‘Iconic structure to define the skyline’: 32-storey building proposed for Vic West neighbourhood in revitalization efforts


For more than 20 years, Ken Mariash and his team at Focus Equities have been working on a revitalization plan for Vic West.

When he first moved to Victoria, Mariash says Vic West was a completely different neighbourhood, with leaking, bankrupt and unfinished buildings. So he set out to fix it.

“It was derelict,” he said. “We called this area the wrong side of the bridge, so development has actually made this side livable.”

There are two sections of land involved, making up 20 acres. One side, that’s already been developed, is called the Bayview Place Hillside. The other is referred to as the Roundhouse site, home to the historic E&N railyard.

Phase two of the project is about developing the Roundhouse site while maintaining its historic value, expanding on its heritage, and adding housing.

The site is split into two parcels: north and south. The south side has already been zoned for five buildings, while the north side is still in the rezoning application process.

The north side of the site houses the railway and has four proposed buildings: one rental, two condos, and one affordable housing building. This brings the total to nine buildings.

“The buildings are pretty much the same as what we [already] have,” Mariash said. “Sort of around 26 floors.”

READ MORE: Vic West neighbourhood undergoing transformation from industrial to urban

While most of them are around that 26-storey mark, one of the proposed structures is 32 storeys. If approved, it would be the tallest building in Victoria.

“There’s been some height fright, but we aren’t doing anything we haven’t done before. It’s just a continuation of the vision,” he explained.

“That was put in the middle of the skyline sort of to define it, because when you get out to the far harbour where the cruise ships come in, you actually can’t even see this project because the front buildings cover it, so we thought adding those floors would make a big difference.

But the design isn’t set in stone, he added.

“We’re negotiable on anything like that but it just seemed like the right thing to do to have at least one iconic structure to define the skyline in a dome shape.”

In the end, Mariash said, the project hasn’t been profitable.

“We’re just doing it because this is what we promised…. whether this is an economic project or not, that’s not the main event. The main event is to get it built the way we had in mind. We didn’t expect it to take 25-30 years, but here we are.”

The rezoning application is expected to go to council in the next 30 days. If approved, it will move on to public hearing.

READ MORE: Plan for rental units around historic E&N Roundhouse in Vic West being brought before city

Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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