Esquimalt’s Pacific House is a work in progress, and the developer of the 10-storey tower at 899 Esquimalt Rd. wants to add more to the design.
“It’s not an easy process,” says Lexi Developments Managing Director Babak Nikbakhtan, “but it’s not unheard of.”
The developer is meeting this week and next with city planners to examine the possibility of adding two extra storeys. Currently, the plans include three townhouses, 63 condominium units, and space for a planned 4000-square-foot medical clinic.
“I’m looking forward to getting more doctors into our community,” added Esquimalt mayor Barb Desjardins, who says this type of mid-construct rezoning application has never been proposed in the township.
Esquimalt’s official community plan allows for 12-storey buildings, so the developer’s request falls in line with municipal guidelines, but when Lexi Developments asked for 12 storeys in 2020, they were denied.
Following a lengthy public consultation, a 10-storey build was approved. Construction began last year.
Nikhbatan says the price of doing business has changed since the agreement was made, and two storeys would make it more viable for the builder.
“Construction costs have soared up to even 51 per cent,” he says. “Pacific House is not exceptional to this situation as well.”
The extra storeys would make the tower 5.8 metres taller and would add 16 more units of housing. To incentivize the deal, the builder has gifted the Township of Esquimalt a 999-square-foot suite, one of the largest in the building, to be used at their discretion.
With the scarcity of doctors, Desjardins says having a subsidized suite for rent could attract doctors to the new practice. “It can be used in that format for various service providers as the township targets needs for the community,” she says.
Not everyone is on board. The West Bay Residents Association says the zoning and rezoning process with Pacific House has been arduous and says the current ask may be a result of bad planning.
In a statement provided to CHEK News, the association says, “It is much too large and overpowering for the narrow lot size and presents a 12-storey cement wall to the east adjacent neighbours.”
Desjardins says other developers have early-stage proposals that eclipse the current 12-storey limit. She also adds that an operator already has an interest in Pacific House’s commercial space.
“I’m feeling very positive that this will all come to fruition,” she says.