardware and next to the Oak Bay Gospel Assembly Church. A crosswalk would be built along Oak Bay Avenue on the eastern side of Redfern Street, if the project is realized.

Designed by Cascadia Architects, the proposed building would have 35 residential units – 14 one-bedroom units, 15 two-bedroom units, and six two-bedroom plus den units – as well as 7,405 square feet of groundfloor commercial space, which includes a planned coffee shop with an outdoor patio.

A total of 47 underground residential parking stalls and 10 at-grade commercial parking spaces are planned for the development. There will be four EV charging stations installed and each underground parking stall would be built to accommodate EV charging stations in the future. Secure bike storage with an EV bike charging stations will also be included.

Jawl Residential is requesting a number of variances such as a reduction in setbacks and the number of parking stalls as well as an increase in building height.

City staff has recommended council allow the proposal to head to a public hearing, saying it would “revitalize an area of commercial use into a complete small urban village.”

READ: 16-storey rental building planned for downtown Victoria

Speaking to CHEK, Peter Jawl of Jawl Residential said the company acquired the property back in 2017 after the previous owner expressed a desire to see a new development on the site. He said he’s really excited about the development and can’t wait to see it come to life.

“We’ve spent the past two and a half years working with the city and with the community to solicit feedback and garner a plan and design that we felt worked and balanced the needs and suggestions of the community,” Jawl told CHEK, adding. “I am really excited to hopefully see this project come to fruition.”

Should the development ultimately come to fruition, two existing buildings – home to GardenWorks, Ballam Plumbing, and The Frame Up – would be demolished. Some residents, according to letters to council available on the city’s website, have expressed concerns about the GardenWorks store being forced to leave as a result of the new development.

Jawl said he is aware of the concerns raised by some residents and shares in them.

“We certainly share in those concerns and it is one of the reasons why we have worked so hard at this and it has taken a few years to bring this forward to this stage of the development planning,” said Jawl.

Jawl explained that they have had discussions with GardenWorks over the years in an effort to find ways to keep them as commercial tenants in the new building. However, he said it appears likely GardenWorks won’t remain.

“We’re hopeful something will happen but at this stage, it isn’t looking like it will.”

As a garden store, Jawl said GardenWorks has unique space requirements that present challenges – such as finding ways to incorporate deliveries – when designing a mixed-use residential building like the one they are proposing. He said they haven’t given up on finding a way to keep them around in some kind of modified capacity either.

“From our standpoint, our engagement and consultation doesn’t end when we submit an application or go into a stage of a committee meeting. So, we will continue to work on things up until the point where we begin construction or turnover commercial space,” Jawl said.

“We will try to have a use, whether it is them or someone else, that is similar. But at this stage, we haven’t managed to reintegrate them back.”

However, one commercial tenant that will be in the new building is Discovery Coffee. Jawl said the plan is for them to move from their existing location a little bit further down the street and occupy a nearly 2,000 square-foot commercial space that includes a south-facing patio on the corner of Redfern Street and Oak Bay Avenue.

“We are happy that Discovery Coffee is going to be going into the ground floor,” he said. “They have their existing spot on Amphion Street just down the road. So conditional of us being successful in our application, they would be moving into the ground floor space, which is would be really really great.”

Jawl said there is no time frame as the proposed development still needs to go through a committee of the whole meeting, a public hearing and receive council’s ultimate approval before construction could even begin. He said the area has a lot of potential and is hopeful their new proposal will enhance the vibrancy of the area.

“We feel that there is an opportunity with this area being a small urban village, to have some great new users and commercial tenants in those spaces, especially if there is future development down the road,” Jawl said, later adding. “We are quite excited about it. We think it will be a fantastic addition to the area.”

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Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

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